by Michelle Michalak November 27, 2018 3 min read

Nature and water photographer Yoshi Tanaka typically tells stories through photographs.  

This month, Slyde's stoked to turn the camera's off, and put the spotlight on him.
As the featured photographer for November 2018. 

You have an awesome name.  Tell us more about it and you. 

My full name is Yoshinori Tanaka.  The part Yoshi means to be a good citizen, and nori is the part that my parents wished me to grow up as a smart child.  I was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan for 15 years.

I never learned how to surf and I believe I never know what “surfing” was back in the days.  I left Tokyo to where I live now, which is Honolulu, Hawaiʻi, funny thing is, when I came to Hawaiʻi, I did not know how to speak any English.

Somehow I learned how to communicate with others through baseball. I have been studying for my whole entire life. I am in the graduate school with University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and learning education to be a Japanese teacher in Hawaiʻi.  

WHAT INSPIRES YOU MOST ABOUT BEING A PHOTOGRAPHER IN HAWAII?

Being a photographer in Hawaiʻi inspires me to capture the blessing moments that are this ʻāina created for us.  My job is to tell the story through my photos. It is so easy for photographers to take beautiful photos. However, what I started focusing was, “I need to make the audience think how did he capture this images, why was he there when he shot the image, etc.  

In addition to that, since majority of my photos are nature photos, I have mission statement in me that always inspiring me. It is, “My photos tell the story and how beautiful land can be. Whether or not people are malihini (new comers), or kamaʻaina (locals) we have to do something small to deserve this beauty”.

  • OTHER THAN PHOTOGRAPHY, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LIKE TO DO?

  • Other than photography, I student teach Japanese in one of the high schools in Oʻahu.  I really like to play ukulele and sing Hawaiian music. Of course, I would like to bodysurf if I am not taking photos.  I also really like to draw only simple pencil drawings.

    TELL US ABOUT YOUR CAMERA GEAR AND SET UP:

    I usually use the D610 with 20, 35, or 50mm, from Nikon for the water shots, and from the land, I shoot with D850 with 24-70mm or 55-300mm lens.  

  • DO YOU THINK IT’S POSSIBLE TO BE A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER WITH JUST AN IPHONE?

  • I really believe that there are ways to be a professional iPhone photographer. Some of the photos that I posted on my Instagram are taken by my iPhone. I shall keep it secret which ones :)

  • IF YOU COULD PICK ONLY 1 LOCATION (NON-HAWAII) TO FILM FOR THE NEXT YEAR WHERE WOULD YOU GO & WHAT WOULD YOU FILM?



  • This question is fairly easy!  I would love to go to Tahiti to just stay there and film, and take photos of surfers, waves, beautiful islands, and lifestyle portraits.  I have been having this clear vision what I would like to do in Tahiti from long time ago since I started capturing my moments with GoPro back in the days.

  • WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE PHOTO YOU'VE EVER CAPTURED?

  • I think this image will be my favorite image that I ever captured.  I remembered this day clearly. As I pulled up with my friend to the famous beach, where known as broken neck beach in Oʻahu called Sandy Beach.  I parked my car, and just jumped in the water. Uncrowded and crystal clear glassy barrel rolling into the shore. Then this wave rolled into me first thing as soon as I jumped in.  I felt amazed looking with in this barrel.

    Hawaii Bodysurf Photographer

    Checkout More of Yoshi HERE→

    Michelle Michalak
    Michelle Michalak

    Michelle's diploma reads BA Psychology with a minor in English, and her license plate reads #CaliforniaDreaming4Life. She begin her career in the NYC fashion industry working with fashion and internet pioneer, Bluefly.com However, due the constant "nagging" of her entrepreneurial spirit, her crush on surfing, and hardcore love for the ocean, she chosen to call San Diego home for the past 10 years. On the west coast she 's chased waves & enlightenment working alongside "Gurus" in the online marketing & personal development industries. It in May 2012 she found her true Zen & Stoke, and joined the Slyde Handboards Team.


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