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Life and career
Tahara was born in Kyoto. He learned photographic techniques at an early age from his grandfather, who was a professional photographer.
In 1972 in France, he encountered a sharp, harsh and piercing light that he had never experienced in Japan while he was traveling Europe with Red Buddha Theater, where he was a lighting and visual technician. Since then, he remained in Paris for next 30 years and started his career as a photographer.
His first series of work “Ville (City)” (1973–1976) captured the unique light in Paris in black-and-white photography. His next series of work “Fenetre(Windows)” (1973–1980) awarded the best new photographer by Arles International Photography Festival in 1977 and he moved into the limelight.The following year, he started the new series “Portrait” (1978), then “Eclat” (1979–1983) and ”Polaroid” (1984) and received number of awards such as Ihei Kimura award (1985).
His morphological approach to light has extended to sculpture, installations, and other various method crossing over the genre of photography. In 1993, in moat of the Castle of Angers (1993), the first light sculpture in France, "Fighting the Dragon” (1993) was installed.
His representative work is Garden of Light (Eniwa, Hokkaido, 1989) where light sculptures are installed in a public space that is covered by a meter of snow six months of the year. The light changes in response to music and presents a space of poetic dimensions. Based on the same concept, in the year 2000, Echos du Lumières was installed in the Canal Saint-Martin, commissioned as a public space project by the City of Paris. The spectacle colors from the prisms illuminate the stone wall synchronizing with the sounds.
Others are permanent outdoor installation “Niwa (Garden)” at the Photography Museum in Paris ( Maison Europeenne de la Photographie) in 2001, “ Prtrail de Lumiere” installation as a part of European Capital of culture event “ Lille 2004” in 2004, and “ Light Sculpture” exhibition at Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art museum in 2004.
In 2008, Ginza 888 building was built by his total produce, art direction of the Museum of Islamic Art and he published a photography book.
Tahara continues to produce a number of light installation projects in urban spaces.
- 1977 Grand Prix des Rencontres Arles Photographie, France
- 1978 Prix Kodak de la Critique Photographique en France, France
- 1984 Japan Professional Photographers Society Prize, Japan
- 1985 Higashikawa Prize, Japan
- 1985 Kimura Ihei Award, Japan
- 1988 Prix Nicéphore Niépce, France
- 1989 ADC Prize, Japan
- 1990 Bourse Villa Medicis-Hors les murs, France
- 1993 Grand Prix de la Château Beychevelle, Franco-Japonaise, France
- 1993 Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, France
- 1994 ADC Prize, Japan
- 1995 Grand Prix de la Ville de Paris, France
- 1999 Laureat Project, Vallée de la Chimie, Lyon, France
- 1999 Concours Festival Lumières, Lyon, France,
- 2003 Laureat Project, Vallée de la Chimie, Lyon, France
- 2003 Talents du luxe, prix de l’originalité, Paris, France
- (Japanese) Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, editor. 328 Outstanding Japanese Photographers (『日本写真家事典』 Nihon shashinka jiten?). Kyoto: Tankōsha, 2000. ISBN 4-473-01750-8
- List of prizewinners, Kodak.com. (French)
- List of prizewinners, PSJ. (Japanese)
- Prize history 1985–2005. (Japanese) Accessed 22 April 2007.
- Sanjūroku fotogurafāzu: Kimura Ihei Shashinshō no sanjūnen (36フォトグラファーズ：木村伊兵衛写真賞の30年, "36 photographers: 30 years of the Kimura Ihei Award"; Tokyo: Asahi Shinbun, 2005; ISBN 4-02-272303-3). (Japanese)