Tell us about yourself.
My name is Kunito Imai. I was born in Tokyo in 1971. While I work for the local government, I spend most of my free time on photography. My father loved photography and he let me use his cameras when I was a child. I got interested in photography naturally. My teenage dream was becoming a wildlife photographer but I didn’t pursue it seriously. Three years ago, I was just over 40 back then, I decided to follow my old dream and took up nature photography again.
Why nature photography?
I simply love plants and animals. It’s so exciting to try to catch up with the seasonal changes in Tokyo. It’s like composing a haiku, a traditional Japanese short poem. Monet is a big influence to me. I wish I could capture the light as he painted it. When it comes to capturing the light, I learn a lot more from the Impressionism than photography.
Although Tokyo is overcrowded, there are still some natural oases where I can enjoy photography. I believe natural environment in my city has got better in 30 years. For example, I didn’t see kingfishers when I was a child, but they’re commonly seen now. The water has become cleaner.
I basically do photo sessions in and around Tokyo. I also go abroad once or twice a year for photography.
I like nature photography because it’s something beyond words, languages and cultures. I find our love of nature is something primitive and instinctive. I love communicating with nature lovers outside Japan through photography. We can realize we live in one world through love of nature.
What is your favorite shot till date? Share the story behind it.
“Kingfisher” is one of my most favorites. It was a few months after I got my EF500mm F4L IS II USM, and I’d been wondering how I could capture the kingfisher in flight. I didn’t know why, but all of a sudden, I became able to sense it just before the kingfisher taking off. This is one of the first in-flight shots I made. Now, I understand why. I see the bird’s muscles shrink just a second before it flies away. I did it unconsciously.
What are some of the places you want to visit but have not been able to yet?
I’d like to visit the Caribbean to photograph the hummingbird. Actually, I’m planning a trip to Trinidad and Tobago later this year. Australia is one of the countries on my wish list. I want to see unique mammals there. And Norway for landscapes, wildlife and auroras.
What is your message to the readers to preserve nature? What steps do you take for this?
It’s a very difficult question. We live in a material world and you can’t change it alone. But we can make our best to consume and waste less. We have to realize how destructive the future will be if we don’t stop destroying nature. Raising awareness and acquiring proper knowledge are important. Nature photography can make some contribution to this.
What gears do you use?
- 7D MarkII
- EF100mm F2.8L Macro IS USM
- EF500mm F4L IS II USM
- EF70-200mm F2.8L IS II USM
- EF100-400mm F4.5-5.6L IS II USM
- AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR
- Makro Planar T* 2/50 ZE
- Makro Planar T* 2/100 ZE
- SP 35mm F/1.8 Di VC USD (Model F012)
- SP 90mm F/2.8 Di MACRO 1:1 VC USD」（Model F017）
How difficult is it to make a career in photography?
I was just an amateur and I’ve been very lucky. I’ve got some recognition on the internet and even had a chance to have interviews with Carl Zeiss Lenses. Recently, I made a contract with a UK news agency. My career as a professional artist has just begun.
Have you taken any training in photography?
Not at all. I didn’t even read books on photography except for a text book for Lightroom. I saw a lot of wonderful photos on the internet and they inspired me. My photos get many comments and reactions on Facebook and they help me understand what I should do to appeal to more viewers.
Have a look at more of his work below :