My expenses are almost as high as my photography income and I have so little left at the end even when I am lucky. So, maybe I am not qualified to answer this question. Then why am I doing photography? I think it is a combination of passion and stupidity. For me, photography is intellectual, …artistic, and curiosity fulfilling. I love making photographs.

– Hiroshi Watanabe

Touki, Rikishi series © Hiroshi Watanabe, 2005

Touki, Rikishi series © Hiroshi Watanabe, 2005

I am not sure if I am successful professional photographer. If “successful professional” means I can live a good, somewhat luxurious, life by the profession, then I am certainly not.

– Hiroshi Watanabe

Fukujumaru, Rikishi series © Hiroshi Watanabe, 2005

Fukujumaru, Rikishi series © Hiroshi Watanabe, 2005

I make every effort to be a faithful visual recorder of the world around me, a world in flux that, at very least in my mind, deserves preservation, and that I constantly seek to expand.
I strive for both calculation and discovery in my work, studying my subjects in preparation, while at the same keeping my mind open for the surprises. The pure enjoyment of this process drives and inspires me. Mostly, I seek to capture people, traditions, and locales that first and foremost are of personal interest, while other times I seek pure beauty.
I always go to places with some kind of expectation and I come back with a lot more, with images I never expected.

– Hiroshi Watanabe

Kumanosato, Rikishi series © Hiroshi Watanabe, 2005

Kumanosato, Rikishi series © Hiroshi Watanabe, 2005

I believe there’s a thread that connects all of my work — my personal vision of the world as a whole. I make every effort to be a faithful visual recorder of the world around me, a world in flux that, at very least in my mind, deserves preservation.

– Hiroshi Watanabe

Ichinoya, Rikishi series © Hiroshi Watanabe, 2005

Ichinoya, Rikishi series © Hiroshi Watanabe, 2005

My father bought me a Minolta 35mm SRL and that was my first camera. I had no prior interest in photography. I played a lot and enjoyed the four years of college life, but somehow I became serious about photography as I studied it. When I graduated, I found a job in the US which happened to be a production company specializing in making commercials for Japan. I thought I would work for the company for a year or two and look for a photography job meanwhile. But one photographer whom I met suggested that I stayed on with the job. He said advertising and filming had much potential while photography had no future. At that time, I was starting a family and I had the responsibility. So, I stayed on with the job and a four years later I started my own production company. After I ran the business for 15 years, one morning, I woke up and all the sudden I decided to become a photographer again. I don’t know why but I had decided. I traveled and built up a portfolio between commercial jobs for 5 years and after that I closed down the business and became a full time photographer. It’s been 10 years since then and I am still a photographer.

– Hiroshi Watanabe

Asakubo, Rikishi series © Hiroshi Watanabe, 2005

Asakubo, Rikishi series © Hiroshi Watanabe, 2005

I try to find something that I don’t understand. That’s what drives me.

– Hiroshi Watanabe

Rikishi 3, Rikishi series © Hiroshi Watanabe, 2005

Rikishi 3, Rikishi series © Hiroshi Watanabe, 2005

My photographs reflect both genuine interest in my subject as well as a respect for the element of serendipity.
I wish for my images to distill scenes ranging from the ephemeral to the eternal, from the esoteric to the symbolic. A current that underlies my work is the concept of preservation.

– Hiroshi Watanabe

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