Fujifilm has dropped photographer Tatsuo Suzuki from their team of X-Photographers following outrage in response to his in-your-face style of shooting.
As reported by Fuji Rumors, Suzuki is no longer listed on the manufacturer’s website after Fujifilm used a short film featuring the photographer as part of a promotion for its new X100V camera. The YouTube video — since removed and then reuploaded elsewhere — showed Suzuki’s method of shooting on the streets of Tokyo, where he obstructs people’s paths and prompts people to cover their faces to avoid the intrusion.
As detailed in this opinion piece, such an intrusive style produces images that are more and more seen to be an expression of the photographer’s ego rather than a depiction of life on the street. Some — including fellow X-Photographers — are outraged by the outrage, while others claim that this a “revered art form” that is beyond criticism. That may have been the case once, but attitudes are shifting, and there is now a better understanding of how a camera can be a tool to exert subtle systems of power that are available to — and then benefit — certain groups. This includes the fellow photographers, galleries, editors, books, magazines, and agencies — who then elevate it as something noble and heroic and are part of how the value of a piece of art is determined. With the democratization of the medium and developments in visual culture more broadly, taste — and those who determine it — is starting to change.
There is yet to be an official statement from Fujifilm. Some have suggested that the manufacturer should have left the film online and then distanced themselves from it, acknowledging the mistake. Hindsight will determine what may have been the better course of action.