All posts filed under: Karate Masters Portrait Project

Yasuhiro Uema, 9th dan Shorin-ryu Karate

Yasuhiro Uema, 9th dan Shorin-ryu Karate. The 78th sensei to be photographed for the Karate Masters Portrait Project. Shot before his dojo’s seminar at the Karate Kaikan in Okinawa on July 27th 2018. Thanks to Kenny Ueda of Ageshio Japan who organized the seminar and help set up the portrait session with Uema sensei. Born in 1945, Uema sensei is another example of karate keeping Okinawans flexible and strong even as they age.

Dell Hamby 6th dan Uechi-ryu Karate 6th dan Ryukyu Kobudo Shimbukan

Dell Hamby is the 77th Karate Master to be photographed for the Karate Masters Portrait Project. He is 6th dan Uechi-ryu Karate and 6th dan Ryukyu Kobudo Shimbukan. Originally from Switzerland, he now lives, teaches and trains in Okinawa. He studies Uechi-ryu under Yoshitsune Senaga (who we will be photographing in the coming weeks) and Ryukyu Kobudo under Hiroshi Akamine.  He was one of four masters who took part in the Okinawa World Tournament Promotion Tour earlier in the year, and  is one of the kobudo judges when the tournament is held next week. It was a pleasure to photograph Dell, a real gentleman and a great ambassador for Okinawan karate. The project has been on hold for the past year as we welcomed Jasmine to our family, but as things settle down we’ve been able to start things up again.  My goal is to release the second volume in the series in time for the Tokyo Olympics in the summer of 2020. All images taken with the Pentax 645Z and the 90mm lens. Lighting from …

Now on YouTube!

In 2016, I was contacted by the team at Macphun Software who had come across my photography on the web. Macphun produces photo editing programs for Mac computers, and received Best of the Year awards from the Apple app store six years running. They were producing new inspirational content for their website and asked if I’d like to be involved. James Pankiewicz, Patrick Batac and I produced a behind the scenes video about The Karate Masters Portrait Project. In 2018, Macphun became SKYLUM software as it is no longer just Mac only. As its popularity grows around the world, Yuki and I are going to help introduce the software to the Japanese market. We’ve created a Japanese language YouTube series called the Shoshinsha Photographer Yuki (New Photographer Yuki) in which Yuki learns how to take photos, and edit the pictures with SKYLUM’s Luminar editing software. Episode 1 has a brief introduction then Yuki explores Bise Village in Motobu. Episode 2 is all about the 100 Kata for Karate Day event at new Karate Kaikan. Episode …

Chris Willson Photography 2017 Highlights

2017 has been another busy year. So many things to mention…. Photography workshops have been a success, and it’s been great sharing my passion (and terrible jokes) with so many other people, whether its learning the fundamentals, or dressing up as rockstars in the studio. We had an amazing 1-week workshop in Kyoto with six lovely ladies, and a combination of planning and a little luck meant we got to photograph maiko, cherry blossom, shrines, temples, castles, bullet trains, and blue skies over the week. Yuki started taking kimono classes before the workshop so she could be our subject for staged shots, and there were plenty of opportunities for fortuitous street photographs.  (We’re planning the next Kyoto Workshop for April 2019.) A huge thank you to clients who have booked me for sessions. It has been a pleasure shooting commercial portraits, families, fairy tales, and senior portraits. We’ve shot several events including the USO Service Salute, the Warrior’s Ball, and karate seminars. We’ve also worked on assignment with international clients including NBC, Cinq Mondes, and Forbes. …

Karate Masters Archive Project

The Karate Masters Portrait Project began on March 11, 2012 with a photo session of Yoshitaka Taira sensei and Toshimitsu Arakaki sensei. Five and a half years later, James and I are starting a parallel project to interview these masters and try to create an archive of their teachings. Once again we began with Toshimitsu Arakaki sensei, and look forward to learning a great deal over the coming years. Video offers a whole new set of challenges both technical and financial. As with the Karate Masters Portrait Project we’re striving for quality, as hopefully the content we produce will be of interest both now and in the future. The basic look of the interview is similar to the portraits with a simple black background. For portraits we used a single strobe with a beauty dish, for video we’re using a CAME-TV C700D Daylight LED Edge Light as the keylight on the face and a CAME-TV Boltzen as a rim light on the subject’s right. Here’s a test shot with me looking sleepy. The lights are …

Koichi Nakasone 9th Dan Ryukyu Kingdom Sui-di Bujutsu

Yesterday I made the short drive over to Nakijin Village to the home of Koichi Nakasone, 9th Dan Ryukyu Kingdom Sui-di Bujutsu. He is the 76th sensei to be photographed for the Karate Masters Portrait Project. James Pankiewicz, Becka Tedder, and I sat down for a chat in the traditional wooden house that Nakasone sensei had recently built by himself. He told us a few stories about his karate training, and the three months he spent in the USA traveling from dojo to dojo, challenging the members to fight. (Known in Japanese as dojo yaburi.) After our chat, we set up the black background on the side of the house and took the portraits. (Pentax 645Z with 90mm lens. Profoto B1 with white softlight reflector.) We then drove a couple of minutes to beautiful Nagahama Beach for some more location shots. I switched lenses to the 25mm wide-angle and removed the softlight reflector as we needed as much power as possible to try and fill in shadows. Becka held the light, while James put on his …

100 Kobudo Kata Challenge at the Karate Kaikan, Okinawa

A few pics from today’s 100 Kobudo Kata Challenge at the new Karate Kaikan in Tomigusku, Okinawa. The event was organized by James Pankiewicz of the Dojo Bar in Naha. The welcoming message was given by Toshimitsu Arakaki, 10th dan Matsubayashi-ryu karate. Participants spent 2 to 3 hours performing a hundred kata with various weapons including bo staff and sai. Congratulations to all that took part, it was great to see people actively helping keep Okinawan traditions alive. I also got to take a few new “Beyond the Dojo” pics of Arakaki sensei outside of the new Karate Kaikan building. Arakaki-sensei demonstrates a technique with two sai, while also reminding me that “Iron Fist” isn’t just something from comic books.   Gear: Pentax 645Z with 25mm lens. Profoto B1 with softlight reflector white.