Japanophile Monday

Hokusai

If you’ve been following this blog for a while you may have realized that I’m deeply interested in Japanese culture and arts. Even so, I generally don’t consciously seek out Japan focused activities but they do have a tendency to jump out at me. Over the weekend I realized that there are a number of exhibitions and seminars going on at the moment that it would be worth capturing them for anyone else who’s interested.

The headliner of these events has to be the Hokusai exhibition at the MFA in Boston that runs until August 9. Even before I started learning more about Japanese arts I recognized ‘The Wave’ shown above. This exhibition promises to be a comprehensive look at Hokusai’s work from his 20s through his 80s. Check out the MFA blurb on the exhibition here. There is a corresponding exhibition catalog that would be worth a look even if you’re not able to get to the exhibition.

Also at the MFA is the exhibition ‘In the Wake’ which presents the photographic response of 17 Japanese photographers to the Great East Japan Earthquake and the resulting enormous wave of water swept through towns in the Tōhoku (Northeast) region destroying virtually everything in its path including the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The exhibition catalog can be found here.

Finally at the MFA, ‘Playing with Paper’ in gallery 278A looks like it will be fun. This is an exhibition of woodblock ‘toy prints’ that shows how the 19 th century Japanese toys and games were enjoyed.

In New York of Friday and Saturday of this week there is a symposium: ‘Shashin Symposium: Photography from Japan’ that looks to have a good program. Of course the popup bookshop caught my eye – it would be worth going just to get an advance copy of Yoshihiko Ueda’s retrospective photo book “A Life With Camera”.

Also in New York is the exhibition “Life of Cats: Selections from the Hiraki Ukiyo-e Collection” which runs until June 7.

The Gift of Time

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Often I find that I am crunched for time, which means that I need to quickly process my images and get on to the next thing. Having a little bit of extra time to work on learning new techniques, how to use new equipment and then to integrate that into my everyday workflow is a real luxury.

Over the last six months or so I’ve been dabbling a little with both of these – learning about new masking techniques and how those can be used to composite images together to make large files that will be used to make large prints.

The image above is one that I had struggled with earlier in the year. I posted an earlier version of this image here. With a little bit of extra time over the Christmas break I was able to play a little, make some composites and finally get close to the image I had felt when I was there.

Sometimes time is the best gift of all.

Friday Inspiration: Danny Gregory

The Art of Breakfast: a film about Danny Gregory from DannyGregory on Vimeo.

Being able to draw always seemed to me to be something mystical, reserved for the special few, when I came across Danny Gregory’s book ‘Everyday Matters‘ I was sucked in – it intersected two things that I was interested in teaching yourself to draw as an adult and living intentionally everyday. Since 2007, when I first came across the book, I’ve followed the ups and downs of Danny Gregory’s life through his blog and his books. His output shows that it is possible to have a very active publishing career while also balancing the demands of a family and busy career – Danny was a copywriter and creative director for an ad agency for a number of years.

Everyday Matters‘ was a reaction to the accident that Danny’s wife had on the New York Subway that left her paralysed from the waist down. It’s a sad story that concludes in his book ‘A Kiss Before you Go‘.

Since ‘A Kiss Before You Go‘, Danny has left his job at the ad agency and started ‘Sketchbook Skool‘ which looks like fun and lets him work with many of his friends, friends whose work he’d previously shared in his books of pages from their sketchbooks.

For more from Danny including his first feelings on receiving ‘A Kiss Before You Go, check out the videos below:

Jane LaFazio interviews Danny Gregory from DannyGregory on Vimeo.

Danny Gregory at VCU – part 1 from DannyGregory on Vimeo.

Danny Gregory at VCU – part 2 from DannyGregory on Vimeo.

Danny Gregory at VCU – part 3 from DannyGregory on Vimeo.

A Kiss Before You Go: First feelings from DannyGregory on Vimeo.

New York, New York!

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I was in New York recently – what an amazing place. More vibrant at 10.30 pm than 2 pm.

I’m thinking about community this week – who listens when you talk, supports you when you need to be supported, and kicks you in the pants when you need to be spurred on to be as good as you can be?

Friday Inspiration: Maira Kalman

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I was familiar with Maira Kalman‘s work through the many New Yorker magazine covers that she’s done over the years. It wasn’t until I came across her a video describing her work recently that I connected the dots. It was fun to see that she had a blog for a while called ‘And the Pursuit of Happiness’ although it wasn’t through my dive into ‘what is happiness’ that I found her. Kalman has a unique painting style and her combination of words and images really works for me.

Check out more about Kalman in the videos below.

Why Do You Photograph?

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If you’ve been following along here, in the last few weeks we’ve been digging in to identify our purpose, the big why that is the underlying reason for the choices that we make in life. A touchstone that helps guide us through difficult decisions.

Before I leave this topic for a little while I could help but ask a final question. Why do you photograph? Perhaps related is how does your photography support your big why?

Now I’m not thinking about what kind of photography, sports, documentary, editorial, fine art etc., or what you photograph but why do you do the thing that you’ve chosen to do.

There are lots of reasons that people photograph, to capture the essence of a person or a pet, to make other people feel emotion, to preserve significant moments, to create something, as a meditative practice. The list goes on.

Making the connection between your photography and your big why can help identify new photography projects, bring existing photographic projects into focus, give a sense of direction to your work and also a reason to keep going when you’re wondering is it worth it. Additionally, as we’ve discussed previously understand why helps guide your decision making and help make sense of the myriad of options you have for spend your most precious resource of all – time.

Friday Inspiration: Lisa M. Robinson

KCGlmrsurgeI’m at the beach this week, one of my favorite places to spend time, taking the opportunity to revisit the work of photographers, painters and printers that I particularly like.

Lisa M Robinson is one photographer whose work that I come back to from time to time. The project that I came to know her by was ‘Snowbound’. This was a five year project that had her photographing snowy landscapes from New York to Colorado, but not just snowy landscapes, landscapes that hint at a human presence. Almost a post-apocalyptic world. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to work out how to embed the videos that showcase Lisa’s work but click here to see them. Snowbound Epilogue gives you a behind the scenes look at the approach taken for the snowbound project. A book is of the work is also available on amazon.com.

Oceana, from which the image at the top of the page is taken, was the project that followed Snowbound. In this series the photographer is the human element, playing with how light and time can be incorporated into the image to give a sense of the unpredictable nature of water. Check out more of this work at Lisa’s website here.

Get ‘Em While You Can

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I’m back home again after a a family holiday at the beach. I don’t know how you travel but for us we always have somewhere to be and while our trips may take us through gorgeous parts of the country we’re always too time crunched to stop to explore. As we zipped across Shelter Island, somewhere I’d like to explore further, the image at the top of the page came to mind. It’s a view across Crescent Lake. I was obviously drawn to the reflections in the mirror smooth lake. At the time I was zipping down to Forks but decided that since there wasn’t any pressure to be in Forks at a particular hour I’d stop. I spent probably 20 or 30 mins photographing at this spot, working out of the back of my car with the music blaring. Most certainly a good time. I never saw the lake flat enough any other time during my visit to the Olympic National Park for this kind of reflection. If I’d done what I was thinking which was to ‘get it on the way back’ the shot wouldn’t have been there.

What was also cool was another photographer pulled in behind me and introduced himself – Jack Graham – a very familiar name to me. I’d looked at his guide to photographing in washington state and at his workshops as part of my researching potential ONP workshops. At the time I ended up going with Art Wolfe but having met Jack and emailed him a few times afterwards I’d recommend his workshops any day.

This experience not only underscores the need to get the shot when you can but also that by getting off the usual rails that we run on we may stumbling into interesting opportunities.

Friday Inspiration: Andreas Feininger

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I’m continue to enjoy watching the 1983 BBC tv series ‘Masters of Photography’. This week I’ve been watching the interview with Andreas Feininger. Not surprisingly I was blissfully unaware of Feininger’s experimental photography, much of which we take for granted now. He is perhaps best know for his photographs of New York taken with a telephoto lens. Telephoto lens, what’s the big deal with that you say – I certainly did.

He started working with a telephoto lens in Stockholm. There, in order to get the images of the waterfront that he wanted he shot from over 3 miles away using a telephoto lens. At that time, around 1938, telephoto lenses were hard to come by and expensive, so he made his own camera. In New York working for Life magazine he used a 40-inch Dallmeyer telephoto lens, equivalent of ~1000mm,the compression of perspective that he got with this was quite remarkable. The image above is a good example of it.

In addition to his work outside with the telephoto lens, he took the idea inside to photographed close ups of nature, things that he found on walks on the beach. These are quite interesting in that they are not just records of what is in front of the camera, but he goes to some effort to stage the object in an effort to record what he feels about the object.

Take a look at the interview with Andreas Feininger in the video below: