Member Spotlight: Masa Usuki

After more than a decade working as a designer for top fashion brands, Masa Usuki wanted to do his own thing. When he decided to become a professional photographer, Visual Education gave him the skills and confidence to make the leap.

“Visual Education is like my operating system,” he says. “It’s part of my anatomy as a photographer.”

An early passion for fashion

Masa grew up in the Japanese city of Nagoya. He remembers his teenage years as a turbulent time, largely because he hadn’t yet learned how to express himself creatively. At the age of 18, he took the bold step of moving to London alone. 
Fashion photography by Masa Usuki
© Masa Usuki

In London, Masa studied fine art at Central St Martins. A developing interest in fashion inspired him to return to Japan to study fashion design and tailoring.

After graduating, he became a designer for Uniqlo, playing a key role in the brand’s ‘+J’ collaboration with German minimalist designer Jil Sander. Masa’s work in fashion took him to Toronto, and eventually to Paris, France, where he lives today.

Product photography by Masa Usuki

© Masa Usuki

Getting into photography

It was during his time at Uniqlo that Masa first became interested in photography. He invested in a Hasselblad camera and used his basic skills to capture images as part of his fashion work, mostly using natural light.

But it wasn’t until the first COVID lockdown that he started to feel he might like to take photography a little more seriously. That was when he first became a member of Visual Education.  

Beauty photography by Masa Usuki

© Masa Usuki


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“I was seeing a lot of layoffs in the fashion industry,” he says. “My job was safe, but all the same, I was beginning to rethink my career path. I knew I wanted to work for myself. The question was, doing what?”

After a couple of months of learning with Visual Education and feeling his knowledge deepen, Masa decided to commit to photography. He then spent a couple of years honing his craft and building his portfolio. In January 2023, he officially became a full-time professional photographer.

Portrait photography by Masa Usuki

© Masa Usuki


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Product photography by Michele Collozino
Self-portrait © Masa Usuki

Going pro

Masa’s background as a designer makes fashion and lifestyle photography his most natural area of expertise. It makes sense, then, that he has already found success shooting editorial pieces for magazines like GMARO and Faust.

But Masa is just as interested in product photography, shooting jewellery, cosmetic products, glasses, and more. In fact, his beautiful Clinique splash image was recently featured in the ‘Best of Insta’ section of broncolor’s email newsletter. Way to go, Masa!

Splash photography by Masa Usuki

© Masa Usuki

This meant a lot to Masa, as he is a big fan of broncolor lights. He also loves his Hasselblad 503 CW camera, which he has been using for nearly 15 years – initially with a film back, and now with a Phase One P25 digital back.

In terms of lenses, he mostly relies on his 80mm Hasselblad lens, perfectly suited to his medium format camera. But when he needs to work quickly (for example, on an e-commerce shoot), he’ll use his Sony 35mm lens.


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What you need to know

Masa’s growing collection of modifiers is inspired by his favourite Visual Education class, Lighting Modifiers and Their Effects. “I’ve watched that one so many times!” he says. “It’s really helped me understand how things like paras work.”

He’s grateful to Karl and Visual Education for teaching him how to create mood and emotion with light. He has also learned the importance of planning and pre-visualisation. But the classes he’s most grateful for are the business and marketing tutorials. Masa based his own contracts, pricing cards and other documents on templates he downloaded here on Visual Education.

“When you’re completely new, you don’t know where to start with that stuff,” he says. “But Karl tells you what you need to know – without sugar-coating it.”

Bottle photography by Michele Collozino

© Masa Usuki

In addition to enhancing his photography skills and business acumen, Masa has used Visual Education to boost his understanding of filmmaking and 3D CGI.

“I want to be able to provide my clients with whatever assets they need, so learning to use Blender feels essential, as does mastering video.”

Bigger and better

Now that Masa has taken the leap into full-time professional photography, his goals are clear. He wants to keep getting better, to establish his name in Paris and beyond, and to keep exploring the industry in pursuit of more, bigger projects.

“I’m excited for the future and grateful to have Visual Education to guide me on my journey.”

Check out Masa’s work at or on Instagram.

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