It all started with the simple and accidental discovery of some engaging black and white photos on Tumblr. Michael Tanji, a young cinematographer from Hawaii could not stop sifting through the large body of amazing work. The work was all shot on film by talented photographer, Ryan Muirhead. Ever since then, a spark of curiosity had grown in Michael. It started a journey filled with the capturing of shadow, light and subject with film to create beautiful works. This article is not just about an everyday photographer who shoots with an I-phone, but instead an artist who paints a picture in his mind and brings it to life, engraving it with grain, soul and heart.
With his new curiosity, Michael hit the ground running. Using his knowledge of lighting and camera work from film school, he began shooting quickly. He played with light and color with the intent of coming up with a style that wasn’t of the norm, but unique. His process always started with an idea that he would manifest, always with a clear plan ahead of time. He understood exactly what he wanted and what it would take to get it. He was patient and crafted with a careful step, always using his own gut, trusting himself to carry out his work.
The process was one thing that attracted Michael to the use of film. He liked that if you did everything right when setting up your shot, you would end up with exactly what was in front of the lens. Also the idea of experimenting and ending up with a surprising result was engaging. The use of black and white film was also a must for Michael as he found it simplistic and pure. He liked that people could focus more on the image. He liked the vibe that a black and white image carried.
Another point of film photography that Michael liked was how much attention was given to the image and subject. It’s a bit different than the digital world where sometimes one is glued to the back of a camera, not paying attention to the work ahead. He described working with film as more hands on, the idea that you are working with so many variables to create something. The image that you want. He liked the idea that film was organic and that in the end you are left with a physical piece. That stuck with him the most.
Besides the visual look of his images, Michael liked to focus in on his subjects. He did his best to create a sense of mystery or mood. In love with the idea that women endure emotional journeys more than men, Michael created many pieces with powerful emotion. He has created photos with a kind of beautiful sadness, highlighted with light and the subjects expression. He created pictures with a feeling of melancholia. Pictures that held depth and make us look into them, searching for something to fill the void. The type of work that makes us think. That type of work that moves us.
Michael’s journey still continues today as he shoots, creating pictures full of life and wonder. He experiments with light, color and soul to move those who gaze at his work. His art is not just random pictures, but still images breathed to life by Michael’s eyes and intuition. He takes an idea and brings it to life. He crafts it with his hands and molds it with his heart. The end result is a picture that has us stopping and looking with amazement.
Article By Andrew Pezzulo