Photographer Fumi Nagasaka’s new series is an ode to a family that lives on her street. Commissioned by Ssaw magazine, Fumi’s images cast a tender and affectionate eye on a single mother and her two daughters. “We live on the same block and, as I got closer to the family, I wanted to capture the relationship they have,” Fumi tells It’s Nice That. Tanya and her daughters Sophie, 16, and Annabelle, 11, are the project’s protagonists and Fumi tells us she is particularly close to the youngest sister, who calls her “mad”, a hybrid of the words mum and dad.
It comes as no surprise that Fumi is a close friend of the family. The series is stylised with the girls posing for the camera, but the artist’s photographs exude intimacy. The images were shot in Tanya’s hometown in Alabama, Fumi explains, because she wanted to capture the three women in their local culture and surrounded by familiar landscapes. Even though Tanya and her two girls were styled by Viktoria Sekrier, Fumi’s photography feels more like a character study than a fashion shoot. “The image of Annabelle in front of Piggly Wiggly encompasses everything I was trying to capture. The supermarket’s name and logo, the American flag in the window, the red pick-up truck in the parking lot and Annabelle standing with an empty cart. That was the moment everything synchronized and made sense,” the artist explains. Fumi is a visual gold miner, extracting a person’s inner thoughts and bringing their individuality to light on the page.
“One of my favourite images is of Annabelle with her great uncle Luke and one of his dogs sitting patiently in a white plastic chair in front of his trailer house. He was wearing all his own stuff and I really liked the way he looked,” Fumi says. Each portrait emanates a different facet of the girls’ personality and every picture offers particular insights into the trio’s dynamics. The family photograph of the tree women is an intriguing composition that both highlights their differences and conveys the strong bonds that connect them.
Grace and compassion permeate the series, but the project was not without difficulties: “Since it was a fashion story, we had to dress Annabelle in credits, which was a challenge because she didn’t want to wear everything we gave her. I also wanted to include extracts from Annabelle’s diary but that meant writing and re-writing it because some instalments had been written in a moving car or because she had used the wrong pen.” Despite the hurdles, Fumi’s lucid vision and affectionate gaze captures the poetry of this family in a moving visual story of the women’s daily lives.