Haruhiko Kawaguchi, who goes by the name Photographer Hal, is a Tokyo-based photographer whose claim to fame is his series of vacuum-sealed couples, like the photo above. Because nothing screams true love like being packaged like raw meat.
Photographer Hal told Vice, "When you embrace your lover, sometimes you wish to melt right into them. To realize this wish, I've been photographing couples in small, cramped spaces. Soon I reached the point of photographing couples in vacuum-sealed packs.”
It seems like Hal’s fascination with love and claustrophobia is a slippery slope. What next, Hal? What next?
So how does Hal find couples willing to be suffocated for the sake of art? Nightclubs and bars are his go-to spots, but he also finds inspirational subjects “wherever, anytime.” So if you’re at a Tokyo nightclub with bae and are approached by a photographer who wants to put you in a vacuum-sealed bag, at least you know he’s not a serial killer — he’s just an artist.
In Hal’s Flesh Love series, couples have to hold their breath for about 10-20 seconds so that Hal can get his shots. There’s plenty of preparation that goes into this breathtaking (ha) shoot, though. First, Hal and the couples go through a rehearsal. Then, Hal uses lube and coolant gel to help the couple slide into the plastic bag.
Here comes the terrifying part — sucking out all of the air from the bag. Using a vacuum cleaner, Hal removes air from the bag until there’s nothing left. Once the couple is completely sealed in, with no oxygen to breathe, Hal has about four seconds to get his shot.
“In this extremely limited time I can’t release the shutter more than twice,” Hal says.
While there’s obviously an inherent danger to being in a vacuum-sealed bag, Hal takes several precautions to ensure the safety of his models. During his shoots, there is always a rescue guard on site in case of an emergency.
Here’s my question, though: How will the guard know if it’s an emergency? The couples can’t breathe or move! I have so many questions about the actual safety of these photo shoots, but I suppose we’ll have to trust that Hal knows what he’s doing. He’s photographed about 400 vacuum-sealed couples, after all.
10. Want Some Truly Unique Engagement Photos? Hire Hal.
Whether you hate it or love it, you have to admit that Photographer Hal’s Flesh Love series is something we haven’t seen before. In fact, he has become such a sensation in Tokyo that many couples have even hired him to take their engagement photos. If you still feel slightly disturbed by these claustrophobic pictures, here’s a fun fact that might take the edge off: Photographer Hal is sponsored by Condomania. Because when you love it, you bag it.