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In this "We Are f-stop" story, we are travelling over to Japan with the images of Naoki Odagaki. A man of many talents, he is a skateboarder, sponsored snowboarder, photographer, and father. Somehow he manages to fit shooting photographs around running a respected shop, and f-stop dealer, 'FOCUS', in Gifu, Japan. Now in it's thirteenth year, it was founded with the same DIY spirit as these images, working hard after hours to make a vision into reality. A love of both riding and shooting, and limited time lead him to creating these self-portraits of skateboarding and snowboarding after work and at the weekend. Seeing these shots, we had to find out more:
Hi, Naoki. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m Naoki Odagaki. As a snowboarder, I ride for UG., 66 Denim, Details Outerwear, and Death Label Snowboards. I also run a shop “FOCUS” in Gifu, Japan. We deal mainly in snowboards, skateboards, clothes and f-stop packs. I began snowboarding and skateboarding when I was 22 years old, and started taking photos around when I turned 30, so my "camera life" has been for the last sixteen years.
What made you start taking self-portraits?
I think it’s the same reason as everyone who shoots. When started to shoot snowboarding, I was stoked when I saw the images. I love both riding (snowboarding and snowboarding) and shooting pictures, and there was often no cameraman around, so I bought a camera and started shooting self-portraits.
Are you always riding alone, when taking the self-portraits?
I’m usually riding with my good friend Ryuichi Kawashima, who is also team rider on U.G. outerwear and 66 Denim. In that case, I set up the camera and speedlights myself, get the settings dialed in and then he triggers the shutter at the best moment when I’m riding. It’s team work! Other times I set up LED lights and trigger the shutter with the remote, as you can see in my hand in the shots below:
Most of the skateboard shots are at night. Why is that?
A lot of the shots are at night because I work a full-time job and run the Shop FOCUS, and then with two children on top of that, we often go out and shoot in the middle of the night after they have gone to bed!
What is the skate and snow scene like, around the shop Focus in Gifu?
Gifu prefecture is located right in the middle of Japan, about halfway between Tokyo and Kyoto. It is an area rich in nature, surrounded by forests and clear streams. There are as many as twenty small ski resorts within an hour’s drive so snowboarding is pretty popular here. The skate scene in Gifu is mostly still pretty underground, but that may change as Japan is getting excited about the inclusion of skateboarding in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Is the full pipe skateboard shot a secret spot in Gifu?
Yes that’s Gifu. When I’m driving, I’m always in ‘seek, search and hunt’ mode. I hardly ever go to a skatepark to skate. Instead, I’m always on the lookout for secret virgin spots that haven’t been ridden before to session.
Your work is all very DIY. Are there any photographer's work that make you want to go out and create photos?
For me it is about expression. Those who have affected me are... Ryuichi Kawashima, Masaaki Irie, Kei Sato, Patrick Wallner and Akiyoshi Takada.
Do you have a next goal for self-portrait shooting?
Sometimes I want to ride without a camera! Ha ha!
Thank you for the insight into these images. We hope you get some time to ride without the camera - but not too much, as we love seeing these shots, which remind us that time and other commitments can be overcome to get out there and create.
Naoki's tools for creation (below) in his words:
My Packs: The Tilopa is the world's best camera pack ever!
My Boards: (Left to right) “OUT OF FOCUS” Skateboards for my shop FOCUS (designed); Death Label Snowboards “WEEKEND RIPPERS” (designed); Death Label Snowboards “Bullet” (shaped); Death Label Snowboards “Dr. RAW” (shaped); Make Yukiita Snowtoys (handshaped)
(below) "Uyoku: An ordinary location, but not ordinary situation. A Japanese “Uyoku” far right-wing group's black propaganda van, and me."