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Meet Makito Umekita

Today we’d like to introduce you to Makito Umekita.

Makito, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My interest in photography started when I was in high school after I stumbled upon a photo sharing site called “Flickr”. I was browsing through their site and somehow I ended up in the conceptual photography section. For those who don’t know what conceptual photography is, it is a genre of fine art photography that helps illustrate an idea or sends a message to the viewer, sometimes through the use of photo manipulation. I spent a good hour going through all the different images that were uploaded on the site by some of the world’s most talented fine art and conceptual photographers. I was captivated at how ethereal and whimsical their photos looked and felt like I was in another world. Feeling emotionally moved by the visuals, atmosphere, and the ideas being conveyed, I wanted to become a part of this magic.

It wasn’t until my sophomore year in college that I purchased my first camera with my own money that I made from working on campus. I had all these creative ideas in my head for doing conceptual photography but I never had the time or energy to devote towards creating what I had in mind. At that moment, I realized that maybe conceptual photography wasn’t really for me. It was then that I decided to go on this journey of finding my own style. I started out with food photography for a while since I love food. It wasn’t before long that I came to the realization that food photography can be pretty tricky sometimes. If the lighting of the restaurant is not good, it can really affect the image and nailing the focus on food can sometimes be very difficult. After I started to take some local trips with friends, I began to fall in love with traveling. I took my camera with me and tried out landscape and astrophotography. I was blown away by the details that my camera was able to capture, much more than the naked eye. After two years of taking landscape photos, I decided to challenge myself and dive into portraits. I was a little hesitant at first since I had no prior experience in directing models when it came to poses. After a few portrait sessions, I became more comfortable and started to offer suggestions to the models on how to pose as well as thinking of creative concepts to differentiate myself from other photographers.

As I built my photography portfolio, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to work with various brands across the world. When I got my first paid gig with Bryan Anthonys, a jewelry company, I became more interested in doing brand work. I’ve had the honor to work with many amazing brands and companies such as OtterBox, Hotel Hafnia, Faris Car Rental, Eysturland Lodge, Kintetsu World Express, Jord Watches, Loaded Longboards Alabaster Co., KCON LA, and more. To me, photography is a journey where I am constantly learning new things every time I go out and shoot.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
There were definitely some bumps in my photography career. I believe a lot of fellow creatives can relate to this, but I had a few creative slumps over the years. I would be completely unmotivated to create content, and I would doubt myself on whether my photos are good or creative enough. This led to a very unhealthy mindset to the point where I wouldn’t share my work for a very long time. Fortunately for me, I had a lot of support from my fellow peers and they offered great suggestions on how to cope with creative slumps. One great advice that I received from my friend was to write down ideas and desires because even writing down the reasons you feel uninspired can really help. Remind yourself of the “WHY”. Why did you start? And why do you keep creating? If the “why” is great then it can help you get back in the game. Another great advice that I received was to step away from my craft for a while and look at other art forms such as checking out an art museum, watching a movie, or seeing live music. That is exactly what I did and it was inspiring to see others pursuing their passion which reignited a spark in me.

There was also a point last year where I had to re-evaluate myself on what kind of career I wanted to pursue. I quit my corporate 9 to 5 job and traveled for a bit to reignite my creative juices. After I came back, I started doing photography full-time. It was difficult at first because I was rarely getting any clients, and I never knew when the next big paycheck would come in. It wasn’t until the beginning of this year that things started to turn around for me. I’m still at a bit of a crossroads in my life at the moment, where I want to continue freelancing but also want to challenge myself in the marketing and advertising field. Without these bumps in the road, I definitely would not have grown as much as I did and become the person that I am today.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Makito Umekita Photography – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
Besides portrait, landscape, and travel photography, I have also started to move into the event, engagement, and wedding photography fields. I’ve discovered that my goal as a photographer is to capture the authentic and raw emotions of people, whether it is through the in-between candids or the deeply intimate moments. What matters the most to me is seeing the client’s face light up when they see the photos that I took of them and their excitement at being able to share these memories with the important people in their lives. I believe that everyone has their own unique story to share, and I want to be able to capture that through my lens.

I am most proud of creating and nurturing the relationships I have with my clients, both in the U.S. and overseas. Back in March, I was able to go on a business trip to the Faroe Islands with some of my fellow creative friends. We got the opportunity to work with different companies over there, from hotels to car rental companies to clothing brands. It was such a wonderful experience getting to know their culture and building a relationship with the people there.

I believe my editing style sets me apart from other photographers. My photos are characterized by neutral, muted tones accompanied by deep, dark contrasts. My unique aesthetic is comprised of lifestyle photography and an endless drive for adventure, which is evident from my Instagram feed.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
My plans for the near future are to book more weddings and dive into elopements. Once I’ve gained more experience, I would love to do destination weddings. I would also like to continue working with brands whenever I travel to other countries.

Since traveling is a huge passion of mine, it would be great if I’m able to combine it with a career in photography. Eventually, I would like to be known for creating travel-themed portrait, lifestyle, and wedding-related photographs. In the long-term future, with a steady amount of bookings, I would like to build my own team and possibly have my own studio. The ultimate dream for me is to be paid to capture and promote special dreams in unique locations around the world.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Destiny (@destinykayep), Lauren (@laurenannamunoz), Angela (@angela), Nathan & Julie (@nathantraveling & @julieetecson), Farah (@farahzia__)

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