Watanabe was born in Yonezawa City, Yamagata Prefecture in 1961. After graduating from Nihon University College of Art Department of Photography, he joined the Nikkan Sports News. He later left this company to pursue his career as a freelance photographer. His published works include his photography collection, traverse (Tosei Publishing Co., Ltd.), and book, Tabi suru Camera (Traveling Camera), vol. 1-3 (Ei Publishing Co., Ltd.).