Thursday, October 20, 2011
Natsumi Hayashi: The Girl Who Leapt Through Tokyo
Posted by Jay at 8:28 PM
Fifty years since Philippe Halsman's Jumpology, one might ask "What is the present state of the photographic jump shot?" Across the Atlantic from where Halsman made his jump photograph, the Levitating Girl shows that the next stage isn't just jumping, but floating in mid-air. Natsumi Hayashi, the girl who leapt through Tokyo, shows the rest of the world how jump shots are supposed to be done.
You may have already seen a few photos floating around the interwebs of this now famous Japanese girl enchantingly floating in mid-air. Natsumi Hayashi works as an assistant to artist and photographer Hisaji Hara, so it's not hard to see the creatively constructed scenes of herself mysteriously frozen in space and time.
Hayashi began her attempts at capturing her jumping attempts on camera towards the end of 2010, shooting a different scene every week or so. After a dozen or so attempts, she managed to create her own style which really started to soar in the beginning of this year.
Hayashi's fantastic photographs don't come about by chance; in order to get the right shot, she either has the assistance of a friend to photograph her, or more often than not, she uses a tripod, a DSLR camera with a 10-second timer, and a lot of patience and skill.
Even with the right equipment and skill however, the photographer still has to depend on a fair amount of luck in order to get the right shot. After she's found the right spot to pose for her photograph, Hayashi starts to jump. And jump. And jump again. Sometimes it might take up to 300 jumps in order to get one of these perfectly posed images.
It's not just getting the right pose that's important; the people around her also have to work with her, sometimes unknowingly, sometimes with a hint that they somehow understand what's going on. She recounts one occasion where here incessant jumping alarmed some people nearby. So she stopped jumping and told them, 'I am taking jumping photos to make a slide show for my wedding party.' Then they blushed and told me, 'Oh sorry!' 'Congratulations!' 'Good luck jumping!'"
The magic of her jump shots is that they don't appear to be jump photographs at all; Hayashi looks like she's either flying in place or levitating effortlessly towards her destination, hence her nickname, "Tokyo's Levitating Girl". In some scenes, she appears to be leaping with great speed through the streets, or up towards a flight of stairs.
Hayashi also takes great care in changing the scenery every once in a while. Thus, today might find her leaping through the doors of the busy Tokyo Metro trains, tomorrow might see her flying through the quiet woods just outside the city. Her "Today's Levitation" series as it's called is as much a self-portrait of the photographer as much as it is of Tokyo itself.
To top it all off, Hayashi shows almost no emotion in her photographs, floating nonchalant about her surroundings and detached from the people around her. Yet, there's a certain joviality in her photographs, even if she doesn't show it. Just as the previous post showed that even the tiniest hop can elicit a smile out of the grumpiest face, Hayashi's own joy pervades out of her levitating photographs.
Natsumi Hayashi, the magnificent levitating girl who leapt through Tokyo, has a blog here. You'll find more of her jumping skills put to enthralling use there, although it doesn't appear to have been updated in awhile. For a look at how people used to make jump shots some 50 years ago, look over here.