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.
Seikichi Iha and hundreds of his Beikoku Shidokan Karatedo Association students from across the world came to Okinawa to celebrate his “Tokachi” 88th birthday celebrations. I was lucky to get to spend some time with the group as they visited Shuri Castle, an evening banquet, training at the Karate Kaikan, and an interview and training at the dojo of the late Miyahira sensei. The interview and footage from his trip will form episode seven of the Sensei: Masters of Okinawa Series. A huge thank you to the members of the Beikoku Shidokan Karatedo Association for inviting me into your celebrations, and also for becoming one of the main sponsors of the Sensei: Masters of Okinawan Karate series.
On August 20th 2019, I had the pleasure to meet, photograph and interview Sensei Arcenio J. Advincula a master of Isshinryu karate. He was a fascinating person to interview because of his role in bringing this style of Okinawa karate to North America, and also developing martial arts in the United States Marine Corps. It will be a few weeks until the interview is posted to You Tube, but here are a selection of portraits documenting another thread in the fabric of Okinawan karate. Thank you to Advincula sensei and his students for traveling up to Motobu. It was a pleasure to have you in my studio.
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.
Came across this fascinating digital painting that was based on one of the outtakes from the 2016 “fisherman” shoot with Michael Lynch for the Pentax K-1 exhibition. UP! from hashem alshaer on Vimeo. Michael was mugging for the camera and staring wildly at the sky. The digital painting version transforms the picture to a whole new level. Here’s my finished photo of the wild seafaring Michael.
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.
Yesterday we visited the dojo of Fusei Kise and his son Isao Kise in Okinawa City. 10th dan in Matsumura Orthodox Shorin-Ryu Karate, Fusei Kise studied under Hohan Soken. Located in Okinawa City not far from the Goya Intersection, Fusei Kise has taught several generations of American service members who have taken their knowledge back to the States. Fusei Kise will be 84 years old next month, so although he still trains the majority of teaching is done by his son Isao Kise who has also reached the rank of 10th dan in Matsumura Orthodox Shorin-Ryu Karate and Kobudo.