UTIYA Magazine
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Lisa Kato

UTIYA Magazine

Your photography is dedicated to people, with a particular affinity for the gentleman. What fascinates you about them?

Lisa Kato

I’ve been working on gentlemen’s portraits since 2009. In the beginning I wasn’t sure I was so fascinated by them but as the time passes I realized I’ve been looking for both of my grandfather’s shadow who was already past away before my birth or I can’t remember. Same time gentlemen portraits are my idealization

How do you recognize a gentleman? 


You took the cover photo for T Magazine Japan of Ryuichi Sakamoto. Is he a gentleman?

Yes, definitely.

Were you nervous about photographing one of the greatest geniuses in your country? 

I started my career here in New York. I haven’t been able to done any great photoshoots in Japan, yet!

How do you overcome fear?

Well preparation.

Have you ever messed up a job?

Not big one yet but a lot of unsuccessful photoshoots…

Did Ryuichi Sakamoto play for you? Or: Was there a special moment with Ryuichi Sakamoto?

Middle of photo session with him, he started playing piano for us. The photoshoot was at a quite big music studio that orchestra could play. That moment, there was only a grand piano and him in front my eyes.

That’s one of my very memorable moments in my life.

(Who said this, there is no Name, but we should take it in.): „First things first, Lisa Kato is the reason why I look so photogenic in 90% of my New York photos! Most of the time having just stepped off a plane, I know I will never have any red-eye or wonky face shots in Lisa’s pictures! The truth is that she knows how to take the most flattering photos, so my secrets out!“ TRADEMARK BLUE

This is written by Will Varnam who is a writer based in UK.

Will you reveal your secret to us?

Umm…what do you want to know about me ;-)♡?

You are married to photographer Koki Sato, your private life also tells a lot about your esthetic. How do two photographers choose their wedding photographer? What is his name? And what inspired you toward your wedding dress and hairstyle? 

We asked Cotaro Ishii who is one of my best friends I grew up with and coincidentally a photographer based in Tokyo as a main photographer for our wedding.

Since I moved to the united state, I recognized beauty of Japan. If I get a chance to do a wedding, I wanted to do it as very traditional way.

The wedding photo which I sent you was taken by other photographer of our friends names Shinya Hashimoto (we all were in same photography major at collage). He runs a family photo studio in Tokyo as fourth generation of his family business.

You live as a Japanese person in New York, is there anything that makes you laugh at New Yorkers or that annoys you? What have you learned from New Yorkers? 

I feel like New York is very open for anyone but they don’t chase one who leaves. If you are simply serious about what you want to do, New Yorkers help you. Also as a Japanese I needed to learn how to joke! New Yorkers make great jokes and I love them!

For artists, New York is an expensive and, in winter, icy cold struggle for survival. Is it worth it?

Yes, totally worth it! I love four seasons here change so dramatically. Never get bored.

What relatively unknown place should one have seen in New York?

It's not really relatively unknown place but “The beekman hotel” is my favorite. I can feel classic New York.

Your grandfather had a photography shop. Did that shape you? 

Unfortunately my grandfather was already passed away before I was bone but my grandmother kept running the photography shop and she taught me how to use cameras and support me to became a photographer. I wish I could show to my grandfather what I do now.


In many religions it is believed that a photo steals a person's soul. Have you ever felt like you've stolen a soul?

Umm…I’ve never felt photography works that way. I feel photography freeze great moments and keep inside of your mind.


And if so, are you taking good care of Ryuichi Sakamoto's soul?

Interview: Maielin van Eilum

Lisa Kato