I got bones beneath my skin, mister...

There's a skeleton in every man's house

Beneath the dust and love and sweat that hangs on everybody

There's a dead man trying to get out

- Counting Crows, Perfect Blue Buildings

(Too) many years ago my sweetie and I went to Spain. Honestly... if someone doesn’t like Spain, they simply don’t like being alive. I would go back in a heartbeat. (UNSOLICITED PLUG: we were traveling with @intrepidtravel, and have done several other tours with them. I can’t recommend them highly enough. Every trip was absolutely awesome.)


One day another member of our group came running up to Catherine saying "you’ll never believe what I just saw your husband doing!"

“Um… photographing something dead…?"

Pretty good guess. But then my wife is no dummy. Here's me:

And here's the shot:

And now...

I'm still photographing a dead bird. Only now in a studio. And this bird was given to me (in its present state) by my parents, who also know what I like.

Explaining the appeal is a little hard, but I'll try...

In my professional life I've photographed several human cadaver dissections. Fascination (usually) beats out disgust with me, and it didn't really bother me that much. Until one time when I noticed the pink nail polish, and it suddenly clicked that this had been a human being.

And I wasn't grossed out or frightened. Instead, I was hit with a powerful sense of the corpse's vulnerability. Now vacant, the body could do nothing to prevent or protest its gradual erosion into the nothing it came from. Death makes us naked in the most absolute way possible.

(It's worth noting that these were people who had volunteered their empty bodies toward educating care givers. Everyone should do this.)

When I'm making these photos (more ) I always try to find this vulnerability and bring it into the light.

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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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