Athletes are always a joy to photograph. For one thing, I’m less drawn to how a person looks, and more to what they’ve accomplished. Athletes are the epitome of this kind of person: through endless training and devotion, mixed with talent and a dash of luck, they’ve made themselves into something special. Also, the clothes. In this day and age, when people are increasingly dressing down, it’s great to see uniforms with special numbers, logos, colors and so forth. Baseball uniforms in particular have a certain old-fashioned charm.

Kazuo was a real pleasure to photograph, since he was so friendly and cooperative. The first picture was taken in a little sports area at the Tokyo American Club. The netting in the photo, although it seems like it’s part of a larger stadium netting, was actually just a tiny patch – if I had moved my camera a few centimeters, the illusion would have been ruined. For lighting, I gridded my softbox to create a soft and flattering but slightly contrasty look, closer to real sunlight than a regular softbox. After doing this photo, we took some pictures inside the building, where I had prepared a makeshift studio for the occasion. Although Kazuo suggested wearing his jersey again, the simple shirt he had on was perfect so we went with that instead. For these pictures, I was looking for the ‘real’ Kazuo, the extraordinary baseball player who was also an ordinary guy.