The Epic Journeys
Monday, 25 June 2007
The Jardine Penthouse, 48/F Jardine House, One Connaught Place
Complimentary Drinks Reception 6.30 pm; Lecture 7.30 pm We are delighted and honoured to welcome to Hong Kong, Michael Yamashita, Asia's greatest photographer, National Geographic's photographer in residence for 25 years in Asia and the author of the biggest ever selling photographic book, "Marco Polo: A Photographer's Journey". In this lecture, Michael tells the stories of some of his most epic journeys, illustrated by images from his 25 years of National Geographic photographs and Discovery Channel films. Michael has travelled the world for National Geographic for the past 25 years, covering almost every conceivable subject. His most famous recent works are on Marco Polo and Zheng He. "Marco Polo: A Photographer's Journey" has been published in thirteen languages. Using Marco Polo's 1299 text "The Description of the World" as his guidebook, Michael spent two years traveling in Polo's footsteps. He traversed more than 6,000 miles, often via horse or camel, through Iran, Iraq, pre11/9 warravaged Afghanistan on into China, the Pamirs, Xanadu, Sichuan, Yunnan, Tibet, Sumatra, Indonesia, then returning back to Italy by way of Vietnam and Sri Lanka. Encountering many of the same sights that Marco Polo wrote about in the 13th century, Michael shot over 10,000 frames, capturing such wonders as the remains of Xanadu, the 'singing sand dunes' of Dunhuang and the huge reclining Buddha in Zhangye. Along the way he encountered many landmarks and peoples documented in the "Description", deepening his conviction that Polo's account is indeed authentic. In "Zheng He", he traced the epic voyages of China's greatest explorer admiral Zheng He, who made seven voyages that should have changed history: instead, he was forgotten for six centuries. Zheng He's fleet of treasure ships returned to China with an enormous knowledge of the customs and traditions of other civilisations, obtained largely through peaceful and mutually beneficial means. Michael set sail to find out why and traced the voyages of the great fleet and its enigmatic leader right across Asia. Other books and journeys include: "New York Flying High", a vibrant aerial documentation of the City of New York; "Mekong: A Journey on the Mother of Waters", a journey along the river from source to sea; "Japan: The Soul of a Nation", featuring the ancient traditions, breathtaking scenery and vibrant culture of Japan; "South China Sea", a journey along the gilded rim of the South China Sea, where trade has built cities and fortunes but dense populations and industry tax the regions environment; "Iraq", a sixweek long excursion in 1999; "The Way of the Samurai", studying Japan's dominating class of some 700 years; "The Great Wall of China", which he followed deep into China's heartland; "Korea's Demilitarized Zone" in which he looked the Koreas fifty years after the Korean war ended in an uneasy truce; "Life in Tokyo Bay", where though in Japan all roads lead to Tokyo, the nation's hub is being strangled by pollution and relentless development. Michael was born in San Francisco, educated at Montclair Academy in New Jersey and read Asian history at Wesleyan University, Connecticut. He has combined his dual passions of photography and travel for over 25 years as a photographer for National Geographic and, more recently, with his Singaporebased film production company. His most recent story on Zheng first appeared in the July 2005 issue of National Geographic, and was released as a documentary feature film in 2006. The film, "The Ghost Fleet", won Best Historical Documentary at the 2006 New York International Film Festival. A frequent lecturer and teacher at workshops around the world, Michael has received numerous industry awards, including those from the National Press Photographers Association Pictures of the Year, the New York Art Directors Club and the AsianAmerican Journalists Association. Major exhibitions of his work have been run throughout Asia, including in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Beijing, Seoul and Singapore, as well as in Rome, Frankfurt and Los Angeles. When not travelling, Michael resides in rural New Jersey, where he also maintains a studio and an extensive stock library. This lecture is being held in the fine surroundings of the Jardine Penthouse. Members and their guests are most welcome to attend at HK$100 for Members, HK$150 for Members' guests and $200 others. This includes a complimentary drinks reception prior to the lecture.