I wanted to share some sad news with the
Lightstalker community. We lost AK Kimoto
this week, a very bright light. He passed
away suddenly on his way to attend a photo
festival in Australia.
I was the beneficiary of his sober humility.
This man was centered, knew who he was and
was without any residue of ego that I could
AK had immense talent but his humble nature
prevented him from trumpeting his insights.
He spent considerable time in Badakhshan,
Afghanistan photographing parents administering
opium smoke into their children’s noses to
dull the pangs of hunger.
The work was compassionate, intimate and
a great secret to the photo world. It was
the rare kind of work that you immediately feel
the rush when you know that someone had really
embraced and viscerally understood the subject.
AK became a close and trusted friend. I
will miss him immensely. I do already.
Adding my name to the growing list of people who are surprised and saddened by the news of AK’s passing. Like Rahman and Sofian, I met AK at the Angkor Festival. James, you introduced us, and I’m glad you did. I’ve followed his work ever since. His photo story of the Afghan family addicted to opium remains an inspiration to me. And who can forget his Pashtun hat…
To survive in a remote province of Afghanistan, and then to die suddenly while on your way to Australian photo festival seems improbable and unfair. How old was he?
I remember the moment. AK was only 32 or 33 years old. I
only know that he was born in 1977. That is too short a
23 Mar 2010 08:03
I heard about this earlier today. Really sad news. Like you said James, he was a super nice, unassuming guy with a lot of talent.
23 Mar 2010 09:03
| Phnom Penh,
I feel so sad when I read this… his work was so powerful, his vision so deep and he seemed to be a very humble man, too. His Afghan story is one of my favorite series of Afghanistan… he was too young to die…
AK’s humble nature James mentioned brings me back to the email conversation I had with AK when I greeted him on the UNICEF Honorary Mention he got several months ago on that opium work..
“….Thanks! I’m happy that my story is being seen more now. I hope that this increased exposure can find a way for me to give something back to the people I photographed, because that’s always important to me. Anyway, thanks for taking a look at the work, and hope you are well. Have a good and successful 2010 na khap!”
This is very sad news. And on the heels of our dear friend Torgeir Norling who passed away in January. Condolences to his family and ‘Cartoon’ his girlfriend here in Bangkok….we await the wake. Rest in peace AK
If you are in Bangkok, please join us at a ceremony for AK tomorrow.
The death of our beloved AK has impacted us all deeply.
His family is with him in Perth, where a ceremony and cremation will take place tomorrow, Friday 26th March.
Please join Cartoon in Bangkok for a service held at Wat Ratchasingkhon on Charoen Krung soi 74.
The ceremony will start at 9 AM and will last until 12 noon.
Feel more than free to ask any questions:
Yumi Goto, firstname.lastname@example.org, +66 81 206 9973 or
David HÃ¸gsholt, email@example.com, +66 89 044 3580
25 Mar 2010 11:03
| Ho Chi Minh,
My condolences to A.K.’s family.
Those of us who knew him as a friend already feel his absence.
His personality and his vision touched many of us.
25 Mar 2010 22:03
Regrettably I met AK only once, it was while working in Banda Aceh after the Tsunami. I remember having a wonderful discussion about photography and walking away with a lasting impression of the person I just met. His work from Afghanistan was truly brilliant. My thoughts are with his friends and family.
A K, we never met. Maybe that’s why I felt you never left.
Your last words to James spoke for many of us. Storytellers who are afraid the stories we tell are never heard.
You will live on in our hearts, as a reminder to keep telling our stories, when everything else seems to be against us.
Cya later, A K.
I know the how isn’t supposed to matter during a time like this, but does anyone know how he died? I of course never met him either, but I’m getting to know him through all these tributes. Just wondering how he passed …
Though he was a young man with only two hands indeed, he was an old soul with a 1,000,000 hand’d heart and all those hands are working ceaseless now because it wasn’t his tilt to remain with us, two-handed sloppy ones, but instead was his time to break wider, enliven more and to help get that child in the cave light that most of us have crawed blindly to….
he mattered because that child matters and, though the grief is stinging, my heart was immediately rubbed into shape by one of his hands and god damn, how that lifting is the lifting for each of us now….
A.k. rose up, we all need to do the same now….can u feel his hands already…
such is the way of the world….
i am not in despair, how could one ever be once having met such a bright and 1,000,000-handed smiling one, but i do miss that laugh…..
rise up y’all…
see u later ak….been looking for that hat here in Chinatown for a week…and so i laid down and wept….there u are, again, here in chinatown, in that small store….sitting in the corner between the dried, bruised bamboo poles and the damp straw and porcelain cups from china….remember, still there, an afghan hat amid all the inexpensive ware from china…still there,
27 Mar 2010 16:03
(ed. Mar 27 2010)
Guess I’m the last to hear. I met AK in an AIDS hospice while shooting in Phnom Penh in 2005. He was quiet but not aloof, with a strong yet humble sense of self. As a photographer, his patience and dedication were amazing. He’d spend all day in the hospice, making friends, moving with the light, capturing the beautiful soul inherent even in tragic lives/images.
His Afghan mission was three years in the making, and he had held most of his images back. Perhaps his family will release them at the proper time and place. AK was just in the early stages of becoming the great photographer he and we always knew he would be. I am proud to have known you AK, that you put up with me, that you allowed me to see you grow from Indonesia to Cambodia to Afghanistan. I don’t know why you had to go, only that you did.
Godspeed my friend. Move with the light.
PS. Forgive me, but if anybody knows how he died, I’d like to know.
I’m a journalist, not a photog. But i second Ethan’s motion.
I was in kabul when AK was working on his project. I still have his text message on my afghan mobile, a day into his trip up to Badakhshan: “river flooded… go to wait!” This, after weeks of planning and waiting and frustration.
When he got back he regaled the Mustafa about wading through the raging, freezing torrent, twisting an ankle in the process. Too bad his snaps made the water looking cuff deep. Hardly raging. Lots of needling and taking the piss out of Drama Queen AK.
Then he showed the shots.
Black and white. Beautiful use of natural light.
All of you here are better photographers, better eyes, than my untrained journalist’s ones.
But I saw real quality, heartfelt sensitivity to the subject. There are more than he showed on his site. Most just as good. A few better.
I know AK agonized over which ones to pick, how and where to show them.
Maybe James or Stuart or Toon or his sister have a better idea of what he decided on.
But if I can get them here to Toronto’s Contact, I’d like to. Bob, as a good torontonian, I;m sure you;d help.
Maybe there’s something for Perpignon.
Maybe there’s something more.
Maybe we can tell this story.
I’m back to Afghanistan soon. But I know there’s more I can do.
James, Stuart, anyone else who knows AK’s family. email or text me.
AK wanted this story told.
If we can, if those closest to him approve …. let’s.
My most heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.
I have had the pleasure of collaborating with AK on a couple photo assignments that he did for WFP in Cambodia where he took photographs of Aids victims that received help from WFP and in Indonesia post Tsunami. His images portrayed people with true dignity and humanity.
An enormous loss,may he rest in peace.
Thanks for the kind words on AK. His work
was so strong and you had to pull it out of
him to get him to share it with you. He was
a humble guy but such a pleasure to be with.
We have completed several tributes to him.
Cartoon is planning a show where she has
interpreted several of his photographs as
paintings. His photos will also be shown
with the paintings. Yumi Goto curated the