Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wildlife Photographer Steve Drogin Passes Away

The day started out with a bad news in the morning. My wife broke her heels at work, and asked me to bring another pair. I don't know in the US, but in Japan, traditionally breaking shoes is considered as a serious bad luck, a sure sign of something bad to happen - usually someone very close gets hurt or even dies.

Wildlife photographer Steve Drogin and his wife Hiro along with photographer, Masa Ushioda, Kona, Big Island, Hawaii, USA

Just as I left my house to deliver another pair of heels to my wife, my friend Susan called and told me that Steve Drogin died of a heart attack in India. I was shocked and couldn't believe such bad news as I was just talking to him a couple days ago via emails.

In his messages he said he's been having a fantastic time in India with Hiro despite the unbearable heat. He sent me a lot of Elephant Festival pictures, too. We were also talking about making a trip together to Cocos Islands for hammerhead shark shooting, etc. as I was telling him about my recent hammerhead shark encounters in Kona.

Wildlife photographer Steve Drogin and Masa Ushioda, Kona Coast, Big Island, Hawaii, USA, Pacific Ocean

My wife is also a good friend of Steve's wife, Hiro, so she immediately called her cell phone but got no answers.

He was a great man, a successful business man, an excellent photographer, an awesome family man, a caring husband to Hiro. I spent a lot of time with him on my boat, so it is very sad to see another one of my boat buddies go so soon after Jim Watt.

To me he was a good promoter and motivator as well as a good friend. Whenever he's around town, we got together and had dinner together talking about his next adventures and photography. He always encouraged me to meet more people and to go to more photo trips.

He left me a big photography to-do list and now I will have to do it without him or his help. I'll miss you, Steve.

Masa Ushioda


  1. Dear Masa,

    I have just now learned of Steve's passing and am very saddened. Although I never met Steve, I could feel his exuberance and warmth through our email correspondence. We had a unique friendship: I
    sold him the grassfed beef he took on his boat every year for the past four years. Please give my condolences to his wife and family.
    Nancy Ranney, Ranney Ranch

  2. Aloha Nancy,

    Thanks for your comment. I think I'd eaten your beef many times when I had dinners with Steve & Hiro. When he came to Kona, he flew with your beef, and fed many of his Kona friends. He told me all about your excellent beef and that he was so proud of getting a whole animal!

    Hiro is visiting us this Christmas, so I let her know your condolences and your heart-warming comment on Steve.


    Masa Ushioda

  3. A unique and truly remarkable independent wildlife experience for me was seeing the Giant leatherback turtles in Tortruguero, Costa Rica.

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