matsuri

Kagoshima 2005

Once upon a time, very early into my time taking photographs, I won a little contest put on by the local university in Kagoshima. A few weeks after submitting my image, I was invited to the school on a weekend morning. I entered a fairly nondescript corner room half full of Japanese, with the rest of the numbers made up of a healthy mix of foreigners from around the world, many of them studying medicine on exchange.

The winners had been told they had been shortlisted but it wasn’t until I arrived that I realised they had printed my photo in large format along the front wall, where it was hanging prominently. This was originally taken on Provia slide film, still months away from my first digital camera that would change the my world (and my bottom line). It looked dreamy to me and after recovering from seeing my own work so beautifully featured (and in such full size) I was even more stunned to find that the crowd were talking about the image as if I were a professional exhibitor. I was too embarrassed to tell people it was my photo, so I slinked around the room surreptitiously listening to half conversations. In the end I was called to the front to accept my award, a small cash prize and publication in a local magazine.

Besides being a great moment in my early days of shooting, it was also an important lesson about reading the fine print and the rights of a photographer.  I found out later that the film I submitted, like all others sent to the university, became the property of the school with the stroke of the pen that was my signature on the application form. A good lesson to learn early on.

This is a b&w redux, a scan of the original colour print I was eventually given after pleading over the phone for at least a single copy of “my image”.  The boy in centre is my nephew Harutaka, still so dear to me now, alongside his little friends at a preschool festival in the south of Kagoshima.

You can see the original colour image here

new book : city in shadows

Very happy to announce the release of my second collection of photography, city in shadows. It’s a collection of shadow-centred images taken in many of my favourite cities around the world, including Tokyo, Amsterdam, New York, my former home of Kagoshima, Japan, and my current home of Vancouver. A lot of my common themes come up regularly in this collection including minimalism, abstract imagery, and urban decay. I maxed out the size of the book at a particular price point to try and add as much value as possible, meaning that this includes almost eighty pages of my work in total. Check it out here and please let me know what you think. Thanks for your support!

coney island living

NYC 2008

During a dream trip to New York in May of 2008 I spent one gray afternoon checking out the modern-day decay at Coney Island. Not far from the boardwalk was a bank of apartment buildings which were a perfect example of the kind of minimal repetition I seek out in architectural photos. The workers in the top right corner were an added bonus.

jurado

Kagoshima 2007

This is one of a large set of images that I took during my last year living in Japan. Looking back at them now, I can see how introspective many of them are, and some of them seem infused with a sentimental or bittersweet melancholy. Having spent the better part of six years in Japan and being acutely aware of my imminent departure and the parting of ways from so many beloved friends and family, I suppose it was understandable. I named this after one of my favourite artists, Seattle troubadour Damien Jurado for his music which, for me, emulates so many of the same qualities that I mentioned above.

For those wondering, the image is a macro detail of a plastic bench at the stop where I used to take the tram in South Kagoshima. The scratches accumulated over time as generations of children’s school bags and office worker’s briefcases left their mark. I think the macro detail has always added to a certain element of mystery to the image that has always made it one of most lasting and most popular.

inspiration: Moriyama Daido

I’m very inspired by the Japanese photographer Moriyama Daido (森山 大道 ). His immediacy, his self-professed lack of technical expertise in a traditional sense, his wonderfully artistic eye and carefree approach to street photography really resonates with me.

There is a wonderful quote about Moriyama by the perhaps more renowned Japanese erotic photographer Nobuyoshi Araki, who said,

“The photographer has been a slave to the camera for a long time. Good camera, good lens, Leica, etc – these were the masters of the photographers. But in a way, Daido Moriyama is a photographer who started to make the camera his slave. Photography is not about the camera. Of course we need the camera. If you want to write a romantic love letter, we need some tool to write it with. But anything – a pencil or ballpoint pen – is fine.”

He is in his seventies now and is currently featured at the Tate Modern alongside William Klein if you are lucky enough to be anywhere near London before January 20th.

The featured shot above is mine, taken in the south of Kagoshima City in 2007, as the late afternoon sun shone through an auto repair shop at the end of the working day.

delta

Delta BC 2011

My brother Barry, besides being an accomplished artist, is an avid birder. One place that we visited together on one of his trips out west was the Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary south of the Vancouver International Airport. I have to admit that I find the slow methodical pace and required sensual alertness of the hobby, in addition to the statistical and “collecting” element, to be quite fascinating. There is a certain zen quality to it all, standing motionless under the shade of a tree admiring the calls and waiting for even the most fleeting of glimpses at a bird. I’ve returned to the same spot a few times now, which is where I took this image one misty morning in October, facing due north.

primary fourths

Vancouver 2012

I travel quite frequently over the Second Narrows (Ironworkers Memorial) Bridge which joins East Vancouver and the industrial part of North Vancouver. From Bridgeway Street, right next to the bridge on the East Van side, you can access the grain elevators which is more or less from where I took this shot which was part of a larger series of four. The shadows just kill me and the little touches of primary colours still make me smile.

green mop

Kagoshima  2008

I love to work with flat walls like this as my canvas. This spot was a discovery walking home from work in Japan one day under an overpass. I thought, how perfect a symbol of the Japanese ideal of purity and cleanliness that not only was the underside of the overpass cleaned regularly, but a mop was also placed there permanently as a daily reminder. Simple yet elegant in its own way.

mosaic

Vancouver 2009

For this shot I had to get down and dirty, on my hands and knees on the sidewalk.  It was taken on Commercial Drive on a bright and crisp morning in February before this store had opened for the day..

chimchiminey

Vancouver 2012

The beautiful stretch of sunshine we had in Vancouver over early fall offered such bright sun-saturated colours combined with long shadows, two of my favourite photographic elements.