Interview: Exploring the Wonderful World of Wild Foxes in Japan with Hiroki Inoue

Japanese photographer Hiroki Inoue is relentless in his pursuit to capture the pivotal moments that occur between man and animal. Born in Sapporo, and currently living in Higashikawa (a “photo town” in Hokkaido, Japan), Inoue makes use of the stunning natural life around his homeland as a focal point in his amazingly crisp shots. His photograph titled Wild Abandon (pictured above) initially caught our eye when it was selected as Photo of the Day on National Geographic. Captioned with “Early spring is in the air,” the photo depicts a pair of red foxes racing along a snowy hill on Biei (another town in Hokkaido, Japan).

We were grateful to be able to catch up with Inoue to ask him a few questions about his creative process and his choice of focusing his artistic talents on wildlife and nature. Scroll down to read our exclusive interview.

The interview was lightly edited for translation purposes and clarity.

How did you first get involved in wildlife photography?

There is a long break between the best moments for landscape photos, I had nothing to do at that time. Then I noticed something important…..many wild animals live in here, Hokkaido, Japan! I often took wild animal photos when I had time to spare from taking landscape photos. I was attracted to wild animals little by little.

Can you explain the photograph Wild Abandon a little bit to us?

I took this photo at Biei, Hokkaido, Japan. Biei is known as the “Hills town.” The location was not a special place, it was just a wheat field which we can watch from a car window on the town road. I make it a rule to open the side window of my car when I drive this area. Because I want to feel the atmosphere of this area, smell and sound… The sun having set, I left off my work (photographing this area's landscapes and wild animals). As I was passing this wheat field, I heard the bark of two foxes……so it was an unexpected moment.

Why are your particularly drawn to foxes in your work?

Because, it is as if only god knows where he will emerge. I think a large number of foxes inhabit in multifarious hills. However, foxes appear suddenly, and disappear just as suddenly. I feel the difficulty of attainment increases the beauty of the fox.

Since animals are such dynamic subjects to photograph, do you have any tips or tricks for capturing amazing, clear shots of them?

I am always grateful to have met wild animals. Their beauty and thinking is beyond my imagination. So I don't wish to capture evidence photographs. I want to capture thoughtful images like Fox Chase. To capture thoughtful images, the most important thing is to appreciate wildlife and to be more patient.

In addition, I think that one should use fine tools. I use a SONY a6000 and a7R2. These cameras have excellent EVF. I'm able to check a live image or final image before I take my photograph, as I remain looking into the finder. It is not necessary for me to check the images in my camera over and over again.

What's next for you? Any projects you'd like to mention?

I always take photos in Hokkaido, Japan. Especially in Biei and Shiretoko National Park. My main focus is giving photography workshops in Biei – both on wildlife and landscape.

Here's more of Inoue's spectacular portfolio, boasting the beauty of Hokkaido's various wildlife and scenic landscapes:

Hiroki Inoue: Website | Facebook

My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by Hiroki Inoue.

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