by Editor David Williams
Eiji Itoyama is a skilled artist when it comes to photograph animals and wildlife.
He enjoys the peaceful feeling he got when observing them and being part of their lives by capturing their energy through his lens. He considers 1X as a great teacher even if in the beginning his heart was broken by the many rejections. But he hold on to and persevered by developing his own style getting inspired by most talented 1x members. Eiji has a charming but humble personality in spite of his excellent work. Let's take a journey in his world and discover more about him through this interview.
Please introduce yourself to the readers, Eiji.
Who is the Man behind the camera?
I am a Japanese amateur photographer. I have had a full-time job in my life. But I had a long holiday in 2018. I did not do any job, I just concentrated on photography for a whole year.
When did you start photography and what drew you to it?
My father had Canon EOS film camera and I have been using some cameras since I was a university student. Until I quit my job, I had photographed landscape and my family. When I used to live in the USA with my job assignment, I used my camera frequently to photograph my kids growing up as well as the ocean when I went surfing. But, honestly, I did not know anything about aperture, ISO, even focusing. It was just a recording tool to me. I started seriously learning both camera and photography since 2018.
Is photography your full-time job, or do you do other work?
No, photography is not my job. I have another job although I sometimes think if I can make money through photography it would be a dream come true.
What is your main genre of photography and why?
My main genre is animals and wildlife. When I quit my job, I did not know what to do. Surfing and photography were my only enthusiastic hobbies. I am not sure why, but I just thought that I wanted to learn photography more seriously. I wanted some identity to prove my existence. At the same time, I experienced a peaceful state of mind when I saw animals - even at the zoo – and I felt their life and energy through the lens.
Do you prepare carefully the locations where you are intending to photograph?
Not so much. If I was a landscape photographer, I would carefully choose location and time. I like wildlife so, I research the information on the internet as to when and what subjects are available to be seen. I just check out that information and I travel if I have the time and money.
What is more important to you, the mood, story or the technical perfection behind your images?
I'm not able to express well, but I know that I like taking photographs only when I really feel that I must take them. When I feel life of animals and birds, I just want to take photographs. It does not matter whatever they do, such as eating, or just sitting.
One of my favourite photographs of yours must be “My favourite toothpick”.
Can you tell us more about this image, has it been featured in magazines etc?
That photo was taken in Alaska in September 2018. The ocean was still not frozen and the polar bears were waiting for the water to freeze to go hunting. I saw many mother and cubs there. This village belonged to a native Inupiat tribe. They can hunt only a few whales every year. After they eat meat, they put the arctic bowhead whale bones in one place for polar bears to eat the leftover meat. I saw this polar bear cub playing with the bowhead whales’ giant bone.
I know you are a member of the “Canon Photo Circle” please do tell us about your winning works that have been published in the photo circle magazine.
Yes, I have been and still use the Canon digital EOS series for long time. I joined the Canon Photo Circle when I decided to do photography in 2018. I sent the print of an eagle’s shot that I took in Hokkaido, in Japan in February 2018 and got a silver award in nature division of the monthly photo contest. I continuously posted every month for Canon monthly photo contest.
Then, I got the Grand Champion Award of 2018 with a deer portrait in a forest.
Which is your proudest achievement in photography?
National Geographic choose my wild flamingo shot in their daily dozens best and that remained in the final stage of 2018 National Geographic Photo Contest.
Can you tell us something about your favourite photographers and why you like them?
I like many photographers on 1X. For animal and wildlife: David Williams who taught me how to use a camera and how to process RAW files. I also like Natalia Rublina, Morkel Erasmus, and Phillip Chang.
For other genres: Nobuhiro Ishida, Terry F, John Fan, Carmine Chiriacò, Martina Stutz, Larry Deng, Gilbert Claes, Swapnil and many others. I like their works because I feel the boarder or edge between reality and unreality. It is hard to explain, but I am really fascinated by the unrealistic reality and realistic unreality...
What gear do you use (camera, lenses, bag)?
I most used my Canon EOS 1DX and 100-400mm lens in 2018. Now, I am using a Sony A9 and
What software do you use to process your images?
I use Lightroom and Photoshop for post processing.
Can you tell us something more about your workflow? I notice you don’t over-process your images.
First, I adjust lighting and contrast with Lightroom. Usually, I lower contrast and highlights being careful not to deteriorate the details of image. Then I sharpen the image with Photoshop and use dodge and burn. Sometimes I use the Nik Collection for reversing to BW and for low key processing.
Is there any specific photo taken by another photographer that has inspired you a lot and why?
It is a difficult question because so many photos influenced me. If I have to choose only one, it would be 'Sunset Flight' by Phillip Chang. It is the ultimate shot for me. It is unrealistic beauty in my mind. It is my dream to shoot wild flamingos while flying from a plain / helicopter.
Describe your favourite photograph taken by you and why it is special to you?
My favourite one is the Flamingo shot. It shows my best simplicity. I did not expect to encounter flamingos in Serengeti, Africa. It was just a coincidence when the safari car parked up at a small lake for lunch. I doubted my eyes when I saw beautiful birds there. I was very lucky and I am surprised that everyone likes this photo so much.
Is there anything else you wish to add and what do you think about 1X as a home base for your work?
1X has been a great teacher to me. In the beginning, my heart was almost broken with so many rejections. But I am OK with it for now. 1X keeps teaching me and I keep growing my own style through brilliant photographers on 1X.