One of my few remaining photos from Korea. A student MCing at a school show.
I admit that I was always uncomfortable with these things. Taking some young kids who were already pretty stressed out and then drilling them for a month or two to perform on stage for the parents. Part of this might be my own childhood dislike of being forced up on the school stage to sing or perform for the parents. I don’t know if they still do it today. I’d like to think, that with all of the outside interests parents lead their kids to these days, that they could get enough volunteers to show off their stuff instead of forcing everyone up there.
Then again, our ridiculous Celebrity-For-Doing-Nothing culture might mean that kids are forced into that against their will anyway.
I guess someone decided beating people up wasn’t something they wanted to do with their life.
The gloves have been sitting on the rock face near Fall River, Nova Scotia for as long as I can remember. Not that I have a long memory of it since I don’t live in the area. When I am there, I’m usually passing by in a car. I did remember them from the last time I passed the rock face several months ago and took a few shots.
To sum up: Boxing gloves hanging from a rock face. Weird, eh?
Watching the traditional drummers during a summer festival in Miyakonojo. The crowd was bigger but I felt this was the most interesting cluster.
I’m beginning to realize that I got a lot of usable photos out of that summer festival back in ‘11. At the time I felt it was a failed photo walk. This, of course, makes me start to doubt my strict “Trash it if it’s shit.” Policy in regards to negatives and image files because I’m pretty mobile and storage is always a problem. Could there have been a hidden gem waiting to be cropped into life tucked in between the blurry shots and photos of my feet? That’s why some people advocate never throwing anything away and just sitting on them for a few years. Perhaps that failed candid picture of a pretty girl has an even prettier boy behind her that folks will adore. Heck, you might even have an unsolved crime in the background.
I think my best approach is going to have to be to learn what images need to be sat on and given a second look at a later date. I’ll have to look at shots and ask myself, “What else is going on here?”
Me and my good pal Greg were sitting at (one of the several) Starbucks in Shinjuku on the west side (gangsta) of the station. Just past all of the electronic and camera stores are a number of businesses and government offices so you get to see a large number of office types passing through. Well, you see that at just about every station along the Yamanote line. Suits everywhere.
I was going to write that I dislike wearing suits, but that’s not entirely true. When the trousers don’t feel like you’re straddling a wire the whole ensemble is pretty comfortable. But neckties. Neckties suck. Trapping the heat from your body like that. Constantly in danger of having lunch spilled on them. That not so subtle choking feeling. Leashes and slave collars. Can’t stand them.
I’m often surprised at how few pictures I have of people’s faces. It seems like the crowd is always walking away from me. Must be one of them metaphors. If there was a market for photographs of people’s backs, I’d be rich off of calendars like Anne Geddes. I’ve tried the old 180 spin once I realized that everyone is walking away from me. Those people were walking away too.
I’ll have to try a new deodorant. Or just get better at anticipating the crowds. Both?
The bigger the city, the more likely you’re going to find people out and about. This is likely due to sheer numbers, but I figure it’s also due to the difficulty of using a car in a city. Even a tiny burg like Halifax has trouble with finding affordable parking for everyone. Great if your photographic interest involves Homo Sapiens. The country, despite all of that healthy air and friendly nature that sings show tunes along with you, is largely lacking in people not polluting it with their automobiles.
I tended to focus on things in my photography. Things can be nice, but since I’ve been living in one of those areas with an over abundance of things, I’ve been finding that I’ve been craving the larger city and it’s walking-about people even more than I used to. Hopefully my desires will be met within the next couple of months.
I generally throw out photos I feel are shit. The negatives too. I also rip up and burn old comics I drew if I feel them to be shit as well. I produce a lot of shit. I flush it like shit should be. I would have thrown out this one too due to it being out of focus but there were pretty girls in it and those always get me a lot of views regardless of the quality of the image.
Isn’t that interesting?
While I have no financial motivation to pander, I do feel the urge to do so just so I can hopefully be recognized for my work. Pandering isn’t always as blatant as “tits and explosions”. It’s also adjusting what you wrote because the audience won’t be happy with you forcing them to think their way through something. It’s writing “Happy-happy-I-wuv-yoo” blogs under your webcomic post. It’s refraining from pointing out that the reason shit pop culture is popular is because the audience made shit pop culture popular.
So if I, a person with no financial motivation to pander, will do it what chance does someone who does have a financial motivation to pander have?
But I’m still not going to buy your fucking webcomic t-shirt.
In contrast to that previous image of Japan in the summer four or so years ago, here’s Canada in the winter today.
Currently the walking conditions are powdery snow on top of a layer of ice on top of deep powdery snow on top of wet cold muck. My boots never saw much use in Korea and even less in Japan. Over the last week they’ve seen more now than they have in the previous decade.
On the grounds of Kumamoto Castle you can find a wide variety of people milling around. Folks on a lunch break. Folks on a date. Folks looking for a place to put their feet up. Even tourists.
It’s minus seventeen degrees and the land is covered with about ten centimetres of snow as I write this. I thought I would post up a picture of Southern Kyushu in December but the green leaves and people happily walking about in light jackets depressed me.
The picture above was one I kept going back and forth over. There’s nothing in it that’s a real audience draw. No pretty Japanese ladies. Nothing that looks like a Miyazaki movie. No one looking “weird”. No candid exposes of what the audience assumes is the subjects inner self. None of that stuff we expect from “street”. And they’re not even craggy old men like you expect! Just two middle-aged guys sitting and chatting. Something you can see anywhere on the planet at any time. Nothing sexy or artsy about it at all.
Just a document of a time and place.
I’ve always viewed myself as a documentarian in my photography. But I am always aware of what the audience is interested in. Creative mediums always require an audience of some sort and it’s hard to balance keeping people interested with presenting what you feel is important.
I had the same struggle with making comics. Trying to appeal to people while trying to satisfy my own creative impulses. Not being able to balance those two forces is one of the things that drove me away from that medium. And it paralyses me whenever I get a story idea or ideas on how to continue abandoned series like Yes You Can! and The Halifax Explosion.
This is probably no surprise to anyone who is familiar with Asian pop culture, but kids clean up the classroom after school. Just the really basic stuff. Sweeping and organizing the desks. Sometimes the mopping as well. In this case, mopping is more racing across the room three times pushing a wet cloth ahead of them. The janitor/ groundskeeper takes care of everything else.
There did seem to be a class distinction though. In the richer areas the kids would not clean up, and if they did it was done with some very open anger and resentment. That sort of thing is for The Poors to do. A lot of ESL companies would force the cleaning upon the teachers because the was no way they were going to make the cash cow unhappy by making it pick up a dirty piece of paper. The teachers would resent it because they all came from a relatively wealthy nation and that sort of thing was for The Poors to do.
Of course, we don’t call them The Poors. We call them The Cleaning Staff. We don’t notice them until we need to walk around them.
I view pets in the same way I view children and lovers: They’re great when someone else has to take care of them.
Not that they lack their charms. I just find all three groups draining after a while and need my Me Time to rebalance. I don’t envy parents in any way, shape, or form. And I salute them for being willing to put in the time and effort to (hopefully) make better human beings than they are. May Superman grant you all his blessings.
As for pets: Screw all that poop-scooping and fur covering everything you own.
Snow makes everything look nice. Even Seoul looked nice in a snowstorm and Seoul looks as nice as you’d expect for something covered in industrial waste. Then snow becomes a brownish sludge that makes your travel a miserable hell.
But for the first few hours? Lovely.
This is Nagasaki. The first thing you see when leaving the bus and/or train station is a hill full of dead people. If you’re the superstitious sort I suppose that might put you off, but it’s a lovely city. I rank it highly in my list of places in Japan I’d be happy to live in.
Unlike every single job I had in Korea and Canada, the sole job I had in Japan gave me training in their methodology.
I’d like to point out the words “sole job” in that sentence so you may understand that I was in Japan almost as long as I was in Korea and yet only worked a single job there. It was six in Korea. I’m not saying that getting actual training made me a better employee, but… okay, I am saying that. And while employers not doing so makes sense in the fly-by-night world of ESL in Korea, Canadian companies have little excuse.
Anyway, my spot in Japan was a bit unusual for ESL there. Everyone is pretty much farmed out to local kindergartens and elementary schools in addition to their place of employment right off the bat. I spent the first year just working in the eikaiwa and while I had been trained for that, it wasn’t until later that I started going to kindergartens and that needed a whole different set of training. I had to go to Kumamoto for that and that’s where I took this photo. The graveyard was down the street from the regional HQ towards the lovely tram system they have there.
The sunset and the graves were irresistible and I sat there until the sun went down trying to capture both.
Castles: They’re big and they tend to be dark. Hard to photograph.
The big part can be fixed by a very wide lens or getting a lot of distance. The dark is the real problem because their height sets them against the not nearly as dark sky. It’s really bad on a cloudy day like the day I took this photo. To get the right exposure of this dark surface, you pretty much have to blow out the sky. Blowouts aren’t too bad in black and white photography (Or photos converted to B&W afterwards) but it’s pretty much the death knell for well-balanced color images.
While I lived in Japan for a half decade, I had visited the place a lot during my time in South Korea. I’d say I became well antiquated with the castle over the period of a decade. Each visit I would try to get a good shot of Kumamoto Castle. Each visit I would fail. My personal white whale.
Karaoke is still a big part of a night out in Asia.
You’re probably aware of this, but you’re not warbling out Bulls on Parade to a club full of indifferent drunkards when you do karaoke in Asia. You’re with your friends and/ or coworkers in a small room you’ve rented out. You don’t have to worry about singing badly because the odds are that everyone will be singing badly. Or at least doing their best Mariah Carey impersonations. Occasionally you do get stuck with some asshole that had vocal training, or can rap professionally, that makes everyone look stupid. But those moments are rare so don’t let that stop you. Karaoke can be a good laugh and it’s pretty cathartic.
Your memories of it will be much like this picture: Blurry recollections of joviality. I say that because the karaoke businesses are all licensed to serve alcohol and food and people partake in both while singing. It’s like you have a private bar all to yourselves.
The strobing on her hand comes from the screen on the device that displays the song choices.
Goldfish scooping at one of Miyakonojo’s summer festivals. I can’t remember which one. I always had the worst luck with festivals because I worked until seven in the evening and things were so packed by the time I arrived that I could only peek through the elbows and hope to photograph something. Even with an F/1.4 lens things tended to be too dark to photograph easily. Just these food and game stalls were well-lit. But there was little place for me to stand and shoot them from the front due to the crowds so I was reduced to haunting the area behind the tents like some sort of weirdo with a camera.
Well, a different sort of weirdo with a camera than I normally am: A malicious weirdo with a camera. I’m the harmless weirdo.