Something you may not know about me is that I am a bit of a David Bowie fan. I’ve loved him since I was a kid, have all of his studio albums, and have seen him play live a couple of times. It’s been a while since I’ve really given much attention to Bowie, but recently he’s everywhere due to the David Bowie is exhibition at the V&A (which I’ll be going to soon) and his new album, The Next Day.
This has always been my favourite photo of Bowie, but it wasn’t until recently that I found out a little bit more about the photographer…
This photo of Bowie in Kyoto was taken by a Japanese photographer called Masayoshi Sukita. Born in Kyushu in 1938, Sukita has worked with Bowie since they met in London in 1972, and is best known for the photograph on the cover of the iconic album Heroes.
If you like the look of Sukita’s work, or if you’re a Bowie fan, I recommend getting down to Snap Galleries in London as soon as possible to catch their exhibition of Sukita’s work, Masayoshi Sukita: Photographs of David Bowie, 1972 – 2002, which is on until 30th April. It’s only a small exhibition, but absolutely worth seeing!
I only recently realised just how connected to Japan Bowie actually is. Not only are some of the most famous photographs of Bowie taken by a Japanese photographer, he was also known for wearing clothes by Japanese designers. One perfect example of this combination is this 1973 photo by Sukita, in which Bowie is wearing a striped bodysuit for the Aladdin Sane tour, designed by Kansai Yamamoto.
Inspired by his photograph-taking father and a love for American movies, Sukita discovered his passion for photography at a young age. In 1965, Sukita moved to Tokyo, taking fashion photographs and filming TV commercials, and in 1970 he became a freelance photographer. After visiting New York frequently between 1970 and 1971 and becoming interested in the music scene, Sukita finally found himself in London in 1972. Sukita saw a poster for a Bowie concert and felt compelled to go, then managed to secure a meeting with Bowie’s manager. His English was limited, but he managed to prove his ability with his portfolio, and did his first photo-shoot with Bowie in the summer of 1972.
When Bowie visited Japan in 1973, and many times afterwards, Sukita was always there to accompany and photograph him, resulting in gorgeous shots such as the first one in this post, and this photograph of Bowie in Kyoto, below:
Bowie clearly thinks quite highly of Sukita, judging by the quote on the wall in the gallery:
But then, after working together for more than 40 years, it’s only natural that they should respect one another.
I love the way Sukita captures Bowie’s uniqueness in every image, and seems to focus especially on his eyes. Compare these images from 1972, 1989 and 2002 – they’re all about the eyes!
The exhibition is an absolute delight to visit, and all of the photographs are for sale (if you’re feeling rich!). Sukita will be donating part of the proceeds from the sale of the photographs in the exhibition to help the victims of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.
If you don’t have any money (like me), catalogue are free:
Bags and T-shirts are also for sale:
This exhibition could really have done with being bigger and on for longer, but I’m hoping it’s just a taster for what will be on display at the V&A – I can’t wait! If you have time, catch Masayoshi Sukita: Photographs of David Bowie, 1972 – 2002 at Snap Galleries (London, SW1Y 6NH) before the end of April!