Starting new projects. Building on old ways of seeing.

 I photographed this image behind the scenes at an international fashion show held on the beach in South Beach Miami. It was many years ago at a time when digital and film were just intersecting. I was in Miami to shoot a sales meeting/celebration for a long since expired telecom company. During my work times I shot with a brand new Olympus e-10 digital camera. During my non-telecom time I shot with a film camera I'd brought along for comfort. Almost certainly it was one of the Leica R8's and the 90mm Summicron lens along with some Kodak 400 speed Ektapress color negative film. The R 90mm was a nice enough lens for its time. Contrary to legend it wasn't really critically sharp wide open but there were other things to keep track of back then so we didn't worry a lot about it.

I love the simplicity of the shot. If you take a close look at it there are so many diagonal lines that lead your eye around the frame. The shooting was not painstaking or involved. I flashed my press credentials and got ushered right into the show. I even got a commemorative t-shirt. I spent an afternoon photographing beautiful people getting their make-up applied and then strutting down a giant runway in an enormous series of air conditioned tents. When I finished I headed to the bar at the Delano Hotel in hopes of catching a glimpse of Madonna who was rumored to be staying there as well.

This image is in a folder on my computer called "teasers." It's filled with images that grab me for any number of reasons. Few of the images in the folder are technically perfect. Some just bring back memories of fun times or fun situations. Others are tiny success stories for me that remind me of times when I was absolutely able to nail a shot just the way I like it.

The leitmotif that runs through the folder is that all of the shots are of people. Most of the shots are of beautiful women. I don't know about you but that is certainly why I got into the field of photography; it gave me an excuse to photograph beautiful women from every walk of life. While the reality of commercial photography means, for me, that actual situations where I am paid to make what I think are beautiful images of beautiful people are no where as plentiful as opportunities to make images of electronic innards, preening business men, achingly boring architecture and lots and lots of "real people" interfacing with trendy new products. I'm not complaining as these routine assignments have paid for a nice house in a nice neighborhood in a nice city and have provided enough resources to put a kid through a nice college without the burden of loans.

But every time I see the folder I am reminded of why I started down the path of photography and where my interests really lie. And lately I've done less and less of the photography that I really love.

I think it's human nature to ignore, or forget to follow through on so much. We'd love to write a novel but we never get around to finishing it. Some want to climb Mount Everest but working life gets in the way until their strength is gone and it's too late. I have a friend who wanted to hike across Europe and he spent years and years talking about it but never bought the tickets. Never made the trip. And then he passed away.

When I looked at the teaser folder today it reminded me of two things. First, I need to actually schedule and follow through on my personal project to photography the beautiful people, who flow in and out of my life all year long. I now know that you have to engage and schedule these things for them to come true. It's not enough to want to do something or to talk about it or to endlessly prepare for the eventuality, you just have to follow through. You have to ask. You have to push.

Second, the teaser folder reminded me of my life long desire to see Tokyo. Over breakfast this morning (delicious tacos at Taco Deli, the consummate Austin eating expression) Belinda pushed me to get that trip done this year. She's right. I've put it off for too long. I tried subconsciously to use Ben's eminent college experience as a reason to delay but she didn't buy the excuse. I think I'm targeting the first week of November to start. Today I know what cameras I would take. In four months I'm almost certain I'll make other choices. But I'm looking at hotels and flights now.

I guess the point of this somewhat introspective blog is that you have to schedule stuff and follow through if you don't want to be disappointed further on. It's more important to engage than to be totally ready. I find that getting ready to be ready can be forever, and that's too long.

Ongoing project: Photograph beautiful people. Near term project: Tokyo photo trip. Just a few planning thoughts for a warm July morning. The teaser folder always wakes me up and puts me on a path....

One totally random question that has nothing to do with the blog above:  Do I have any VSL readers who live near Albany, NY or Saratoga Springs, NY? If so I have a few questions for you about travel there and would love it if you could chime in. Thanks. 


Patrick Dodds said...

What about just taking one camera and a couple of lenses to Japan Kirk? Not cameras plural. After all, if something happens to it, you're in Tokyo - call it serendipity as you go shop...

mactheweb said...

Love the idea of a teasers folder. Thanks

neopavlik said...

I do the same, I call it my inspiration or reaffirmation folder and it includes pictures that I'm proud to have created.

Rene said...


We visited our son in Japan (while he was a Zen Buddhist monk) a couple of years ago and just passed through Tokyo on the way in and out, so I can't really comment about that city other than to say, it's really, really crowded. Also, knowing you'll get lots of advice about other places to visit, I would still highly recommend going to Kyoto and Hiroshima. Go to Kyoto because it is the cultural and spiritual center of Japan and it is an utterly amazing city. Go to Hiroshima to understand, in a very visceral way, what dropping the Atomic Bomb meant to the people of Japan and how they have responded. I think every American should go there to see what we did. As well, one should not miss the experience of one of Japan's high speed trains if you want to see what mass transit could be like. Bring plenty of SD cards and batteries as there are photographic opportunities everywhere.

As they say, it was the trip of a lifetime for us. I'd go back in a heartbeat if I could. I know you will love it and am excited to see and hear about your trip.

Rene Theberge

Fred said...

Hi Kirk,
I live in Saratoga Springs and have lived in the Albany area all my life. I will be glad to give you any help I can.

Henry Richardson said...

I think you would have a ball in Tokyo and have many photo opportunities. I have lived off and on in Japan, usually in Tokyo, for many years and I love the country and people. I have been back here for the last few months, although at the moment not in Tokyo. I am also an Austin boy, but only get back there occasionally these days. Although I shoot a lot of color it is B&W that is still my first love. :-) If you are interested in some B&W street life photography in Japan, much of it in Tokyo, then you might look at one of my galleries. Of course, if you don't want people to post a link to another website on your blog then please feel free to delete my link.


Oh, and, the camera stores in Tokyo will spoil you for anyplace else. :-)