Thousands of miles from Japan and Alaska, a camera club based in Catalonia, Spain, has organized a European tribute to celebrate Michio Hoshino 60th birthday. Hoshino, an influential Japanese photographer with strong Alaska ties, died in 1996 at age 44.
The Manlleu Camera Club, based in the town of Manlleu north of Barcelona, is hosting a photo contest and tribute to bring awareness to Hoshino’s work, in a part of the world where it is not as well-known.
“It all began with an article I wrote on Michio’s life and work last February,” said Manlleu Camera Club vice-president David Fajula (see translation of Fajula’s article below). “I spoke with our president, Eduard Crispi, and realised that Michio’s work was not known here, and felt that we could do something to change this.”
The camera club decided to organize a photo contest to honor Hoshino, based on the topic “within the landscape,” as a tribute to Hoshino’s focus on the Alaskan environment.
The club members then went to the Japanese Embassy to present the idea, then started the search for sponsors.
“The most emotive turn was when we called Michio’s friends and family. ‘The Blue Bear’ author, Lynn Schooler, has been involved with the project since minute one,” Fajula said. “Naoko Hoshino sent us some books to present to the winners. Alaskan based photographers Ron Niebrugge and Patrick J. Endres did not hesitate when we asked them for support. It is so lovely to feel this love more than 6,000 miles away.”
“When we asked for help from our Alaskan photographers all of them said the same: Michio was an ‘inspiration.’”
Photographers are encouraged to participate in the contest by emailing their photos to Fajula at firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for submissions is Sept. 27, Hoshino’s birthday. An online gallery of the images will be created and sent to Schooler, who will help judge the entries.
Schooler's book, "The Blue Bear," is a memoir about his friendship with Hoshino. The story was adapted into a play that debuted at Perseverance Theatre in 2011.
An award ceremony for the Manlleu Camera Club's winning entries is scheduled for November.
Here is Fajula’s article.
Of forest, glaciers, and whales. A career dedicated to the Last Frontier
By typing Michio Hoshino in Google we get two suggestions: “Michio Hoshino last photo” and “Michio Hoshino death.” Such dire words are — unfairly — linked to a man who devoted his life to others; no matter if they were people, forests or glaciers.
Hoshino was attentive to the point of thanking a pod of whales just after photographing them, and professional to publish dozens of books about life in the Arctic in several languages. This introverted Japanese photographer who wore wool sweaters and Wellington boots was very unassuming when someone praised his photographic prowess, encouraging others to do the same: “If a place is important to you, it becomes your responsibility to make a book.”
His affable character, sometimes footloose and fancy-free, rooted deeply in the heart of Alaskans, a state with an area almost three times bigger than the Iberian Peninsula and with fewer inhabitants than the province of Girona. Those who knew Michio say that he was the person with less ego than anyone they’d ever met. Most of the praise for the Religious Service held in Anchorage, referred to him as “my best friend”.
In our minds remains forever his photographic legacy on Alaska’s flora and fauna, especially when combined together. His pictures of wildlife under the midnight sun or inside the eternal night show a land full of beauty and severity in equal parts. Such images remind us of the principle under which they were created: “A good photograph must tell an entire story”.
• This article was irst published in Catalan in El Ter magazine in August 2012 and was translated into English by the author. Reprinted with permission. For more on the author, visit www.davidfajula.com/english.html.