About Noriko Hayashi
Noriko Hayashi is a Japanese photographer focusing on social issues and human conditions across the globe.
Noriko began taking pictures whilst studying International Relations and Conflict studies in The Gambia, West Africa in 2007. Whilst at university, she began taking pictures for a small local newspaper called “The Point”.
Working in a small place like Gambia, which is rarely the focus of international news but is full of interesting people and stories taught her the value of focusing on the often-overlooked aspects of global societies.
Noriko’s work has been recognized by various international awards, including winning 1st prize in the 2014 ‘Contemporary Issue Stories’ category of the ‘NPPA Best of Photojournalism’ award, winning the 2013 ‘Visa d’Or Feature Award’ at Visa Pour I’image, and winning 1st prize in the 2012 ‘DAYS JAPAN International Photojournalism Award’. Her documentary work was also a finalist for the 2013 Alexia Foundation Professional Award.
Noriko’s works have been published internationally in titles including The Washington Post, Der Spiegel, National Geographic Japan, Marie Claire UK, Le Monde and Newsweek and DAYS JAPAN.
Noriko has also published a book with National Geographic Japan on the subject of bride kidnappings in Kyrgyzstan, entitled “Ala Kachuu”.
Describe the moment you knew photography changed your life .
Thinking back it’s hard to find that particular moment. I never dreamt about being a photographer when I was younger. I basically just tried a variety of things I was interested in, and in doing so again and again, eventually, I ended up becoming a photographer.
However, I would definitely say that traveling to the Gambia when I was a university student changed the direction of my life. At that time, I wanted to work for an NGO or a humanitarian organization, so to gain practical experience; I started volunteering at a local school. I also wanted to do other things and get to know more about the country, so it occurred to me that working at a local newspaper would enable me to do this.
So I visited The Point, an independent local newspaper. I had absolutely no reporting experience, but I just showed up anyway and asked the editor in chief to hire me. He asked, “What can you do for us?”, and because I didn’t have any particular skills to offer I said, “I can take pictures!”, even though I didn’t know the first thing about using a camera. To my surprise I was told to start working with a reporter the next day.
That was the moment that set the direction of my life toward photography.
If you could sum up your work in one word or one sentence, what would that be?
My work is about connecting people and stories in an intimate way through photographs.
What is the most remarkable person, place or thing you have ever photographed and why?
Everyone is remarkable in his or her own way so I can’t choose one person or place. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to portray many wonderful people across different cultures, each with a unique background and society.
Talk to us about your bucket list... what is on the top of your list of things to photograph?
I actually don’t have a list of things to photograph. I don’t even know where I will be shooting three months from now! However, there are various stories and issues I am interested in, and I keep researching them. Since I am based in Tokyo, I will most likely continue photographing stories at home in Japan in between working on overseas projects. But I’m always open to new ideas.
If you had not become a photographer, what might you be today?
Either an interior designer or an aid worker.
Give us your thoughts about the Global Imaging Ambassadors programme.
I appreciate how the program calls attention to today’s global issues. It gives the opportunity to photographers and audiences to reflect upon the future of cities and, in extension, humankind.
What is your favourite Sony camera of the moment?
I used both the Sony RX1 and the Sony α7 II for my #FutureofCities project, and I loved them both! They are light, easy to use, and the amount of information contained in the photo files is just incredible. Super high quality. One of their best features is the shutter sound - it’s almost imperceptible, and this is really important when you don’t want to disturb the subjects or the situation in front of you.