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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Shõmei Tõmatsu

Dates:  1930, 15 January - 2012, 14 December
Born:  Japan, Nagoya
Died:  Japan, Okinawa, Naha
Active:  Japan
Japanese freelance photographer. He has produced a large number of books with several in the 1960s examining the impact of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki.

Preparing biographies

Biography provided by Focal Press 
Japanís premier post-war photographer, Tomatsu chronicles the complex cultural changes from Japanís traditional pre-war society through the ravages of World War II, American occupation, and its ambivalent struggle with Western influences. His historic documentation of the lives of atomic bomb survivors in Nagasaki is distinguished for its metaphorical depth and intimacy. Co-founder of the VIVO cooperative agency in 1959, he advocated a new social landscape of photography in Japan, influenced by the humanist subjectivity and surrealism of Europe and America. Initially black and white, characterized by graphic minimalism and dramatic composition, his later works embrace color. His portraits of bohemian nightlife in Tokyoís countercultural Shinjuku, his elegies to traditional life remaining in remote islands of Japan, and his ironic depictions of the collision of Western and Eastern cultures are powerful documents that simultaneously mourn and celebrate. 
(Author: Garie Waltzer - Photographer and consultant) 
Michael Peres (Editor-in-Chief), 2007, Focal Encyclopedia of Photography, 4th edition, (Focal Press) [ISBN-10: 0240807405, ISBN-13: 978-0240807409] 
(Used with permission) 

Further research

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If you have a portrait of this photographer or know of the whereabouts of one we would be most grateful.
Family history 
If you are related to this photographer and interested in tracking down your extended family we can place a note here for you to help. It is free and you would be amazed who gets in touch.

Visual indexes

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Visual indexes for this photographer are available for subscribers.There is so much more to explore when you subscribe. 

Internet biographies

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Wikipedia has a biography of this photographer. Go to website
Getty Research, Los Angeles, USA has an ULAN (Union List of Artists Names Online) entry for this photographer. This is useful for checking names and they frequently provide a brief biography. Go to website
Grove Art Online ( has a biography of this artist. 
[NOTE: This is a subscription service and you will need to pay an annual fee to access the content.]
 Go to website

Printed biographies

The following books are useful starting points to obtain brief biographies but they are not substitutes for the monographs on individual photographers.

• Evans, Martin Marix (Executive ed.) 1995 Contemporary Photographers [Third Edition] (St. James Press - An International Thomson Publishing Company) [Expensive reference work but highly informative.] 
• Tucker, Anne Wilkes et. al. 2003 The History of Japanese Photography (New Haven and London: Yale University Press) p.364 [Short biography on Shõmei Tõmatsu.] 
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