Tag Archives: Photography Walk

Life Design: Making a Photograph

MakingPhotograph

This post is part of a weekly series about designing your life.
 
Peter Turnley, an American photographer I admire, talks about “making” a photograph instead of taking one. I puzzled over this at first.

Then I read this quotation from the poet Mary Oliver: “Attention without feeling is only a report.”

Ah! We make photographs in the same way that we make poetry which is to say that we feel our way to the truth.

Technical skills will not help you coax a flower into showing you its personality. The flower doesn’t care how expensive your camera is or how many months you’ve spent mastering exposure.

You love the flower, it loves you back. Just like words… and people.

On Saturday I spent the day in three neighbourhoods in central Tokyo: Tokyo Tower, Hiro-o and Ebisu. I walked through the city taking photographs with my heart {and Instagram}. I’ve shared them here as smaller photographs, the way they appear on my iPhone, like little gifts.

cleaners

tokyo tower

plants

trainpeople

surprise

homeworks

divine feminine

sabre

reader

oh

arrow
 

Rain-walking home

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There are words that go with this walk,
words about the reflection on the playground,
the fierce hollers of basketball boys,
the lush greenness of the cemetery,
the girls in white socks and navy plaid skirts,
yellow leaves whose falling signals autumn,
a small girl in pink who clings to her mother,
the women with their shopping on Motomachi Street.

The words from this walk
beat inside me,
echoes of six hundred
walks
home.

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Thin Places: Shimoda, Japan

7There are thin places
on earth
where heaven
seems close enough to touch.

There are probably more than we know.

In March,
for my birthday,
we spent a weekend
in a small hotel
outside Shimoda.
Snuggled at the bottom
of the Izu Peninsula,
the port of Shimoda was,
in the 1850s,
the first to welcome
American trade.

The invisible door
between Japan
and the rest of the world
slid open.

Shimoda became the place
the gods went to frolic
and fish.

Ohama Beach is where they propose marriage
to their partner-gods.
The light in this place
makes one want to say YES!

On endless summer days,
the dark-skinned teenagers of the gods
run through burning sand to the sea
with surfboards of magenta
and apple green.
Brave wave-riders,
they try to enter heaven
through the thin space
between the blues.

Every Shimoda moment is a poem.

Here are a few for you.

Love,
Monna

xoxo

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From where I stand {Honmoku dori, Yokohama)

Honmoku dori.
The main street
in a residential neighbourhood
many colleagues and students call home.

There may be a connection
between the name of this street
and the phrase “hunky dory”.
Who knows, really.
The world is a miraculous place to live.

This late-May photo walk
included a side trip to get my bangs cut
by a lovely woman who spoke no English
(and who seemed,
at least to me,
to be guarded by two male body guards
in beauty salon uniforms),
a rest on a wooden bench,
and the search for a small bouquet
of near-perfect flowers.

Japan looks like many things.
It also looks like this.
{A basket of pink roses
and tiny teddy bears.}

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When a place becomes home

japan family
A friend of ours noted
that this path
through America-yama Park
and up the hill
by the Foreigners Cemetery,
is the bit of Yokohama
I’ve photographed
most frequently.

She said she wished
she’d done the same
in Bangkok
where they’ve lived
for years.

This path,
my favourite part of Yokohama,
is my walk to school
and home.

I know the afternoon light
on this path
at 4:37
and 5:03
and 6:12.
I’m acquainted with
all its disparate goldens,
have memorized the lengths
of shadows cast
by trees
and tombstones.

I wear this path
on the inside.

In Autumn
we decided to stay
in Japan
another year
and then for more…
for as many as we can.

A declaration
of place-love
as fierce
as we’ve felt.

Unexpectedly
my relationship
with this path
began to shift.

For thirty months
this path
has been inhabited
by changing seasons
of fairy-people
and magic.
On my way home
I would think
“We’re so lucky.
We’re so lucky.”

Now I think,
“Home.”

Although my heart doesn’t leap
every day,
I am happy,
happy that we found
each other
at last.

Night-slipping

i.
This,
my favourite season.
Warm, mid-twenties days,
nights cool enough
for sweaters
{though my inner-Canadian
scoffs. Toughs it out.}

ii.
Young lovers
in Chinatown
seem unburdened
entirely
without care.
Perhaps
this is true.
Or a trick
twilight
plays
on my eyes
or
their hearts.

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I
too
feel an
unburdening
these days.
Light like stars,
slipping through,
a shimmering
ghost.
Here but somewhere else.

iv.
We follow
comets
couples
salary men
through side streets
heavy with lanterns.
Luminescent woman
in red.
Cook steals
a quiet moment
in the alley.
Peace,
a commodity,
the bread of our time.
{I hope he’s not caught
with that time on his hands.}
Two sharp young men
emerge from a restaurant,
all long strides
and confidence.
Pools of white light
splash out onto sidewalks
from restaurants
where diners are tucked
safe inside
like a doll’s house.

v.
We slip away.

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