With Kinfolk – Concerning Japan, Flowers, Linens, and Seaweed

I’ve just returned from a second trip to Japan this year. The first was in February and its purpose was to shoot imagery for the current issue of Kinfolk Magazine. The second coincided with its release in Japan. I really can’t put words to how amazing I find all of this. As you may know, I’ve long loved Japan and in the span of only 6 months, I’ve been able to work nearly non-stop for Japanese publications and Japan-related stories. It’s too much for me to take in all at once. It’s sorta like a dream.

Volume 8 of Kinfolk marks a subtle but important change for the publication. The magazine will now be based around quarterly themes (the first of these happily being Japan) in hopes of including a broader scope of material, covering not only the usual fare (quiet moments, dinners and gatherings), but also the people and places that make these things possible. “Discovering new things to cook, make and do,” as Kinfolk now puts it.

For this special Japan-themed volume, I had the honor of shooting three stories and the cover. First, I was able to shoot a profile with Fog Linen Work creator Yumiko Sekine and clothing designer Rieko Ohashi (pictured on the cover). Secondly, I collaborated with Riley Messina and Erba Floral Studio for a piece on Ikebana. And lastly, I traveled to a small island in the Aichi Prefecture named Shinojima in order to document the Tsuji family bringing in a wakame seaweed harvest. Below are highlights from each story.

For thanks, I owe a particular debt to Sawako Akune. Without her incredible writing, her translating, her organizational skills and her friendship, I would have been walking blind. Secondly, I must give a verbal bear hug to Mayumi Nishimura, renowned macrobiotic chef and long-time friend of the Tsuji family. She grew up with them on Shinojima and arranged everything for us there. It is through her that I’ve discovered one of my most favorite places on earth. Lastly, I must give mention to the lovely Riley Messina. Her mastery of floral design (clearly on display below) continues to inspire me – as it should you.

And for the usual notes: All images shot with either a Contax 645, a Contax T2 or Leica M3 using Kodak Portra 160 and 400 films.

With Aaron James Draplin for HUGE Magazine

Somewhere back in the mists of time, when I was still just a lowly design intern, a colleague handed me a Field Notes booklet to write down my Photoshop short cuts. There was something about the texture and simplicity and the Futura that completely revolutionized what I considered “good design.” It was one of those flash point moments for me in my professional life. And call it a case of extreme laziness (because it says in detail in the back of every Field Notes booklet), but it wasn’t until a few years later that I learned Aaron Draplin lived in Portland. I met Aaron briefly at the first Portland Bazaar and was completely surprised at his unguarded and friendly disposition. He is one of the nicest, most earnest men I’ve ever met, and as far as I know, he wears his Carhartt jacket to bed.

I recently shot the images below for a spread in HUGE Magazine, Japan. Their current issue features people who collect interesting and eclectic items and ephemera. Mr. Draplin happens to have a rather extensive collection of interestingly designed Americana, including possibly the world’s largest collection of bullet pens. Naturally, a perfect fit for the article. While I was shooting, Aaron expounded a little on why he collects all this stuff — that it’s about saving little pieces of history from the junk heap. He takes these matchbooks and pens and name plates, etc, and incorporates elements from them into his designs, effectively resurrecting a part of history that would have otherwise been lost. Pretty awesome idea. And the best justification I’ve ever heard from any hoarder. ^_^ Incidentally, I think I’m the same with old cameras — I buy them to save them from everyone else haha.

I was truly honored to have been able to work with Aaron in an official capacity. I hope it’s not long before our paths cross again.

With Kinfolk — Ice Cream and Flowers

Today is a great day for two reasons. First, it’s my birthday. I’m now officially 29 years of age. Woo. Secondly, Kinfolk Vol. 7 has just been released and I had the honor of being able to shoot the cover for this one.

I think this is my favorite Kinfolk to date. And not just because I got to shoot the cover. This is officially the fourth issue of Kinfolk I’ve had the privilege of contributing to — a whole year’s worth of them, now. And each new issue brings with it greater and greater adventure. The juicing portraits for volume 4 are still some of my favorites ever. In volume 5, I was able to transform my garage into a herb cellar. For volume 6, I got to take photos from a helicopter, shoot in New York City, and road trip with my brother down the Oregon coast to visit a cranberry farm. For this volume, though, I was able to travel to New Hampshire, England and Italy. Shooting for issue eight has been even more epic (but I can’t talk about it yet)! And since there’s such a gap between the shoots and when they appear in Kinfolk (sometimes more than 6 months), each of these stories take on a very nostalgic tone by the time I see them in print. As I flip through the pages, I’m taken back to all of those trips that I’m finally able to really enjoy (who has time to properly take things in while working?). I feel incredibly blessed.

Now, Kinfolk Vol. 7 is all about Spring, and ice cream (also crabs). So I was once again able to partner up with Amy Merrick to combine those things together (minus the crabs). The result was ice cream flower arrangements. I must say that of all the things Amy and I have partnered on, this was probably my favorite. Simple and to the point. Different and kinda weird. Perfect. Please do check it out. The story looks a lot better in print. The whole issue, actually, is truly one of the finest yet from Kinfolk. It’s worth the dollar bills.

And now, if it’s alright, I’m off to eat some birthday dinner with my lady, my brother, and some of my favorite friends.

P.S. — Don’t eat hydrangeas with, on, or instead of ice cream. They look pretty but are mildly poisonous. You’ve been warned!

With Jarrod Renaud, Christmastime 2012

The year 2011 was winding down, it was close to Thanksgiving and I was home visiting family in Colorado. While there, I had an opportunity to get together and shoot some photos with a new friend of mine — a guy named Jarrod Renaud. Since then, Jarrod and I have become pretty close and this last Christmas, we had that same opportunity to meet up and take photos. I’ve really come to appreciate short, reoccurring sessions that allow me to kinda gauge my progress as a photographer. I consider shooting with Kara Caldwell something like that, and now hopefully I’ve begun the tradition with Jarrod.

So as the year 2013 begins to gear up, I figure it’s a good time to share just a few of my favorites from only a few weeks back. And, if I didn’t post these now I’d be running the risk of Spring showing up, and once that happens, snowy photos will totally feel out of place. So, ya know, there’s that too.

For those interested: all photos taken with various Contax cameras using Kodak Portra 160 and Tri-X 400.

Oh, and yeah! I just totally updated my portfolio. Almost completely restocked it with imagery from 2012 like some sort of visual fish pond. Maybe you’d like to see?

With my favorite (mostly) unpublished photos from 2012

So we made it (for now). That whole Mayan thing is behind us and the Apocalypse is still somewhere looming off in the future. Christmas has come and gone, two thousand and twelve is dead and buried, and the fiscal cliff has been pushed down the road a few more months. Yay 2013. With all of this in mind, I wanted to share some photos that I took in 2012 but never had the time or the excuse or the permission or whatever to show until now. So prepare yourselves for a veritable casserole of photography.

But before all of that, a short word:

Two-thousand-and-twelve has been my most busy year by far. I did a lot of work for my friends at Kinfolk (as you may remember from here, here, here, here and here), but I’ve also been hither and tither shooting for myself and others. When I look back upon the last 365 days, I can’t believe all of the places I’ve visited and awesome people I’ve been blessed to come to know and work with. It truly humbles and gladdens the heart. The pity is that the vast majority of shots must still remain locked up in the photo vault for one publication or another. But were that not the case, I still wouldn’t have space here to include all of my unpublished favorites from 2012. So I suppose the following will just have to do.

The dear people pictured below include: My most favorite Riley Messina, Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Williams, my sister Joy Kim, Ryan Muirhead and Jarrod Renaud (photographer-brothers extraordinaire), Angel Taylor, Joe Lieske, Lana Nyman, Meredith Adelaide, Luke and Rachel Price, Tunde Baiyewu, the ever-talented Amanda Jasnowski, Alela Diane, Andrew Stonestreet, Tift Merrit, Jennifer Sullins, Kimbra, and of course, my dearest brother and friend James Fitzgerald III. There are many, many more who have graced my camera in the last year that must be kept tucked away — but only for the time being!

So. There we are. And without further ado, here’s to 2013 — may she bless you all heartily!