Talking to Steward Magazine, Kusters has discussed his recent photo book chronicling his interactions with the Japanese mafia
Photographer Anton Kusters spent two years working with a yakuza group in Japan, culminating in the publishing of his book Odo Yakuza Tokyo in 2011, which is currently in its second printing. Kussers has talked to Steward Magazine about the process, of how he made contact with the gang, and of photographing them. It seems as though being part of an art project played to the pride of his subjects, but the pressures on him were immense. As he tells it:
I was extremely nervous. Since they are gangsters, I thought I should be very careful, in case I shot something I wasn’t supposed to see. But this actually upset the gang. They saw my nervousness as disrespectful. I remember one time early on this guy pulled me aside and said, “You are here to take pictures. Act like a professional.” It turned out they respected me if I was really aggressive about getting a certain shot. To not take photos was a sign of weakness.
Kusters portrays the yakuza as a comparatively benign, white-collar organization, in contrast to some of the more brutal reporting that you'll see elsewhere. This has caused some to accuse him of brushing over some of the more distasteful aspects of the organization.
[image via The Awesomer]