Through his eloquent and artful shots, photographer Junji Takasago, 60, makes the wonders of the natural world accessible to all. Born in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, Takasago has worked with household names like National Geographic and Nikon and authored over 30 publications. In 2022, he won the Natural Artistry prize at the 58th edition of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year award with the image “Heavenly flamingos.” Staged by the Natural History Museum in London, the prize is the world’s most prestigious accolade awarded to nature photographers.

1. How did you start your career in photography? When I was in college, I didn’t know what to do after graduating, so I went on a working holiday in Australia for six months. I started diving because the ocean was just so beautiful. I was already dabbling in photography at the time, so I started taking photos underwater, and when someone bought one of my images, I realized I could make a living out of it. At first, I joined a diving magazine, but then my interests grew wider, and I started taking photos on land and even from the sky.

2. How did underwater photography shape you? Underwater photography used to just be about documenting the marine environment in a scientific way, but my take was more aesthetic. I liked experimenting with light and making art. I started photographing in unique ways, such as going out into the sea at night alone.