Design Assembly recently got the opportunity to chat with photographer Yuki Sato to find out more about his photography and passions.
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Can you tell our readers a little bit about who you are and what you do.
My name is Yuki Sato, I’m a freelance photographer. Studio-based still-life photography work is my specialty. I was born in Hokkaido, Japan, where there is a long, cold winter every year, so I grew up surrounded by deep snow for half of every year. I moved to New Zealand in 2007 with my partner Kate, who I met in Japan. Now we live in West Auckland and have a small family of two daughters and two cats.
How did you initially get started in the industry?
When I graduated from university in Japan, I had no idea what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be. I’d studied Economics because it was the easiest course to get into, but I came out of it still having no idea what I was going to do as a job.
My older brother was working as a stylist at that time, and he took me on a photo shoot because he needed an extra hand. The photographer on that shoot asked me if I wanted to work as his assistant. I thought, why not? So it was really through timing and a bit of luck that I ended up in this industry. Funnily enough I didn’t have much interest in photography when I started working for him, but I grew to like it, and now I feel fortunate to have ended up making a career as a photographer.
What are some of the best bits, and also some of the challenges about what you do?
Just simply being a photographer and making a living is such a pleasure. I love what I do. Because the nature of photography is visual communication, despite any language barrier or cultural difference, I’m still able to connect with other people all over the world through my photography skill, which is amazing. It meant I could live and work overseas, even though that itself was a big challenge.
What project, personal or professional, are you most proud of and why?
I guess it would be my personal projects – the series of skeleton leaves and bubbles. These are of objects that belonged to my daughters: the leaves they collected from our family holiday trip, the bubbles they were playing with in the garden. They are just ordinary things you might see anywhere, but by bringing them to the studio you can really capture their beauty.
Do you have any insider tips for budding photographers out there?
After I’d shot my very first roll of film for my first boss, he took me aside and said, ‘You obviously don’t have any talent. But not having talent doesn’t mean that you can’t make a career as a photographer. If you do your very best with every single shot and every single job, you can survive as a photographer.’ So that’s basically what I did and what I’m still doing now, and it seems to be working.
Where do you go to find inspiration?
There’s no particular place that I go. Ordinary daily stuff can inspire me.
Exercise is good. I go and play a game of basketball or squash and that helps clear my head. Or walking somewhere, listening and looking around, at a slow pace, helps too.
What’s next for you?
Just to carry on what I’m doing now. I’m hoping to have my own studio in the future, so I don’t have to carry all my lighting gear everywhere.