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Yasuhiro Wakabayashi, professionally known as Hiro, is an American commercial photographer. He was born in Shanghai in 1930 to Japanese parents. A “photographer’s photographer,” Hiro has shown a very distinctive vision, and his work in fashion and still life from the mid-1960s onward has spawned many imitators and remains a lasting influence today.
Hiro's family returned to Japan from China at the end of the Second World War. In 1954, he went to America, and briefly enrolled in the School of Modern Photography in New York. He was dissatisfied with the school, however, and apprenticed himself to the studio of Lester Bookbinder and Reuben Samberg. At the end of 1956, he began working for the fashion photographer Richard Avedon. Around the same time, Hiro encountered Alexey Brodovitch, the art director at Harper's Bazaar, and worked as his assistant for a time, during Brodovitch's Design Laboratory at the New School.
By the end of 1957, Hiro was no longer Avedon’s assistant, and had launched his own career. Within only a few years, Hiro became a star fashion photographer in his own right. He made significant contributions as a staff photographer to Harper's Bazaar from 1956 to 1975, and was named Photographer of the Year by the American Society of Magazine Photographers in 1969. One of his early celebrated photographs is a 1963 image of a Harry Winston diamond necklace placed on a bovine hoof. Surreal and unique, Hiro's photographs are noted for their elegance and clean appearance. These qualities are established by the use of uncommon lighting, the juxtaposition of unexpected elements, and his signature use of color.
Hiro is well known for his unique aesthetic, extreme originality, and the precision of execution of his vision. The trade magazine American Photographer devoted an entire issue to him in 1982. Hiro is represented by Pace/MacGill Gallery in New York.
- Richard Avedon (Editor), Hiro, and Mark Holborn. Hiro: Photographs. Bulfinch Press. ISBN 0821225928
- Review of Hiro: Photographs. NY Times Book Review. Access requires subscription to NY Times
- Artist's biography from McMullen Museum of Art for Hope Photographs exhibit.