Why Do Japanese Photographers Not Have Websites?

As we seek to grow the ONWARD Compé ’12 internationally by translating the open call materials into Japanese, we also want to expand the dialogue on photography between countries. In an attempt to first bridge the gap between American and Japanese photography, we’re reaching out to some photography writers in Japan that can speak to this subject a little more.

This week we have an article re-blogged from Street Level Japan, a photography blog run by Dan Abbe who is a writer focusing on photography in Tokyo. Dan was so kind as to share this post with us that was a response to a comment he received from a reader wondering why, “so many photographers over there [are] not bothering with internet sites?”

Here’s what Dan had to say:

Communication

This is a combination of the language barrier, plus a different usage of social networks (which also has to do with the language barrier). More and more Japanese photographers are starting to use Facebook, which will help, especially if they can muster the courage to post with even the most minimal level of English. Some people have websites but you can’t find (let alone read) them. It’s shocking to me how many actually really good websites are out there, and even have an English version, but haven’t made the slightest effort to promote themselves to a foreign audience! Parapera and spacecadet.jp come to mind.

No interest, or awareness of reaching an online audience

A lot can actually be accomplished without a website here, just by meeting people. I don’t think it’s viewed as particularly unprofessional to not have a website, either. Apart from that, I think a lot of people might have never even considered reaching an audience outside of Japan. Whether this is a kind of psychological, self-defeating attitude or just simply not caring, I’m not sure. It’s strange to think of in today’s Tumblrized world, but I don’t know of too many Japanese photo students who have a good website. (I’m starting to look harder.)

The Japanese internet is different than the Western internet

Technically, of course, this is not true, but many people point to the fast development of cell phone technology in Japan as a reason that the terrestrial internet has lagged behind. Basically this story goes that, because Japanese people could surf a miniaturized version of the internet on their cellphones in the mid-90s, the development of the full-screen web experience was stunted. Compare the websites of Japan’s Bic Camera with B&H and you can see this in practice.

"You can find Dan’s original post here and don’t forget to take a look at Street Level Japan for even more insight into the world of Japanese photography!"

If you’d like to tell us more about the differences you see between American photography and what’s going on in your country, let us know in the comments section.