Early Sunday morning I had the opportunity to photograph the musicians and dancers of a Gamelan Indonesian dance group. I shot portraits using natural light and a wide aperture against green vegetation. I also used the felt black background and a single strobe setup from the karate masters series to create a second set of images. Here’s a quick behind the scenes shot showing the black Lastolite background leaning against our car, and a Profoto B1 strobe with OCF beauty dish on the stand. Portraits were shot using the Pentax 645Z with the 90mm and 55m lenses. A huge thank you to the Gamelan dancers and musicians, and to Michael Lyon for setting up the shoot. Looking forward to seeing your performances in the future.
Things have been so hectic the last month I forgot to post about the release of Sensei: Masters of Okinawan Karate #5 with Kiyomasa Maeda. A fascinating interview which shows the real love and respect these masters have for their own teachers, and the humility with which they approach their art.
Thank you for having me as your photographer at the USO Okinawa 48th Annual Service Salute. The Service Salute celebrates those individuals who work as volunteers in their community from both the American and Japanese services. Congratulations to all those who received awards. Attendees can now download images from the event from Dropbox at the link below. https://tinyurl.com/y4rghkxl This service is provided by the USO Okinawa. Attendees can share the images and make prints of their favorite photos for free.
Now that the first three episodes of Sensei: Masters of Okinawan Karate have been published to YouTube I can happily say that the feedback I’m getting has been really positive, and its popularity on YouTube is growing with each video! The first video had 5000 views in its first month, the second video had 62,000 views in its first month, and the third video has had 86,000 views in its first two weeks! I’m in the final stages of the edit of the fourth video with Sensei Takeshi Tamaki, and hope it will be released on May 22nd. This endeavour is possible because of sponsorship and support by the international karate community. If you see the value of undertaking this project, please consider become a main series sponsor, series sponsor, or supporter. More details here. Sponsors and supporters are listed in all subsequent episodes of the series. If you’d like to help, and get in touch before May 21st, I can add you to the credits for Episode 4 before the final file creation and …
Lilies are flowering in Okinawa at the moment. The 24th Iejima Lily Festival took place from April 20 to May 6, but there are still plenty of lilies in bloom around where we live in Motobu. I went out with the camera to shoot some still images, and get some b-roll video for future projects.
May 5th was the final day of the 2019 Naha Dragon Boat Races. Weather was a bit hazy, but it was great to get some new pics for the blog, and some video footage of the event for future projects. Pics shot with the Pentax 645Z and the 300 mm lens. Congratulations to all the teams who took part.
On Saturday we also photographed portraits of Fusei Kise’s son Isao Kise. He is now the main teacher at the dojo in Okinawa City. It is always interesting to photograph multiple generations of karateka. All images shot with the Pentax 645Z. Black background images used a Profoto B1 monolight with a softlight reflector and the 90mm lens. The shots with the dojo in the background were taken with natural light and with a 55mm lens.
On Saturday the 100 Kobudo Kata Challenge 2019 took place at Sakiyama Park, Shuri, Okinawa. Organized by James Pankiewicz the event was opened by Toshimitsu Arakaki 10th-dan Matsubayashi-ryu Karate. It was great to see so many young people taking part from the Asato Dojo and Okinawa Kenpo Kenyukai Dojo. The recently completely rear gate of Shuri Castle, seen in the background of the group photo, is also looking impressive.
Hisao Hamamoto is a master of Japanese swords. At 83 he continues to teach how to use katana and wakizashi. I first photographed Hamamoto sensei on October 1st 2011, before the Karate Masters Portrait Project began. The single-light beauty dish portrait I took of Hamamoto would become the lighting setup I’d then use for the entire series. I met up with Hamamoto sensei today at the Budokan in Naha City, to get some video of him teaching his class. Afterwards I asked to take a few location portraits at the shrine next to the Budokan. We then grabbed some lunch before heading over the Dojo Bar with James Pankiewicz to film a short interview with Hamamoto sensei. It won’t be part of the Sensei: Masters of Okinawan Karate series, but a bonus interview about his life and art. A real delight to meet him once again. Thank you to Hamamoto sensei for giving up his time, to James for helping set up the shoot and letting us conduct the interview in the Dojo Bar, and …
On Friday evening we travelled down to the very south of the main island of Okinawa to the dojo of Kenichi Yamashiro. He is the 83rd sensei to be photographed for the project, and it was fascinating to meet him. Kobudo is the weapons system of Okinawan martial arts and is often studied alongside karate. Arguably kobudo is an intrinsic part of traditional karate, or perhaps traditional karate is an intrinsic part of kobudo. Yamashiro sensei trains with a wide range of weapons, including some which I’d never seen before such as the spinning bo staff. Hopefully in the future we’ll be back again to interview him for the Sensei: Masters of Okinawan Karate documentary series. All images captured using the Pentax 645Z and 90mm lens. Lighting using the Profoto B1 and softlight reflector. A big thank you to Gary Hughes for assisting with lighting, Yuki Willson and James East for interpreting, and Mike Clayton for help setting up the shoot. A huge thank you to Kenichi Yamashiro for inviting us into his dojo and …