John Lander's Extraordinary Asia Images

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

I'm so excited to introduce our new Asia Images Editor, John Lander. John is an extraordinary photographer, and will share his photo galleries of Asia with us monthly. John is a freelance photographer based in Japan with a passion for Japanese gardens, onsen, cuisine and festivals. Credits include photos and articles published by Travel+Leisure, Asian Geographic, Forbes, Camping Life, The Japan Times, The Toronto Star, and The Australian among others.

Always interested in travel, and photos, we were lucky enough to sit down and chat with John about his photos, background in Japan, and more. Here's what he had to say...



WE:  Please tell us about your site,

JL: My web site Japan Images / Asia Images is composed of some 50 photo galleries of Japan, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Philippines, Singapore and Nepal.  Since I have been based in Japan for more than 25 years, naturally Japan related galleries are the most extensive, particularly Kyoto, Tokyo, Japanese Gardens and Kamakura which is near where I live.   That being said, I am often in other Asian countries, particularly Vietnam as I get lots of requests for that country from the travel media industry.  I have a strong desire to spend some time in India and Myanmar as soon as I can fit it in.



WE:  What is your background in Japan?

JL: I came to Japan 25 years ago as an academic, teaching at Keio University in Tokyo for many years.  Though I do miss the classroom, I have become too restless in my dotage and like to roam around Japan and Asia.  Since Japanese university semesters take up the best seasons for photography, autumn and spring, it would be too difficult to do both jobs.  However, I still write ESL textbooks for a Japanese publisher which keeps my visa afloat.



WE:  What sparked your interest in photography?

JL: I have always been an avid photographer since I was 12 with my first Kodak Brownie!  Never having thought of it as a career, however, I majored in French, minor in Linguistics then took an M.A. in Education aiming to be a French instructor but I soon learned there were far more opportunities to teach ESL than French, and with my yen to travel or live overseas it was a perfect match.  For awhile.  I started writing textbooks for Japanese publishers but noticed that their taste in graphics was not up to my expectations so I asked them if I could contribute my own photos to accompany chapters in my ESL textbooks in an effort to make them more attractive.  Naturally they loved the idea since it would be a large cost-saver for them and photos would be more appropriate since I wrote the damn thing.  Later, when I began writing travel features for magazines and newspapers i quickly learned that editors often prefer feature writers who can contribute decent photos as well.  I enrolled in some photography classes, emphasizing composition and slowly have emphasized photography rather than features writing ever since.



WE: What are your favorite subjects to photograph?

JL: My favorite subjects to photograph are Japanese gardens, for one thing they are a challenge to do to get an angle or light that makes them come alive as by their very nature they are not gardens with people in them so devoid of people they can appear rather static unless there is some extra element, like an interesting angle or ray of light to bring some story into the picture.  I am also intrigued with portraits of interesting people, not necessarily beautiful ones, but for the wrinkles, frowns, smiles and...story.



WE: What's up next for you?

JL:  I hope to spend a year or so in India, trying to capture that fascinating place though I know I will miss Japan.  I went back to the USA for 5 years and I absolutely ached for Japan during that time...


Japanese Gardens

Japanese gardens reveal themselves only detail by detail. After visiting a japanese garden we ask ourselves what is deliberate, what is accidental? Does it truly offer hidden meaning behind those rocks or ponds? To enjoy the hushed silence of a Kyoto garden is to appreciate the Japanese aesthetic, which puts great value on what is implied not shown. Or if the symbolism gets too much just choose which garden you like the most, relax and enjoy the view.



Here is John's Japanese Garden gallery. To visit this photo gallery, please click the slideshow to enter collection.




To see more, Click this link to visit the Japanese Garden Images gallery