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North Van's Michael Iwasaki finds the perfect light

Photographer Michael Iwasaki stands beside Great Banyan, available at Pizazz Gifts in Edgemont Village.  - Michaela Garstin
Photographer Michael Iwasaki stands beside Great Banyan, available at Pizazz Gifts in Edgemont Village.
— image credit: Michaela Garstin

Shining an iridescent glow, Michael Iwasaki's prints capture that fleeting moment when the sun shines perfectly.

"Some people ask if it's backlit, but it's not," he says, standing beside Great Banyan, a 65"x36" photo of a twisted tree in Maui, at Pizazz Gifts in Edgemont Village.

The vivid glow and vibrant colours are usually found by searching for the perfect angle at dawn or dusk. Then, after the image is processed, it's printed on aluminum and framed without glass.

"When I mention I don't use glass, the first thing people do is touch the image," says Iwasaki, who lives a few minutes away from the gift shop.

"I like to bring the picture back to life like it was when I was there.

"The key is to have just the right light."

He isn't afraid to remove unaesthetic elements, such as stray branches or pieces of trash — this is art after all.

The goal behind his work is to create believability, not reality. The images represent something that is considered possible, even though the exact same image may not appear in nature.

"It's what you do with the photo afterwards from an artistic standpoint that really counts," he says.

Typically, photographic art is printed on traditional paper or canvas up to 30"x40" or slightly larger, says Iwasaki, but his pieces start at 65"x40" and range up to 15 feet.

His artwork are statement pieces for the home and are so large they can be considered "as pieces of furniture."

Iwasaki picked up his first camera, a Kodak Instamatic, at the age of seven. While shooting a broad range of subjects, including the final project picture of B.C.'s tallest building, the Shangri-La, to Jean Chrétien, weddings and portraits, his passion has always been landscapes.

As a former ICBC employee, Iwasaki now runs his own business but devotes much of his time to his biggest passion — capturing moments in time.

His pieces can currently be found at The Plaza Gallery in Whistler, Stewart Stephenson Fine Art Gallery at Robson Street, as well as Pizazz Gifts and on his website,

His photography trips have taken Iwasaki around North America, with Utah's Byrce Canyon National Park and the Grand Canyon topping the list.

He also prefers to stick close to home. Rice Lake, a 65"x35" image framed in Italian-made olive tree veneer, shows the pristine lake with a layer of ice over top and sun-bathed trees behind.

"I dropped off a piece at Pizazz and I received a phone call just a couple hours later advising it had been sold before it even made it to the front window," says Iwasaki proudly.

"What really makes me happy is capturing that moment in time that means something to someone."

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