Well, I just finished up preparing all my camera equipment. Two days from now I’ll be on a plane across the Pacific, and after those dreadful 12 hours, I’ll be stepping out of the plane and into Haneda airport; back in Japan. It’s amazing to me how much NDF has grown, and while I have a lot of motor sport related business to take care of, I won’t forget to take a few nights to hit the streets. I’ve just been reviewing some of my old shots, and I gotta say I’m pretty excited. Japan will always be the pinnacle of street photography for me, and my number one excuse to go year after year.
I went through a phase one week in Japan where I would target scenes that I could turn depressing; this is one of those scenes. The heavy vignetting, the condensation on the train windows, the desaturated color, and the expression of the inhabitants all create a feeling of helplessness. 2 more weeks until I return to Japan, and although my days are mostly spent photographing cars, I’ll still make time for a few nights of street photography.
A few months ago I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Geoffrey Nguyen, a creative director for various online publications, and an all around nice guy. You can read the interview here, or here. The interview was done for a client of his, Weksos Industries, a large Japanese car parts importer and retailer in regards to their major car show tour Wekfest and my website NDF. You can visit them here; and I just realized they are using some my photos on their ‘about us’ page – very cool. Bear with me, this long back story has a point.
He had asked me to gather a handful of my photos from Japan to be used in the interview, and the above shot is one of many I chose. I’ve always liked this shot because it proves that great photo opportunities can be found in the most unusual places. I took this from the lower level of a green car train somewhere outside of Tokyo. When the train pulls into the station, the lower level windows are just parallel with the station platform providing some excellent point of views. It just so happened that the train stopped in a position where this man was in the middle of my frame, and another train was pulling away. I quickly dropped the shutter speed, slammed the aperture closed and snapped the shot. Mostly luck I suppose.
I’ve received a lot of positive feedback about this photo and I’m very happy about it. Because of the lighting, the setting and composition, it’s one of those pictures that you can interpret in many different ways. Looking back at these photos makes me realize that it’s been a really long time since I’ve been satisfied with my productivity….but that can be saved for a different post.
So Flickr has this new feature, or it might not be new at all as I haven’t visited the site in quite awhile, that allows you to see all of one members submissions in a group. As you may or may not know, I started a group years ago for people who enjoyed shooting on train platforms in Japan. The group, JPP – Japanese Platform Photography, helped me meet many new people that I can call friends today. It also helped me develop my own style and feel for the street photos I take. Well, maybe I shouldn’t use the word style…
Looking back at 40 months worth of my own photos, it’s apparent that I have at least developed my own preference. I use the term preference as opposed to style because the term style can mean many different things to different people. Styles of photography have already been set by those before us, and let’s face it, you can’t develop a new style; only variations of existing ones. Although I’m sure that’s a topic many would debate.
Jean-Luc Godard once said, “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.”
I’m happy to say at least I have found, or subconsciously have stolen from others, my own style of street photography. Having that out of the way allows me more time to enjoy doing it and perhaps one day taking it to somewhere meaningful.
You can check out my 40 Months here.
archived: october 2009
For some reason, at some point in time, when traveling in the lower level of trains, I got into the habit of taking pictures of the ground wherever we stopped at each station. Apparently we were in car number 8 this time.
It’s shots like these that remind me to remain observant throughout life; and to explore every possible reason why things are in their current state.
archived : september 2009