Category: All
Josef Koudelka | Spain

The maximum, that is what has always interested me.

– Josef Koudelka

SEVILLE, Spain—Holy Week, 1977 © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

SEVILLE, Spain—Holy Week, 1977 © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

ANDALUSIA, Spain—Holy Week, 1975 © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

ANDALUSIA, Spain—Holy Week, 1975 © Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

Granada, Andalucia, SPAIN © 1971 Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

Granada, Andalucia, SPAIN © 1971 Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos


Tokyo | Nelken Cafe in Koenji
Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

In Tokyo, you can find all sorts of wild and deep holes to dive deeply into, places where specific flavors are nurtured and taken to their fullest.

One such place is Nelken (German for carnation) in Koenji. A simple small cafe full of warmth, oil paintings and an astounding sound system. Dark wood, crushed red velvet chairs and a brandy coffee. Sit back and close your eyes and the wall of sound embraces you, selections from the vinyl collection and the occasional CD are all classical. The day I visited it was Brahms, a violin concerto played in it’s entirety. An older gentlemen customer in front of me sat with his head bowed, eyes closed, posture relaxed and slack.

He only opened his eyes when the last movement concluded.

A subway ride west from downtown Tokyo, Nelken is a place to sit and drink and enjoy a private concert with the masters.

http://en.goodcoffee.me/coffeeshop/nelken/


Tokyo | Ueno
Ueno, Tokyo, Japan; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Ueno, Tokyo, Japan; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

I don’t know why, but I cannot stop shooting crosswalks. I think it is just the collision of humanity and the geometric and graphical nature of the crosswalk. People are also a bit captive and can’t escape my lens. My shots are not always successful and I do catch myself repeating myself, taking similar shots in crosswalks around the world.

But I do like this one.


Tokyo | Kanda Yabu Soba

I have a simple rule when I am traveling or doing my wandering thing: when I see a line of locals waiting for a restaurant, I must abandon my plans and also get in line. Even if I have just eaten, it does not matter, because this has nothing to do with hunger. Traveling is about experience and if you can, experiencing a place like a local as much as you can. I know that the chance that I will ever return to a place I have visited is very low, so these are always once a lifetime opportunities.

My cousin who lives in Tokyo took me to this soba place in Chiyoda and the day was sunny and hot and the line was long, wrapping around the corner. She apologized profusely and suggested that we go someplace else. I told her I was fine with waiting because the long line of locals was very enticing. We waited about 45 minutes to get a table.

My God, that is some soba. One of the best meals I had in Japan and there were many exceptional meals.

To read more about this restaurant, read this article from The Japan Times.

Kanda Yabu Soba, Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Kanda Yabu Soba, Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Kanda Yabu Soba, Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Kanda Yabu Soba, Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Kanda Yabu Soba, Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Kanda Yabu Soba, Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim


Tokyo | Shibuya

When I am traveling and wandering, I have a simple rule: if I see a crowd or a line, I must go investigate. If it is a restaurant, I will likely eat regardless of my level of hunger. I know I’ll likely never return so might as well take advantage.

One day I was browsing the Tower Records in Shibuya when I saw the crowds of people waiting for some event for unfold. There were many kids but there were also people of all ages waiting in an orderly mass. I decided to stick around to see what would be unveiled.

It was some mascot for some fucking thing. I stayed long enough to expose a few frames because after all, I had waited for a while.

Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim


Hiroshi Watanabe | Rikishi (2005)

My expenses are almost as high as my photography income and I have so little left at the end even when I am lucky. So, maybe I am not qualified to answer this question. Then why am I doing photography? I think it is a combination of passion and stupidity. For me, photography is intellectual, …artistic, and curiosity fulfilling. I love making photographs.

– Hiroshi Watanabe

Touki, Rikishi series © Hiroshi Watanabe, 2005

Touki, Rikishi series © Hiroshi Watanabe, 2005

I am not sure if I am successful professional photographer. If “successful professional” means I can live a good, somewhat luxurious, life by the profession, then I am certainly not.

– Hiroshi Watanabe

Fukujumaru, Rikishi series © Hiroshi Watanabe, 2005

Fukujumaru, Rikishi series © Hiroshi Watanabe, 2005

I make every effort to be a faithful visual recorder of the world around me, a world in flux that, at very least in my mind, deserves preservation, and that I constantly seek to expand.
I strive for both calculation and discovery in my work, studying my subjects in preparation, while at the same keeping my mind open for the surprises. The pure enjoyment of this process drives and inspires me. Mostly, I seek to capture people, traditions, and locales that first and foremost are of personal interest, while other times I seek pure beauty.
I always go to places with some kind of expectation and I come back with a lot more, with images I never expected.

– Hiroshi Watanabe

Kumanosato, Rikishi series © Hiroshi Watanabe, 2005

Kumanosato, Rikishi series © Hiroshi Watanabe, 2005

I believe there’s a thread that connects all of my work — my personal vision of the world as a whole. I make every effort to be a faithful visual recorder of the world around me, a world in flux that, at very least in my mind, deserves preservation.

– Hiroshi Watanabe

Ichinoya, Rikishi series © Hiroshi Watanabe, 2005

Ichinoya, Rikishi series © Hiroshi Watanabe, 2005

My father bought me a Minolta 35mm SRL and that was my first camera. I had no prior interest in photography. I played a lot and enjoyed the four years of college life, but somehow I became serious about photography as I studied it. When I graduated, I found a job in the US which happened to be a production company specializing in making commercials for Japan. I thought I would work for the company for a year or two and look for a photography job meanwhile. But one photographer whom I met suggested that I stayed on with the job. He said advertising and filming had much potential while photography had no future. At that time, I was starting a family and I had the responsibility. So, I stayed on with the job and a four years later I started my own production company. After I ran the business for 15 years, one morning, I woke up and all the sudden I decided to become a photographer again. I don’t know why but I had decided. I traveled and built up a portfolio between commercial jobs for 5 years and after that I closed down the business and became a full time photographer. It’s been 10 years since then and I am still a photographer.

– Hiroshi Watanabe

Asakubo, Rikishi series © Hiroshi Watanabe, 2005

Asakubo, Rikishi series © Hiroshi Watanabe, 2005

I try to find something that I don’t understand. That’s what drives me.

– Hiroshi Watanabe

Rikishi 3, Rikishi series © Hiroshi Watanabe, 2005

Rikishi 3, Rikishi series © Hiroshi Watanabe, 2005

My photographs reflect both genuine interest in my subject as well as a respect for the element of serendipity.
I wish for my images to distill scenes ranging from the ephemeral to the eternal, from the esoteric to the symbolic. A current that underlies my work is the concept of preservation.

– Hiroshi Watanabe

To view more of this series and the work of the master Hiroshi Watanabe, click here.


Tokyo | Shibuya Crossing

One of the most photographed intersections in the world, I went there a few times, trying to capture something that was different.

Sometimes when I am shooting, I am aware of all those who have tread before me. I can sometimes sense that I am doing nothing new, just rehashing ideas that others did better before me. I put the camera up to the eye and in the viewfinder, I see the same image that others or myself have shot before.

The world is rife with cliches and if you are lazy, you will just add another version of an idea that has been done thousands of times.

The downside of this awareness is thinking too much. Shooting should be about reflexes and instinct, all technique subsumed down to the unconscious level.

I was lucky on this day as the clouds came in and a late afternoon shower descended on Tokyo. I played with the shapes of the crosswalk lines and the umbrellas but those were unsuccessful. Then I saw the lone pedestrian scurrying across the wide swath before the lights changed. The crossing suddenly became about light and movement and the negative is very dark.

Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo, Japan; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo, Japan; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim


Tom Waits | On The Pogues’ Rum, Sodomy & the Lash
The Pogues, date and photographer unknown

The Pogues, date and photographer unknown

Tom Waits writes about his 20 most cherished albums in an article in The Guardian. Here is his passage about Rum, Sodomy & the Lash:

Sometimes when things are real flat, you want to hear something flat, other times you just want to project onto it, something more like…. you might want to hear the Pogues. Because they love the West. They love all those old movies. The thing about Ireland, the idea that you can get into a car and point it towards California and drive it for the next five days is like Euphoria, because in Ireland you just keep going around in circles, those tiny little roads. ‘Dirty Old Town’, ‘The Old Main Drag’. Shane has the gift. I believe him. He knows how to tell a story. They are a roaring, stumbling band. These are the dead end kids for real. Shane’s voice conveys so much. They play like soldiers on leave. The songs are epic. It’s whimsical and blasphemous, seasick and sacrilegious, wear it out and then get another one.

– Tom Waits

Tom Waits. Portobello Road, London 1976 © Michael Putland

Tom Waits. Portobello Road, London 1976 © Michael Putland

A remastered and expanded version of Rum, Sodomy & the Lash was released in 2005 and featured a poem by Tom Waits.

Their music is like
the brandy of the damned
Pogue Mahone
they are the last
pure hearts
from Dickens , Joyce,Dylan Thomas
to Christy Moore
like Red Diamonds
Pirates full of malarkey
they’re little giants
they’re Bill Sykes
They are all orphans
and they are leaving
on the 2:10 train
with no ticket
Rapscallion, angry, weeping
passed out songs,songs
that seem to be born
effortlessly, or
not born but found
on top of an old wood stove
like a Bowler hat
and the Pogues know
where the little people go
and they follow them
they’re as old as treasure island
songs that we should all carry
i learnt ’em and sung ’em
and changed ’em
and passed them on
down the wild blue road
as Shane MacGowan & the Pogues
warm their hands
on a fire
made from chopsticks
and a horse pulls a milk wagon
up the steep, wet cobblestone
streets & stumbles
to his knees, bloodying them
as a man
no bigger than my thumb
dances in the broken glass
and jumps rope with a shoe lace
the song he sings

Tom Waits
California , March 2004

It is one of my favorite albums, a sequence of songs that would cause us all to link arms and belt out the lyrics, spilling beer everywhere. You should probably buy it now.

The Pogues, date and photographer unknown

The Pogues, date and photographer unknown


Tokyo | Chiyoda

I was leaving Sensoji, walked to Ueno and was on the way back to Shinjuku and back to my hotel. If you know Tokyo, that is a long walk and it had taken most of the day.

This was one of those days where I had exposed only a handful of frames. It happens. Some days are full of magic and I bang out roll after roll of film. Other days, it is more of a hunt, searching for those elusive bits of life to focus on. It’s not a bad thing at all. These days are just a reminder that the process of wandering and exploring is the whole point, the journey over the results.

I was nearing the end of the day. The sun had already set, the city was dark and I found myself in a deserted part of Chiyoda. I roamed the streets, generally heading southwest back towards Shinjuku and where I was staying. I did not know where I was exactly nor where my hotel was, but I generally find my way. Southwest then.

Along a narrow side street, I passed windows with a warm light streaming out and I could just see the top of this guy’s hair. I knocked on the door and walked in tentatively. The guy was there, still working and crunching his numbers. Some small office for a small design firm perhaps? He did not speak English and I had no Japanese. I very much liked his style.

For a moment, I was in the warmth of his presence and the coziness of his well-designed place.

I took two photos and thanked him and left.

Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim

Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan; Leica MP 0.58, 35mm Summicron, Kodak Tri-X © Doug Kim