You’re probably interpreting the phrase “So many nude models, so little time” to mean something on the order of “There are so many women willing to get undressed for the camera who I’d like to photograph, but there just isn’t enough time (and money!) to do it all.” I guess a lot of photographers working with the nude figure feel this way, and you can count me among them. Still, that’s not what I mean this time. In this case, it means something like “I photographed so many nude models in such a short time that it just became too much!”
Much of the blame (or credit, depending how you look at it!) goes to my good friend, the photographer Dave Levingston. (I know you’ll be reading this, Dave, so don’t try to deny it.) Back in the fall of 2003, before entering the envious state of retirement, Dave needed to come here to New York on business, so he suggested that we try to arrange to photograph some models in his hotel room and we thus began a model search.
Well, I didn’t work with any there, but the process of searching and contacting models got me in the mind to pick up my camera again, which I had not done for about half a year – and pick it up I did! From early December 2003 to early February 2004, in the space of little over two months, I photograped eight different models in places as far ranging as the east and west sides of Manhattan, southwestern Ohio and the beautiful old city of Montreal.
I got some good photos out of that stretch of time, but at the end, it all got to be too much and I needed to stop to do something else. I’d needed to spend a lot of time packing and unpacking my camera bag and had to spend a lot of time traveling back and forth. In other words, it had started to feel like a job and I was feeling burnt out!
My solution? I decided to finally go to Japan. I had wanted to visit that country on the other side of the world for quite some time, but I’d been putting it off because of the length of the flight, the high cost of visiting there (or so I thought), the language barrier, etc. Enough was now enough, and I chose to finally bite the bullet and go.
What did I think after I’d spent a little time there? “Why did I wait so long to come here???” was my response. Japan is a great place to visit and in many way is an ideal destination. It’s clean, safe and modern. The water is safe to drink. The transportation system is excellent. (Before each stop on the Tokyo subway there’s an announcement in Japanese and then in English, even telling you on which side the doors will open. The same goes for the ‘shinkansen,’ or bullet train.) Even though it’s modern and outwardly western, it’s definitely a culturally very different place with many beautiful things to see. I went back again in 2005 and hope to return again.
Japan is also the land of the camera and is generally ‘photographer friendly.’ I only visited one temple complex where tripods were prohibited (because of narrow pathways) and I was able to take photos at the two geisha dance shows I attended in Kyoto. I even saw one man who had set up a camera with a tripod in front of him as he sat in the middle of the audience!
The photos you see here were all taken in Tokyo during the first couple of days of my visit in June 2004. The one at the top shows the entrance to the Senso-ji temple complex in the Asakusa section and the next one shows some game prizes I just happened to come across in my wanderings. The third show some ‘sake’ barrels in the Meiji Shrine, a beautiful park-like complex dedicated to the first of Japan’s ‘modern’ emperors. The last one actually shows the current royal couple, Empress Machiko and Emperor Akihito (in the shadow) as they were returning to the Imperial Palace in central Tokyo! (I was on a half day tour of the city and we just happened to be there as they were passing by.)
Oh, and about those photo sessions with the nude models – don’t worry, they’ll be the subject of my next few postings. As always, stay tuned!