Today the world is as globalized as it could be - - yet we struggle to find meaning in our daily existence.

28 November 2013

Japan 2013 // 3. さようなら 東京!

Sayonara, Tokyo!

Everyone should needs to travel. As a caveat, my definition of traveling does not mean staying at a protected resort in a tropical island for a few days. I mean getting lost in the thick of things and trying to make sense of all the complicated sights, tastes, smells, sounds, and feelings of a completely unfamiliar environment. Looking back, I am thankful to have had the opportunity to visit Japan while my friends were there. Without a doubt, the first leg of my trip would have turned out completely different if Ken, Kaori, or Tomo weren't there to guide me around. (If you guys are reading this, domo arigatou gozaimasu!)

More than anything, I believe that traveling is all about gaining a different perspective in life. Imagine if you ate nothing but wheat bread, everyday, for the majority of your life. I mean if everyone else was eating wheat bread everyday for the rest of their lives as well, then I guess you would think that that's the norm. But imagine one day, someone threw in a few slices of choice deli meats, the freshest of veggies, the sharpest of cheeses, and a little bit of mustard onto that wheat bread. Your mind would explode. That's what traveling is like. In other words, if you are simply content in living your entire life in one place, you'll never be able to think outside that wheat bread mentality.

Don't get me wrong, I understand that it may be difficult for people to travel due to a plethora of reasons: financial constraints, lack of time, and other reallife responsibilities. I get it. But, if you're in your twenties, you have no excuses. This is the best time to try new things, get lost and explore new frontiers, and being okay with not knowing what's around the corner. Discomfort should be embraced with open arms. With a little bit of discipline and a strict budget, travel is more than possible. All it takes is a passport, an open mind, and some guts. Spending the last three and a half years to go and grow abroad was the best decision I ever made in my life. Sure, I might have had to put a pause on starting my career, but we all know how Aesop's fable of the Tortoise and the Hare ended.

On another non-philosophical note, I wish I had more knowledge in botany or dendrology, because I absolutely love looking at, and being surrounded by, plants and trees. Throw in some exotic colors in between the greenery and I can simply observe for a long time. Not only do we benefit from the increased oxygen intake, but I actually feel much more calm and at ease. Don't you? The Zen masters got it right. On the flip side, I love (and miss) living in the hectic and frenetic environment of a huge metropolis, such as Seoul. Day or night, there was always so much life happening. And while photography was much more conducive during the day (due to the availability of light in general), there was something about the grittier night life that was just as appealing... The clash between the aromatic and malodorous scents wafting through the air constantly battling my over-stimulated senses.. the over-exuberant street vendors shouting about in a vain attempt to lure pedestrians to buy their questionable delicacies. The clatter of footsteps and screeching vehicles drowning out any possibility of having, let alone enjoying, a silent moment.. Even in the darkest alleyways, the neon lights seemed to buzz endlessly into the night...

In this artificial world we have built, nature deserves a place. We are human, after all. How mindless would we become if Yoyogi Park (Tokyo), Central Park (NYC), Olympic Park (Seoul), et al., were not integrated into a metropolis' design. I have a new found gratitude to those city planners who have made it a priority to create such a harmonious area for those that cannot escape the shackles of the urban chaos.

Camera: Leica M6
Roll: Fujifilm Superia 400


















Happy Thanksgiving

from Los Angeles


10 October 2013

Japan 2013 // 2. Nikko in Color

Looking back at my photographs from Japan, I can't help but feel blessed and fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to shoot with a 35mm camera. Even if I could say that I had a grain of artistry in my god forsaken soul, I would say that all of it comes in the form of film photography. And if I could, I would shoot film for the rest of my life.

Aside from making great memories, shooting film has taught me a few things about life. Even a thesis would be possible, but that's neither here nor there.

First. Life is a playground.

The fact that life is only possible with the presence of a gazillion atomic particles colliding with each other, is simply amazing. In doing so, we are gifted with this playground of sorts. Interestingly enough, the swing sets, the monkey bars, the seesaw, and even the most sought-after tic-tac-toe board all have subconsciously taught us, and unbeknownst to the child at the time, secrets to surviving in the "real world."


Let's take a look at one area of the playground, the monkey bars. How many of us, upon falling after a few bars, were dejected and discouraged from getting back up? I'm sure quite a few of us. But, for some reason, we were determined to get back up and try again. It had nothing to do with the fact that the coolest kid in the 4th grade was doing it, you put it upon yourself to overcome the odds. Remember how awesome you felt when you got to the other side? We shouldn't ever forget that feeling.

As my good friend so eloquently said, "I always want to be child-like, not child-ish." What's the difference? Well one's maintaining that youthful energetic excitement towards life with a gleam of happiness, while the other is acting like a spoiled brat (for a lack of a better word). As an "adult," I've definitely forgotten what it's like to have had that child-like mentality. Perhaps, under extreme duress, it might occasionally make an appearance. But to be honest, most of us have a multitude of responsibilities, varying life experiences, and simply different life perspectives that make it difficult to retain that inner-youthfulness on a day-to-day basis. But maybe, just maybe, we can find a way to make the world a better place with that inner positivity from being child-like again.

So how does this relate to photography?

Well for me, shooting film in the streets, or wherever my travels take me, allows me to play again in that metaphorical playground. The process of shooting film is like getting across the monkey bars. When I finally get around to putting together a post, it's like my feet have touched down on the other side. And to be able to share that with people all over the world, is just "da bomb." *(Dear NSA, that aforementioned quoted phrase was merely an innocent childhood vernacular used by us 90's kids, there's nothing else to see here)

Next, is that life is beautiful. La vita è bella.

Everyday, in every corner of the world, a child is born, a leader is elected, a soulmate is found. Each and every impermanent moment quickly fades to black in preparation for the next equally impermanent moment. Yet in today's technologically savvy world, photography allows us to seize that moment and encapsulate it forever, making life that much more beautiful. In it's most powerful form, photography even has the ability to bring out uniquely human emotions, from laughter and happiness, to despair and grief, and even wonder and curiosity, to any human being irrespective of their skin complexion, religious ideology, or political affiliation. To transcend these differences that inherently divide us, and to be able to unite that same, colorful palette of humanity (with the help of the internet of course) speaks volumes about the ingenuity of our species. And it is through these visual stories, that excerpts of our history can be told in complete honesty and immortalized forever.

Finally, one of the most essential lessons I've learned from shooting film is patience, aka getting through the storm...

I'm sure many of you can relate to this. A passing, a failed relationship, a lost job, an unforeseen accident... All the things that we wish would never happen to us or our loved ones... inevitably happen. Part of the randomness of life. The more storms that batter your seas, the more jaded we become. It can be tiring, having been dealt a bad hand over and over again. You might be thinking: "Why did it happen to me, out of all people?" What's worse is probably what comes afterwards. The blame game, the guilt, the anger, the despair.

Yet, we forget that even the darkest storms will pass.

How does this relate to photography? Well for one, it was raining the first few days while I was traveling in Japan, but once I got to Nikko, it all cleared up and I was fortunate enough to shoot some color film!

Camera: Leica M6
Roll: Kodak Tri-X 400 / Fujifilm Superia 400


m6r42-8 Akihabara, anime HQ



m6r42-12 On my way to Nikko


m6r42-15 The scenic route


m6r43-1 Welcome to Nikko


m6r43-3 Uniformity, the anti-thesis of Western non-comformity






m6r43-9 The never-ending corral of tourists



m6r43-11 The gate keepers

m6r43-12 Bokeh test

m6r43-v1 Absolute tranquility

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