Yusuke Suzuki, also known as USK, is an award winning New York-based freelance photographer, born and raised in Chiba, Japan.
He studied guitar when he was in Japan, but during a trip to the Philippines he witnessed the tragic situation of the lifestyle there and started to reassess his own life. In 2006, he set off to Afghanistan to see that side of the world, meeting photographers and journalists who changed his life. He was so struck by their photographs that he bought his first camera as soon as he returned. Recognizing photography's power to cause change, he decided to study journalism and to move to the United States.
He graduated from the New England School of Photography in 2011. His mission is to tell the stories that should not be ignored by capturing the moments with his camera and putting a subject’s emotion into a single frame.
His works have been published on CNN, The Washington Post, Reuters, Al Jazeera, NHK, Internazionale, Haaretz, Toronto Sun, Estadao, Rianovosti, Hindustan Times, Metro Boston, Tu Boston, Salem Radio Network News, theprovince.com and El Planeta.
Lost Aral Sea, Kazakhstan
Photograph by Yusuke Suzuki from Lost Aral Sea.
An abandoned ship remains on the bottom of dried Aral Sea near Zhalanash, Kazakhstan. The Aral Sea was one of the four largest lakes in the world with an area of 68,000 square kilometers.
“I met a man who used to be the captain of a fishing boat in a small village of Muynak, Uzbekistan that has almost become a ghost town. He is now a guide for a kind of memorial site located at the former fishing port, to tell people what happened there in the past fifty years,” stated photographer Yusuke Suzuki.
During his summer break at the New England School of Photography in 2010, Suzuki spent about two weeks documenting the Aral Sea, which used to be one of the world's largest saline lakes, straddling the border between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The word ‘Aral’ means ‘sea of islands,’ and there were more than 1,500 of them in the lake, famous for its wildlife as well as its fishing industry.
In the 1950s however, the USSR started what today can be regarded as a reckless plan to promote agriculture and the cotton industry in the region. The two affluent rivers of the Aral Sea were diverted to irrigate the surrounding desert region, with the collateral result of also depriving the lake of its two main sources of water income. Water levels dropped drastically in the 1960s, leading to evaporation as well as desertification and the increase in sandstorms that have become a major health issue for the region’s population. In recent years, the governments of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have been trying to revive the lake, but the efforts have been jeopardized by a variety of economic, political and resource development problems.
“It was shocking to see inside the abandoned fish processing factories, because they showed the glorious prosperity and then the fall. It also made me think of the current hard life of people who used to enjoy bounty of the sea,” said Suzuki.
Referring to the man now working as a tour guide in Muyanak, he added: “I can't forget his eyes filled with sadness as he talked about his old days as a fisherman, looking at abandoned rusty fishing boats lying on the dried-up sea bed.”