Life through a lens

Christopher Domitter on his passion for photography

Photo: Christopher Domitter

Head of pharma communicaiton at Bayer Japan, Christopher Domitter is one of the range of expert speakers at the 2016 Asia-Pacific Communicaitons Summit, taking place in Singapore on October 27/28. As part of our regular Private Passions page, we asked Christopher about his love for photogrpahy – a passion that has won him awards.

When and why did you move to Japan? 25 years ago. I saw the Kurosawa movie Ran on a big movie theatre screen and was blown away by the cinematography. I decided I had to see the landscape with my own eyes.

Christopher is part of the speaker line up at the 2016 Asia-Pacific Communication Summit, taking place on October 27/28 in Singapore. To hear more great insights from leading communicators, make sure to register.

What do you look for in a great photo? Photography comes from the old Greek words photo (light) and graphos (to write). It literally means to “write with light”. Lighting is everything. Angle. Intensity. Texture.

Why photography? It is very meditative. Since I shoot with film using manual equipment, taking one shot can take 15 to 30 minutes or even up an hour. You need to be so focused on everything (depth of field, appropriate focal length, framing, exposure, and so on) – you become so immersed in all the calculations that you have no time to think about anything else. That is a stress-buster.

Why do you love analogue photography in particular? Why do some people still prefer vinyl records over CD? There is a certain feel to analogue that digital cannot replicate. And, technically speaking, film still beats digital in terms of resolution and gradation.

What have been some of your most memorable photography assignments? I did a lot of work for clients related to the winter Olympic Games in Nagano. I have had exhibitions is Yokohama, Seoul, Kobe and Nagano that went down well.

"The Japanese aesthetic and appreciation of photography is in itself different – I learn to appreciate the way the Japanese eye appreciates things."

What is your favourite region of Japan to photograph and travel through? All along the Sea of Japan and the nearby highlands. Particularly the Japan Alps, Sado Island, Noto Peninsula and Hida in Gifu Prefecture.

How has photography informed your understanding of Japanese people and culture? I study the ethnology of the areas I go to. This influences the way I look at the landscape, which in turn informs my knowledge of local culture. The Japanese aesthetic and appreciation of photography is in itself different – I learn to appreciate the way the Japanese eye appreciates things.

Which awards have you won? Several local awards as well as a national newspaper award – the Yomiuri newspaper’s Autumn and Winter in Japan. My work has been used by several publishers, outdoor magazines and events.

Are there any transferrable skills between landscape photography and corporate communications?

Absolutely. Photography is a process of subtraction. The biggest mistake people make is trying to squeeze too much into a photo. You need to hone in on what element within a scene is really grabbing your heart. You need to keep trimming and cutting until you have the most impact with the minimum amount of info. It is an editorial, analytical process I use in my work every day. That and the fact that I am very visual in the way I interpolate and communicate information.

All images by Christopher Domitter. For more of Christopher's photographs, visist

Christopher Domitter

Based in Tokyo, Christopher Domitter took up his current position as head of pharma communication for Bayer Japan in May 2015, having previously worked for Standard Chartered in Kuala Lumpur as country head of corporate affairs in Malaysia. He joined Standard Chartered back in 2006 as head of corporate affairs Japan, then in 2010 in Seoul as senior vice president for Korea, then in 2013 in Hong Kong as senior manager, regional corporate affairs. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Christopher has considered Japan his home for over 20 years, travelling extensively to photograph for clients such as Sports Illustrated, the International Olympic Committee and Swatch, as well a range of Japanese and regional publications, such as Action Asia, Outdoor Japan, Ski Japan, and Tokyo Journal.