I’ve been making final master prints from the negatives of my last trip to Japan. I was gone for two months travelling from Okinawa to Hokkaido. I wanted to do enough shooting to finish the project. It was a marvelous, exhausting trip and I did finish the shooting. I’ll be making these prints for quite a while.
I’m going to be writing about it but there is a complication. Usually we post photographs but I don’t show work until the models have seen their pictures. I usually bring people their photographs when I go back to Japan and that will be a while. So I’ll be writing about work but not posting it for you to see.
The first photo I finished is of Ikuko Hanashiro . She is a superb artist–here’s a link to a review of a group show, with two pictures of her work–and an activist for Okinawan rights. She wanted to be photographed in front of a “No Admittance” sign on the chain fence of an American base in Naha. We occupy at least 20% of Okinawa with our bases.
I said I’d do it since I photograph people in the environments of their choice, though I almost always try several different choices. But I also said that I was very doubtful of getting an image that was really good art as well as political commentary. I tend to have strong visual memories of shooting when I print. In this case, I was vividly remembering the cars speeding by my back as I was shooting her against the sign by the side of the highway. They weren’t a relaxing context for shooting, and we were also rapidly losing daylight.
When I finished printing, the photo of her in front of the “No Admittance” sign worked beautifully. Portrait, art, politics all together. Sometimes I surprise myself.