‘Stare. It is the way to educate your eye, and more. Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long.’ - Walker Evans
“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery - celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from - it’s where you take them to.”
— Jim Jarmusch
This is the same problem I have with digital photography. The potential is always remarkable. But the medium never settles. Each year there is a better camera to buy and new software to download. The user never has time to become comfortable with the tool. Consequently too much of the work is merely about the technology. The HDR and QTVR fads are good examples. Instead of focusing on the subject, users obsess over RAW conversion, Photoshop plug-ins, and on and on. For good work to develop the technology needs to become as stable and functional as a typewriter. - “Toy Fatigue”, Alec Soth
It was good fortune that my friend and colleague Andrea Lioy was also in Japan at the time of my visit. We enjoyed a beer and conversation at this wonderful bar in Osaka. The toilet houses a tiny make-shift darkroom and Durst enlarger.
In addition to this M6, I spotted: a Leica M9-P, another M6 (over the shoulder of another foreigner whom I missed as he passed me crossing the street), a Leica M-E, and a Leica M3. Not bad for a few hours within a few blocks on a Monday afternoon. Even better these were not in bags but out where cameras need to be- in hands, around necks, or over shoulders.
I spent an afternoon last weekend shooting around Yasukuni Shrine with my good friend Dave Hendley who is in town for a few days from London. Dave runs Central Saint Martins Camera Style and has been posting some great photos on his own personal tumblr, too: davehendley.tumblr.com
That’s his M6 and Spotmatic F in the pic above with my MP during a break in shooting. You see that little compact camera off to the left and are probably thinking “NO WAY, is that the 1986 European Camera of the year?” Why yes, yes it is. This Canon Autoboy 3 cost me 540 yen at a junk shop in Shimokitazawa last week and has a databack that has the option to spell out the first three letters of each month instead of just imprinting a number. That’s pretty neat.
This camera was found in a market a few years ago and still has film in it. The other evening there was this TV documentary telling the story of British and German soldiers’ photography during the First World War, a moving document of lives in the trenches and their rapid loss of innocence.