With 2013 — The Year in Chronological Review

2013 is gone and buried the world over. Happy New Years and a hearty hello to 2014.

In order to welcome in the next 365 days, I’ve compiled, in chronological order, a set of 100 of some (I could have easily done 200) of my favorite photos from 2013. By my very rough, back-of-the-envelope calculating, I figure I’ve shot around 8,000 frames of film in the last year. Selecting only 100 images in order to create a cohesive review was a bit of a task. Some things that I am proud of from 2013 are not here represented, and others are simply under embargo. Of the things I can share, though, I feel this is a solid core sample.

2013 was really the year of Japan for me. By the end of November, I’d been to that most awesome of countries a total of four times. As such, a disproportionate amount of the photos here are taken for Japanese clients or were taken in Japan itself. I can honestly say that after this year, I am more comfortable making my way around Tokyo than almost anywhere else on the globe.

A number of important milestones were reached for me this year—shooting for Nike while using film being chief among them (the photos are unfortunately on lockdown). I was able to continue and build upon my relationship with Kinfolk Magazine, and the Kinfolk Table, a sizable portfolio of my 2012 work, was released successfully. I was blessed enough to shoot another cover story for HUGE magazine, with portraits of Chaz Bundick of Toro y Moi and Steven Ellison of Flying Lotus. Beginning the Overgrowth project, a collaboration with my dear Riley Messina, and exhibiting those images overseas was another big achievement. Perhaps my favorite moment of the entire year was being able to meet and shoot a lunch session with Jiro Ono.

I can honestly say that 2013 was the busiest year of my life. I am happy to say that because I could honestly say the same about 2012 way back then, which I think is a great measure of growth.

By the same token, 2013 reminded me that it is imperative to keep one’s mind in the moment (as opposed to being fixated on the moments, hours or days just ahead). C. S. Lewis said that “the Present is the point at which time touches eternity,” and I happen to agree. It’s sometimes terribly difficult to remember to appreciate that present, though, when you’re living out of hotels and have three or four shoots to pull off in a day. How soon the pleasures of work and travel become mundane unless we steel ourselves against such things.

Lastly, 2013 saw the beginning and the deepening of many important friendships—first and foremost in my relationship with Riley. Secondly, in my friendship and partnership with my brother. Third, with my dear friend Sawako Akune. And fourth, with the wickedly talented Hideaki Hamada. My life is now full of affections for literally hundreds of people here and in Japan that I didn’t know a few mere months past. It’s strange and interesting how quickly life can pivot, and worlds can open up.

And on that note, I will simply say that I am excited for the new year. Let’s do our utmost to make it a good one, shall we?

With Overgrowth – Back in Japan

Any year that I get to go to Japan once is a great year. Any year that brings me back to Japan three times is the stuff of dreams. My work with Kinfolk magazine brought me here in February and then again in June. Now, though, I’m here on my own steam, collaborating with the lovely Riley Messina with our brand new project named Overgrowth. I’ve been meaning to get to this post for awhile now, but we’ve just been so busy! Riley and I have been in Japan for almost two weeks now and we’re able to only just now sit down for a restful afternoon. Sheesh!

Overgrowth made its way to Japan through the help of some amazing friendships that Riley and I made during our last visit back in June. We first showed at Isetan in Shinjuku along with the Portland Pop-up shop thanks to the most awesome Daisuke Matsushima of Paddlers Coffee. In a few days, thanks to Megumi Inoue, we’ll be launching a gallery showing with a weekend of workshops at Gallery ROCKET in Omotesando. Lastly, in early October, we’ve been invited by Tokuhiko Kise to show at his amazing space at TRUCK in Osaka. All of our coordinating and translation has been headed up by the indispensable Tina Dhingra. And of course, we owe a debt of gratitude to our great friend Hideaki Hamada for helping to promote our dates. In any event, if you’re in Tokyo next week, or in Osaka the second week of October, we’d love to see you at our opening receptions! Or better yet, if you’re into flowers, come to one of Riley’s workshops! There are still a few tickets left.

Information on our workshop schedules and opening receptions are below. Tickets to Riley’s flower workshops, and very soon, prints, are available at http://overgrowth.bigcartel.com.

The Overgrowth logo was skillfully drawn by Joy Fitzgerald. All Overgrowth collateral was designed by Ben Biondo. All photos for Overgrowth were shot on Kodak Portra 160.

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 HUGE Magazine (Japan) – Go! Bookstore!

When I was a young boy, my parents would take my brother and I out every Friday for “family night.” We’d do all sorts of things for family night, but most often it consisted of a trip to Stadium Pizza followed up by a stint at the video game arcade to the tune of $5 each (20 quarters!). One evening, though, while we were going through our tokens, a gang fight broke out in front of the arcade. I don’t remember seeing much except a few puddles of blood and police lights — my parents snatched us up real quick and we were outta there. The next Friday, my dad came home with an NES. Soon thereafter, I learned that Super Mario and Legend of Zelda and Megaman all came from Japan and that was the beginning of what has become a deep life-long fondness.

The reason I tell all of this is to illustrate just how big an event it was for me to get an email from Ms. Sawako Akune asking if I’d be willing to shoot a story about bookstores for a special Christmas Eve edition of HUGE Magazine out of Tokyo. I must admit, I hadn’t heard of the magazine beforehand, but a quick interwebs search both intimidated and made me excited. The magazine is very well put together and has a pretty impressive distribution (unfortunately almost exclusively in Japan). In any event, a few emails back and forth and things were a go. HUGE was sending Sawako to Portland, and we were supposed to travel around the city to different bookstores and photograph and interview the owners. The little catch was that we were going to be doing most of this on Black Friday. Fun!

Early on Thanksgiving, I met up with Sawako and her friend Hitomi at the Ace Hotel (where else?) to go over the schedule. In order to try and stay ahead of the shopping rush — most specifically at Powell’s, we decided to get an early start. It was a particularly dark and rainy day, but thankfully most of our stops were within a few blocks of each other. I struggle when having to shoot with incandescent light, and I don’t have a proper filter kit to balance the film for tungsten, so things were a bit challenging. It was one of those days when I silently wished that I was shooting digitally so that I could just fix my white balance with a few clicks. Still, we made it work (and in the end I’m glad I stuck with film).

Day two was just about as nice a day as you could hope for in Portland in the Fall. The sun was out (sorta) and it was dry and the light was just about perfect. We wrapped with our last stop (Monograph Bookwerks) as the sun was going down and had dinner that night with friends and breakfast the next morning before Sawako had to leave for the airport. It was a fast-paced weekend to say the least.

Several days later, after I’d had a chance to go over all of the film, I decided I needed to head back out and do a little reshooting with a controllable human element. Note to self: bringing along a subject or two for something like this makes life so much easier. Luckily, my good friend Daniel Dixon was more than willing to oblige. We hopped around between my favorite three locations and ended at Powell’s. Thusly, we were able to grab the image HUGE chose for the cover and Dan is officially big in Japan. Bam.

HUGE is almost entirely written in Japanese (but with amazing English embellishments and headlines, as you can see), and the only place I know were to pick up a copy outside of Japan is Amazon. Even if you can’t read the language, the magazine is great to flip though. Please do pick up a copy — if only because you love me so much. And I know I say this about everything, but it truly was an honor to be asked to shoot for HUGE, let alone win the cover. I hope very much to be able to work with them again in the future. It’s a mini-dream come true to be published for something in Japan. My most sincere thanks go to Sawako-san, Hitomi, and Mr. Satoshi Taguchi!

As for notes: words by Sawako Akune. Coordination by Hitomi Thompson. My most special thanks to Daniel Dixon. All photos were shot with a Contax 645, Zeiss Ikon ZM, or Contax G2 using Kodak Portra 160 and 400. The end.