Honouring Hiro (1930 – 2021)

We pay tribute to Japanese-American commercial photographer, Yasuhiro Wakabayashi [Hiro], who passed away on 15 August 2021. Hiro was renowned for his fashion and still life photography, and work for leading magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue and Rolling Stone.

He arrived in New York in 1954 where his career began as Richard Avedon’s apprentice. Recognising Hiro’s talent, Avedon soon sent him to Harper’s Bazaar’s legendary art director Alexey Brodovitch. Within a few years, Hiro had risen to extraordinary heights in the industry.

Hiro loved exploring the possibility of the surreal, embedding his images with surprises and abnormalities. To look at a photograph by Hiro is to come face-to-face with a picture rife with unusual lighting effects, surprising angles, juxtaposing elements and bold colours. One of his earliest memorable images, a 1963 picture taken for Harper's Bazaar, shows a Harry Winston diamond necklace hanging from a bovine forefoot.

Hiro's startling vision caught the eye of American Photographer, a magazine for commercial photographers. In 1982 they devoted an entire issue to Hiro, on the cover, next to the artist's self-portrait, was the question "Is this Man America's Greatest Photographer?"

In his 1999 monograph ‘HIRO’, editor Mark Holborn wrote “Concentration is Hiro's most obvious quality. When he takes the whole theatre of fashion to the beach, he returns with a metaphysical contemplation.”

Hamiltons Gallery has been honoured to work with this esteemed legend of the industry. His passing marks the end of era.


Read The New York Times obituary here