Maxime Ballesteros, An Anti-Portrait of a City

Best known for his iconic depictions of daily life in Berlin, the photographer takes his provocative regard to Tokyo.

16.07.2021

Maxime Ballesteros @Iconoclast Germany, 2014, Japan

French photographer Maxime Ballesteros has been creating iconic images for over a decade. His work has been featured in the world’s most influential fashion and art magazines and he has collaborated with a number of major brands across the globe. 

Having graduated from art school in Saint-Etienne in 2007, Maxime Ballesteros moved to Berlin where he lived until 2020. His images are provocative and sexy; they capture the intangibility of sex and youth, his signature harsh flash becoming an influential aesthetic marker for many who came after. 

Having spent the best part of a decade encyclopaedically documenting daily life in Berlin, in 2014 Maxime Ballesteros travelled to Tokyo with his wife Jen, a stylist. The series of images taken during his trip capture, with the same gritty detail, the minute observations that pieced together paint a poignant portrait. 

 

Blister plasters and toilet roll holders

From a high-heeled foot strapped up with a blister plaster, to trees wrapped in protective plastic, geisha in a market, piles of trash, solo diners, or a toilet with seven toilet-roll holders, Maxime Ballesteros captures the small, unremarkable details that make up a place. There are also a number of images taken in collaboration with Jen, featuring models Bec U and Julie Roche.

Refreshingly distinct from the often clichéd images of Japan’s capital, captured by incoming photographers, Maxime Ballesteros hones in on the people and their practices with his signature flair. ‘The photos that he takes aren’t in the realm of slapstick: the instant, easy gratification of a social media cookie reward. Maxime is a hunter, locked and loaded, waiting—hidden in plain sight—for the exact moment to take the shot, when the aim is precise, and his subject is blissfully unaware of his presence,’ writes Caroline Gaimari (Fashion Director & Executive Editor of Purple Fashion Magazine) of Maxime Ballesteros’s practice. ‘It’s a sort of futuristic virtual reality, where objects and places express their feelings and emotions through Maxime’s lens.’

 

Find more work by Maxime Ballesteros on his website or on Instagram.

Maxime Ballesteros @Iconoclast Germany, 2014, Japan

Maxime Ballesteros @Iconoclast Germany, 2014, Japan

Maxime Ballesteros @Iconoclast Germany, 2014, Japan

Maxime Ballesteros @Iconoclast Germany, 2014, Japan

Maxime Ballesteros @Iconoclast Germany, 2014, Japan

Maxime Ballesteros @Iconoclast Germany, 2014, Japan

Maxime Ballesteros @Iconoclast Germany, 2014, Japan

Maxime Ballesteros @Iconoclast Germany, 2014, Japan

Maxime Ballesteros @Iconoclast Germany, 2014, Japan

Maxime Ballesteros @Iconoclast Germany, 2014, Japan

Maxime Ballesteros @Iconoclast Germany, 2014, Japan