“I want to photograph wild snow leopards.” With this in mind, I have traveled to Mongolia and the South Gobi many times.
During the first interview, I thought I could take pictures after staying on the mountain for a month, but my wish was not fulfilled. Actually, Nomad caught me saying “there are 3 over there” but I couldn’t see them. I couldn’t find a single moving snow leopard with binoculars even though it was more than a kilometer away. I hated myself for not being able to spot just the snow leopard, which was the biggest target, although I had no trouble finding monochrome plains animals like ibex and argali.
In the second year, before dawn, I was waiting on the mountain with the nomads. A snow leopard appeared on the slope opposite the valley. I was stunned by its beauty. The leopard print (polka dots), which was thought to be conspicuous, has become a protective color and blended into the rock. However, I was much later than the nomads in recognizing snow leopards. Nomads are said to have seen him hiding behind a rock for 30 minutes.
When I was 24 in Mongolia my eyes were cheap low resolution lenses with dark apertures. Nevertheless, I caught the snow leopard of my dreams and returned to Japan happily. When the movie was developed, the snow leopard was smaller than I thought it would be. 1 cm for quarter prints. When I showed it to people, they laughed and said, “Where are you?”
I don’t know anything about Mongolia, I don’t speak Mongolian, I don’t have a keen sense of how to photograph animals, and I don’t have the eyesight or physical strength. After more than 20 years, my ambition to go out to the world by photographing snow leopards has evaporated, but I have found peace of mind by reporting and presenting Mongolia from multiple perspectives including landscapes, snapshots and documentaries.
My own eyes are still cheap lenses, I have presbyopia, but when I restore my original snow leopard coverage, I can see animals I couldn’t see before. All the animals quickly spotted me and looked at me.
They’ve probably been watching me, even though I haven’t seen them before.
Excellent compact and lightweight digital equipment supported the shooting, and we successfully photographed the snow leopard at a close distance of 100m.
The exhibition structure of the photo exhibition “The Color of Rocks” allows you to feel the unknown Gobi, such as snow leopards, gobies, wolves, bearded vultures, jerboas and the scenery of the four seasons.
Number of works on display: 23 pieces (color)
Photo Exhibition Information
Pictorico Stores and Galleries
5F, Tosei Building, 1-2-16 Yokozuna, Sumida-ku, Tokyo
March 7th (Fire) – March 18th (Saturday), 2023
About the Author
Born in Yokohama in 1975. After graduating from Japan Photo Academy, he worked as the assistant of photographer Toshinobu Takeuchi, and became a freelancer at the age of 23. Since 1997, in Mongolia, where he has spent his life’s work, he has captured everything from nature to snapshots and documents from his unique perspective. In 2018, TBS “Crazy Journey” carried out local reporting activities. The main publications include the photography collection “CHANGE”, “New Type”, “Watashi”, “Tamajakushi Genetic Memory”, the photography picture book Kaiseisha’s Friends of the World series “Mongolia”, and the photography essay “Umatabi: A Photographer Covering Mongolia for 20 Years” . Records-“. The awards include the 1st Natori Yonosuke Photography Award, the 2014 Photographic Society of Japan Newcomer Award, and the 2016 Sagamihara Newcomer Encouragement Award. Member of the Japan Professional Photographers Association.