Kei-Patrick Nagai is a great photographer who mostly captures Japan streets, especially Tokyo. I hope you’ll enjoy the interview;

How did you fall in love with photography?

First when I left my home country and noticed i did not have any pictures of my students life…. I realized photography is the only way to keep memories. Sometimes your pictures does not mean anything at the moment, but if you think “10 years later” you would be probably happy to have those.
And photography also show you some details you did not notice on the moment.

How important is having a unique style as a photographer? How would you describe your style?

I don’t know if my style is “unique” since I got a lot of inspiration from others and especially from Instagram. But, photography is cool for that because you can be in the same place as some one and have a totally different shots.
With the current tools we all have, I think it’s important to create your own style, something that nobody ever seen. Photography has no limits.

My style is more based on the style you often see on NYC pictures, with high contrast and less saturation in the colors. This is how I like Tokyo, and how I see it everyday.

Where did you grow up? How have your roots influenced your sense of style?

I grew in France from a french father and Japanese mother. My dad also likes photography and taught me to be patient and never give up until you get the perfect shot.

In the same time, I always hated school, and always been a people oriented person. I hated staying at home and was always out of my place to discover, meet people. My photography is based on people because I love to imagine what each individual’s life is like. What are they doing everyday, etc.

Finally, my sense of style has probably been marked by a movie like “blade runner”… probably one of the movies that caught the most my attention when I was kid

What advice would you give to aspiring photographers out there?

Just go out and shoot (no need to go far from your place). For example a famous photographer, Saul Leiter, took his best shot next to his place.

And don’t be afraid of getting feedback. Follow photographer you like on Instagram and try to reproduce photos first, and then create your own style

Have you ever run out of ideas?

Yes, always… but, in that moment I look at others pictures and get inspiration from others and just get out of my place with my camera ready to shoot

How do you find places and models for your shootings?

I walk around, use a lot instagram. That’s one of the best tool to find place, and communicate with others through this SNS

What’s the one piece of photo gear you couldn’t live without?

At the right moment, I think fixed lenses, especially a 50mm. When the lens is fixed, you need to move yourself to find the best angle / distance. You don’t depend on a zoom.

For example with a fixed lens I met someone in the street because I had to get closer to him to shoot a better photo. We started to discuss together. I think fix lens will challenge you but in the same time will help you to discover great things!

Do you edit your photos? If yes, which programs do you use?

Yes, I edit a lot with Lightroom currently.


We would like to express our gratitude to Kei-Patrick Nagai for this great interview.

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