Homage to My Father


I recently regained my interest in photography after a blank of more than 40 years. My very basic photography skills, if any, came from my father. He did not teach me but I was with him when he had chats with his photography friends, when he developed roll films and printed them, and when he went on photo shooting sessions. The landlord of our house was the manager of the photography department in a major national newspaper. I grew up in this environment.


My first camera was a Fujipet when I was about 11 years old, around 1959. Major film manufacturers such as Fuji Film often provided photo shooting events usually combined with a photo contest. I clearly remember that it was at such a photo event, held at Ueno Park in Tokyo where hundreds of amateur photographers were surrounding a group of dancers performing a dance for them to photograph, a guy in front of me kept stepping on my left foot, too concentrated on his shooting to notice my pain. The incident was compensated for later by a photo contest award given to me, in the lowest entry class though.


So I learnt through my father about how important it was to control the temperature of the developer, how to use my fingers to give extra temperature through my body, how to patch pinholes on a print with opaque inks, etc. It was always interesting to listen to the conversations held among my father's photo friends, analysing photos, discussing the composition, tone, etc., all about black and white photos. I was a small, enthusiastic photographer for a while until my interest went to other things.


My father was involved in running a local photography club. Most of his friends were amateur photographers, some from his other hobbies such as fishing and Japanese chess. The guy who lived on the opposite side of the street and ran a small clothes shop was the president of the club at that time. His son was a friend of mine, so we often visited each other's houses. The newspaper photographer owned a small flat as his private photo studio, which he sometimes allowed the club to use for a shooting session.


One evening, the newspaper photographer visited my father at home. I was there as our house was not large, playing something in the living room. The guy came to our house to complain about the bad behavior of some club members at one of their shooting nights. The model complained to the newspaper photographer that the club members that night, including the club president, had demanded she to take off her underpants. My father was not involved. It was such an exciting story for a young boy to listen to -- I wished I had been there in the studio if their attempt was successful. Photography was such an exciting thing for me, including my attempts at night to peep at nudes in photography magazines.


It was only several years later that the club president moved away due to his shop going bankrupt. My father gradually lost his interest in photography. The newspaper photographer wanted to buy a couple of my father's cameras, a Canon and a Rolliflex, to add them to his collection. As far as I remember my father did not buy any new cameras after that. I did not continue my camera enthusiasm but bought the world's first autofocus camera, a Minolta α7000, when I had my first son, Junta, and took quite a lot of photos of him. When Junta was very young, my father often took him around our local area, visiting an old camera friend who was running a coffee shop. My father died soon after we moved to the UK.