Conversation with Miki Sakai: Artist/Photographer at Miki Sakai Photography/ Architect
Growing up and moving around a number of countries, (Tokyo, NY, London, Buenos Aires, and now Sydney), Miki describes herself living a nomadic lifestyle as a Global Citizen.
Trips to South America hands down is one of Miki’s life-defining moments, which sparks her passion for photography. Small sparks gradually over years grew into her biggest passion. It took her years of soul searching to finally pivot her career from architect to photographer.
Part one: Miki shared her identity crisis growing up in different countries and her first life as a Architect.
Part Two: Let's dive deep into Miki’s second life of her being a photographer.
Show Notes ( Part One)
Growing up and moving around a number of countries, (Tokyo, NY, London, Buenos Aires, and now Sydney), Miki describes herself living a nomadic lifestyle as a Global Citizen. She made a conscious decision from a young age that not being fixed to her own belief, judgments or thoughts, truly embracing diverse ways of thinking and living, because something perceives as normal in one place may not be in another part of the world. She also becomes a person with strong curiosity who always intrigued by new ideas, language, culture., I believe both her upbringing and kindness in nature built her diversity ideology and curiosity traits, which leads her to explore life possibilities infinitely. We both also believe that we are not confined by the external environment or conditions. There is always a outlet that will spark your curiosity and connects you to the outside world. On the flipped side, this nomadic lifestyle put Miki experiencing inner struggle with identity sense particularly tracing back to her young teens. As she recalled, she might try very hard to assimilate to being British or at one point try to be Japanese. Eventually, she realized there is no need to define one identity she has, but it’s a journey to finally reaching that point where she feels comfortable being on her own skin and just to be authentic herself. Those growth pains (fitting in cultural shock, etc) are real and there is no exemption from those struggling, but both Miki and I believe we can turn negativity into positivity, and it’s gonna be better and it does get better. Trips to South America hands down is one of Miki’s life-defining moments, which sparks her passion for photography. As she said, she was hooked by this wondrous landscape, the rich and diverse cultures, and the extraordinary people there. Small sparks gradually over years grew into her biggest passion. Miki said, after gaining more life experience at a later stage of life, we can make a more informative and conscious decision about what we really want to pursue. It is a bit too much asking for 17 years old to make a big life &career decision and it’s ok to change your mind later on along the line. (But we are not blindly encouraging anyone to switch to another lane. If you are content with your current path, stick to it!) In Miki’s case, it took 7 years to just get qualified to be an Architect. When time costs and investment are so high, making a career pivot certainly is not a quick transition. It took her years and years of skill-building and soul searching to finally transform from architect to photographer. Looking back to her Architect journey which she contributed a huge course of her life, it’s a bittersweet but definitely precious life experience she will cherish forever. She shared that once you are an architect, you are always an architect. I also believe many things like the skillset we developed in our first life also end up being useful, translated, and applied to our second life. Tune into our PART TWO episode where we are entering Miki’s second life of her being as a photographer!
Show Notes ( Part Two)
Miki Sakai Photography creates a one of kind photoshoot journey for each of her clients. Storytelling is the heart of Miki’s craft. The way she tells a story is to capture the authentic and unposed moments in a session (family portraits, wedding, branding, etc). Drawing inspiration from everything (traveling, movies, books, conversations with others, etc.,), Miki describes her style as natural and candid with documentary and boutique aesthetics. As one of her audiences, the way I connect to her photography work is that instant desire to dive into the stories behind those images she photographed.
Miki deeply values the connection she builds with her clients on an emotional and personal level, which not only leads to the final fine artwork she produced but also a unique journey her clients will memorize and enjoy. To align her artistic pursuit as an artist/ photographer with clients’ expectations, she addressed two contributing factors. First is always to be consistent and clear with the work she presents on her Website/ Social Media platforms. Then initial face-to-face consultation intends to establish the clients’ understanding towards this is photoshoot journey , and the good communication carries through the actual shooting session and the entire process with her clients. As Miki said, she will never photograph silently. It’s a personal experience and emotional moment she and her client create and collaborate together, which eventually becomes a timeless artwork and memory. I believe Miki truly fulfils her mission of building a journey to narrate a client’s story.
Miki is an artistic and creative photographer and a genuine and caring character. Both her talents and personality, I believe, help to turn her passion into a business as well. As one of her clients comment to her: Miki is not just a good photographer but also a good person.
Being a sole trader takes the challenge to into next level. The communication /organizational skills she had developed as an Architect translate into current business operations, but many aspects of running a business (finance, accounting, legal, etc.) all need to be addressed. The biggest challenge for a sole trader, as Miki said, is the absence of team support and always making business decisions on her own.
Pandemic took a huge toll on the industry as a whole and also individual business owner. But Miki focused on what she can to improve her craft and scale her business. She also believes the community is such an essential support network emotionally and professionally, especially for sole traders. Reach-out to build a connection with people around the world has never been easier thanks to social media. She put herself in a fellow photographer community where she can share her journey! I strongly resonate with her that community brings us a sense of belonging and is a significant source of motivation!
Moving forward, Miki aims to expand her client base around the world, which allows her to utilize her skills and backgrounds as someone who has lived and worked internationally. I got so excited for her and gained so much sense of hope from her future vision and am keen to forward this positive energy to everyone.
Coming to the end of this amazing conversation, Miki’s advice for making a pivot is: do take the risks but calculated risks; it takes time to make the shift but you don’t want to live a life with regrets, and it’s really ok to shift the course of your career/life at any point. Don’t set a limit on yourself!