Yoshi Shimizu left Japan in 1976, when he was 18, to study hospitality management in Lausanne, Switzerland. Over 40 years later, he now lives about an hour's drive from Lausanne in Geneva. The intervening years, however, were not spent working in Swiss hotels.

After finishing his studies in Switzerland, Shimizu had an offer to work at a hotel in Canada. He never got to take it though. While getting his English up to speed and applying for a Canadian visa in the U.S., he started a degree in business management in California. From this first detour, came a second, when he decided to sign on to an elective course in photography. Originally he had thought of it as a good way to avoid having to spend time in the classroom: "We only had to turn up once a week for a critique," Shimizu tells me over the phone from Switzerland. Photography, however, soon became more engaging than business studies.

"Working in the darkroom was like meditation, just being myself and getting absorbed into the magic of making a print; it was an escape, in a way, from my chaotic life at the time," he says. "I developed a passion for photography and, you know, when you have a passion for something you get better at it."