For Erika Kamano’s fourth birthday, she was given a present that many a little girl anywhere in the world would be delighted to receive. A Shiba Inu. Named Hanako, Erika tells us, “I was obsessed with taking photos of her and my mum eventually bought me my own camera so I’d stop using hers (she was very into photography and had a handful of old Japanese film cameras).” It was in this way that Erika was first introduced to photography, a medium that she would go onto flourish in and be commissioned by the likes of Sicky Mag, Wonderland, Tank Magazine and Nylon China.
From this time on, Erika could always be found with a digital camera, film camera, or iPhone by her side. Ready to snap everything and anything that caught her eye. “It’s also maybe because I’m not that confident with writing and expressing myself through words, so I think photography is a way for me to explore my own thoughts,” she adds on the matter.
Born in Hawaii to a Japanese mother and English father, Erika moved to the north of England (where her father is from originally). Photography wasn’t something she thought she could make money from, nor did she think people would be interested in her point of view. So she studied Communications in Newcastle before moving to London because, as she puts it, “I had no idea what I wanted to do.” Eventually, she landed up in LA working in production but it didn’t turn out to be a very fruitful experience. “LA wasn’t great and the job was worse!” So she quit, made the decision to finally go freelance as a photographer and is now in Paris, “trying to decide where I can go and make a living next!”
Absorbed in colour, Erika’s striking work has a particularly cinematic quality to it in both its moody colour palettes and refined perspective. Light, shadows and contrast all play a key part in her practice, and whether it’s fashion, editorial or landscape photography; Erika’s lens feels consistently poised. She’s photographed pop star Rina Sawayama, taken us on an atmospheric tour of the Philippines through a documentary series, and shone a light on many a prwoduct with a unique Erika sparkle.
She tells us about a recent project that had particular meaning to her, her last project in LA in fact. It focused on hair and makeup, and Erika worked with Selena Ruiz and Sully Layo to “create a kind of how-to guide of different beauty looks.” For this shoot, Erika looked to old beauty mags for inspiration. She liked the step-by-step aspect of these features, each photo telling the reader what to do next. Utilising a similar format for the images, the series becomes a nostalgic throwback to 90s chic with Erika-style flair.
In other work, she recently took part in a group exhibition in Seoul curated by Erika’s friend, Suea. Exhibiting a series (which is still ongoing) the work features portraits of women from the side and the back. The images highlight each subject’s hair and posture, an interesting expression of gait for each person. “It’s been interesting to see how each person I’ve shot stands different when their face isn’t the main focus,” the photographer says of the series. And it’s just as interesting for the viewer, who is led to wonder who these people are and what their faces look like. As for the future, it’s hard to say for now. She’s in the process of finding an affordable place to live where there is work too, but whatever’s in store for this eagle-eyed photographer, we can’t wait to see what she does next.
GalleryErika Kamano: (Copyright © Erika Kamano, 2020)
About the Author
Jyni became a staff writer in March 2019 having previously joined the team as an editorial assistant in August 2018. She graduated from The Glasgow School of Art with a degree in Communication Design in 2017 and her previous roles include Glasgow Women’s Library designer in residence and The Glasgow School of Art’s Graduate Illustrator.