As the adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.
The striking visual appeal, the ability to capture something while it is happening, immortalising the moment and letting the whole world see what you just witnessed, is what renders photographs their true value. Some popular Asian photographers are nailing this craft and it is evident in their Instagram feed.
Whether it’s capturing the harrowing moments of war, or documenting pristine locales while travelling, photographers freeze such scenes in time and preserve them just the way they are. Holding a slice of that time gone by — which probably will never occur again — and turning it into a frame is what makes a photographer’s job such a difficult yet rewarding one. When language becomes a barrier and words fall short, these images easily tell an entire story.
Remember the heart-wrenching image of two-year-old child Alan Kurdi — whose lifeless body washed up on the Turkish shores in 2015 — that shook the world? Behind the lens was photographer Nilüfer Demir whose one click caused a global impact like no other. Or take for instance Raghu Rai’s monochromatic stills depicting everyday moments of colourful lives and laughter. The two photographers’ styles might be completely different but their impact remains unaltered.
Let us take a look at some of the best and most popular Asian photographers, who show how the masters do it through their compelling and beautiful Instagram feeds depicting everything from beaches and mountains to geo-political issues.
Here are 7 popular Asian photographers to check out on Instagram
Raghu Rai, India
One of the most popular Asian photographers and photojournalists of India, Raghu Rai is best known for his monochromatic photographs of the country and its people. His lenses have traversed the length and breadth of the subcontinent and chronicled many scenes and sights. A journey spanning over four decades and more, Raghu Rai is one of the very few Asian names on the prestigious photo agency roster— Magnum Photos.
Guided by the famous French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, Rai’s images of the Sadhus of Kumbh Mela, stunning candid photographs of Indira Gandhi, director Satyajit Ray, Mother Teresa, Dalai Lama and more continue to enthral viewers who see the changing landscape of India through his lens. He has also authored a number of books that depict his journey like Refugees in India, Hussain Doshi Gufa, Outside The Margin and others.
With over 96k followers, check Raghu Rai’s Instagram here.
Daidō Moriyama, Japan
A sought after name among popular photographers in Asia, Daidō Moriyama is an illustrious figure when it comes to street photography. Carving a name for himself in the arena of candid photography, his images evoke a myriad of emotions. He is best known for his black and white photos that uphold the very essence of Japan’s Shinjuku.
After joining the eminent photographers’ group VIVO in 1961 at a time when the group was about to dissolve. Moriyama went on to assist famous Japanese photographer Eikoh Hosoe. This became a major step for the then young photographer who went to bag the prestigious New Artist Award from the Japan Photo Critics Association in the year 1967. This was followed by ‘Pantomime’, a group exhibition with Shin Yanagisawa the following year. He also received the Hasselblad Award in 2019. Besides solo exhibitions in Asia and all over the world, Moriyama has a number of publications like KURA chan, PLASTIC LOVE, Moriyama Daido’s Tokyo and others.
With over 20.7k followers, check Daidō Moriyama’s Instagram here.
Harimao Lee, Hong Kong
Working as a freelance photographer based in Hong Kong, Harimao Lee’s Instagram feed is dominated by street and mostly architectural photography. Stunning visuals of snow-clad pagodas, lush greenery surrounding these serene structures, forts of India, Arabic buildings in Doha, skyscrapers of New York and apartments of Hong Kong are the muse of this young photographer. According to him planning and research are key to the perfect shot of a popular and changing skyline of busy cities like New York and Hong Kong.
Speaking with Culture of Creatives, Lee said, “Planning and research are essential when chasing that perfect shot. I can spend hours getting lost in Google Maps jumping around on Street View, scouring YouTube, and searching on Instagram. Anything I can use to help familiarise myself with the location.”
With over 404k followers, check Harimao Lee’s Instagram here.
Rinko Kawauchi, Japan
Rinko Kawauchi is considered as one of the very few successful and celebrated female Asian photographers. She is best known for her poetic compositions and serene photographs that depict the everyday ordinary moments of life and people. This Tokyo-based contemporary artist is also well known for her soft colour tones, lucid images and carefully edited photobook.
After a period of freelancing, Kawauchi released three photobooks of her personal work titled Utatane, Hanabi, and Hanoko. They made her extremely popular overnight and she released more photo books. She also held exhibitions in different parts of the world including the Fondation Cartier in Paris, The Photographers’ Gallery in London, the Museo de Arte Moderna in São Paulo and White Cube in Kyoto, among many others.
Kawauchi is the recipient of a string of awards and recognitions including the 27th Kimura Ihei Photography Award, the Infinity Award held at the International Centre of Photography and an Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society.
With over 83.1k followers, check Rinko Kawauchi’s Instagram here.
Shahidul Alam, Bangladesh
One of the pioneering Asian photographers, Shahidul Alam is a well known name, not only in Bangladesh’s photography world but all over. Shahidul Alam is also a social activist championing the cause of rights and democracy. He is best known for being the person behind the Drik Picture Agency, the country’s first picture agency and Chobi Mela, one of Asia’s premier photography festivals.
One glance over Shahidul’s Instagram feed and website means an instant trip to the bygone days of Bangladesh’s struggle for democracy, its bylanes, the colourful festivals and a tryst with everyday life and people. Commenting on his works Raghu Rai once said, “In India we have many more photographers, some of them very good, and there are many galleries for art and especially photography. As well as reputed newspapers and magazines – much is happening on many levels. But we don’t have a Shahidul Alam, who can combine them into a cohesive social and creative force.”
With over 56.6k followers, check Shahidul Alam’s Instagram here.
RK is a Tokyo-based photographer best known for capturing the myriad moods of the city— its people, structures and nightlife. This photographer is also an active graphic designer and DJ. In 2013 he started out with just an iPhone and went to become an exclusive iPhone photographer of the running crew of Athletics Far East Tokyo or AFE TOKYO. In 2018 he took up freelancing and since then has captured the different faces of not only Japan but also China, Hong Kong and Europe. He soon switched to a single-lens reflex camera and produced a number of amazing photographs including his ‘Grandpa in Akihabara’ and ‘Taipei Bridge Bike’.
RK has also collaborated with many celebrities like Takashi Murakami, KAWS, Tyga and others. His photographs have been featured not only in Japan but across the globe in several exhibitions and media coverages. RK has also turned a few of his images into NFTs which are listed on OpenSea.
With over 754k followers, check RK’s Instagram here.
Kohki Yamaguchi, Japan
This travel photographer derives inspiration from the pristine locales of Japan. Other cities from this part of the world as well as Europe have found new dimensions and angles through his lens. Having collaborated with the likes of BMW in Germany, The North Face, Apple and Paul Smith, Yamaguchi is one of the most prominent Asian photographers out there.
According to him, Instagram and other social media platforms have a lot of potential in helping build a community and connect people to create new ideas. The 2013 TEDx speaker also runs Tokyo’s largest Instagram community page ‘DiscoverTokyo‘.
With over 319k followers, check Kohki Yamaguchi’s Instagram here.
Dotz Soh, Singapore
A young traveller, influencer and photographer from Singapore, Dotz Soh is one of the most followed personalities in the country with over 1 million followers. Having completed her graduation in interior designing in London, Soh’s work is creative and expresses ‘hope and dreams and the beautiful side of the world.’
Inspired by other renowned photographers, Soh’s Instagram is a beautiful compilation of her travels across the world. She has been invited by tourism boards, luxury hotels, resorts and brands to feature them and their properties. Her well edited photographs are nothing short of wallpaper- and postcard-worthy.
With over 1.1m followers, check Dotz Soh’s Instagram here.
(Main and feature image credit: Mattia Righetti/ Unsplash)
This story first appeared on Prestige Malaysia
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