Japanese photographer Kishin Shinoyama, known for portraits of Beatles musician John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono among other celebrities over his five-decade career, died of old age Thursday, his office said. He was 83.

Shinoyama, whose real name was Michinobu Shinoyama, photographed iconic figures across diverse genres, including novelist Yukio Mishima (1925-1970), singer Momoe Yamaguchi, actress Rie Miyazawa and Kabuki actor Bando Tamasaburo.

Shinoyama became a freelance photographer in 1968 after working for an advertising agency. His photo capturing a kiss between Lennon and Ono was used on the album cover of the couple's 1980 release Double Fantasy.

"I have just taken photos of what I found to be interesting," Shinoyama, a Tokyo native, told Kyodo News in an interview in 2016.

File photo taken in September 2016 shows Japanese photographer Kishin Shinoyama during an interview in Tokyo. (Kyodo)

He also gained renown for his work that put the faces of his era's biggest stars on the covers of various weekly magazines, albums and celebrity photo anthologies.

Also known for taking artistic nude photos, his collections of Miyazawa and another actress Kanako Higuchi, both released in 1991, became hugely popular, with the former selling 1.65 million copies.

But his photo shoots with unclothed women also resulted in controversy as he was ordered by a Tokyo court in 2010 to pay fines for public indecency and blasphemy for taking photos of a naked woman in a Tokyo cemetery.

The imposition of fines stirred debate over the intervention of authorities on freedom of expression, but Shinoyama did not argue, saying, "I have been taking nude photos outdoors since the 1960s. But (whether the act is considered an offense or not) is determined by the mood of the time. It cannot be helped."

"There is no complete freedom in terms of expression," he said in the interview.

Not limited to celebrity photos, Shinoyama has also photographed ordinary people as well as notable architecture and cityscapes.

Striving to capture moments in time, he took photos of victims of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster in northeastern Japan and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex that was wrecked in the wake of the calamity.

When asked what he wants to shoot next, he said in the interview, "I don't know. Ask that moment in time."

A solo exhibition by the award-winning photographer held from 2012 across Japan, bringing together works from his 50-year career, attracted over 1 million visitors.