Last weekend was the final photography workshop of 2019. It’s a real pleasure to share my passion with others and a delight that Jasmine gets to join us on our adventures. There are going to be a limited number of workshops in 2020 due to competing work on the Karate Masters Portrait Project, the karate video series, the 2020 Olympics, and a trip to the UK. There will be two Fundamentals Workshops at the start of the year, and another couple yet to be scheduled in the fall. Come join the fun in 2020. Click on the links below to the Facebook event pages. January 11th & 12th Photography Fundamentals with Chris Willson February 8th & 9th Photography Fundamentals with Chris Willson
Last Monday I had the opportunity to take some pics of Chinen Sensei in his organization’s Yomitan Dojo which is located inside Murasaki Mura. A beautiful location to get a few new portraits of an Okinawan master. Images shot with the Pentax 645Z and the 55mm lens. A Profoto B1 strobe with a OCF softbox was used for off camera flash to balance the interior of the dojo with the outdoors. Video shot with the Sony FS5, Atomos Shogun and Rokinon cine lenses.
At approximately 2:30 a.m. on Thursday 31st October 2019 a fire started inside Okinawa’s Shuri Castle which destroyed the main hall and several adjoining buildings. Now, one week later, the Governor of Okinawa and the Prime Minister of Japan have both promised that it shall be rebuilt. The challenges of doing so, and the timeline are not yet clear, but I look forward to it rising once again from the ashes of destruction. Below are a few pics of Shuri Castle taken over the last 19 years. Most were taken at the New Year Festival or the Shuri Castle Festival which they were preparing for when the fire broke out.
October 25th is Karate Day in Okinawa. There was a ceremony at the Karate Kaikan in the morning where 6 masters performed a kata, and in the evening there was the 100 Kata for Karate Day event organized by James Pankiewicz of the Asato Dojo and the Dojo Bar. This year the event took place in Matsuyama Park, one of the key spots for Okinawa karate. The kids started at 5pm and were joined by the adults at 6pm. Great job everyone. Here are some pics of the awesome kids going for their century. Video of the festivities on Karate Day and on Kokusai Street on the following Sunday coming soon….
In this sixth episode in the series, karate and kobudo master Kenyu Chinen talks about his life in Okinawa and France, his own sensei, and his philosophy on martial arts. We are also invited into one of his seminars, and even his Okinawan home to see how he teaches and trains. Sensei: Masters of Okinawan Karate is a crowd-funded YouTube documentary series about the legendary martial arts teachers of Okinawa, Japan. A huge thanks to Chinen Sensei and his students, plus all the volunteers, sponsors and supporters of the series. Couldn’t have done this without you.
For those of you who are not British, and in their forties or fifties, Mr. Benn is a beloved cartoon about an ordinary man who goes on extraordinary adventures when he visits a fancy dress shop. This weekend Mr. Young came to my studio, and as if by magic a photographer appeared… With each costume change Mr. Young transformed into a new character. The question is, which is the real Mr. Young? Is he the tech entrepreneur who created an encryption protocol making him a millionaire before his 18th birthday? Is he the fisherman who works on the same boat as his grandfather, while dealing with rough seas and dwindling catches? Is he the doctor who pioneered the use of augmented reality for use in both general medicine and surgery? Is he the Marine who’s traveled the world as one of “The Few. The Proud. The Marines.”? Or is he the professional wrestler whose athleticism allows him to dominate when down on the mat or flying through the air? Send your answers on a postcard …
Born in 1927 Kiichi Nakamoto 10th-dan Goju-ryu Karate / 10th-dan Ryukyu Dento Kobujutsu is one of the elder statesmen even among the karate masters. At a young age Nakamoto Sensei studied karate under Chojun Miyagi Sensei then later under Eiichi Miyazato Sensei. Nakamoto Sensei studied kobudo under Shosei Kina Sensei, then Shinei Kyan Sensei. He now hold the rank of 10th-dan. Hopefully in the future I will be able to interview Nakamoto Sensei and receive more information about his life in martial arts.
It is clear from the numbers of views and viral sharing that thousands of people (maybe hundreds of thousands ) around the world really value the images and interviews from the Karate Masters Portrait Project and the Sensei: Masters of Okinawan Karate Video Series. The video series in particular takes up a massive amount of time, gear, and data storage. Shooting long interviews in 4K, Pro Res & Pro Res Raw, and multiple cameras uses a lot of data. After publishing the data to YouTube I could go back and delete the original files, but in a couple of years or a couple of decades, maybe the karate community will want to see the entire unedited footage, or want to a different edit or grade of the footage. So I need to get more hard drives like the one below now my current 24TB drive and 20TB back up are full. At the same time I keep wanting to improve the production values with more professional gear to improve audio, lighting or camera movements. Here’s …
I’d been hoping to photograph Meitatsu Yagi for the project for several years. In March 2014 I took portraits of his younger brother Meitetsu Yagi, and his nephew Ippei Yagi, but hadn’t been able to coordinate a time with Meitatsu Yagi. Luckily at the Tookachi seminars for Iha sensei’s students I had the opportunity to photograph Yagi sensei and some of the other masters of Okinawa karate. Amazingly Meitatsu Yagi was one of the first karate masters I ever photographed. I shot him with my Pentax 67 film camera in around 2004. I was visiting Murasaki Mura and asked the man in the white uniform with a black belt if I could take his photo. At that time I didn’t know his name, or that 15 years later, I’d still be on Okinawa, and spending most of my time photographing and interviewing karate masters.
Thought I’d post a few pics from the Tookachi 88th birthday celebration for Seikichi Iha. These are actually low res video stills but they’re enough to give an idea of what happens. Traditional Ryukyu dancers wearing hanagasa hats open proceedings. Iha Sensei pouring sake for honored guests and greeting those who come to give their best wishes. (His son sits to his left, his daughter to his right.) Masahiko Tokashiki sensei chatting with Iha Sensei. Miguel da Luz catching up with Iha sensei. So many members of the Beikoku Shido-kan Karate-do Association in attendance, along with numerous Okinawan karate masters. Thank you for having me to your party! Congratulations Iha Sensei.