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Maya Kibbel

Maya Kibbel

Meet photographer from Tokyo, Maya Kibbel.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born in New York, moved to LA when I was 12 and moved to Tokyo at 16 when I graduated high school. I’m half Japanese and half American (German, Polish & Russian mix) and love each of my heritage and their cultures. I am a photographer but recently enrolled in school to become a certified health coach. The best way to describe my relationship with the 2 careers I am pursing/will pursue is that health is my passion and photography is the love of my life.

Describe the city you’re living in and what it’s like to live there.

I live in Tokyo and although I moved here a long time ago, I spent the first 5 years struggling to make friends, figuring out how I fit here and trying to find work. Not to mention I didn’t speak the language, which made the transition a bit rougher. I spent the first 5 years abroad as much as possible as Japanese culture can be dire opposite to American culture and it took me a while to understand certain differences, but a year and a half ago things suddenly clicked. I realized I could speak, I had made amazing friends and was working so there was no reason to keep living in my personal doubts and fears. Since then, I’ve been able to truly experience living in Tokyo. So I would best describe it as a city unlike any other, filled with such unique personalities. It feels like it is its own world. The city never sleeps and is filled with as much neon, anime and beautiful, historic sights as you could possibly imagine. It’s clean, the people are so polite and it also has the best food in my opinion! People work hard and love to go out to have a good time.

 

I would best describe it as a city unlike any other, filled with such unique personalities. It feels like it is its own world.

What is the best and worst thing about living in your city?

Best: People, sights, fashion, arts, food, great public transportation, general safety, and cleanliness.

Worst: Rush hour (if you’ve never looked up people being squeezed into Tokyo trains, look it up now on YouTube.)

 

Give us 3 words that describe what it’s like to be a creative in your city.

Fast-paced (I know, that’s 2 words haha), spontaneous, and exciting.

 

How did you start your career in art?

I fell in love with taking photos as a way to make moments last forever when I was 15. Taking photos was my visual diary. Soon after, thanks to friends in the industry, I realized I could pursue photography as a career. So as soon as I graduated high school I decided to move to Japan to pursue my career. I chose Japan as my family lives there. Shortly after moving, I was offered a job to be The Cobra Snake’s Japan photographer. Through that, I made many connections and was able to start my career. I also had a blog with Elle Girl Japan, Nylon Japan, and Numero Japan. Through my fashion and lifestyle blogs, I was also able to get my name and work out there.

 

I fell in love with taking photos as a way to make moments last forever when I was 15. Taking photos was my visual diary.

Were the people around you supportive of your decision on working as a creative?

For the most part, yes. I am friends with a lot of creative people and they really encouraged me to pursue my dreams not just with my art, but also moving across the world to pursue my art. Because I was so young when I started pursuing my career, of course, there were some naysayers with comments or more so judgments about how I should go to college or that I should have stayed in America. Those people have come around though, now that they see my work.

 

What are some goals and ambitions you have for your future work?

To travel the world shooting females of every race and background, capturing their unique selves and showcasing their individualist beauty. I would also love to publish a photo book. I haven’t quite decided which of my ideas for a book I would like to pursue first.

 

To travel the world shooting females of every race and background, capturing their unique selves and showcasing their individualist beauty.

If you could collaborate with any person in the world who would it be?

That’s a tough one as there are many people I would love to collaborate with! But I would have to say its a tie between this Japanese artist Tondabayashi Ran and this brand The Virgins, the duo behind the brand (a Japanese lady and a Korean lady) are so sweet and talented.

 

How would you describe the women around you?

Incredibly strong and beautiful, inside and out. They’re all very ambitious and creative. They aren’t afraid of hard work, and they always give there 150% with everything that they do.

 

Were there any local female creatives that you looked up to when you were growing up?

There were many as I was living in LA and spending lots of time in NYC when I really fell in love with photography. Petra Collins and Bella Howard were my favorites.

 

Are there any challenging aspects of being a female in your industry?

The industry I work in used to be very male-dominant which was challenging sometimes. I felt quite a large amount of pressure to prove myself as a female photographer. Hard work pays off though and recently there are many more female photographers emerging and thriving, so there are much fewer challenges.

 

Self-care keeps us grounded, balanced and clear minded. When we are feeding our bodies nutritious things, getting enough sleep and taking care of our selves (like doing things that make us happy), we are smarter, stronger and even more capable of taking on whatever we set our minds to.

Do you have any advice to young women who are aspiring to work in your field?

Don’t listen to the chatter around you. Be your unique self and pursue what you love and makes you happy. Whether that be in work, love or even just deciding what to eat for breakfast! And above all, self-care is the key to a happy life. Taking time to tend to your needs, mental or physical, is so important. Self-care keeps us grounded, balanced and clear minded. When we are feeding our bodies nutritious things, getting enough sleep and taking care of our selves (like doing things that make us happy), we are smarter, stronger and even more capable of taking on whatever we set our minds to.

 

 

Photos courtesy of Maya Kibbel.

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