When Yasuhiro Wakabayashi began taking photographs for Harper’s Bazaar, the magazine’s art director Alexey Brodovitch gave him some sage advice. “If you look in your camera and see something you’ve seen before, don’t click the shutter,” he told him.

It was a dictum that Hiro, as he was known professionally, stuck to over a long career as a fashion photographer, although such a trite job description hardly does justice to the singularity of his oeuvre. His work included fashion spreads, up-market advertisements for jewelers such as Tiffany, still life and portraiture, but he frequently gave his compositions — for that is no less than what they were — a surreal sensibility that had as much in common with the paintings of Magritte as it did with conventional magazine photography.

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