I cover general news of all kinds. Economic and business-related events are important here, as this city is one of the region’s financial hubs. I also cover major sports and entertainment events.
My earliest memories of photography are the pictures of me that my father took after I was born. It was not until the end of my high-school days that I “borrowed” all his photography equipment (a camera body with two lenses) and started using them.
My friend helped me load my first roll of film, but I began my formal photography training with a one-year, full-time basic photography course at a vocational centre. I then continued at a polytechnic with a two-year, part-time applied photography course. I also attended exhibitions where the works of photo contest winners (mostly amateurs) were displayed, to learn why their images were good enough to be exhibited.
I first joined a local newspaper in the mid 1980s and my first assignment was about a guy who woke up one morning and found a beehive full of thousands of bees on the terrace of his small flat – something that is rare here. When I reached the apartment, all the bees had been killed, but they were still stuck together and lying about. Local newspapers were interested in these odd stories with a visual impact, so my career in news photography began with an image of dead bees.
The 2008 Sichuan earthquake, which killed an estimated 68,000 people, left a big mark on me. When you see dead bodies lying under debris, you can feel the fragility of life on a grand scale in a single moment. With bad luck, I could be one of them. I learnt to take nothing for granted.
A recent trip to North Korea gave me a rare opportunity to take a look inside a tightly controlled country. From the North Korean perspective, allowing journalists to visit a rocket-launching site and control centres at close range was by far the most open-minded event in their history.
My audience is anyone who believes serious news or documentary photography is still important in a world that is flooded with superficial images.
One day in China in the 1990s, I suddenly found myself facing an unexpected evening protest but I wasn’t carrying a flashlight. If I hadn’t had the good luck to meet a photographer friend on the street and borrow his, I would have been left with blurred and underexposed images, and they never would have been printed on the front pages of many newspapers, including several top-selling ones in Japan.
I respect any news photographer whose integrity and commitment to the highest standard of professional ethics create a solid basis for producing reliable news images that people trust. Even the famous W. Eugene Smith, who made many great images, fell short after it was discovered that a few of his pictures were manipulated during post production (in the days before Photoshop).
Being a photojournalist won't make you wealthy overnight, but it’s a shortcut to getting rich in terms of accumulating life experiences. One day you're staying with some of the poorest people in a run-down village, another day, you’re walking among celebrities or top politicians. You earn more this way than money could ever buy.