It's not just our photographers that are helping to capture the world through photography, there are thousands of people working hard behind the scenes across the world to bring these images to you.
In this 'Who We Are' series, we look at the many job roles at a photography agency frompicture editors, to sales and marketing to art directors.
Here, we get familiar with Senior Art Director, Masaaki Kobayashi who is based in Tokyo.
What does your job involve?
I’m in charge of running the Tokyo creative department although there is only two staff including myself. We are a ‘two man band’, doing pretty much everything from addressing customer needs to assigning photographers, art directing shoots, recruiting new contributors, maintaining relations with contributors and regional creative community, giving contributors legal support, curating user generated content, presenting as representatives of the creative department at corporate and agency events, negotiating with image partners and so on. In short, we create/curate/ edit in the regional market relevant yet globally appealing content.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
In the late ‘90s I was in Perpignan, southern France for the Visa pour l'Image photojournalism festival. At the time, I was heavily involved in two unique photographic projects celebrating the millennium with pictures. One of them involved photographing ordinary people nude in the world’s five major cities - Paris, London, Berlin, Tokyo and New York with images of ordinary people nude. I was with Gérard Rancinan, French photographer discussing how we move the project forward. At that meeting, at the same table was Helmut Newton sitting just in front of me. Gérard and Helmute were talking about the project; I was in front of them, feeling upside down, trying to understand what they were talking about. It was just an incredible unforgettable moment.
What is the best holiday you’ve ever been on?
For the past 20 years, I’ve been spending my summer break with my family at the same place, Shikine-jima, one of small islands in Izu (approx. 160 km distance from Tokyo). It’s nothing fancy or special but it’s the time I feel most relaxed, totally unplugged, and free from busy city life. It’s just simple and wonderful to wake up before sunrise, go to the sea for spear fishing, take nap on a hammock, feel the cool breeze and make fresh seafood dishes with my friends.
What’s a favorite book of yours?
This is a cruel question! ‘The Tao is Silent’ by Raymond M. Smullyan’ may be.
Who is your favorite photographer/ photograph?
Here we go, another tough question since there are so many favorites…
Wolfgang Tillmans - ‘Please leave this one’ is the one I have hanging in front of my working desk.
What was the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
What one likes, one will do best.
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