A lucky find

When you’re grap­pling for a job and will­ing to try any­thing, you can stumble on some in­ter­est­ing path­ways that lead you to places you’d never an­tic­i­pate. Just ask Yuki Sato

The Photographer's Mail - - Personal -

You pour your heart and soul into your ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion, try­ing to pave a way for your­self into a ca­reer that will be re­ward­ing and sat­is­fy­ing, then you come to the end, and there are no jobs in sight — you’re grasp­ing at straws try­ing to find any job at all, and some­times you fall into some­thing that you per­haps never imag­ined you’d find your­self do­ing. That’s the case for Yuki Sato — when des­per­ate times called for des­per­ate mea­sures. Af­ter he fin­ished study­ing economics in Ja­pan, he was on the look­out for a job but couldn’t find one any­where.

“I was just hang­ing around not do­ing much, so my brother, who was work­ing as a stylist, took me to help out on some photo shoots. The photographer on the shoots no­ticed that I had lots of free time, and asked if I was in­ter­ested in be­ing his full-time as­sis­tant,” Sato ex­plained.

As his en­trance into pho­tog­ra­phy was not driven by a burn­ing pas­sion for the craft, Sato had to un­dergo some in­tense train­ing to get him up to scratch — his main experience with pho­tog­ra­phy prior to this was when he had gone on a road trip when he was 20 and taken his fa­ther’s old Nikon F2 along with him — which he’d lost at the end of the trip.

Nev­er­the­less, in his new­found role as photographer’s as­sis­tant, Sato spent four years work­ing for the same photographer, and, dur­ing this time, he dis­cov­ered that he ac­tu­ally found pho­tog­ra­phy in­ter­est­ing, de­scrib­ing this as a lucky rev­e­la­tion. Dur­ing those four years, Sato was pushed by the photographer to learn the foun­da­tions of pho­tog­ra­phy.

“[It was] like Jedi-knight mas­ter and pupil — he was a hard mas­ter, but I learned the ba­sic craft of pho­tog­ra­phy at that time,” he said.

And how times have changed. These days, Sato works at an ad­ver­tis­ing com­pany where he’s able to make a liv­ing through his pho­tog­ra­phy. Although, even with many years of experience un­der his belt, he still finds him­self re­vert­ing back to the ad­vice his ‘mas­ter’ be­stowed on him.

“I sup­pose, since I moved to New Zealand from Ja­pan about 10 years ago, I’ve been lucky to be able to make a liv­ing from pho­tog­ra­phy. I ap­pre­ci­ate ev­ery sin­gle shoot I do. The rea­son be­hind this is prob­a­bly be­cause when I did my very first paid job un­der my Ja­panese boss in Ja­pan, he looked at my work and told me that I was ob­vi­ously not tal­ented, so I should work hard on each job, then I’d be able to work as a photographer. That’s what I’m still try­ing to do af­ter 15 years of my ca­reer,” Sato said.

Dis­cov­er­ing that his pre­ferred style of pho­tog­ra­phy is still life, he en­joys cap­tur­ing well- de­signed and well-made sub­jects or pieces of art. But he doesn’t just limit him­self to cap­tur­ing the essence of highly crafted prod­ucts; Sato also finds in­trigue and beauty in many items that he stum­bles across through­out his daily life.

“You can see the cre­ator’s thoughts and ef­forts be­hind ev­ery sin­gle line, shape, ma­te­rial, and tex­ture. I like pho­tograph­ing these,” he ex­plained.

How­ever, the cre­ative process he goes through in order to cap­ture his strik­ing shots doesn’t al­ways play out to achieve what the vi­su­al­iza­tion he had struc­tured in his mind sug­gested: “If I find an ob­ject that I want to shoot, [which are] usu­ally just or­di­nary things around me, I will think about it for a while un­til I get time to shoot it. While I’m find­ing the time to shoot, I’m think­ing about how I want to pho­to­graph it and get­ting a rough idea of the fi­nal im­age. But once the ob­ject is in front of the cam­era, and lit with some lights, I al­ways see a dif­fer­ent way of ap­proach­ing the ob­ject and find some­thing that is dif­fer­ent to what I was imag­in­ing. The fi­nal im­age of­ten ends up com­pletely dif­fer­ent to the rough idea, but I en­joy that process.”

Around his busy job, and be­ing a fa­ther of two young daugh­ters — and a kit­ten as well — it’s tricky for Sato to al­lo­cate the time to delve into his per­sonal projects. How­ever, he has booked a trip back to Ja­pan, where he hopes to be able to find a bit of time to pho­to­graph the land­scapes of his home­town, Hokkaido, with his “newish toy”, a Fu­ji­film X-E2.

To see more of Sato’s com­mer­cial and per­sonal cre­ations, visit his web­site: yuk­isato.co.nz.

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