Masao Yamamoto – Shizuka

Masao Yamamoto (山本昌男 Yamamoto Masao, born 1957) is a Japanese freelance photographer known for his small photographs, which seek to individualize the photographic prints as objects.

Framed individually, his work can be similar to the poetry style of HAIKU. HAIKU brings flow to the poetry world by featuring seasonal words and capturing a vivid moment.  Yamamoto’s photographic works present a moment in a similarly beautiful and momentous flow. The world is beautiful and ever changing; only when we stop at this river do we notice the flow.

Masao Yamamoto is inspired by the Japanese philosophy of Zen, and the belief that meditation and the pursuit of beauty play an essential role in the development of human beings.  Yamamoto’s philosophical and spiritual roots contribute to his distinctive photographic style, in which the ordinary is revealed as something extraordinary.

Yamamoto’s small-scale photographs, from his earlier series A Box of Ku and Nakazora, are visual haikus that can be displayed as a collection of harmonious objects, or stand alone as individual images. The prints are meditative objects, each image a trigger that encourages the viewer to draw on their own memories and subconscious.  While the images are simple and observational, their suggestive nature is what gives them power.

In his newest series, KAWA=FLOW, Yamamoto explores “the world where we are and the world where we go in the future.” The images in this series are a reflection on nature and the relationship between the world and self.  Evocative of harmony and contentment, they reflect Yamamoto’s philosophy that respect and humility toward the universe is achieved by uncovering quietude in oneself, a process found only through nature.

Masao Yamamoto’s photographs are included in the collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and International Center of Photography, New York, among others.  His monographs include Fujsan, éOmizuaoNakazora, and A Box of Ku.

Masao Yamamoto’s website

From the artist

Living in the forest, I feel the presence of many “treasures” breathing quietly in nature.
I call this presence “Shizuka.”
“Shizuka” means cleansed, pure, clear, and untainted.
I walk around the forest and harvest my “Shizuka” treasures from soil. I try to catch the faint light radiated by these treasures with both my eyes and my camera.
In Tao Te Ching , an ancient Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu wrote , “A great presence is hard to see. A great sound is hard to hear. A great figure has no form.”
What he means is that the world is full of noises that we humans are not capable of hearing. For example, we cannot hear the noises created by the movement of the universe. Although these sounds exist, we ignore them altogether and act as if only what we can hear exists. Lao-tzu teaches us to humbly accept that we only play a small part in the grand scheme of the universe.
I feel connected to his words. I have always sensed that there is something precious in nature. I have an impression that something very vague and large might exist beyond the small things I can feel. This is why I started collecting “Shizuka” treasures.
“Shizuka” transmits itself through the delicate movement of air, the smell of the earth, the faint noises of the environment, and rays of light. “Shizuka” sends messages to all five of my senses.
Capturing light is the essence of photography. I am convinced more than ever that photography was created when humans wished to capture light.
I hope you will enjoy “Shizuka”, the treasures of the forest, through my photographs.