Fuji Dumps Ambassador Following Objections to His Obnoxious Style of Shooting

Fujifilm has dropped photographer Tatsuo Suzuki from their team of X-Photographers following outrage in response to his in-your-face style of shooting.

As reported by Fuji Rumors, Suzuki is no longer listed on the manufacturer’s website after Fujifilm used a short film featuring the photographer as part of a promotion for its new X100V camera. The YouTube video — since removed and then reuploaded elsewhere — showed Suzuki’s method of shooting on the streets of Tokyo, where he obstructs people’s paths and prompts people to cover their faces to avoid the intrusion.

As detailed in this opinion piece, such an intrusive style produces images that are more and more seen to be an expression of the photographer’s ego rather than a depiction of life on the street. Some — including fellow X-Photographers — are outraged by the outrage, while others claim that this a "revered art form" that is beyond criticism. That may have been the case once, but attitudes are shifting, and there is now a better understanding of how a camera can be a tool to exert subtle systems of power that are available to — and then benefit — certain groups. This includes the fellow photographers, galleries, editors, books, magazines, and agencies — who then elevate it as something noble and heroic and are part of how the value of a piece of art is determined. With the democratization of the medium and developments in visual culture more broadly, taste — and those who determine it — is starting to change.

There is yet to be an official statement from Fujifilm. Some have suggested that the manufacturer should have left the film online and then distanced themselves from it, acknowledging the mistake. Hindsight will determine what may have been the better course of action.

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50 Comments
LA M's picture

I think this was a hit job....

Personally I've never been a fan of this kind of work but someone somewhere found it engaging enough. Now the guy is under fire for it?

Deleted Account's picture

He's still allowed to take photos like this. Why should he be a brand ambassador if the majority of the market (so it seems) doesn't appreciate what he's doing?

LA M's picture

I think it's the "photo" community that has the issues...as usual. I would rather have a sprinkle of this guy in the midst than live in a photo world full of vanilla images.

Fuji was revived on that "difference" and I don't think it was wise to just drop the guy. Photo peeps will complain and pontificate but at large these winings don't really matter.

Whether he is on the roster or not will not affect a unit more of sales ...this was a hit job.

Deleted Account's picture

I guess I don't follow you. You're saying that Fujifilm picked him up as an ambassador knowing that they'd dump him?

LA M's picture

They added him to the roster for exactly what he does. Lends itself perfectly to the X-Pro line of cameras...street. Dumping him is purely a PR stunt. The only people "offended" by his work are other photographers.

Deleted Account's picture

But doesn't Fujifilm market towards those photographers who were offended? I just think it's a stretch to assume Fujifilm planned this whole thing out.

LA M's picture

I'm not suggesting that they did.

And I don't think Fuji markets to photographers...I think it's the broader target market of non-professionals who want a stylish camera. Those are the ones that actually buy new cameras frequently and in greater numbers.

Erpillar Bendy's picture

You don't think Fuji markets to photographers? OK then. I don't think a day is 24 hours long.

LA M's picture

Nope..we are a small percentage of the camera buying market.

Erpillar Bendy's picture

Non-professional photographers are not photographers? But of course they are. Everybody with a camera is a photographer. Fuji markets to photographers all of the time.

John Watson's picture

Some people take photos. Some people are photographers. There is a Venn diagram in there somewhere.

The Photographer's picture

Well, photographers know and read about other photographers. Non photographers wouldnt really know about him. But im certain if you showed the public his technique or asked the people he photographed and interrupted in their walk, how they felt, im certain it would not be favorable to him. Post the clip on twitter or Instagram and see what people say.

LA M's picture

I checked out his work at the outset of this "fake" outrage...it's good. Not my thing but good.

I can point out other photographers who I find much more disagreeable in the making of their images. Why don't we talk about the creepy old men who talk to young female models as though they are horses or cuddly cats?

Erpillar Bendy's picture

Saying it was a "hit job" makes absolutely no sense. You think somebody had it out for him, to damage his reputation? That's a bizarre explanation. I think the real explanation is much simpler.

marcgabor's picture

Michael, I agree with you, nothing is stopping him from making the kind of work he wants to make. Fuji is allowed to decide what kind of photography/photographer they want and don't want to represent their brand. If Tatsuo has fallen out of favor with Fuji that's unfortunate for him but I'm sure there are still lots of people who appreciate his work and he should keep making the work he wants to make. I guess Fuji will just have to find some other street photographer he better represents their brand.

Richard Hitswater's picture

Sorry, but I don't think being an "artist" creating "art" gives you the right to be an arsehole to other people in the process. I have a right to swing my arms. Too bad if your nose gets in the way, right? Fuji did the right thing. He's an embarrassment to their brand. He doesn't need to be a sponsored "ambassador" to create his "art". He can always be a solo, self-supported arsehole "artist".

marcgabor's picture

Being an artist by no means gives you the right to be an a**hole but lots of artists are a**hole. And lots of artists are super nice respectful people. I think it's important to separate the art from the person and to judge the art with an open mind and not a preconceived notion based on the actions of the person.

Pierre Dasnoy's picture

I agree, but if creating art means being an asshole while doing it (and maybe be a perfectly nice guy the rest of the time), then, the artist is an asshole, and the person is nice.

Tony Clark's picture

I think that it’s one thing to go out and capture what’s going on in society but to be the instigator of the tension is simply disruptive. As stated before, perhaps Fujifilm should have done their homework on him before inviting him to be an Ambassador. They complicated it when they just deleted the film and his profile from their website. After working in Tokyo and Osaka for seven months, I knew that no one would punch him for such an invasive way of shooting but maybe one day.

Teresa Oldenbourg's picture

Thats progress. How about we stop blowing smoke up the asses of "photographers" who take advantage of the homless? Slapping a black and white filter on then bumping up the sharpness and BAM!!! award winning bullshit. But dont worry! They gave them a sandwich! Or shared awareness. Horse shit exploitation.

Rob Davis's picture

All journalistic photography is exploitation. You can’t have one without the other.

marcgabor's picture

Can you point out who exactly is winning awards by shooting like that? There are photojournalists who spend years working on projects and dedicating themselves to bringing awareness to a cause and if the pictures are strong I see no reason why they shouldn't be recognized for their work. I think it's pretty rare that a photographer who casually shoots homeless people is recognized for outstanding work by any sort of authority in the business. In fact I've met with a NYtimes photo editor who expressly said "don't shoot homeless people" unless it's part of a greater and very specific project.

Jordan McChesney's picture

I would usually agree, however, since I live in the Tokyo area, I actually find some of his work photographing people who are homeless to be among his most poignant. I think the prolonged exposure towards the attitudes regarding the homeless here, helps there. When they aren’t being considered “invisible” I routinely hear people say things like “Kawasaki is dangerous, we have so many homeless people”. To me, some of his work shows this indifference towards them and humanizes them. Whether or not that’s what he was going for or not is up for debate, but they they’re among the few of his images that actually resonated with me. Could he do more by using his platform to actually advocate for change? Absolutely, and I totally get where you’re coming from, but I think the experience of living here changes my perspective a little bit.

So it turns out the main reason the majority of his work doesn’t resonate with me, is also the reason these few images do.

marcgabor's picture

I think you are pointing out the kind of exception I'm talking about. If his work is about the street and he includes the people living on the street in a way that feels like it's saying something then that works. I think the objection to shooting homeless people comes from shooting them without a purpose and therefore it is only exploitative and not part of a greater narrative.

Eli Wilson's picture

As a landscape photographer, most street photos or fine art photos do not sense. I have seen people who take a photo of a random object, turn it black and white, add a huge pricetag and then its somehow an amazing fine art photography when in reality it's just a snapshot.

marcgabor's picture

Visual poetry? Like a haiku for your eyes

Rob Davis's picture

Disappointed in Fuji and also can’t help but wonder if the intensity of the reaction isn’t a little bit racist and/or ageist. Had this been a younger European would the vitriol have been so intense towards this guy? I see street workshops all the time teaching this exact method. What changed to suddenly make everyone hate street photography all of the sudden? Do you really want to live in a world where every photograph is posed?

Maybe rather than righteous indignation you can educate people. Explain why we need documentary photography unless we want historical photography to be reduced to curated Instagram reality.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

How he's doing it is neither photojournalistic or documentary.

Rob Davis's picture

Wait 40+ years like we do before celebrating all of the other street photography which was achieved in exactly the same way.

Deleted Account's picture

I seriously question the documentary or historical value of capturing photos of yourself antagonizing people by invading their personal space. If all your care about is documenting a slice of history, a snapshot from far away would do a better job of it than a wide angle close-up of someone's face. He's creating art, not a historical reference.

Rob Davis's picture

Wait 40+ years like we do before celebrating all of the other street photography which was achieved in exactly the same way.

Deleted Account's picture

I don't like this type of photography, but I think this is a stupid move given the fact that it's not like he suddenly started doing this. If Fuji didn't do their research on the guy and selected him as an ambassador, then shame on them. If they knew exactly how he practiced his photography when they signed him and are suddenly deciding to drop him due to public backlash, then shame on them anyway.

Yes, it's a controversial style of shooting, but I am sure that they went into this knowing that. If you respect his work, then stand by your respect for it. If you don't respect his work, then you shouldn't have ever signed him in the first place. I get dropping someone after new information comes out that is damaging, but that's not the case here.

Again, I don't like or endorse his style of shooting, but I would hope that we all have enough integrity to stand by the things that we appreciate even if it may not be popular.

Erpillar Bendy's picture

+1 to all that you wrote.

Jordan McChesney's picture

Arguments about his style or images aside, at the end of the day, this seems like a win win for both parties. Fuji are showing they have standards, and Suzuki is getting millions of dollars of free advertising.

chrisrdi's picture

"including fellow X-Photographers — are outraged by the outrage" Outraged by the outrage.....hmm.

Teemu Paukamainen's picture

I'm outraged that you pointed that out. Outrage everywhere!

briankaylor's picture

I wonder why this type of interaction is acceptable with strangers but not in other situations. For example, would you go up to your model in the studio in a way that invaded their personal boundaries, made them uncomfortable, or was alarming and unexpected? That would probably be labelled as harassment and no one would defend it.

A second thought is how authentic is a street photo if what you are seeing is the reaction to your presence (and would not have happened otherwise). I think I would call that more of a staged portrait, even if one side was an unplanned participant.

Teresa Oldenbourg's picture

You are making such a massive valid point, but the people defending it just want to say people get too offended todays age.
1. Thats not an excuse.
2. There has always been a large amount of people who hate street photography. I dont know why they are now notcing people being vocal about not wanting cameras in their face.

imnot here's picture

So... we give a break to the likes of Bruce Gilden as long as they are signed by someone like Magnum, but if you're an unknown then f* you right? Whether you like his style or not, that's his burden to carry. If Fuji doesn't want to associate this with their brand fine, but the comments here are.... something else

Leonardo Baldenegro's picture

Seriously, what a delicate world we have today, everything is offended and causes them to be discouraging. There is no doubt that every day it is confirmed that we live in a crystal generation that is offended with anything and breaks their feelings. Surely there are those who think that Fujifilm's way of photographing the author in question was a surprise and I really doubt it, what I think and think is that the company was affected by outside criticism because to have him as ambassador surely they know the photographer's work from head to toe and therefore they included it in the product's advertising.
In any case if there is no demand or complaint by those involved in the process such as people to photograph then I do not see why the complaint of those who have nothing to do with the video, they only do so by having an open window to criticize from my point of view.

What I think here is that in the end the company tries to wash their hands and look like the innocent people who didn't know anything about how Suzuki worked making him look bad and withdrawing his support as an ambassador, double standards call this.

LA M's picture

We are raising a generation of miss Nancy's. Everything is outrageous, etc.

That's why Trump can just call out fake news and do as he likes. Too many people crying foul at the slightest thing.

Leonardo Baldenegro's picture

Indeed, in my signature of seeing we are creating a generation that is extremely sensitive to everything, everything bothers them to the smallest provocation, they feel offended. I am not the best person to talk about the author's work in mention, I know little about his work and I am not even a fan of street photography, however I can say that as an author I would even be grateful for all the publicity that is being generated towards my way of working and therefore my work. I am sure there will be many who do not like the way they approach the people on the street, but let's be honest, something that has as a rule in many cases as teaching in the street photo is that the naturalness must be maintained of those who are portrayed otherwise the exponentiality of the moment is lost and it becomes a posed photo, which makes it happen to another type of street photo category like what other photographers do with subjects who are asked to pose to make urban portraits and both are valid styles. Let those involved complain as I said before, not the observers.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

--"Too many people crying foul at the slightest thing."

LOL! This coming from someone that cries "YOUNG GIRLS" every time there's an article that has an attractive young woman on a lead photo or article. But, has half naked girls on her portfolio and website. smh

LA M's picture

Come on man...that's an ongoing problem in this industry.

I don't see a lot of older, rounder women being worked with...always YOUNG GIRLS

Different scandal..

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

--"I don't see a lot of older, rounder women being worked with...always YOUNG GIRLS"

Ahem,
-- https://leighmiller.ca/new-work
-- https://leighmiller.ca/beauty-fashion

What percentage of your 2019 work involves older and rounder women? You are doing the very thing you complain and whine about. You are feeding the industry you disagree with....and it's probably feeding you.

Given your TDS, I guess I shouldn't be surprised with your confused and hypocritical position.

Ryan Ringstad's picture

ah yes the ol "im going post online about how offended I am when other people get offended & post about it online" take.

No hypocrisy detected.

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Haha, I know right.

Ryan Conover's picture

"With the democratization of the medium and developments in visual culture more broadly, taste — and those who determine it — is starting to change." Yeah, and generally not for the better.

Teresa Oldenbourg's picture

Its funny how sensitive and offended these "We live in such a sensitive time! Everyones so offended!"

You all look the most offended and upset.

Jordan McChesney's picture

Yeah, I’ve definitely seen some poor reactions on both sides, but it seems some people think art is not allowed to be scrutinized or discussed. I personally don’t connect to most of his images and oppose his usual style. When I’ve pointed that out with detailed explanations for my opinions, followed by an invitation to share another perspective, I’ve received almost nothing but personal attacks. It’s a shame. I’m sure Suzuki wants his art to be discussed, so these kinds of reactions and refusal to discuss it really devalue his work, regardless of one’s opinion of it.