August 25, 2020

JAPAN - Broken Hands

Seventeen years later.

After college I lived in Japan for four years. This would be '90 to '94-ish. I photographed like a madman and envisioned myself as a neo Robert Frank. Except in Japan.

I lived in the Osaka area for three of those years and spent a lot of time photographing a neighborhood there known for its large homeless population and semi-annual riots. At the time I wanted to show the suffering that lived in the shadows of Japan's economic miracle. Viewed today it all seems pretty naive, but I learned a lot in the process. And I saw an aspect of Japanese society most Americans don't.

But then I got on a plane, went back to the states, and began a new life. The photos I shot in Airin-cho never really became anything, and I'm not sure that they should. I'm not the same person who took those photos anymore.

In 2009 I had an opportunity to go back to Japan and added a few days to revisit my old life in Osaka. I went back to the center where unemployed men picked up their government checks and remembered a photo I'd shot nearly 20 years prior:

Some things change. Some don't.

#streetphotography, #japan, #airin,

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August 1, 2020

INDIA - Hair Cutting


As a native Iowan, beginning a story with 'I was walking along the Ganges...' seems like the height of pretentiousness but, well, I was...

The woman on the left, in brown, beckoned me over to take some photos as they were finishing up shaving the small child's head. I found out later that this was a Hindu sacrament (called either Chudankaran or Mundana) in which a child receives their first haircut. The idea is that doing so frees them from the bad traits of their past lives.

The child getting the haircut wasn't too happy about it, but it was clearly a celebratory event and I felt a little privileged to be invited in, even for just a few minutes.

#streetphotography, #india, #photographyislife, #hinduism, #wanderlust, #capturestreets, #ganges, #chudakarana

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Updated: Jan 13

July 21, 2020

SPECIMENS - Butterflies

I love dramatic flashes of creative energy. But I don't depend on them.

I once read a book about Andy Warhol that praised his ability to overcome our normal aversion to boredom. Which makes sense, especially given the repetitive nature of the work he did.

But this is also true for any creative endeavor. Transforming an idea into a piece of work is usually a moment of inspiration followed by endless hours of drudgery.

This photo, however, more or less just dropped into my lap.

David Craig, an awesome biology professor at Willamette University, was kind enough to give me full access to the department's specimens room. Over several months I photographed all manor of stuffed, pinned, or otherwise preserved creatures, often in a way that accentuated their inherent creepiness.

But for this one, I pulled down an unlabeled cookie tin, pried off the lid, and it was full of butterflies. Dead ones, of course, but still gorgeous. This was one of those wonderful moments where I took one look an immediately knew the photo I wanted.

It's important to know when you need to add something to make a photo work.

But it's equally important to recognize when you don't.

#photography #specimens #butterflies #print

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