A couple of weeks ago, on Wednesday, January 18, 2023, Poly hosted American photojournalist and filmmaker Torin Boyd. The Global Initiatives Program event focused on Boyd’s work in modern-day Japan and his current project: a film about Pasadena native and fellow photojournalist Stanely Troutman.
To begin the event, Boyd gave a short introduction of himself, then walked through the past year in Japan through some of his works. Boyd has lived in Japan for the last 35 years, photographing major events such as the Tokyo Olympics, the assassination of prime minister Shinzo Abe, and the anti-Ukraine war sentiment. When describing his works, I noticed how Boyd focused many of his photographs on the storytelling aspect of an event and the people, rather than the main events. For example, when photographing the Tokyo Olympics, Boyd photographed Japanese civilians who wanted the games canceled due to the spread of covid-19. His pictures beautifully captured the passion the Japanese had for the safety of their country.
Furthermore, Boyd shared photos of Japanese civilians from the days after the assassination of prime minister Shinzo Abe. In his photos, he captured the moments people found out the news about their prime minister. Not only did Boyd capture the moment, but he also documented the weeks of grieving afterward.
Finally, Boyd showed us his photographs of the anti-Ukraine war sentiment in Japan. His photos consisted of demonstrators in front of the Russian embassy. He connected Japan’s history and the fact that the Hiroshima bomb survivors were some of the most avid protesters of the war. His photos really captured their devotion, with many protesting despite heavy rain and unfavorable weather conditions.
Overall, I saw a common theme of storytelling and emotion throughout Boyd’s work. I was really inspired by Boyd’s photos from Japanese protests and his ability to capture stories within still photos. I remember him saying that the most important part of a photo is how it makes the viewer feel, not necessarily what they see.
After going through his work from this past year, Boyd transitioned into talking about his upcoming film about Stanley Troutman which is currently in the making. Then, Boyd went through Stanley’s life story, explaining how he started photography in Hollywood, then traveled to war, and finally ended with sports documentation. Personally, I was fascinated by Stanley’s bravery as a photographer who traveled armed only with a camera to war and as one of the first photographers to photograph Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
I really enjoyed hearing about both Boyd and Troutman’s connection to photography and was truly inspired by their storytelling abilities.