Yuji Obata is a Tokyo-based photographer famous for his snow portraits. Born in 1962, Obata studied at the Nihon University College of Art. In 2003, Obata was compelled to photograph winter scenes in Japan as he stood in front of Pieter Bruegel's painting "The Hunters in the Snow," displayed in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. With this in mind, he rushed back to his homeland and visited Hokkaido, which is Japan’s northernmost isle. While capturing images of middle school ice skaters, his desire for photographing snow intensified. Since then he has traveled extensively across the island to embrace the challenge of taking shots of snowflakes.
Inspired by the works of American photographer W.A. Bentley, who used a microscope and a camera to take photographs of snowflakes, Obata went on to do the impossible: to take pictures of snowflakes during free fall – without the aid of any digital enhancement. His mission proved to be truly daunting, for he tried rigorously for five years until he came up with the perfect shot. In half a decade, he spent his life in the Hokkaido Mountains, where Dr. Ukichiro Nakaya performed research that led to his invention of artificial snow. His snow photographers were printed in the collection “Wintertime.”