It is from the point of view of nature and a certain other special way of thinking that always concerns me when taking pictures...

Though my thoughts may be the same for almost any photograph, if a photographer doesn’t sense or understand the essence of the subject, I feel as though “the subject won’t let me take the picture.” Especially for those pictures that I take of wild animals, my heart must be as clear as my mind—verbal deception does not work with animals. It is a serious heart-to-heart game. You can enhance communications with animals if they recognize you or even if they ignore you, but you’ll never get a good shot if you are overwhelmed by the subject, or if the subject starts to hate you. In such serious games, how I view things and how I think about things everyday just comes out naturally. One’s attitude about nature, and especially about wild animals, is of ultimate importance. When I’m taking pictures, I always start with the hope that my subject will provide me with a “natural” pose. This comes from my feeling of respect for the subject and an “attitude” that transmits confidence. In a certain sense, this may be important with human relations too!

I have Other Me, who always calmly observes me when I'm taking pictures...

“Aren’t you frightened when you get so close to wild animals?” People often ask me this question, and my answer would be “Not really scared,” but if
I were to say “No,” that would be a lie. But since I have been so close to wild animals for so many years, some kind of “space,” a kind of special transcendental aura seems to permeate the air. I am never frightened, as
I have learned from my past experiences that if the pleasant tension produced from the animal consciousness—the awareness of each other—of that place doesn’t disappear, then the likelihood of a surprise attack is low. It is the existence of that consciousness and the act of “the self observing itself” that produces an inner calm.
When I was taking pictures of a polar bear from a car, the bear lunged and almost half of its body came through the window of the car. Perhaps it was his way of greeting me, but if his forepaw had hit me, with those huge claws, I could have suffered serious injury. Just looking at the nails of the forepaw, I said to myself “Wow, they’re bigger than my hand!” At that time, “the other me” was observing the situation calmly, and my body felt like it was in suspended animation. I have been taking pictures of wild animals for so long that I have begun to feel almost as if my body is naturally attuned to their feelings and behavior.

The Four Thirds System that supports me as a field photographer may be the Third Me

The Four Thirds System’s consistency, providing both high mobility and high quality for digital photographs, could be the main reason why I regularly use the Olympus E-system. There was no problem shifting the main features of traditional SLR film cameras to the E-series—the lenses provide all the great features necessary for the professional photographer. Anyway, as a nature photographer, I feel that there are no limitations that result from the convenience of the digital system, and certainly wild animals and the great expanse of nature won’t listen to any such talk of limitations. The Four Thirds System is so reassuring. For example, the ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 300mm lens (600mm on a 35mm camera) is absolutely amazing, considering its size and weight. Shooting with the 600mm telephoto lens, even without using a tripod, features a bright aperture value of F2.8, making it easy to take beautiful pictures in the waning light of evening or the waxing light of early morning. This is the wonderful capacity provided by the Four Thirds System. The image quality is fantastic and it is easy to enlarge high-quality prints for exhibitions. The Four Thirds System is truly “the third me”— the one who supports me, the photographer.

Born 1950 in Tokyo.
Hugely impressed by the natural wonders of the Galapagos Islands, which he visited at the age of 19.
Launched his career as an animal photographer as a result, and since then has taken photographs in the field in countless locations across the globe. Iwago's stunning photographs fire the imagination and have earned him international acclaim. His work has appeared in and on the cover of National Geographic.
Page Top