“I learned in life, that like climbing mountains. If you keep moving, step by step by step, some day you reach there. If you don’t do that, you never get there. That’s my philosophy in life.”
Hideoki was born in 1942 in the mountains of Nagano in Suwa City, Japan.
When he was 18 years old, Hideoki took his first photographs at a fishing
village using a Rolleiflex. His views of people, nature, and the world have
changed since taking those. Photography became a medium of self- expression, rich with
narratives from post-war Japan, his bi-cultural experiences, and constant
search for inner peace.
Hideoki moved to New York City in 1963 when fashion editorial was at its height of transformation. He apprenticed under James Moore and printed hundreds of photos for him. A couple of years later, he travelled to London, where he opened his first studio. In 1966 upon returning to NYC, Hideoki received commissions from Harper’s Bazaar, Avenue, New York Times Magazine, amongst other publications.
In 1975, Hideoki photographed a clothing exhibition called Inventive Clothing 1909-1939, organised by Diana Vreeland, exhibited at the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto. The books of fashion legends Elsa Schiaparelli and Madeleine Vionnet also used photos of Hideoki. His accomplishments were well received. He opened a personal exhibit for Nikon in 1978 called “Shimokita Summer, Winter.” In 1978, Barbara Jakobson who was the former board of trustees at the MoMA, acquired Hideoki’s Swan photograph. She donated the piece to be part of the museum’s permanent photo collection. The Swan was featured in the MoMA’s 2012 calendar and was first exhibited at the Nikon Gallery in Tokyo in 1978. In 1979, he opened another exhibition at the Konica Gallery in Japan called “Lost Time”. In 1980, he exhibited his photo series called “Montauk Point,” featuring the clothes of Betsey Johnson. In 1989, he established Hideoki Productions in New York City, working with Japan’s top ad agencies and world-famous celebrities.
Hideoki is now retired and his production company is run by his son Mitsu and wife Maria in New York City.
In 2020, Hideoki, now 78, decided to release his archive expanding for nearly six decades with the hope that many art lovers and art collectors will enjoy, share and live with his wonderful legacy and view on the world through his lens.
Please find below small video footage about the artist.
SOLÈNE wants the viewer to explore and understand the world of each artist by entering their studio life, their daily exploration or even a show, a project that has marked them but more generally SOLÈNE’s vision is for the viewers to see what inspire them, their artistic process and what they wish to share and transmit.
Hideoki, how did you fall into photography, what, where and when was your first memory of it?
I was 18 and I needed money to continue my hobby of mountain climbing. A photographer by the name of Mr. Yokota. He asked my help to carry his camera up in the mountain. He lent me his Roleiflex. That was the first time I ever held a camera.
You say artist is the impression of their own mind and how they express it through their art, paintings, photography, sculpture… how would you describe the expression of your own mind through your photography?
Photography are moments of beauty. You decide in every instant. There’s no waiting.
You seem to love climbing mountains and be in nature such as climbing the Kilimanjaro and the Mont Blanc and the Mont Fuji which are an achievement in itself. You mention it is because it gives you freedom and excitement, does photography give you those feelings too? and if so, how?
Photography takes me to a new place spiritually, always a new discovery each time. That gives me freedom and excitement.
Is there a photography or a série you have particularly fond memory of and if so, why?
There are 3 series that I am fond of. The Africa series for its astonishing horizon. It is also the country where I realized that animals and human beings are the same in many ways. The Fishing Village in Japan is always memorable to me as it was the time when I first held a camera and was captivated by it. It was the beginning of my photography journey. Lastly, the Shimokita series where I took the photo of The Swan. It was my first trip back to Japan after a decade, my first art exhibition, and my first time camping in the thick of snow. It was cold, yet comfortable. You see what you see. A certain clarity.
My feeling is you were eager to capture the beauty of our word in nature, mankind, beautiful women, fashion and everything in between. Would you agree?
It was a 180 degree change when I came back to the US, seeing the beauty of the mountains to seeing the beauty of women.
You mention “Black to white, all the grey tones that’s all that counts. That makes beauty.” Would you say without the grey tones, the in between, the bad and good mixed, life would not be as beautiful and worth living?
The grey tones in life is what makes everything interesting. You can’t live without the grey tones. They are the different tastes in life and that’s important. That’s beautiful and worth living for.