Through recent research into Japanese photography, particularly the photographers of Provoke magazine published in the 60's and 70's, I have come to realise that the concept of Are-Bure-Boke has had the greatest effect on the development of my practice. 

Although Are-Bure-Boke, which roughly translates as rough. blurry, out-of-focus, was not pioneered by photographers such as Takuma Nakahira and Daido Moriyama, it was these photographers that the idea became a concept and style in its own right and with whom the term was coined (Wholey, 2013). These photographers, however, were influenced by photographers such as William Klein and Garry Winogrand who were already pushing back against traditional photographic convention (Michael Hoppen Gallery, 2018). 

Image by Garry Winogrand. Winogrand often used unconventional compositions in his images.(

Image by Garry Winogrand. Winogrand often used unconventional compositions in his images.(

 I was first introduced to the work of William Klein whilst viewing an exhibition of his work at the Tate Modern in 2012. Funnily enough it was a joint exhibition with Moriyama, but at the time I was not taken with the work of the Japanese photographer. Klein's work left a huge impression on me and I particularly liked how he pushed the boundaries of what photography was and should be, often grudgingly taking on assignments and often shooting them completely differently than expected. His work for Vogue summed up his attitude, pushing the boundaries of what was acceptable for the magazine, shooting fashion editorials in the same style as his street photography (Klein and Campany, 2012).         

Image by William Klein from New York. (

Image by William Klein from New York. (

The important aspect for me and my work is not the aesthetic of Are-Bure-Boke, but the idea of not adhering to the photographic conventions of technical perfection.  With digital photography it seems that technical perfection has become as important as story and content. Especially when starting out in photography the sharpness of the image goes some way to dictating how good an image is (Quist, n.d.).  I know that when developing my practice I placed a lot of emphasis on the technical aspect of my photography.  My job also puts quite a bit of emphasis on the technical aspect of photography, especially with lighting. 

My current practice was a response to what I conceived as the pressures of digital photography and photography in general. With constantly updated technology it is easy to be caught up in the lust for new gear and thus perfection. In my experience my consumerism has had a detrimental effect on my photography.  

Are-Bure-Boke was born out of a rejection of the photographic conventions of the time and I still believe the idea to be relevant today. The idea of rebelling interests me and pushing the boundaries of photographic conventions, not only the technical aspects of sharpness, exposure and composition, but also narrative. In a portfolio review, with Dino Li, he mentioned that in essence I could say that I am attempted to "Destroy Photography" or in some way my work is "Anti photography". This was not something I had really thought about, but considering where the roots of my practice are based, it could be said to be the case.  I sometimes feel that I have a love/hate relationship with photography. 

Image Darren O'Brien, Hanoi, April 2018

Image Darren O'Brien, Hanoi, April 2018



Gore, D. (2017). 'Okinawa': Remembering Takuma Nakahira in a different light | The Japan Times. [online] Available at:[.

Klein, W. and Campany, D. (2012). William Klein. London: Tate Publ.

MacDonald, K. (2018). A Puzzle in Pictures: Winogrand in 1960. [online] Lens Blog. Available at: [Accessed 16 Apr. 2018].

Michael Hoppen Gallery. (2018). William Klein. [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 Apr. 2018].

Quist, K. (n.d.). How to Let Go of Perfection in Photography. [online] Digital Photography School. Available at: [Accessed 16 Apr. 2018].

Wholey, M. (2013). MoMA | For the sake of thought: Provoke, 1968–1970. [online] Available at: [Accessed 16 Apr. 2018].