Did you know that cheetahs love to chew through flashgun wires? Neither did I. Then again, I haven’t ever been commissioned by National Geographic to photograph big cats in the wild. It is challenges like this that camera wizard, Kenji Yamaguchi, is employed to find solutions to — in the case of the super-fast predators, he devised a custom, motion-sensitive, wireless flash system that allows the photographer to illuminate the beautiful beasts perfectly.
It is just one of many brainwaves in Yamaguchi’s 32-year career. Originally trained by Nikon, he now works alone in his workshop, sitting among piles of wires, high-end camera equipment and unfinished parts. There is method in the chaos, though — this brilliant photographic technician always seems to find the answers.
Over the decades, his builds have ranged in complexity from tiger-capturing camera traps, to the simple addition of a thin metal ring onto a wide-angle lens to give it macro abilities. It has allowed many great photographers to take images that would otherwise have been impossible. No wonder National Geographic is known for its photos. And Yamaguchi’s reward? He just loves to be thanked, that’s all. What an awesome guy.
You can read more about his work on Nat Geo’s PROOF photography blog.