Super Extra Natural!

“I can remember taking all of the photographs in this book. And when I say that, I mean that I remember actually pressing the shutter down for that precise fraction of a second. I remember the where, the when, and the why. I remember the sounds, the weather, and how I felt right before and right after that moment. I remember wanting to preserve what was around me in a way that would serve as an accurate representation of my feelings, the way an old song or a smell can transport you to a specific time and place.

Between 2004 and 2016, I made a total of 16 trips to Japan with no agenda other than to see. It was clear from the start that I had found my place: a country whose natural beauty is accentuated by thoughtful design, a culture that values simplicity and kindness, yet also embraces the completely absurd. These images were made on my daily walks and wanderings, stopping to photograph what speaks to me in that moment. The majority of my Japan trips so far have been adventurous and freeing, but there have also been some that felt strained and tiresome. Inevitably, the camera strap gets heavy, and I begin shifting the weight from one shoulder to the other and back again. Maintaining the intoxication of seeing anything with fresh eyes eventually becomes its own challenge. What began as an exploration of an unknown place has evolved into an exploration of my own perspective on photography and the act of taking photographs. The place absolutely informs and affects the images, but the images are not about a place. They’re about a state of mind."

"There have been times I’ve wandered all day without taking a single picture. I’ve walked for hours, only to realize I’m lost and nowhere near where I intended to be. I’ve made long and complicated excursions to remote areas I assumed would be photographic paradises, only to feel exhausted and frustrated. Nothing speaks to me. The thought of no longer being inspired is terrifying. My head starts to fill with anxiety about my mindset and how it could affect the rest of the experience. I worry about how much I worry.

Eventually, I learned to surrender to and embrace the unexpected. What I thought would be interesting sometimes wasn’t, but some of my favorite images in this book were taken because I went the wrong way or got lost. Instead of being constrained by expectations and potential disappointment, I found that the process of making these photographs has become an exercise in letting go. Walk another block. Turn left instead of right. Explore and be open."

"If the experience of taking pictures could be likened to an orchestra, each part of the experience would be an instrument making its own individual sound. Light is one instrument. Color is an instrument. Body language or movement is another. Shapes are another, and so on. Of course, there are also non-visual elements in the orchestration of a photograph. These are usually more difficult to articulate but in many ways are the defining characteristics of a meaningful image. The moment in which there is perfect harmony amongst all the instruments is the moment when a worthwhile photograph is made."

"Being able to recognize that harmony of the physical and the emotional, the tangible and intangible, occurring in plain sight for that fleeting instance is a sensation beyond photographic satisfaction. Shapes and colors seem to fill the frame as nature intended. There’s no questioning.

It is correct. It feels like an affirmation of life’s richness, as if the universe is quietly trying to tell me something: I am in the right place, doing the right thing, and in that moment, I feel truly grateful."

"In the past, I’ve tried to separate my opinion of the photograph from the experience of making it. I worried the two might cloud one another. Pictures taken on a spectacular day aren’t necessarily spectacular images, and vice versa. Only the photographer knows the specific circumstances that surround their photographic decisions. The viewer sees just what we show them, not the before or the after, nor what’s outside of the frame. They don’t see our struggles or our elation.

Or do they?

What I’ve come to understand and accept is that those intangible pieces of the orchestra, the non-visual elements of a picture, are heard as clearly in the harmony of an image as the conventional fundamental photographic elements. The final image is as much how and why the photographer came to be in that particular situation, as it is their aesthetic point of view. As Edward Steichen said, 'Once you really commence to see things, then you really commence to feel things.'”