JACQUES MAYOL, free diver (above)
THE FIRST TIME I MET JACQUES WAS ON A PHOTO SHOOT AT a place on the Izu Peninsula called Futo. Fishermen were herding dolphins into the bay for slaughter. Gazing at the dolphins, Jacques said to me, “It’s nothing for the dolphins to jump over the nets the fishermen are using to herd them. It’s almost like Gandhi in the natural world the dolphins do nothing and get caught.” That was when I realized that he was a very special man.

On land, Jacques was funny and engaging. But he turned into a completely different creature when he began preparing for a dive. He would do breathing exercises and run water through his nose, a thorough yoga exercise that would take an hour until he changed his character and became disciplined and well prepared.

There are so many things that humans have yet to fathom or elucidate. But in his own special way, using his own body, Jacques made many impossible things possible, showing us that humans also once lived in the sea.

Born in Tokyo in 1948, Taisuke Yokoyama, has lived most of his life in Kamakura. A photograph he took of the sea at Inamuragasaki inspired him to become a photographer, with surfing and the sea as his main theme. He has published a number of books, including Dedication to two watermen and Surfers.

TIGER ESPERE, surfer (right)
IF TIGER FELT LIKE IT, ANYPLACE, ANY SITUATION COULD become dramatic. That’s how powerful his aura was. He expressly went out of his way to take me to special dramatic places and allow me to take photos. Though there were numerous places to shoot, he’ d pass them by until we’d be in a location where some amazing natural phenomenon would occur.

Once he took me to Waimea Falls. As we walked deeper and deeper into the protected valley where the falls are situated, the sun was going down and it was starting to become dusk. With no one else around, he offered a chant, and a flower, and then entered the water. The moment he entered the water, the sun’s rays broke through the foliage and created a wonderful beam of light. I couldn’t help but feel awed by the expression on his face.

To Tiger, this was a very special place where he had spent his childhood, and where Hawaiian warriors of the past were buried. The sunset brought out the beauty of the waterfall, and I felt that Tiger and the waterfall were counterparts. I shuddered as I took the photograph.

The above are edited extracts from Taisuke’s own essays.