Mr. Masaaki Aihara, Japanese Landscape Photographer thanks to Australia
Though born and lived all his life in Japan, Mr. Masaaki Aihara is not a typical Japanese landscape photographer. Learn more about his career on LENSPIRE.
Landscapes have no borders when you consider them as “various portraits of the Earth.” The dry and rough wilderness of Australia first inspired Mr. Masaaki Aihara to value the beauty of landscape, and he went through four breakthroughs to get to where he is today.
Since he was a child, he always loved to take pictures. It was something in motion that he preferred to shoot: trains, motorcycle racing, and people on the streets. He thought motionless subjects such as landscapes were too boring. After graduating from college he got a job as a sales representative at an advertising agency in Tokyo, where he had the opportunity to learn how commercial photography business worked.
The first breakthrough came when he quit the job after working for little less than ten years at the agency. He went off to of Australia to try himself out and see if he was fit enough to shoot the Dakar Rallye, where he wanted to shoot the race of men and motorcycles against nature.
Three months he spent in the wilderness of Australia, only he and the vast desert, thousands of miles away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Every day he saw the wind rippled the sand, and a few minutes during the golden hour made a great difference in color of the sky. He was fascinated and overwhelmed by the landscape – it wasn’t motionless or boring at all. After the three months he came to a conclusion to stop dreaming about the rallye, and become a landscape photographer.
He returned to Tokyo in the late 1980’s when the economy was high and no one wanted to see the pictures of rocks and rough trees in the Australian desert. But he kept travelling to Australia to shoot the wilderness.
The second breakthrough came in when he least expected. In 1995 he held an exhibition of pictures he took in Australia. He was then working as a photographer but on a contract base, taking images of real estate related subjects, and selling piece by piece for a couple of dollars.
A minister at the Australian embassy in Tokyo dropped by at the exhibition on the opening day. He didn’t know anything about Mr. Aihara, but only the subject matter attracted him. The highly impressed minister invited him to the embassy on the spot, and offered him support to pursue his career as landscape photographer specialized in Australia.
This encouraged Mr. Aihara to become a fully independent. The first exhibition as a professional landscape photographer was held in the Australian embassy later in the same year.
The third breakthrough opened the door for the domestic recognition. He was preparing a print for some competition, and this very print won him to take a series of images for FUJIFILM PROVIA 100F launch campaign. The success with PROVIA lead him to take the VELVIA campaign. Now he became an established landscape photographer, but his interest never go beyond the wilderness of Australia, until he met an insightful curator at the Cradle Mountain Wilderness Gallery in Tasmania, Australia.
This curator, Ms. “fourth breakthrough,” recognized his talent and organized a 14-month long exhibition of his works at the Gallery. And she encouraged Mr. Aihara to take landscape photographs of his own country. The landscape of Japan looked totally different after taking so many “faces” of Australian wilderness. Japan is the land of water and forest throughout the year. The concept of “portraits of the Earth” came to him when he compared the two totally different landscapes. They both are different, yet represent the landscape of one planet, the planet Earth.
His works were featured at Photokina FUJIFILM booth in 2006, and his pursuit of the ultimate portrait of the Earth never ends. He strongly believes the photograph shall be appreciated on print, and if any adjustment needs to be done, it shall be done on the prints, and not on the files.
See Mr. Masaaki Aihara’s website for more information: masaakiaihara.com