View From the Park Hotel, Tokyo © Emily Shur 2006
In twelve days, the husband and I will be departing for a week of good times in our favorite city, Tokyo. We were there almost exactly one year ago, but only for a few days and there were some work obligations associated with our trip. This time our only obligation is to have fun, and boy do we need some fun. Since this will be my fifth time in Japan (and in Tokyo), I’ve been doing some research on areas of Tokyo I have not yet been. I feel I have covered the obvious, and now onward and upward (hopefully) to the less obvious and more interesting imagery. This time the Wista will come along for the ride, along with my tried and true Mamiya 7. I was planning on mentioning this trip soon-ish, but an amazingly awesome post on Liz Kuball’s blog got me even more excited about my trip. So I thought now is the time to share my travel plans with the world…and by the world, I mean my 4 or 5 readers.
I have photographed more in Japan than I think I have in LA, and I live here. I realize that about a million other photographers feel the same connection with Japan that I have, but I stopped caring about that. What I care about is taking pictures that I’m proud of and make me happy. A little recognition and respect would also be nice, but ultimately that is not the reason to photograph. This trip also coincides with Blurb announcing a call for entry for their second Photography.Book.Now competition. Last year I entered a book I made solely of pictures I have taken in Japan over the past five or so years. I’ve had some issues lately with Blurb’s quality control, but I still really love their BookSmart software, and they have always been attentive to any problem I’ve had. I plan on entering again this year…possibly with a continuation of last year’s entry…possibly with something completely different. The best part of entering (besides the possibility of winning $25,000) is having an excuse to edit my work, sequence it, and get one step closer to my dream of someday actually publishing a book of my photographs.
I’ve tried to figure out why I’m so drawn to photographing in Japan…why I still haven’t found what I’m looking for anywhere else. Sure, I’ve taken lots of pictures elsewhere that I’m happy with, but I haven’t found that same level of consistent visual inspiration in other places. I also think it’s a mindset type of thing. Japan is a peaceful and happy place for me. I associate it with only good things, and I’ve only ever had good times there. I associate Japan with my parents, my honeymoon, my husband, and some of my favorite photographs I’ve ever taken. I think emotional association is a very powerful and personal mechanism in terms of what comes through in our photographs. You can kinda tell when someone is loving what’s happening in front of their lens and vice versa.