Dreams and Emotions Expressed in Images Rather than Words

In the series 'Girl', photographer Yoshiyuki Okuyama stimulates his memories and brings them back to the surface.


WordsHenri Robert

“Girl”, 2012, Yoshiyuki Okuyama

While we sleep, we organize the information gathered during the day. Colours, sounds, smells, temperatures; joy as well as sadness, frustrating moments and moments when we were at peace. People we met, scenes we encountered.’ Yoshiyuki Okuyama records emotions, images that remain etched in our minds. These are presented in the series Girl, which was awarded the New Cosmos Photography Grand Prize in 2012, and was republished in 2019 by Bootleg.

Born in Tokyo in 1991, Yoshiyuki Okuyama graduated from the Faculty of Law at Keio University. Having harboured a passion for photography since college, he made it his career, between artistic and commercial practice.


Memory hunter

Useful information will be remembered, and whatever is found to be useless is discarded. This process of organising, if we can remember it, is what we call dreams. They start to fade the moment we awake, and soon feel like memories from a distant past. This series is a photographic exploration of such mental images and emotional memory’, the artist continues in the text accompanying the series. 

These random shots, the grain used and the intensity created by the images, allow the artist to draw the public into an intimate world that questions their own memories and the meaning of their dreams. The photographs compiled in Girl present sheets, curtains, symbols of dreams, in the sense that these materials can allow us to cut ourselves off from reality, but also to escape ourselves. The changes in focus evoke the stimulation of memory, its repetition in our brain, with nuances appearing each time these memories resurface. In the published work, these photographs have sometimes been subtly retouched so that the same image cleverly reappears and becomes the reader’s experience of their own memories and dreams, repeating as they read.

In order to distance himself from the brutality of language, with its clear and precise words that define a thought or an image in exact terms, Yoshiyuki Okuyama chose photography. He considers the discipline to be synonymous with the public’s freedom to interpret his photographs from a variety of different angles, and it leaves the photographer the possibility of retaining the ambiguity and the undefined nature of emotions.

In 2020, a new series entitled The Good Side was published by Éditions Bessard. Also extremely personal and intimate, it sees the artist ‘[take] you along his honeymoon and [capture] these personal moments to be present forever.’


Girl (2012), a book of photographs by Yoshiyuki Okuyama, is published in 2019 by Bootleg.

'Girl', 2012, Yoshiyuki Okuyama

'Girl', 2012, Yoshiyuki Okuyama

'Girl', 2012, Yoshiyuki Okuyama

© Bootleg