The Shed

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


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:

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