Junpei Ueda’s Picture of My Life, ceiba’s Edition

Little did we know we'd end up making another trade edition out of a handmade one, when we ordered a copy of Junpei Ueda's Picture of My Life.

Junpei Ueda
We're very happy to be back working with editor and curator Yumi Goto of Reminders Photography Stronghold, Tokyo, Japan. Their masterclasses proof to be very successful for many of the students.

The new edition of Picture of My Life will include some never before seen images, therefor a slightly different edit, sequence and layout, but where possible we are staying as true as possible to Junpei's original version, also in the handmade part. Which will result in a slow production process, and a "come-first, served-first" shipping policy.

We sat down with Junpei to discuss the book, his family story, and his hopes for the new edition.

Read the interview below, and pre-order your book HERE and the special edition with a print of your choice HERE!


You purchased your first camera with savings from a part-time job. Did you discover your passion for photography while traveling in Thailand?

Yes. The Thailand trip triggered my enthusiasm for photography.

I longed for the appearance of my father, who could draw since I was a child. I always wanted to be like my father, but I couldn’t paint like he could. It was with photography that I noticed that I could paint pictures.

During the trip to Thailand, I tried to shoot everything my eyes could see for the first time. Commemorative photos with the people I met on the trip, the city for the first time, the sea and mountains, the animals, the stains on the wall of the cheap hotel, the sky, the flowers, the ground. Looking at these pictures later, I think that things like my emotions at the time are reflected in them.

What are the similarities and differences between your father’s family album and Picture of My Life?

What is common between my family's family album and Picture of My Life is that what I express is “love”.

There are two differences. The first one is whether or not there is a mechanism to tell the love expressed by each book to a third party. The mechanism that was given to Picture of My Life is a story. That is very useful for telling third parties the "love" that the book represents. The second difference is that Picture of My Life deals with death. Life and death live together in the story and collide with each other, the raw light glows and the darkness of death becomes deeper.

The album that your father prepared was a love letter to your mother, but it was you and your brother who received it. Picture of My Life feels like a love letter to your parents. But for whom have you really written it? Whom do you want to reach?

With Picture of My Life I am writing a love letter for my parents. After completing the hand binding of it in 2016, my parents always felt close to me. As if they were speaking to me. Even though the body is destroyed, consciousness may be alive. I believed in the idea that "the death of living things in this world we live in is the extinction of existence and sadness", but now I have doubts about this idea.

How difficult was it to put the whole experience of the tragic loss of your parents between two covers?

After my parents' death, when I saw the family album my father made, I thought that I wanted to show people the feeling that passed through me at that time, at the age of 21. And when I finished hand-binding Picture of My Life, I was 39 years old. It takes 18 years from idea to completion. It took me 18 years to deal with the tragic loss I experienced.

By telling the story in a book, what did it change in yourself (what was the effect on you telling the story in public)?

By the end, it changed my view of life and death. Telling the story of Picture of My Life made me face the death of my parents. By noticing the sorrow of loss or feelings of guilt, I noticed the love behind it. I think that I was able to meet the consciousness of my parents who thought that they died and disappeared in the process.

Picture of My Life - inside cover

What is the meaning of the gauze on the inside covers?

I put a memorial photograph of four family members on the back cover, and put a cheesecake on top of it to keep the picture clearly invisible. This makes the viewer see the book as a story of their own family. I want you to think that "This book is also my own story.”

Our memories are continuously being reshaped. Do you think our past is static or a dynamic reflection of our present?

I think our past is dynamic. You can change as much as you wish depending on interpretation and consciousness.

What happened during those 15 years between the death of your parents and your letter to them?

There was a loss of family and regeneration. It is also my own loss and regeneration.
My parents' suicide in 1998 caused my pain to be torn off. I wanted to stop being dominated by every negative emotion, I thought that I would die, but it seems that my father's family album is said to "live," I could not die. I decided to live and be happy like my parents.

I married Kaori in 2009 and my daughter was born a year later. My new family gave me joy to live. By shooting the birth of my daughter, I remembered the suicide of my parents, who tried not to remember. And in 2013 I made a work titled Letters. It is a love letter to my parents from me. This work was exhibited in Tokyo and Osaka, and I won first prize from NIKON.

Did you go through your father’s family album often? Do you still do?

I tried not to watch much of my father's family album at that time. It made a strong impression, so once I saw it, I installed it in my head. Now I occasionally look back. As my consciousness changes with the passage of time, I check the change in appearance.

Both the album and Picture of My Life are dealing with the past. Do you think people essentially live in their past? Our future being only a continuation of our past?

There was a time when I was captured and living in the past myself. By thinking of making Picture of My Life, I think I was able to release it from the spells of my past sorrows and guilt. I think that the past is its own interpretation and it is an illusion. Our future is not a continuation of the past. I think that living in the now will make the future.

Special Edition Prints

You completed and published Picture of My Life in 2016. Why did you approach ceiba with your project, what do you expect from the new edition?

I owned two CEIBA books, Red String and The Middle of Somewhere. Both are family stories, coupled with content with a handmade feel, and both very attractive books. I thought that CEIBA would understand my hand binding and handle it carefully.

In the new edition, I collaborated with Eva of CEIBA and Yumi Goto of Reminders Photography Stronghold. I am pleased that I could discover new charm in Picture of My Life.
And, I made only 21 copies of my hand-made books. With the new edition, I want to deliver the book to as many people as possible. The book is the same as it does not exist unless someone reads it.

What is in your future, are you working on another project?

I hope to make my living as an artist.

The project that I am currently working on is entitled Grace. I do not have any particular faith, but I believe in the existence of God and the spiritual world. Grace photographs the eyes that I felt the grace of God and the spiritual world, while I was living my daily life. I will be experimenting with what kind of work can be done if I echo the photos gathered in such a way.

I am thinking how many people will see Picture of My Life. I'd like to travel around the world with it and show it to a lot of people. Can someone become my patron?




タイ旅行中には ”気になった目の前の全てを撮影する” という事に初めて挑戦しました。旅先で出会った人達との記念写真、初めての街、海や山、動物達、安宿の壁のシミ、空、花、地面。それらの写真を後から見ると当時の自分の感情のような物も一緒に写っているように思います。


あなたの父親の家族アルバムと "Picture of My Life”の類似点と相違点は何ですか?

父が作った家族アルバムと”Picture of My Life” に共通するのは表現しているものが” 愛 ”だということです。相違点は2つあります。1つ目はそれぞれの本が表現する愛を第三者に伝えるための仕掛けが用意されているか否かだと思います。Picture of My Lifeに施された仕掛けは物語です。それは本が表現している”愛”を第三者に伝えるのにとても有効です。2つ目はPicture of My Lifeが死を扱っている点です。物語の中で生と死が同居し互いにぶつかり合うことで、生の光は輝きを増し、死の闇はより深くなるのです。


あなたの父が準備したアルバムはあなたの母親への愛の手紙でしたが、それを受け取ったのはあなたとあなたの兄でした。 “Picture of My Life”はあなたの両親への愛の手紙のように感じます。しかし、あなたは本当にそれを書いていますか?誰に連絡したいのですか?

私は”Picture of My Life”で両親に愛の手紙を書いています。2016年に”Picture of My Life”の手製本を作り終えてからは、両親はいつも私の近くにいて話をしているように感じています。肉体は滅んでも意識は生きているのかもしれません。私は”私たちの生きるこの世界における生物の死は、存在の消滅であり悲しむべきもの”という考えを信じていましたが、今はこの考えに疑いを持っています。



両親の死後、父が作った家族アルバムを見たときに、当時21歳の私を貫いた感覚を作品にして、人に見せたいと思いました。そして”Picture of My Life”の手製本を完成させた時、私は39歳になっていました。着想から完成まで18年かかっています。自身が経験した悲劇的な喪失を自分で扱うには、私には18年の歳月が必要でした。



結論から言うと死生観が変わりました。Picture of My Lifeの物語を話すことは両親の自死と徹底的に向き合うことになります。喪失の悲しみや自らの罪悪感を見つめることで、その裏側にある愛に気づきました。私はその過程で死んで消滅したと思っていた両親の意識に出会えたと思っています。






Picture of My Life - making of




2009年に香織と結婚して、1年後に長女が生まれました。新しい家族は私に生きる喜びを与えました。娘の誕生を撮影したことで、思い出さないようにしていた両親の自死を思い出しました。そして2013年に”手紙”と言うタイトルの作品を作りました。これは私から両親への愛の手紙です。この作品を東京と大阪で展示し、NIKONからFirst prizeを貰いました。





アルバムと "Picture of My Life”の両方が過去を扱っている。人々は本質的に過去に住んでいると思いますか?私たちの未来は私たちの過去の継続にすぎませんか?

私には過去に囚われて生きている時期がありました。Picture of My Lifeを作ることで、自らの過去にある悲しみと罪悪感の呪縛から解き放たれる事が出来たと思っています。私は過去とは自らの解釈であり、幻想だと思っています。私達の未来は過去の継続ではありません。『今をどう生きるのか』が未来を作るのだと思っています。


あなたは2016年に「Picture of My Life」を完成し、出版しました。なぜあなたはあなたのプロジェクトでceibaにアプローチしましたか?新版から何を期待していますか?

Picture of My Lifeceibaの本は2冊持っていました。RED STRINGS とTHE MIDDLE OF SOMEWHERE です。両方とも家族の物語で、手作り感のある装丁と内容が相まってとても魅力的な本です。自分の手製本を理解して大切に扱ってくれるのはCeibaだろうと思ってアプローチしました。

新版ではceibaのEVAさんとReminders Photography Strongholdの後藤由美さんとの共同編集に挑戦しています。Picture of My Lifeの新たな魅力を発見出来たと嬉しく思っています。






後はPicture of My Lifeをどうやって沢山の人達に見て貰おうかと考えています。Picture of My Lifeを持って世界中を旅して、沢山の人達に見せて回りたいです。誰か私のパトロンになってくれませんか?

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