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Iwata, Jack

Jack Masaki Iwata (1912-1992) was born in Seattle, Washington. He spent his formative years in Japan in Hiroshima Prefecture where he attended the Sotoku Chugakko. His father presented him with his first camera during that period. With the help of a local studio, Iwata learned the process for developing photos, marking the beginning of his interest in photography.

He returned to the United States in 1928 where he worked for his father while attending Whittier College in Whittier, California. His professional career as a photographer began in 1937 when well-known Little Tokyo photographer, Toyo Miyatake offered him a position at his studio. He married in 1938 and continued to work for Miyatake until the outbreak of World War II when he and his wife were forcibly removed to Manzanar concentration camp. At Manzanar, he rejoined Miyatake, also incarcerated there, and helped to organize the camp's first photo lab. Iwata and his wife Setsuko transferred to Tule Lake concentration camp in 1943 to reunited with his father. Appointed the official camp photographer in 1945, he captured some of the most poignant pictures of his career.

In 1946, Iwata returned with his family to Los Angeles where he continued to work for Miyatake. After a brief stint operating his own photography studio, "Jack's Photo Lab," Iwata joined the Kyodo News Service as a "stringer," and ultimately became one of the agency's most invaluable representatives. While at Kyodo News, Iwata became known for his photographs of celebrities including Elvis Presley, John Wayne, Bette Davis, and Elizabeth Taylor, in addition to scores of Japanese notables. He played a fundamental role in the founding of Kyodo News California Inc. in 1986 and was general manager of that organization until his death in 1992 at the age of eighty.



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