7 Japanese Photographers You Need to Know

I have gained some new insights about humans

by looking deeply into nature.

Hiroshi Hamaya

As someone from the West, I find Japanese photography very interesting. Japan is known for its rich artistic culture, and photography as a medium is no exception. More and more Japanese photographers are very famous in the West, such as Hiroshi Sugimoto or Rinko Kawauchi. So, let’s take a look at 7 Japanese photographers you need to know about.

Japanese photography is quite unique and worth exploring especially if you are into black and white photography. Plus, postwar Japan has given us some of the most creative photographers.

He is a photographer with an easily recognizable style. His work is filled with sobriety and poetry in ordinary moments. He started working in the advertising industry and continued there for quite a while before deciding that was enough. Since then, he has pursued a career as a fine arts photographer. Most of the photos are taken in a photo studio. It should be noted that there are not many famous photographers among Japanese women, which is why Rinko and her art are so special.

He mostly uses the generous 6X6 format, and the human presence is almost non-existent in his drawings. Looking at his work, I can’t stop remembering William Carlos Williams’ poems.

Rinko Kawauchi “Illuminance” from Scenery Stories on Vimeo.

Araki is a creative beast who has released 450 photo books and still doesn’t go a day without taking a photo, as you’ll learn in this interview from the greats at Vice. He was born in Tokyo and studied photography from 1959 to 1963. In 1963, he started working at an advertising agency called Dentsu. He is one of the most famous Japanese photographers active after World War II.

Arākī (his nickname) is considered one of the most prolific artists ever – not only in Japan, but in the world. The style is unique. I have no words to describe it. It’s just an explosion of expression that few artists achieve. This photo is probably my favorite from Arākī. He is a true master of fine arts.

Interview with Nobuyoshi Araki of NOMAD Magazine

You can see more of his work here and here. Viewer’s discretion is strongly advised.

famous Japanese photographer
Portrait of Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama, Tokyo 2010, By Sebastian Mayer

Street photography is my biggest passion, so Daidō Moriyama’s work is an absolute must for this list. Since Moriyama is a self-proclaimed city geek, his street photography comes as no surprise.

Since 1968, he has been obsessed with capturing the hustle and bustle of the city with a unique aesthetic that reflects the dark side of urban life. He has had a wide range of influences – from Weegee to the great novel “On The Road” by Jack Kerouac (who wrote the introduction to Robert Frank’s masterpiece, The American).

You can see more of Moriyama’s work here and get to know him better in this video. You might even get some surprises.

Hamaya is the first Japanese photographer to join Magnum Agency (yes, the only one). He is considered one of the most prominent Japanese documentary photographers of the 20th century. Her work focuses mainly on the traditions of her own land, which gives viewers an extraordinary insight into the strangeness of the everyday – a stunning snapshot of time.

You can see more of his work here.

If you like Joel-Peter Witkin’s work, you definitely need to check out Michiko Kon’s terrifying work. He attended Tokyo Photography College after graduating from Sokei Art School, so his background as a contemporary artist is very strong. Much of his work is in black and white, and the themes he addresses are death, sexuality and beauty. His work also includes interesting sea creatures.

You can see more of his art here.

Yosuke is the youngest photographer on our list; therefore, you can expect an interesting approach to photography. He started photographing when he was still a student, and he has been a part of many photography exhibitions and festivals. He has a beautiful aesthetic without going overboard, so if you are interested in “minimalism” as an art form, consider studying his work.

Japan has recently been known for its high youth depression rate. And if this is true, his work is a clear way of illustrating the strange grief that this part of the population is currently struggling with.

Ourselves/1981 by Yosuke Yajima

I like to end this feature with the biggest name in the group. Sugimoto is a well-known photographer who has experimented with many different genres of photography. From dioramas in museums of natural history to electricity, from patterns to the extraordinary beauty of “exposed time”.

He is a Japanese photographer currently based in New York, and his work – and I might dare say it all – has been shot with an 8X10 large format camera and very long exposures. Her work has been influenced by the Dadaist and Surrealist art movements, and she is also drawn to work in the late 20th century.th-modern architecture of the century. Sugimoto is one of the most well-known contemporary photographers today.

If you’re a U2 fan, you can check out one of Sugimoto’s photos on the “No Line on the Horizon” cover.

To conclude

If you like Japanese art you need to see Hokusai’s work. I wouldn’t be surprised if you already knew this, but his work is so good that even Jeff Wall gives great credit to it. And last but not least, you need to watch this beautiful documentary if you want to know more about the discipline, something all photographers need.

This isn’t the first article to try to introduce you to photographers from a certain country; So far we’ve covered Hungary, Argentina, México and India. We hope you enjoy this survey of photographers from around the world. My hypothesis is that photographers from certain countries have some kind of visual relationship between themselves.

I hope this article has been a great introduction to Japan’s most famous photographers!

Further reading:

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