on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

Shinzo Maeda

Master photographer

Tim Parkin

Tim Parkin

Amateur Photographer who plays with big cameras and film when in between digital photographs.

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Shinzo Maeda with Linhof Super Technika

Shinzo Maeda may have been unkown to many western landscape photographers had he not been included the wonderful compilation book called “The World’s Top Photographers - Landscape”. Whatever you think of the book’s purpose or title, the content is mostly very good and the fact it advanced Shinzo awareness is a very good thing indeed. You see, Shinzo was one of those passionate and workaholic photographers that over time has produced a vast body of work that doesn’t conform to stereotypes. His cultural background definitely informed his vision but we can all relate to a photographer in love with his subject.

He was born in Tokyo in 1922 to a family who worked in the Forestry industry. Educated well and trained in textile dying and although he acquired the use of a camera when he was 13 (his brothers). In the end he bought his own camera and used it when out on his almost obsessive bird watching activities.

Drafted during the war, he fortunately never saw active posting as the war ended just as he arrived in Sumatra. As with many Japanese at the time, the cultural pysche and the after affects of the ware affected Shinzo deeply and he retreated to the mountains immediately after the war, finding a safe haven in the wilderness.

Upon his return, he took a job in a clothing company and spent the next seven years quietly working but in 1955 he started to visit the mountains again. It was on these hiking trips that he had the urge to try record the beauty and peace that he remembed from his earlier sanctuary in the mountains. He used some of the cheap cameras that were being produced in Japan at the time, Nikon, Canon and Mamiya, but it was Kamishima Shiro that suggested the use of the 4x5 view camera and he bought a Linhof Super Technika in 1964. A year later he gave up his job and dedicated himself to photography and two years later launched Tankei Photo Agency.

In 1974 he published his first collection of photographs entitled “The Four Seasons of a Home Town”, Maininchi Shimbun-sha, Tokyo which became a successful vehicle for his craft and the production of 46 photography books until his death in 1998 at the age of 76.

Read further: Shinzo Maeda – Selected book reviews


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