Tag Archives: Tokyo Tower

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
 

train-people (with exceptions)

traingirlThe Japanese are train-people
dog-people,
cautious-people,
well-dressed people.

These things are true-ish.
Except when they’re not.
(There are always exceptions.)

tableAt lunch
the young people
at the table beside me
are as loud as
school kids in the hall.
The man-boy snorts
when he laughs.
Our waitress smiles
at the sound.

tokyo towerBelow Tokyo Tower,
young Japanese man
on a motorbike
sings opera
at the top of his lungs.

On the train
three boys in small navy shorts
form a triangle,
two seated
one standing.
They terrorize each other
quietly.

train no headDoors open.
Sun boards the train.

Three school girls
in navy uniforms
and small bowler hats
stand in the centre of the car.
Two with hands-ful
of pink and purple yarn
and small nimble fingers.
Spiders-webs of play.

train apartments2Transferring trains
I think about the Tokyo people
who live
above,
beside
the tracks
for whom the sound of trains
is constant
as breath.

The boy beside me sleeps
his phone in one hand
a book in the other.

An elderly man
rushes off the train
to return a purple umbrella
to a sweet-faced woman
while the empathy
of passengers
holds the doors
for his return.

A guy in headphones
and a brown puffy jacket
checks his seat twice
leaving the train.

Outside Family Mart
a woman walks on shoes
like skyscrapers.

I’m almost home
when two bulldogs
in matching
red Adidas sweatshirts
nod konichiwa
with the courtesy
we
outsiders
(with exceptions)
learn living in Japan.