Fresh from two days in Tokyo where she’d been doing the final checks for the 15 exhibition-strong KYOTOGRAPHIE festival, Metropolis met with Co-Founder and Co-Director Lucille Reyboz, in her buzzing machiya-style office in Kyoto. Originally from Paris, Lucille was floating between French, Japanese and English with her multilingual team, who were back and forth asking for final proofs as we took a seat at the chabudai and chatted all things Kyoto and the inspiration behind this now internationally renowned event.

Kyotographie Kyoto Photography 2018 art culture exhibition

Frank Horvat, For “STERN”, shoes and Eiffel Tower, 1974, Paris, France © Frank Horvat

What brought you to Kyoto?

I lived in Tokyo for a number of years but moved to Kyoto after the earthquake in 2011 when my eldest daughter was three. I met my husband (Kyotographie’s Co-founder and Co-director) Yusuke Nakanishi just before this. We – everyone – was deeply shaken by such an event. It stirred something in us to move to Kyoto and start something new.

What inspired you to start Kyotographie?

I’m a photographer and Yusuke is a lighting director so we’ve always had an involvement in the creative industry but never before planned events, especially on this scale. Following the earthquake we felt that we wanted to set up something for the community where people would be inspired to create a dialogue through imagery. Photography is such a strong medium for both self-expression and highlighting cultural awareness, yet here in Japan, a country where photography is so highly respected, there’s actually very limited outlets for photographers to showcase their work. We were inspired to do something that would awaken people’s consciousness whilst bringing artists a platform in which to display their work and the power it has to help us acknowledge and understand the world around us.

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Grace revised and updated, painted photo, New York, 1978 © Jean-Paul Goude

What is the goal for KYOTOGRAPHIE?

Our theme for 2018 is “UP.” In today’s world it is easy to feel burdened by the issues we face both personally and as a global community. This year and every year, we want stimulate a conversation about the world in which we live, to change our world through awareness, action and creation. Our hope is that visitors encounter UP in the various forms presented in KYOTOGRAPHIE and engage with these diverse values.

Following this year’s festival, our focus is to keep surprising people with novel programmes of events, from the exhibitions themselves to the public workshops, talks and masterclasses. We spend a lot of time putting together a varied and interesting programme. It’s this quality that’s meant we’ve become recognized as one of the world’s leading photography events and we’re lucky enough to collaborate with some incredibly well-respected experts in the field. Simon Baker, an ex-Tate Modern curator, is working closely on one of our exhibitions and along with a number of other famous publishers and curators has been so helpful in the development of the festival. Last year alone we had a 46% increase in visitor numbers and we only want this trend to continue.

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Hiding in the vineyards with the Ruinart Cellar Master, Liu Bolin for Ruinart, 2017 ©︎ Liu Bolin

Why Kyoto?

Kyoto is a very artistic place. It’s traditional but forward-thinking and we’ve managed to find space to grow here, becoming a celebrated part of the Kyoto calendar. Here we can open doors for artists to break from the norms of exhibiting in a white space, displaying their work in different and unusual venues, from Kenninji temple (otherwise usually closed to the public) to a 280-year old warehouse situated on the grounds of a kimono and obi artisan to an industrial style space in Kyoto’s central food market. That’s the beauty of KYOTOGRAPHIE – the spirit of Kyoto makes it special.

Kyotographie Kyoto Photography 2018 art culture exhibition

Lauren Greenfield, Xue Qiwen, 43, in her Shanghai apartment, decorated with furniture from her favorite brand, Versace, 2005 Lauren Greenfield/INSTITUTE

KYOTOGRAPHIE is taking place from April 14th – May 13th, presenting over 15 exhibitions centered around the theme “UP”, all shown in Kyoto venues with original scenography.
KYOTOGRAPHIE offers programs for everyone; students, children, amateurs and professionals. These include masterclasses with internationally renowned photographers, in-exhibition talks, workshops, children’s events and guided tours.

Visit for the full schedule.