Staying in touch with one’s family is often hard. Even the strongest memories can prove to be false. So why not just take perfectly set-up family portraits and misconstrue them actively by yourself? You can’t put your arms around a memory.
PHOTOGRAPHY & WORDS BY CHIHIRO LIA OTTSU
The idea was to bring my family together. The relationship between my mum and little sister had been strained for several years. I understand every family has their own issues. Taking our family portrait seemed to be my way of bringing everyone closer together again.
The first family portrait we took dates back to 2012, before I moved to Australia for four years. At that point in time it was only the immediate family, but as we grew and time progressed the family enlarged to include my sister’s husband, their new-born and my beloved partner, who was only visiting for a short period from Germany.
My mum was excited and asked me lots of questions about what she should wear. I told her to wear a semi-formal, classy outfit. Knowing her, of course, she bought new clothes for the occasion. My sister, on the other hand, was quite easy and quick, but worried about what her husband should wear. I think men are easy. I told my sister and mum to put suits on their partners.
On the day of the shoot, we headed to the studio in Tokyo. My partner and I went along with my sister and her husband, and my parents went by themselves. My mum called me and told me they had arrived early so they had parked near a convenience store. When we arrived shortly after, we found them eating ice-cream sitting side by side in the car, smiling through the blurry car window. It looked very funny and my sister started laughing, which was only a short moment but marked the first step towards breaking the tension between my mum and her.
When the shoot started, everyone seemed a bit nervous. I was busy setting up the camera and lighting and the small studio’s atmosphere started to make everyone more and more comfortable. We began to decide and arrange where to stand and position ourselves and started to shoot. We took lots of photos, trying to get good, happy shots, and everyone enjoyed the process. We had enough time to take each couple individually, so I took photos of my parent, who had just turned over 50 and become grand-parents for the first time in their lives and my little sister who had got married and had a beautiful boy with her kind husband. The last photos I took were of me and my partner, who has shown me many new things and let me discover a new side of myself through him.
In conclusion, this is my family, who I love.
As published in TISSUE Magazine N°666FFF / Released in November 2019 in Japan.
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Chihiro Lia Ottsu is a Japanese female photographer currently living and working in Berlin. Lia is a very good friend of Chico Takeda of Neu Banal, our Japanese distribution, and we are very proud and honoured to have had her with us as a part of Team TISSUE in Tokyo and Morioka (Japan) in November 2019 for the release of TISSUE N°666FFF. We strongly advice you to take a look at her poetic photographic work.