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 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 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 Kinfolk – Winter Flowers

In my mind, every January opens a loop that we all move down and around, growing as the months unfold and the events of the year play out until it is closed in December, when everything gives way back to January and things begin anew. Thus, I see this as the season of finished circles and of endings and reflection. And in the spirit of reflection, I cannot think of photos more fitting to share than those which were shot all the way back in January.

In many ways, these photos set the tone for what the rest of my year would look like — quiet, composed portraits, improvised backdrops and a newly-formed appreciation for flowers. And, as the year has worn on and I’ve able to work with amazing people in awesome places, many of these photos have remained among my favorites. Even though I’ve partnered with Amy Merrick on numerous occasions, these stand apart from the rest to me as they were the result of our first cooperation. Perhaps that’s why I’ve thought them particularly orphaned as they’ve lain dormant for most of the year. We knew we wanted to submit them for publication somewhere, but weren’t sure what would be appropriate. Time got away from us, we shot other things (you may recall this story), and we found ourselves out of season for flowers. In the end, though, as with so much of my work this year, a number of these shots finally found a home in Kinfolk Magazine — and as the year began, so it ends.

So, with Christmas a mere 6 days away, and the year drawing to a close, the time is fast approaching where we all must (Mayans willing) begin another lap around the calendar. As I wind down the rest of 2012 with family, I reflect upon the year and all of the growth and friend-making and change it has brought with it. I hope that yours has been just as fulfilling. And as we look to begin 2013, I wish the utmost blessings upon each and every one of you, and of course, to all the most Merriest of Christmases!

Now lastly, some notes: flowers and styling were executed impeccably by Amy Merrick. Francesca Zmetra and Amy’s sister Micha were both kind enough to act as subjects. All photos were shot with either a Zeiss Ikon or Contax 645 using Kodak Portra 160. And please do check out the full story in Kinfolk Vol. 6! That’s all!

With Kinfolk – Tribe Making and Christmas trees

Where has November gone? Thanksgiving has already come and left and it’s pretty hard to believe that Christmas is almost upon us. But hurrah! Because Christmas is without a doubt, the most awesome time of year (unless you live in Australia (or South America), then it is summer and hot and gross — I am truly sorry about that). For the rest of us up north, though, it’s tea and cocoa and cookies and carols and lights and presents and snow. The best.

And, once again, it is my distinct pleasure to share with you work from the most recent Kinfolk Magazine. I had the honor this time around of contributing to a number of stories, which posed the unique dilemma of having to figure out which ones to blog about and in what order. After much hemming and hawing, I decided to start with the following story if for no other reason than because I love Christmas trees.

First, a word about process. As I’ve noted before, Kinfolk is shot roughly four months before it is published. That means that the holiday issue was shot in June and July. For those who are wondering, the only thing harder than trying to wrangle a three-year-old into pretending to chop down a Christmas tree is trying to wrangle a three-year-old dressed in a heavy jacket in Summer. It turns out that the key here is bribery. Hot chocolate and axes, to be exact (it also helps, I suppose, to bring along an enforcer, i.e. the boy’s dad). In any case, three-year-olds aside, it’s a bit of a task to make it look wintery when it is 87 degrees out. Ultimately, we were blessed with what may have been the only partially cloudy day that western Oregon got this last summer (which ended up being our saving grace).

On a deeper note, this particular story is meaningful to me for a number of reasons. Firstly, the words that accompany the article in Kinfolk were written by a certain Rebecca Payne. Months after we shot these photos, I was able to go on a three week work trip through Europe with her and her husband (Chris) in order to shoot for a Kinfolk book. It was during that trip that we realized we’d already contributed to each others’ work. And it was something special, after having shared that time with them so closely, to sit down and read through the article in print for the first time. They are fantastic people and that was a trip I will never forget.

Secondly, being able to shoot with Josh and Shep (the father and son in the photos) was particularly fulfilling. Josh Garrels is an accomplished artist in his own right, and also a mainstay in my church’s musical staff. I’d wanted to meet with him for a long while before we got a chance to shoot together, but for whatever reason, I never made it happen. In the weeks leading up to this shoot, we were searching high and low for a good father/son pair to use for the story. At the last second, a friend suggested Josh and his son — a suggestion that, to me, now seems Providential. Or conversely, perhaps it just goes to show that if it weren’t for photography, I might never make any friends.

Lastly, I always love getting the chance to work together with my brother. Shoots like these afford me those chances.

I should here note that I was helped in great part by Melisa Sibley and her ability to produce. She was invaluable in pulling this thing off; not to mention helping keep the younger talent in good spirits! All in all, this story has become one of my favorites for the year. I hadn’t quite done anything like it and therefore it was a challenge. I think it turned out pretty great.

On a final note, as has become standard, all shots were taken with Kodak Portra 160 using either a Contax 645 or a Zeiss Ikon.

And now, as we head into the Advent season, I hope you all find time in these colder, darker days to enjoy the warm company of friends and family. And that you have more than one opportunity to sit inside by a tree and a fire in order to do some quiet contemplation. Or, if not contemplation, at least bust out the Charlie Brown video tapes. Either way, I wish you all a most Merry Christmas and happy holidays!