Sometimes, when flicking through a magazine, website or any other visual medium, you come across a picture that resonates with you, and very occasionally you’ll have no idea as to why. This is exactly what happened to me when scouring I-D’s latest ‘extraordinary’ issue. Featuring Kate Moss, Travis Scott and Popcaan, as always, the magazine had plenty of famous figures, beautifully shot by the various photographers Britain’s biggest bimonthly publication offers.
As amazing as these images were, it was Jiro Konami’s vibrant portraiture of NAMEDURAMA, a Hip-Hop collective from Kumagaya City (Japan), that really caught my eye. Am I Japanese? No. Am I up to my neck in tattoos like these geezers? No. Do I have a block of hash the size of a small battered sausage like they did in their shoot? I wish. At first, I thought It was the hints of aspirationalism running throughout the pictures that captured my interest. But, after consolidating my thoughts, it became apparent to me that the intimacy of Konami’s pictures was what really stood out. I immediately hopped on the gram to research him, and it turns out the lensman is a pretty big deal.
Jiro Konami’s love of visual arts blossomed after his Girlfriend took him to an exhibition by Wolfgang Tillmans: a German Turner Prize winner credited with one of the best eyes in photography. Konami's then lover was an avid shutterbug, permanently in possession of a point and shoot, and with great ambitions to attend art school and become a photographer herself. After the show, Jiro started taking pictures of his Dad, using him as a canvas to exercise ideas that would eventually formulate his hailed aesthetic.
Tragically, at the age of 20, Konami's girlfriend passed away in an accident. Without her, he probably would have never taken it up himself to learn photography. After several zines, and piles of portfolios, he began to gain recognition in Japan as one of the country’s most forward thinking film photographers. Cinematising lookbooks for native brands, like Vainl Archive, propelled Konami to the front of Asia's frivolous streetwear scene, and his work would later thrive in the hustle and bustle of New York.
A decade of grind has afforded the lensman gigs for Supreme, Ralph Lauren and the New York Times. He also continues to collaborate with subcultural movements in his home country, picturing the lucidity of its scenes. Take a look below at some of our favourite images from Jiro Konami’s revered portfolio of photography, including shoots with Supreme, Phingerin Flexis and SCARS - another legendary Japanese rap group.