Text by Alice B. Miller • Images by Hashi
What makes Hashi’s still life images so compelling? Their grace, composition, texture, lighting? Their uncanny ability to stop time?
While clients have their own take on the subject—Remy Martin, Stuart Weitzman, Coca-Cola, Asahi Beer, Listerine, Toto, Kirin Beer, Gordon’s Gin, Tanqueray, and Panasonic, as well as hundreds of other manufacturers, magazines, stock clients, and fine art devotees—draw the same conclusion: Hashi’s images are magic.
That diversity suits Hashi just fine. "How we perceive photographs is unique to each one of us," he explains. "As a photographer it’s my challenge to help people see things in a way they haven’t seen them before, to take the time to think about the things they are constantly rushing by in their everyday lives."
The still life object, small and silent, is the brass ring in the world of advertising. How well a photographer can manipulate that object to excite the magazine browser can make or break a commercial photographer. Favoring spot lighting and dark backgrounds, Hashi makes his objects appear mysterious and bold.
"A photographer must have an active imagination," says Hashi, "and flawless technique to match. Like a magician, his results must be fantastic, his technique, invisible."
When shooting a product—no matter how simple its function or appearance may seem—to Hashi it’s "the most unique, most aesthetically striking object in the world." When he’s created an ad in which an everyday object catches the harried consumer’s eye, he feels he’s done his job, met that challenge.
How did he transform some "simple" objects into captivating images?
For our cover photo of the red bottle, Hashi used a four-foot bank and a Sinar 8x10 camera with a Kodak Commercial Ektar 12-inch lens. He borrowed the bottle from a friend, who always drank from it whenever he visited. The surface was a grid, like the kind used for light fixtures.
His signature "Action Still Life" technique is exemplified by the images shown on pages 10, 11, and 13. With high-speed flash and split-second timing, he catches the flowing, spraying, and sliding of liquids and objects.
The Absolut images (p. 13, bottom, left and right), shot with a Sinar 8x10, were great fun to do. Recalls Hashi, "I’ve always admired and respected the whole concept of their campaign. Each ad is fun and unique, even though the overall concept hasn’t changed in years."
Not all of his product shots are created within the studio. Depending on the concept and the function of the product—is it something to be used or seen outdoors?—Hashi shoots on location from time to time.
One memorable outdoor shot was for Japan Tobacco (p.11, bottom). Recalls Hashi: "I shot the beach on St. Croix with a Deardorff 8x10 and the shell with the smoke in the studio with a Sinar 4x5. The client had actually seen an earlier fine art photograph of mine with smoke floating out of a shell and wanted that same image with the background of a beach before sunrise. Originally we were going to shoot the shell on location, but when the wind became a factor, we shot the shell in the studio and put the two images together in post-production."
Another such project was a sports shoot for Panasonic (p. 13, left). Explains Hashi, "The client wanted a shot that was realistic yet really dramatic with the splash as the player hit the ground. I shot this at night with a big crew, and of course, as is always the case with outdoor shots, nature took over—a huge thunderstorm came, completely unexpectedly. While the rain made the shoot very dangerous, it did help us get that dramatic splash that the client was looking for."
Being "fluent" in film and digital capture, Hashi tailors the format to the demands of the job and the client’s plans for the images. He recalls one occasion where he had to switch formats midstream to save the shoot.
"Two images were portraits, one of an adult model and another of a child model. For the more experienced adult, the slower speed of digital was not a problem, but it was too slow to capture the child’s natural expressions, so we switched mid-production to film for best results."