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A Possession Obsession: Kenro Izu

Photographer Kenro Izu captures more than just moments - he captures what is iconic, making his still life photography a moveable force in itself. It was in 1974 that Izu established Kenro Izu Studio in New York, and it was only a matter of time before his commercial photography evolved into fine art photography. In 1979 - Inspired by his first visit to Egypt - Izu decided to start his series of "Sacred Places of the World" where he captured the world's most sacred ancient monuments from Syria to Scotland to Chile. Izu moved onto a series inspired by the people of Bhutan, as well as a series in Angkor, Cambodia where he founded a not-for-profit organization called Friends Without A Border - which funds a children's hospital that's treated more than one million Cambodian children to date. Izu brings a kind of contemplation and thoughtfulness to the people, places and things we many times take for granted, and his platinum prints serve as a timeless medium. Speaking of timeless, we sat down with Izu to talk about his possession obsession - his treasured old Leica M4 - an heirloom that, as always, is not as much an object as it is a story.

1.What is your possession obsession?

Though I am no longer ‘obsessed’ with it, my old Leica M4 possesses many memories of my early days as a photographer, and it became my symbol of the dream of a young photographer.

Sadly I rarely use it nowadays, as my main camera is a huge view camera with 14inch by 20inch film.

But when I hold the M4, the days of my twenties come back vividly.

2. Tell us how you came to own this precious object. 

When I touched the beautiful second hand Leica M4 at a camera store in NYC, felt the shutter, and heard its sound, I was convinced I had to own it. And the lens, which I bought with the M4, was the Summicron 35mm, which could capture images that were very organic and seductive, unlike my other Japanese cameras.

Since then I have become a Leica enthusiast.

3. How do you live with your possession obsession?

I keep it in my antique pine cabinet, which I use as camera storage in my studio in the country.

Each time I open the cabinet to pick a lens or camera for a project I am working on, I see the M4, which makes me smile.

4. Fill in the blank: Whenever I look at__my_dog_____, I can’t help but smile.

5. What is the best part of your day? 

After I finish work at my studio, which overlooks our lake. It’s usually around the sunset time and we open a bottle of wine.

6. What was the most memorable gift you’ve ever given or received? 

A surprise gift, which was given to me by a fellow board member on stage at a fundraiser, was a wind chime made out of dime-sized discs. It had about one hundred baby's finger imprints on clay, which then was glazed and fired.

The finger imprints were made by Cambodian children, who came to a hospital which I founded fourteen years ago in Cambodia.
*Photo by Monica Rich Kosann