Vacuum Sealed People: The Art of Photographer Hal

photographer hal

Haruhiko Kawaguchi, or “Photographer Hal” as he is sometimes referred to, is a Tokyo based artist that captures almost surreal photos of couples. While they could be called portraits, Kawaguchi ups the ante, and the risk factor, for his work by asking his subjects to get into vacuum sealed bags for their photos. The resulting portraits are unlike any ever seen. Couples, trapped in each others embrace, are allowed to take with them what they wish. Some bring their possessions and all, while others seem satisfied with the company of their partners, deeming even their clothing superfluous and clamoring together into the bag completely naked.

In a recent interview with Vice, the artist discussed his creative process, detailing how he initially began taking photos of couples in small spaces to communicate the closeness between them. He explained “When you embrace your lover, sometimes you wish to melt right into them. To realize this wish, I’ve been photographing couples in small, cramped spaces. Soon I reached the point of photographing couples in vacuum-sealed packs. As my work has become more and more intense, I’ve noticed that communication is indispensable.” In his interview, he also explained that each shot comes with inherent risks; as the couples are placed into the bags and the air is completely sucked out, Kawaguchi has only a few seconds to capture his image without harming his subject. Unwilling to subject others to something he himself would not do, the artist has even climbed into the bag for a portrait of his own.

His two series Flesh Love and Zatsuran were globally well received, and the shots have garnished Kawaguchi international attention, including a sponsorship from Condomania. You can see more of his work on his website, and read the entire interview on Vice.

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