was born in 1913, in the Japanese Tottori Prefecture. While he used the Pentax 645 camera in his later career, he went through many cameras early on. Especially since the Pentax 645 wasn’t even invented yet. Like fellow Japanese photographer, Yoshiyuki Iwase, his acceptance came later in life.
Seeing Photography at Merely 13
While still only 13, Shoji Ueda developed a strong interest in imaging. He decided after school he would move to Tokyo. He attended the Oriental School of Photography. But was quick and dedicated to opening his own studio in his hometown. That same year he joined the Japan Photography Association.
He started exhibiting, and was already doing a few magazines. In 1937 he became one of the founders of the Chugoku Photographers Group, and his exhibits were receiving a large amount of national attention. After the war, he became a member of Ginryusha in Tokyo, a group of professional photographers.
Staying Close to Home
While he was acclaimed for his work of the “sand dunes” near his hometown, although his works were still relatively unknown. But by 1954 he won the prestigious Nika Prize. By 1958 his work was selected by Edward Steichen for an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. He continued to be published extensively in Japan, and was invited in the 70s to the Arles Photo Festival in France, and in the 80s to Germany’s Photokina Exhibition.
Shoji Ueda taught at Kyushu Industrial University for nearly 20 years. 1993 saw a major solo exhibit in Tokyo. And the domino effect of exhibits both inside and outside Japan took over with a plethora of exhibits.
Awards and the Pentax 645
But in 1995, the Shoji Ueda Museum of Photography was founded in Japan. While at the same time he was awarded the “Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres” by France and the first ever “Tottori Prefecture Prefectural Citizen Achievement Award”. Sadly, he died in 2000, but left the world with the true beginnings of photographic surrealism in Japan, and worldwide recognition. His released books are a wonder that should be in every photo library. Find Pentax 645