Sukita shot the iconic portrait of Bowie that makes up the cover of his album Heroes

By Alex Heigl
Updated November 12, 2015 11:00 AM
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Masayoshi Sukita

Masoyoshi Sukita isn’t a household name in the U.S., but you’ve certainly seen some of the photos he’s taken of David Bowie during their 40-plus-year collaboration.

Sukita’s work with Bowie is the subject of a new exhibition at the Morrison Hotel Gallery in New York – the first U.S. showing of his Bowie work to date. Prints are available at the Morrison Hotel Gallery in SoHo and the website. “We are honored to be working with Sukita on his very first U.S. show,” Morrison Hotel SoHo gallery and sales Director Aaron Zych said. “Sukita is a powerfully talented photographer who was able to capture some incredible moments, being a part of Bowie’s inner circle.”

Sukita “is a committed artist, a brilliant artist. I would call him a master,” Bowie himself said in a recent statement. PEOPLE spoke to the master about his exhibition, and we’re thrilled to have some of the photos available for you as well.

What made you choose Morrison Hotel Gallery in SoHo for your first U.S. show?

I have never shown my work in America and Morrison Hotel Gallery is the perfect place to have my premier U.S. exhibit of these images. Their reputation as a fine art music photography gallery is well known all over the world. It is an honor to have my first U.S. show there.

Who are some of your biggest influences?

I have many influences, but some of my favorite are Irving Penn, Ed van der Elsken, who did the book Love on the Left Bank, Dennis Stock, who is famous for his James Dean images, and Sebastião Salgado.

You used to bike many miles to see American films in Japan. What were some of your favorites?
I was a big fan of Marlon Brando and James Dean. Brando’s The Wild One, and On The Waterfront and James Dean’s Rebel Without A Cause, Giant, and East Of Eden were my favorites. I also liked Citizen Kane by Orson Welles, and Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly musicals.

What makes a good collaboration between an outsize subject like David Bowie and a photographer?

The cultural differences, and the energy between us – the friction – it all added to our collaborations in a positive way.

Other than David, who have been some of your favorite subjects to shoot?
Iggy Pop is one of my favorites. I have worked with him many times and I would love to do more photo sessions with him.

When you’ve worked with someone as long as you have with David, how does the relationship between photographer and subject change?

When I am photographing someone, no matter who the subject is, I just take pictures. I always respect my subjects, and stay focused, literally, on getting good shots. No matter what our relationship may be when I put my camera down, when I am shooting, it s all professional.