Born 1930 as Yasuhiro Wakabayashi in Shanghai to Japanese parents, Hiro is known for his fashion and still-life photography from the mid-1960s onward.
Hiro’s family returned to Japan from China at the end of the Second World War. When he arrived in America from Japan in 1954 he brought with him his memories of a childhood in China and Japan which have a place in the genesis of his work. For a brief period in the fifties he worked with Richard Avedon, who then sent him to the legendary art director, Alexey Brodovitch. He lived up to Brodovitch’s dictum, “If you look in your camera and see something you’ve seen before, don’t click the shutter.”
Models photographed by Hiro in the 1960s
Hiro was also the most technically advanced photographer of his time, adept at layering imagery in a single frame long before the arrival of the computer. His distinguished career as an exquisite fashion, still-life, and portrait photographer began in New York at Harper’s Bazaar. He is greatly admired by other photographers and art directors, is one of the most influential figures in postwar American photography, with an extraordinary sensibility that has no precedent yet he is little known by the public.
In January 1982, American Photographer magazine devoted an entire issue to Hiro and asked, “Is this Man America’s Greatest Photographer?”
Here below is a stunning photo collection that shows part of his work in the 1960s.
Iris Bianchi in polka-dot dress, photo by Hiro, Harper’s Bazaar, June 1961
Iris Bianchi, Yves Saint Laurent, photo by Hiro, Harper’s Bazaar, June 1962
Kouka holds Jean Schlumberger’s ‘Dauphin’ (dolphin) clip between her teeth, photo by Hiro, Harper’s Bazaar, Dec. 1962
Rhinestone necklace on tattooed back, photo by Hiro, Tokyo, Japan, 1962
Tilly Tizzani, photo by Hiro at the New York World’s Fair construction site, Harper’s Bazaar, Feb. 1962