Okinawa is good training ground for novice photographers

By David Higgins

Okinawa offers some terrific backgrounds for memorable photos.

It seems that anyone can take a professional-looking photo with the advanced level of technology that cameras offer nowadays. Even the simple camera on your phone can take amazing high-quality pictures compared to a decade ago.  However, though the technology for cameras has advanced, it doesn’t necessarily mean all photos taken are the most captivating.  Photography is an art, and it can take a lot of practice to be able to capture important moments or beautiful scenery.

Photographer Pete Leong of PhotoShisa.

Okinawa is a great place to practice taking pictures.  The weather is conducive to photography with plenty of sunny days, and there are vast amounts of landscape to take pictures of.  On top of that, Okinawa boasts some very interesting people that participate in unique activities.  All of these opportunities create a great environment for photographers to take incredible photos.

If you have yet to buy a camera and are in the market to buy one, there are some very professional cameras on the market for less than $500 USD.  Not only do they take photos, but most DSLR cameras also record high definition video.  Even though a DSLR camera may seem intimidating to a novice, there are some foolproof options such as auto focus that make using your complicated camera very simple. If you’re taking photos using the auto-focus mode, there is no need to understand DSLR intricacies such as aperture or shutter speed.  All you need to do is get out there and start taking photos of anything and everything!

Pete Leon taking another wedding photo that captures the unique spirit of Okinawa.

Novice photographer Troy Williams is quickly making a name for himself amongst the local surfers in Okinawa because of the incredible surfing photos he has taken.  Troy loves surfing but also loves to capture the incredible moments of surfing, scuba diving and everything else on land with his camera.  His advice to novice photographers on Okinawa is that “there is an image-rich environment here on Okinawa.  You have everyday people, lots of water sports and many landscapes to choose from.  If you find that you are not good at one particular thing, there are so many alternatives to work with to improve your skills within a different category“.

Photography isn’t just for adults.  You can take photos at any age, and often youth have a different perspective on life that allows them to view things differently than adults do, making for some unique photos.  One great photographer on Okinawa is Nami Bender.  She is a student of Kadena High School and started taking photos of her father, Dan Bender, while he was surfing.  Dan Bender himself has been showcased on Okinawa for his photography at the OKITEN Art Exhibition.  Dan taught Nami everything he knows about photography, giving her a head start at such a young age.  She says, “ I love taking pictures on Okinawa because wherever you go, it’s going to be beautiful”.

There are many photographers on Okinawa but only a few are professional. One professional worth mention is Pete Leong who runs the Company Fotoshisa. Pete takes pictures for a living and he also teaches photography. He has advice for the Novice photographer. Pete says, “ When you post pictures that you take on facebook for your friends to see everyone is going to love them but this is not going to help you learn how to take photos. You want people to give you an honest critique so that you can learn and improve. At the end of the day it’s all about having fun so take it all with a grain of salt and just get out there and make images you enjoy”.

Whether you are an expert photographer with thousands of dollars worth of equipment or an amateur photographer with an iPhone, Okinawa is packed full of image-rich opportunities. If you like to capture images of landscape, people, sports or all three, Okinawa is a photographer’s paradise aside from also being a paradise for many other reasons.  So get out there and start snapping photos of the things you find interesting, because the rest of the world would love to see the vast beauty of the paradise island we call Okinawa.