From: GROUND ZERO To: The World; A Message Through Photographs
Photographer Takao Miyakaku continues to capture people as they think of peace. The feelings conveyed by his photos have touched the hearts of many around the world, inspiring a wellspring of compassion. How does Hiroshima look through the lens of Miyakaku, active on the international stage, and what is he trying to tell us with each click of the shutter?
Miyakaku is a native of Shobara City, who centers his current photography work in Tokyo while continuing to photograph portraits with the Atomic Bomb Dome as a backdrop, part of his art and his life’s work. His father, grandfather, and mother-in-law all experienced the bombing of Hiroshima firsthand, and he is active as a second-generation survivor.
”I started this work at the turn of the millennium in the year 2000, when I photographed my daughter, a third-generation survivor, in front of the Atomic Bomb Dome. At the time I felt there was a sort of unquantifiable depth of meaning to taking such a photo.”
Miyakaku says that as a child, he’d never asked for details from his relatives who had lived through the bomb. Even so, by capturing a photograph of his own daughter at ground zero,Miyakaku thought he might have struck upon a way to help convey to the world the tragedy of the bombing and the preciousness of peace, in a way for which he was uniquely suited.
With that one photo as the spark, he and his wife have returned to Hiroshima together as his work allowed in the 22 years since, filling his camera with photos capturing the people who visit the Atomic Bomb Dome from across the world.
”I’ve taken photos of bomb survivors, of course, as well as second and third generation survivors, peace activists, and visitors to Hiroshima from all around the world. With the Atomic Bomb Dome in the background, when I ask them to close their eyes and think of peace, everyone’s given me such wonderful expressions.”
Some close their eyes and reveal a serene expression that speaks to peace of mind. Some, as they imagine peace, find their lips curving in an unconscious smile. Some couples in the photos even share a kiss with the one they love. With so many ways to think of peace, Miyakaku is able to draw out a tapestry of expressions, rich and human, which he captures with his camera. Upon opening Miyakaku’s 2010 photography collection, GROUND ZERO: Legend of Hope, you can see for yourself the images of people thinking of peace, photographed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki by Miyakaku.
”When I thought on the theme of peace, I asked myself what I could do, as a photographer and as an artist. I really think this is what I need to be doing, to keep taking photos that convey that feeling, a heart full of love, and the desire to eliminate war and killing. Maybe at first there wasn’t anything that significant in the portraits inspired by that photo of my daughter, but as I continued taking them, I really believe they came to take on a deep meaning, and I’m continuing that work to this day.”
Opening photography exhibitions for GROUND ZERO beginning with Japan and even expanding to other countries throughout the world, he continues to broadcast Hiroshima’s wish through these pictures of people dreaming of peace.
”There are people living in regions where war and conflict are rife, many of whose desire for peace and anti-nuclear sentiments are even stronger than those of the people of Hiroshima. There are so many thinking seriously about war.”
Through capturing portraits of those who visit Hiroshima and sharing those very photos with visitors to the exhibition in different countries altogether, these photographs convey a wish for peace to the people of the world. Miyakaku’s work at GROUND ZERO continues on.
Photographer from Shobara City
While managing his job taking photos for magazines and advertisements, he continues the life work he embarked on in the year 2000, collecting photographs of visitors from all over the world in front of the Atomic Bomb Dome. The photography collection GROUND ZERO: Legend of Hope was published in 2010
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