SAM ABELL hagi talk, nov 11, 2017

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In the Fall of 1980, National Geographic photographer Sam Abell spent two months in the remote, southwest Japanese city of Hagi on assignment to capture the place that spawned many of Japan’s leading reformists who changed the course of the nation’s history in the 1860s and beyond through the Meiji Restoration.

That experience led to a story in the National Geographic Magazine in 1984, as well as several of Sam’s iconic photographs. The city also had a profound impact on Sam’s photographic life. He was, as he said “on fire.”

Fast forward to 2016 and Sam returned to Hagi with George Nobechi, his mother and photographer Skip Klein. During this brief visit, the seeds or a reunion were planted— in life and also in photography. A visit with the mayor led to the approval to have a major retrospective exhibition of Sam’s work in Hagi: “Hagi, 1980” in November of 2017.

As part of this exhibition, Sam held court with a standing room only crowd at the Hagi Meirin Center, the city’s new crown jewel tourism facility. He talked about his life in photography and his life in Hagi to a very appreciative audience. Following the event, a reception was held for honored guests including the mayor, and several people Sam photographed in 1980, as well as their relatives and friends.

It was truly a special occasion, and one that we felt very humbled and honored to be able to help make happen.