“They carried the joys and sorrows of those living with the sea … I immersed myself in their world.” – Iwase Yoshiyuki
In 1904, Yoshiyuki Iwase was born in Onjuku, a fishing village in the Chiba prefecture. He studied law in Meiji University in Tokyo. He was the heir to his family’s sake distillery and he found his inspiration as he documented the traditional life of the people living on the pacific side of Chiba peninsula.
The young Iwase received a Kodak camera as a gift and he found his passion for primitive beauty of ama, girls and women who dove for and harvested abalone, seaweeds, and turban shells when the tides were favorable and the temperature was bearable. The ama became his muse and passion and Iwase’s amazing photographs remain as the final and most comprehensive visual proofs and records of the life of the ama divers.
As his love for photography escalated, his armaments and collection expanded, too. It included a bellows camera, a Rollei, a Sohoflex, and a Super Six. He photographed fishermen and native village people. He had a series of exceptional modernist nudes and he also documented traditional culture in post-war Japan.
He had numerous solo exhibitions in Chiba and Tokyo. His achievements in the field of photography earned him honors and citations for his excellent work. Many of his photographs are held in collections in Tokyo and Onjuku historical museums. He passed away at the age of 97, leaving behind a legacy of his beloved village at the local folk museum.
All photographs in these article are from iwase-photo.com.
Which of these Yoshiyuki Iwase photographs strike your liking the most? What other classic photographers would you like to be written about?
basterda is a member of the Lomography team in Manila. She has been dealing with your Customer Service concerns since August of 2010 and is now also contributing to the magazine. Influential Photographs is also one of her ongoing series for the Lifestyle section.