Mike Yamashita has combined his dual passions of photography and travel for over 25 years as a shooter for National Geographic and, more recently, with his film production company, Saga Pictures.
Specializing in Asia, Yamashita has covered Vietnam and the Mekong River, Marco Polo’s journey to China, the Great Wall, and the DMZ between North and South Korea, as well as almost every aspect of Japanese culture from samurai to fish markets.
A story on legendary Ming Dynasty admiral and explorer Zheng He first appeared in the July 2005 issue of National Geographic and was released as a documentary feature film in 2006. The film, The Ghost Fleet, won Best Historical Documentary at the 2006 New York International Film Festival. A book, Zheng He, was published in 2006.
Yamashita’s other books include In the Japanese Garden, Mekong: Mother of Waters, and Marco Polo: A Photographer’s Journey. Marco Polo is also the subject of his award-winning National Geographic Channel documentary, Marco Polo: The China Mystery Revealed, in which Yamashita retraces the 13th-century Venetian’s epic excursion to China.
A frequent lecturer and teacher at workshops around the world, Yamashita has received numerous industry awards, including those from the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) Pictures of the Year, the New York Art Directors Club, and the Asian-American Journalists Association. Major exhibitions of his work have opened throughout Asia, in Tokyo, Beijing, Seoul, Hong Kong, and Singapore, as well as in Rome, Frankfurt, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. His images of Korea’s DMZ were featured in an exhibit at the Visa Pour L’Images photojournalism festival at Perpignan, France, in 2005.
When not traveling, Yamashita lives in rural New Jersey, where he maintains a studio and an extensive stock library and is an active volunteer fireman.