Growing up amid the environment of rural Japan, Takehito Miyatake developed a strong connection with the wildlife. He would take up photographic engineering at the Tokyo Institute of Polytechnics, and eventually be a nature photographer. His work captured through a 4×5 digital camera is comprised of mystical images taken at night, comprised of volcanic activity, shorelines, forests and various evening phenomena.
“The feeling that we are living on a very active planet—I want to convey this to the viewers of my photographs. Generally speaking, the Japanese have a sense of respect and awe for nature, and see it as very mysterious.”
Miyatake’s photographs embody Japan’s night-time landscape, both its serenity and activity. He likens his work to that of Japanese poetry, or Waka, as his pictures speak volumes through their imagery. “Waka poetry has expressed the scope and possibilities of nature, but with the use of limited words,” said Miyatake. “I try to shoot phenomena, the wonders of the natural world that we don’t always get to witness. I do not try to photograph simple and familiar scenes of nature.”
He is also extremely patient, not minding a wait of several hours for the perfect moment. Many of the photographs in his body of work are results of expeditions he undertakes. Miyatake is constantly chasing those elusively brief instances, where a confluence of little events conspire to create the perfect shot.
Luckily, his forbearance recently paid off. Miyatake was honored with no less than the grand prize of the Nikkei National Geographic Photo Prize for his work. Likewise, his initial exhibition in the United States was on view at Steven Kasher Gallery in New York City from May 28 through June 7. Winning the National Geographic prize as well as exhibiting his work in the Big Apple has been surreal for him.
“I believe there sometimes pops up something unbelievably beautiful in the natural phenomena in Japan,” he gushed. “I am addicted by this really rare occasion.” Miyatake hopes people will both be inspired and approving of his work, and what he refers to endearingly as the “mystical nature of the Japanese landscape.”
I am a freelance photographer who is no stranger to smudged lenses, long hours in front of the computer, heavy camera bags (and the back aches that ensued) and missing lens caps. If you know what I’m talking about, you probably have as much love and passion for photography as I do.