Documentary photography opens up worlds that we might not otherwise see or know. Sometimes I come across projects that really interests me and stir my emotions.
Recently, I came across Kosuke Okahara’s project Ibayso. This is a story about six Japanese women who use self-harm as a way of coping with their very difficult situations. It’s a very powerful, emotional and thought provoking human story. In my professional role, I work very much with mental health and self-harm issues. When I work with people, I try to understand their stories about what led them to do this, why they still need to do it, and what can help them to reduce it. However, given my job, I tend to view this in an empathic but professional way. Kosuke also seems to work in a very empathic and professional way, but his photography and long-term dedication to their stories, reveals a much deeper and more emotive picture. The video of his work is very much worth watching.
I noticed on his website dedicated to the project that there are six books circulating around the world where people can illustrate their thoughts towards the women in his story. I contacted Kosuke and he has kindly offered to redirect a copy of the book to me in a few months – the great thing is that there is a waiting list of people all over the world wanting to share their thoughts with these women. When I get hold of a copy of the book, I will post another blog reflecting on what I have seen.
For me, this is a good example of the power of photography and the internet. Photography allows the story of the women to be known, and the internet has allowed it to be communicated across the world where people can show care and humanity in wanting to make even a small positive difference to their lives.
Like I said at the beginning, occasionally I come across a project that connects with me personally, this is one of them – it makes me glad that there are people out there, like Kosuke, doing such work.