Awards and Publications

Various prizes and publications of my photographs around the world.

– (March 2015)  1st Prize of the March 2015 Monthly Photo Contest, Popular Photography Magazine, USA
– (Nov 2015)  Special mention (佳作) at the PPK 第10回舞妓ともみじ大撮影会 (

– (March 2016) Special Selection (特 選) at the Photo Partner West  第6回京都舞妓大撮影会 写真コンテスト (Summer 2016) (
– LensCulture: While I didn’t win any prize for my participation in their Photo Contest, I did receive an invitational account on (
– (Nov 2016) PPK 11th Maiko and Momiji Photo Contest – 2nd Special Selection, 準特選 at the PPK 第11回舞妓ともみじ大撮影会 (
– 2016 PPK 11th Maiko and Momiji Photo Contest – 2nd Special Selection, 準特選 at the PPK 第11回舞妓ともみじ大撮影会 (

– (May 2017) N-Photo Magazine’s Photographer of the Year 2016, #5 in the Portrait category ( (!AmU2kbuhVY2HpBNaQb-80XC8QJ4m?e=LOjkFs)
– 2017, a Gurushots’s Top Pick in the contest “Solo Subject” enabled my photo to be exhibited at the Hinterland Gallery in Vienna (
– One of my photos was featured on the cover of an article about Obon in the France Culture Papiers magazine

– (Fall 2018) A series of photos on “Devotion” was published in the Kyoto Journal issue #92 (
– (Dec 2018) Short article on Street Photography on the Photocrowd website (

– 2019, one of my photos won the following three awards on Viewbug:

  • (Janvier 2019) Won Contest Finalist in Image of the Month Photo Contest Vol 40
  • (February 2019) Won Contest Finalist in Monthly Pro Photo Contest Vol 47
  • (March 2019) Won Contest Finalist in Covers Photo Contest Vol 1

– February 2019 – “Chishakuin” Prize at the 13th PPK Maiko and Momiji Photo Contest (

– 2019 Weather Photographer of the Year 2019 – Finalist #9 of 24 (by Royal Meteorological Society (

– 2020 Nikon Photographer of 2020 – Top 10 images selected by the N-Photo team (N-Photo Magazine, UK)

While I am not very organized, a number of my photos can be seen around the internet on my old photo website (, as well as on Flickr, 500px, Viewbug, Gurushots, and Photocrowd.

And of course, you can follow me on Instagram

Here are various prizes and awards received…

Award Finalist!

Pouring down - maiko protecting herself from the heavy rain, Kyoto.

Weather Photographer of the Year 2019 Photo Contest – Shortlisted! 

I have just received the following message from the  Royal Meteorological Society in London!  What a surprise and what an honor!

Dear WPotY 2019 Entrant,

I would like to inform and congratulate you on being selected for our Weather Photographer of the Year 2019 shortlist!
The public voting is now closed and the photo was #9  of the shortlist of 24 photographs.  
The photo was taken in the street where I live in the Miyagawa-Cho Hanamachi or Flower Town, one of the five geisha districts of  Kyoto. As I especially like the way the maiko and geiko (geisha of Kyoto) look when holding their “bangasa” traditional waxed silk umbrella, I often go out with a camera when it rains. This day, it was really pouring down and I got lucky to see this maiko coming my way.
I went down a bit to get the angle I wanted and took this photo. I will always remember the smile on the girl’s face looking at me, drenched, as she walked by. 

Chishakuin Prize! (February 2019)

Toward the Fall Foliage, Winner of the Chushakuin Prize at the 13th PPK Maiko and Momiji Photo Contest

Once again, I am honored to have one of my photos prized (Chishakuin Prize) at the 13th PPK’s Maiko and Momiji Photo Contest. 

Chushakuin Prize


Twice a year, in the Fall and the Spring, the PPK Association (Photo Partner Kyoto) organizes a public photo shoot with several maiko and geiko (geisha). In November 2018, the photo shoot took place in the large and beautiful ChishakuIn Temple located in the Higashiyama district in Kyoto.

This event is becoming more and more popular and it gathered well over 600 participants from all over the country, and even from abroad, in the three separate sessions.

As before, after the shoot, the PPK Association organized a photo contest where over 850 photos were presented for the competition.  You can see all the photos selected for a prize or a mention: (text in Japanese).

These photo shoots are a great opportunity to take photos of maiko and geiko in beautiful locations at a very reasonable cost. 

The Photographers…

Kinkaku-ji Temple, the Golden Pavilion under snow in Winter

A nice surprise — Expert’s choice No.2 !

“As photographers, I think we have all been in a situation like this and it’s very easy to follow the crowd! By turning the camera around towards the group of photographers, Patosan has made a lovely and gently humorous image. I love the concentration on everyone’s face!”

Expert review by Mark Mercer  From Contest “Crowds” on Photocrowd


Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion

Kinkaku-ji Temple, the Golden Pavilion under snow in Winter

It was snowing as I woke up and the whole city was white. I decided to go to my favorite places in Kyoto and arrived there as the spectacle of the Golden Pavilion under the snow was magical.

In December 2017, I participated in an online photo contest on Photocrowd about religious buildings and this photo was picked up as #3 Expert Choice by Sue Barr, an Architectural photographer, and the expert for this contest.  

I think you‘ll love these winning photos in the contest ’Religious buildings’ on

I love this photograph of the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto. It’s almost a black and white photograph except for the gold of the temple. The snow adds to the delicacy of the image and helps to exude a wintery atmosphere.

Sue Barr

Expert judge for the contest

Hanami Party, Maruyama Koen

Hanami party by night in the Maruyama Koen Park, Kyoto

In Japan, Spring is a very special time for everybody.  Sure, it’s first and foremost the season of Cherry Blossom. But it’s much more than that. It’s in April that most businesses start their fiscal year.  It’s in April that all schools or universities start. And of course, it’s in April that the nature’s cycle restarts, with flowers popping out of trees everywhere.

The Japanese people not only enjoy this, but they celebrate it with these famous “Hanami” or flowers viewing parties. So when I go out in April to see these incredibly beautiful cherry trees, it’s mainly the people and their celebration and joy that are the subjects of my photography. And it’s always a lot of fun and a lot of pleasure to share these special moments with the people, always happy to share a good time with a stranger. This is another reason I like Japan so much!           

Beautiful image showing the joy of Sakura time, my favourite image to include people, very well framed, composed and sharp despite the obvious challenge….. Great image showing the importance of the time and Japanese people being together and eating, talking, socialising. I like the depth of field and the activity in the background drawing your eye into the distance. The people are the focus and the flags, lights, trees, etc. surround the vision……
Reviewed by Simon Hadleigh-Sparks

Light up at the Eikan-Do Temple

Light up during the Fall season, Eikando Zenrin-Ji Temple, Kyoto

Quite a number of temples illuminate and open their garden to the public in the evening during the Fall and the Spring. The time is usually limited to a few weeks, and the dates are different for each place. These “Light Ups” are very popular and for good reason. They are a great opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the garden, often enhanced by good illumination.  And of course, just about everyone brings a camera.  

Most of the places forbid the usage of any kind of tripods or monopods — this makes sense when you see the crowd of people. But it does make it more difficult to get a good long exposure photo. Well, this is when the high ISO capability of a camera comes in handy, isn’t it.   

Probably my favorite place for light up during the Fall or Kôyô season is the garden of the Eikan-Do Temple located the in Higashiyama District. The place is extremely popular during this period and it is not rare to see a very very long line of people waiting to get in right at the beginning of the night opening. The pond garden is rather large so the place can accommodate a large number of people, but… As with other places, I suggest going there about one hour before the closing time to avoid the crowd. 

This photo won the judge 1st choice and got the Crowd 4th position (

This was a winner for me early on in the submission stage. Magical reflections, image full of interest, the colours are glorious, I’m glad the photographer didn’t enhance them I really like the pastel tone to the whole image. The bridge perfectly set in the composition. It’s not crystal sharp but that gives it an ethereal feel. Even the shard of light on the left adds to the image. Well done seriously jealous to have been there let alone take the picture……..

Simon Hadleigh-Sparks

PPK, 11th Maiko and Momiji Photo Contest

Two Maiko at the Chishaku-In Temple
I am honored to have again one of my photos prized (Special Selection) at the PPK Photo Contest. 

PPK Photo Contest - Award Certificate



Twice a year, in the Fall and the Spring, the PPK Association (Photo Partner Kyoto) organizes a public photo shoot with several maiko and geiko. This time, in November 2016, the shoot took again place in the large and beautiful Chishaku-In Temple located in the Higashiyama district in Kyoto. Despite the rain, several hundreds photographers from all over the country, and even from abroad, participated in the three separate sessions.

Following the shoot, the PPK organized a photo contest where almost 1,000 photos were presented for the competition.  Here is the complete list of the photos selected for a prize: (text in Japanese).

These photo shoots are a great opportunity to take photos of maiko and geiko in beautiful locations at a very reasonable cost. 


Photo Partner West, 6th Maiko Photo Shoot

Winner Special Prize, Maiko PPW Photo Shoot at Heian Jingu

Photo Partner West, 6th Maiko Photo Shoot

Special Prize

Following my first experience with a photo shoot, I attended the March 2016 6th session of Maiko Photo Shoot organized by PPW (Photo Partner West), an umbrella organization of photographers in the West of Japan.  The shoot took place at a private garden of the Heian Jingu Shrine.  Five Maiko and Geiko were present in this beautiful location, but the large number of photographers (almost 500) in such a limited space, made the sessions a bit difficult.  

The weather was great, but the hard light of mid-day and early afternoon was difficult to handle. Despite these problems, it was a fun experience that I enjoyed very much.  I found many of the Japanese photographers, amateur and pro alike, somehow blocked by their own tradition.  The Maiko and Geiko were always asked to reproduce standard traditional poses, and this is where you realize that Maiko really do behave like kids.  Again, I had a great time and enjoyed the sessions.  I came home with a lot of photos and it was quite difficult to select them for the contest.  

I was in Canada when I learned that my photo of Maiko Fukuno of Miyagawa-Cho had won a Special Prize (特 選). 

PPK, 10th Maiko and Momiji Photo Contest

Maiko and Momiji photo Shoot, Kyoto - SPECIAL MENTION at PPK Photo Contest

Photo Partner Kyoto, 10th Maiko and Momiji Photo Contest

Special Mention

This was the first time I attended such a photo shoot in Kyoto.  The “Maiko and Momiji” photo shoot was organized by PPK (Photo Partner Kyoto), an association of photographers in Kyoto.  There were five maiko and geiko at the Chishaku-In Temple, and almost 500 photographers over the three sessions. 

It was pretty crowded, but the place was wide and the sessions well organized.  After this, PPK organized a photo contest and I was pleasantly surprised to have one of my photos selected with a Special Mention. 

Around Miyagawa-Cho

Maiko walking down the Miyagawa-Cho Street, Kyoto

Walking along the main street of Miyagawa-Cho, one of the five Hanamachi or Geisha Districts of Kyoto.

Maiko (apprentice Geisha) usually walk the streets of this area in late afternoon, on their way to meet their patrons. I spend quite some time around this area around this time, waiting for a chance to take a photo.  One never knows if any Maiko or Geiko (Geisha) will show up or not. And if one does come along, it’s always very brief as they usually walk quite fast, coming out of one door to quickly disappear into another one.  Only natural light (respecting the local etiquette about taking photos of Maiko/Geiko walking around the streets, one should not use a flash). It had been raining earlier in the day and with a cloudy sky, the late afternoon light of this end of July day was simple and quiet. I liked the reflection of the light on the wet pavement.


During the Gion Festival

Fumino chan, Geisha, Gion Matsuri (Ato), Kyoto
This photo was taken in Kyoto, during the Hanagasa Procession that takes place right after the second day of the large Gion Matsuri, the largest festival of Japan. The procession is just a succession of a lot of people, children and adults, all dressed up with beautiful historic costumes. Of course, the Geiko (geisha) and the Maiko, apprentice geisha, are one of the highlights of the day.

Photo featured in October 2016 in an article on portraiture by the Viewbug photo web site. 

as well as in the article “38+ Photos Showing Off The Essence Of Street Portraiture” (

Maiko Fumiyoshi walking through the night

Maiko Fumiyoshi walking through the night, Miyagawa-Cho, Kyoto

Fumiyoshi san, Maiko in Miyagawa-Cho, Kyoto, Japan

“Winner 1st Prize of the US Popular Photography Magazine monthly photo contest of Feb 2015”

Every day, between 5 and 6 pm, the Maiko (apprentice Geisha) walk from their home (Okiya) to the tea house (Ochaya) where they’ll work for the evening.  Miyagawa-Cho is one of the five traditional Geisha districts of Kyoto (花街 – Hanamachi or Kagai, which literally means “flower town”).

The whole district has been renovated, but the tradition remains unchanged. These few minutes offer a travel in time that is very special to me.


Capturing such a photo or something similar is quite easy.  You just have to be at the right time at the right place with the right equipment and the right idea in mind. Of course, some basic technique or experience may come in handy.  And then a touch of luck – like the fact that the Maiko (apprentice Geisha) walking by is wearing a blue overcoat that fits well with the general orange tone of the scene. Some knowledge of the area and of the tradition of the Geisha world of Kyoto is also helpful.

Its night.  It’s very cold.  I know more or less from where the geisha will come from and where she’ll be walking by. It was already night and dark, and the only light available was from the small lanterns each of the tea houses lining up the street has next to its door. I positioned myself near one of these light sources, waiting, after setting my canera’s lens to hyperfocal distance. And I waited. I am lucky that today’s technology allows us to take photos in the dark, simply boosting up the ISO.

The Kagai

Geiko walking down the street

The Kagai, or Hanamachi, literally translated as “Flower Town” is the term Kyoto people use for the districts where the geiko (geisha) and maiko (apprentice) practice the high-class arts that have made their beauty and refinement legendary the world over.

There are five Kagai in Kyoto: Gion Kobu, Miyagawa-Cho, Pontocho, Kamishichiken and Gion Higashi — these are known as Kyoto’s Gokagai.  

Winner of the National Dress photo contest on Photocrowd:

“Executed with explicitly beautiful technique and a very tight square composition, I love this shot. The tight focus on the subject with the focus dropping away quickly adds to the composition around the subject matter. Add in the green detail, the sharpness of the focus on the eyes, mouth and a little highlight to the right of the hair makes this image of a geisha walking down the street a standout for me. A very aesthetic and simple portrait but one which beautifully captures the brief.”

Reviewed by Liam Bailey

Photo selected by N-Photo magazine (UK) for the Nikon Photographer of the year 2016 (NIK71.NPOTY2.pdf)



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