Japanese Photographer Yuya Matsuo On His Love Affair With Croatia

Lauren Simmonds

I had the pleasure of sparking up a wonderful friendship with the talented Yuya Matsuo some time ago now, the Japanese photographer rose to recognition via social media, namely Instagram, at an incredible pace. We decided to catch up and discuss just what it is that makes Croatia stand out from the rest in his artistic eyes.

1) You have been all over Croatia as well as having lived in various countries in Europe, what made Croatia so special for you from a photographers perspective?


I visited Croatia for the first time about two and half years ago. I stayed in Split, and I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the old town and that made me want to know how to capture this place in photos. That’s how I started to learn photography and started to seek out different places to take photos. Split is where I started to travel as well. Croatia triggered the photographer in me with its diverse architecture, history, and nature. Split and Croatia will always be my special place.


2) What drew you back to Croatia so many times? Do you have a favourite city, town or area?


In addition to impressive architecture, history, and nature, Croatia has got people. I found Croatian people to be very kind and welcoming towards guests. Their willingness to help complete strangers always amazes me. Croatian people are definitely one of the reasons I come back to Croatia often. I really liked the Istrian region. From Rovinj to Motovun, it has everything, beaches, historic old towns, nature, food, wine, and truffles! I spent more than one month in Istria last year, and it wasn’t enough. I will go back there for more experiences.


3) You have acquired an incredible following on Instagram and other social media platforms in a very short space of time, what are your thoughts on your new-found fame in the world of photography regarding Croatia? Has it all been positive, or have you ever received any unexpected or negative feedback?


People have been very supportive towards my work. I haven’t had any memorable negative feedback. I think the reason is I stay positive with my work. My goal is always to spread positive messages through my photos because the world has enough negativity already. I hope, through my photos, I can make people interested in places and countries, and especially for local people, I want to make them realise and rediscover the positive side of the place where they live through my eyes.


4) Were you ever approached by the Croatian National Tourist Board, or smaller city/town tourist boards to provide them with your unique images and skill?


Yes, I have worked with both Croatian National Tourist Board and some local tourist boards, and also with some tourist agencies in Croatia as well. I think they’ve been open to all these content creators who bring value to the country. It’s great that they are open to new platforms and willing to stay relevant on social media.


5) Croatia is very much like more than one country in itself, Slavonia can hardly be compared to Dalmatia, and Zagreb and Istria are seemingly worlds apart. Did being in such a country of aesthetic contrasts fuel your imagination as a photographer and can Croatia be compared to any other country you have stayed in?


Croatia is definitely a unique country. Taking photos of the inland, the seaside, and nature is quite different. With its diverse setting, every place I go I need to think how to approach the place to get the best out of it. It’s a challenging and fun process. The subjects are endless in Croatia.


6) You lived in Hungary for a long time, how did life in Croatia compare?


It’s more relaxed in many ways. Croatia’s hours long cafe culture is not there in Hungary. I like that Croatian people love their country and are always eager to show their country to visitors.


7) Do you have plans to return soon? If so, what is your next destination?

I am planning to stay in the Balkans this summer. I would love to see more of Istria and inland Croatia next time. 


You can view Yuya’s truly impressive work at: instagram.com/esejapan.


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