Masahiro Yoshie
Previous Head of Photography Publishing Dept.
Asahi Newspaper Company

When slightly exaggerating talking about photography ,.. 'stopping space by framing', 'stopping time with the shutter'.. There are many ways to explain framing but out of the stories I've heard up to now, Mr N's story is the easiest to understand.
In the 1940's the post-war photography boom started. Mr N was said to be the boss of the amateur photo world and gave a talk at a training class. He was the leader of an amateur club, with very tough ways of teaching, but his unique elocution got a reputation and this became well-known.

He began his speech with 'a photograph is a frame' and then he pulled out a frame of a large oil painting. There was no picture in it. "We have to put the viewers large scenes which spread wide into this frame". It was still the era when none of the Japanese photographers were doing framing. "You have to take the frame and put it around the scenery, objects that you can see in front of your eyes, just how you see it."
"This is the purpose of a photo".
Mr N said"if you are close to the subject, a frame is like your own wide-angled lens, if you are far away, it's like a telefoto lens." This I wasn't too clear on.

The strange thing is, telefoto and wide-angled lenses were made then??? In the late half of the 1940's, exchangeable lenses were not used. I entered the Photograph Publishing Department of the Asahi Newspaper Company in 1954.

At this time in the Photograph Publishing Dept, in the beginning we had 4 places for darkroom work, we had many large type cameras but only a few small type cameras - a Leica IIIC which had a few exchangeable lenses. With a reflex camera box, a Leica could be fitted with a 10 inch and other telefoto lens.

It was not a time that you could easily buy a Leica, my seniors were using a Nikon S2
and a Canon VISb moments after their release on to the market. Of course before the Nikon and Canon cameras of those times became single reflex cameras, they were range finder cameras.

When I first entered the company, I used their Leica and I really liked the wide-angled and the other angled lenses. There is one more reason for why I liked the wide-angled lens.
I got a large camera from the company to use for my job which was a Spigura (speed graphic) and there was a 127 mm lens attached to the Spigura which used 10cm x 12.5 cm film.
When you changed this with a 35mm camera lens, it's almost the same as a 35 mm lens. With this kind of focal distance lens, when taking photos of people with the naked eye, it looks as if the background is closer than it really is.

At work the camera I used most of the time was the Supigura, so when you got used to the attached 127 mm lens, the sensation of framing an image was like using a wide-angled lens. Because of this and that, I soon wanted a wide-angled lens for a small type camera and I remember lending money off my father and soon buying one. However, amateurs weren't really using exchangeable lenses then.

It was the time of double reflex cameras. The Ricoh Flex went on the market for 8300 yen. There was an appraisal saying "buy a camera with half a month's salary" and the sales soon took off with a bang. I've strayed off the track a little, but the reason why Mr N said framing was like a telefoto lens if you were far away, and a wide-angled lens if you were close was, probably just made-up to make the story more interesting!. However even now, there is talk circulating that you can cut out a scene with a picture frame.....