Chicago-based Japanese photographer Satoki Nagata captures spectacular portraits of strangers for his ongoing series titled Lights in Chicago. The collection of images, which the photographer has been accumulating for over two-and-a-half years, present almost ghostly silhouettes of people walking along the wintery streets of Chicago, a glowing projection of their outlines reflected in shop windows. The photographer creates this hauntingly beautiful effect by backlighting his subjects with a remotely controlled, off-camera flash, a technique he continues to perfect.
Nagata, who originally earned his PhD in Neuroscience in Japan and moved to the US as a scientist, developed a passion for photographing pedestrians while in America and eventually opted to pursue a full-time career in photography without any formal education.
In an interview with The Leica Camera Blog, he says, “I started by taking candid street photographs but soon after I realized that I am really interested in photographing the individual person. I chose to take photos closer and more connected to the subject. I engaged with the people on the streets and my style gradually evolved. When I got closer and developed intimate relationships with people, the images were different in comparison to those previously taken from a distance. This oriented my photography towards a more documentary style.”