Interview with a collector, Arato Ogura
Today I have an interview for you that I have wanted to have on the site for a very long time. Arato Ogura has not only got a stunning collection, but a wealth of knowledge. Lets have a look see.
Arato Ogura is a personal friend of mine and something of a mentor. If it wasn’t for Arato I probably wouldn’t be doing what I do now. He gave me the drive, the inspiration and most importantly he helped me to realise my potential. Arato is not a camera geek, he has reached a higher level than that. His knowledge is unsurpassed and he is the first person I call upon when there is something that has stumped me. I have seen many of Arato’s cameras in the past and have been itching to feature some of them.
Arato works in the photographic industry in Tokyo so we get to see each other fairly often. His passion for photography and cameras is infectious. In fact, my GAS is his fault :) Arato got me back into film cameras after a long period away from them. And that is where the seed of JCH was born. Thanks Arato.
So, let’s get started…
What first got you interested in collecting cameras?
The term “collection” is too bold for me, but my love for cameras started early. I remember myself enjoying shooting my father’s Kodak 110 when I was in kindergarden.
My first real camera was a Canon AV-1, using my savings (which I originally intended to buy an astronomical telescope to observe the Comet 1P/Halley) in 1986.
Being too grown‐up for my age, I was fond of NatGeo and news media photogs – not only their masterpiece photos but also more interested in their equipment and how they used it. So, quickly after I bought my Canon, I was kinda shocked to learn that all pro used Nikons in those days, and regretted that possibly I made mistake!
I see that you have a passion for Nikon and Leica. Can you tell us why? They are quite different.
My idols were 70′s-80′s photojournalists, like Diana Walker (The White House Press Photographer), Michael Yamashita (National Geographic), and Peter Turnley (Newsweek) – they used Nikons for long shots and Leicas for close range photos. I think that’s when my passion for pro-wannabie (equipment wise) first ignited.
The Nikon F3HP with its dedicated MD-4 motor drive and Leica M6 were their golden combo those days, accompanied by Domke F-2 bag and Gitzo 326 tripod… and their influence was huge for me.
What defines a great camera for you?
An optically superior lens and a mechanically reliable body makes a great camera for me. Although I’m a plain salaryman and never assigned to cover war zones, it’s frustrating when your camera breaks while you’re traveling and seeing many beautiful things.
Of your collection, which is your favorite camera?
My all time faves are the Nikon F3P (Press version of HP) and Leica M6. These are the cameras I want to be buried with.
Any secrets on the camera porn shots?
Shooting cameras are great for bored weekends (laugh). I don’t have any studio flash equipment, so the window light is my key light source. When I want to shoot my camera against a clean backdrop, I use a synthetic black flannel cloth called “Total Eclipse” which I got from a studio shop. I also use a plain white T-shirt to reflect the light, or to make a “catch light” in the lens.
I used a Nikon D40 to do these camera shots but it broke down last week, so I might replace it with a D7000 perhaps.
Is there a camera that you dream to have? Or do you already have it?
Although I’m interested in digital Leica M cameras, my real “dream” is to find a good condition Leica M4 in black paint, around serial number #126xxxx range – which is actually produced in my birth year. I’ve seen them at camera fairs here and there so it might not be so difficult to get one, but I also want a matching black painted 8 element Summicron so this might take some time. And money of course. Crap…
Do you use these cameras or are there some ‘shelf queens’ in there?
All of my cameras get used, so none of them are show pieces really. However my MP often get compliments on the streets from a stranger Leica shooter. It’s a second hand a-la-carte MP with M4 style rewind, top engraving, and I put an M4 frame selector and an M4 R lever on – I like the vintage looks of it.
And finally, it is all about shooting after all, so what do you like to shoot?
Travel photography. I never leave home without a camera no matter on business or holiday, and it’s my pure joy to shoot historic sites, back alleys, gardens, restaurants, stations and airports, and even on board.
Many thanks to Arato for sharing your thoughts and your beautiful pictures with all of the JCH followers. Your cameraporn images are inspiring to me and I and going to have to try out some of your techniques soon.
If you would like to see more of Arato’s images the I suggest you check out his flickr page. It really is excellent www.flickr.com/photos/arato/
Please remember that the images are reproduced with the kind permission of Arato Ogura and may not be used or reproduced without permission.
Do you have a collection that you would like to share with the followers of JCH? Send me a mail and lets share your passion.
Remember to comment and get yourself some camera karma.