MIKI Jun

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MIKI Jun 三木 淳 (1919.9.14 - 1992.2.22) Kurashiki, Okayama Pref. Documentary photographer and one of the best known names in Japanese photography circles. A key person who in 1950 helped to spread favorable rumors of little-known Nikon cameras and Nikkor lenses to Life magazine's photographers. Nikon products then won wide acclaim.

Major themes Documentary of people

Education Majored in economics at Keio Univ., Tokyo 1938-43. Self-taught photographer.

Career Assistant to DOMON Ken, Tokyo 1941-42. Worked for Nomura Trading Co., Tokyo 1943-46. Photographer at Sun News Photos, Tokyo 1947-48; International News Photos, Tokyo 1948-49; and Life magazine (New York) 1949-57 (Japan-based).

Freelance from 1957 working for major publishers such as Time-Life, Iwanami, and Kodansha. Founded the Nikkor Club (affiliated with Nikon) in 1952 and served as its chairman.

Chairman, Japan Professional Photographers Society 1981. Professor, Nihon Univ. laboratory, Tokyo from 1977.

Interest in photography started during college when he joined the college photography club. While an assistant to DOMON Ken at the same time, Miki was greatly influenced by Domon's realism photography. He learned documentary photography from NATORI Yonosuke who learned it in Germany.

In 1949, Miki worked for the Tokyo Branch of Time-Life. His portrait of Prime Minister Shigeru YOSHIDA appeared on the cover of Life magazine's September 10, 1951 issue.

In May 1950, MIKI, then a young Japanese photographer and a stringer for Life Magazine, visited Horace Bristol's office in Tokyo and showed him a Japanese-made 85mm f/2 lens. Miki claimed that the lens produced a very sharp picture and offered Bristol to test it. (At the time, German-made lenses were considered to be the best.)

After testing, Bristol was very impressed and showed the sharp negatives to David Duncan who was a photographer for Life Magazine. With the help of Miki, Bristol and Duncan arranged to tour the Nippon Kogaku factory where the Nikkor lens was made. They wanted to test their existing Leica and Zeiss lenses with other Nikkor lenses. They were so impressed by the results that they replaced their German-made lenses with Nikkors.

The MIKI Jun Award was started in 1999. It is an annual award for the year's best photo exhibition held at the Nikon Salon Juna 21 gallery.

Awards Professional Photographer Award, Japan Photo Critics Society, Tokyo 1952; Kodansha Photographer Award, Tokyo 1960; Medal with Purple Ribbon, Tokyo 1984; Distinguished Contribution Award, Photographic Society of Japan, 1990.

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