Exactly one year ago today, after a five day road trip across the country, I woke up on the east coast to begin a new chapter of my life. I had gotten to perhaps the lowest period in my life, with the exception of the deaths of my parents. My world had become grey and full of ghosts—of both people and places—and I needed to make a massive change to get myself out of the grey. So I packed everything I owned into my car and drove east through the California desert and across Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Virginia and finally into Washington DC. The trip was my hero’s journey, an offering to the fates to show I was serious about earning this new chance and this new chapter. Looking back, I wasn’t prepared for how incredible this past year has been—not just compared to the dark in my life, but against the totality of my life. I was talking to a friend about it and he asked if I had ever played video games like Civilization or Age of Empires. I told him I had and he went on to explain that life was like the map in one of these types of games. It’s all dark until you start to move and as you move further out into the dark—read: the unknown—more of the map is revealed to you. But it’s only in the moving that you able to uncover possibility. What a perfect metaphor. I can’t wait to see what else is out there in the dark, just waiting to be uncovered.
How has your life changed over the past year?
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Photographer Reka Nyari shoots incredibly sexy, stylized fashion but it’s a simple set of black & white nudes that really set me back on my heels. The woman is beautiful and the ink reminds me of the incredible full-body yakuza tattoos, but the way it’s shot—poses, lighting, composition and the super-contrasty black & white toning—is just sublime.
I’ve been reading and watching quite a bit about Daido Moriyama lately. I’ve been a fan of his black & white work for years, but have just recently started to get into his color work. I’m fascinated by his process of exploring his neighborhood over and over again for decades, looking for changes, new details or previously unseen compositions. His latest book, Daido Tokyo is a terrific introduction into some of his color work made on the streets of Shinjuku.
While thinking about how I’d like to tell stories with video, I’ve been looking at how others are using the medium. I don’t want to be in them, per se, not seen anyway and I’m not sure I want them to be straight interviews. I love the intimacy of audio and having a crew of people—even a small crew—could be intimidating to people who aren’t used to being in front of the camera. That, and if my attention occasionally shifts to checking focus, or making sure it’s lit “just so,” that takes me out of the conversation, and that’s not an option. A few years ago, NPR did a terrific piece on Charles W. Cushman, an amateur photographer who began shooting Kodachrome in 1938 and continued for three decades. The way it was put together is just terrific—it manages to feel like video, but it’s not. Instead, it’s a cleverly produced slideshow that uses animation and voiceover to create an incredibly compelling portrait (no pun) of an unsung hero of early color photography.
Lately, one of my favorite sources of inspiration for the type of video I’d like to produce is Great Big Story. An offshoot of CNN, Great Big Story is available as an iOS app, an Android app and a website, all of which feature bite-sized stories across four categories: Human Condition, Frontiers, Planet Earth and Flavors. Stories are only around three minutes, but I can’t think of one that didn’t educate, entertain or otherwise hold my attention from beginning to end.