Q: Tell us a bit about yourself and your journey to where you are today.
Hello. I am an amateur photographer from Japan. I work for a company and usually do not have anything to do with photography. I only shoot on holidays.
It has been 15 years since I started photography. The reason I started was because I wanted to take cute pictures of my pet dog. After my daughter was born, I mainly took portraits. Now my main subject is landscapes, but I shoot a wide range of subjects regardless of genre.
Q: Why did you choose to submit this specific work to the IPA?
I believe that the photographs required for photo contests must not only be beautiful, but must also have a theme that appeals to the viewer.
What I wanted to convey through these photos is the coexistence of nature and people. The Tadami Line in this photo is a very beautiful place surrounded by nature, but it is also a place where one can feel the harshness of nature. By including the train in the photo, I believe I was able to express the human beings who live in close contact with nature.
Q: What does winning this competition mean to you?
For me…rather, I think it was a support for the local community where the Tadami Line is located. Due to the torrential rains in Niigata and Fukushima 11 years ago, a section of the Tadami Line had been out of service for a long time due to a fallen railway bridge. The entire line was just restored in October when the IPA award ceremony was held. I hope that this award will help people all over the world to know about the Tadami Line and encourage the reconstruction of the area.
Q: You won Nature Photographer of the Year with your stunning work, “Tadami Line in winter”. What equipment did you use to be able to catch this magical moment?
The camera used was a SONY α7RIV. The detailed resolution of the high pixel counts captures even the branches and leaves of trees clearly and realistically. The wide dynamic range allows for smooth rendering from highlights to shadows.
The lens used was a TAMRON 70-180mm F2.8. It is lightweight and compact, yet renders very delicate images. I also do mountaineering, so being lightweight and compact is an important choice for my equipment.
Q: What other photographers have impacted your own work, methods, or style?
All photographers have influenced my photography. I like looking at photos very much. Especially since I started social networking, I look at so many photos. I have been a curator on social networking sites and I sometimes look at thousands of photos a day. By looking at so many photos, I learn a lot of expressions, from the standard to the innovative. From there, I am stimulated and new motivation and ideas are born again. In that sense, I can say that all other photographers have influenced me.
Q: What do you feel are the key steps to achieving great images?
There are three important steps: “image”, “ambition”, and “luck”.
The first is to “imagine” what kind of picture you want to take. Once you have an image, you will be able to determine the specific composition and shooting conditions necessary to make it a reality.
The second thing you need is “ambition”. Even if you have an image, you may not be able to take the picture as you want. Why was it not possible to shoot the image the way you wanted? You need to think, investigate, analyze, and learn. You have to try again and again until you get the picture you want.
The third is “luck”. There are some photos that cannot be taken even if you aim for them. When you encounter such opportunities, you need to hone your sensitivity to avoid missing them, and you also need to have the skills to take the shot without fail.
Q: How did you develop your personal style?
I love all genres of photography. Landscape, portrait, snapshots. I also like film photography, and art photography using Photoshop. And I want to be able to take pictures of all genres. Therefore, I have tried various types of photography. Gradually, I realized that the best way to bring out the best in each subject is to use different methods of expression to bring out the best of the subject. I do not adapt my style, but rather change my style according to the subject. This is my style.
Q: What do you find to be the most difficult aspect of becoming a photographer?
For me, it is my own will. Partly because I want to focus more on being a photographer, and partly because I want a stable job and lifestyle to protect my family. Nowadays, I believe that anyone can become a photographer. Anyone can learn photography knowledge and skills through the Internet. The equipment can be a smartphone. All it takes is a strong will of the individual to become a photographer.
Q: What are the elements that drive your photography? What motivates and focuses you?
It is about being different from others and wanting to express myself in a new way. One of my best-known photographs is one in which the fireworks are circle bokeh. This is a photographic technique I came up with while photographing fireflies. I thought it would be interesting to photograph fireworks in the same way as fireflies, and I arrived at this expression through trial and error. When I am able to express myself in my own way, I enjoy it and feel motivated to try something new.
Q: What would your ideal photography project be if you could do anything or travel anywhere?
First of all, I want to face nature slowly. I want to stay in the mountains for as many days as it takes until I find the ideal view. I am fascinated by natural phenomena like the Northern Lights. I am also very interested in foreign landscapes and cultures. I would like to travel around the world and see traditional events and buildings.
Q: What’s next for you? Are you currently working on anything exciting?
The coronavirus has caused the cancellation of many events. Also, due to global warming and other natural changes, some landscapes can no longer be seen. What we thought we could photograph at any time turned out not to be the case. For this reason, I am conscious of photographing familiar places first and recording them.