March 2011
2011, Mar 28
Quake related link dump

In this post I’m linking to some photographs related to the earthquake. There are two groups here, journalistic photographs of the damage in Tohoku, and snapshots taken by photographers in Tokyo. How much the earthquake shows up on this blog will depend on the response it provokes from photographers here. Of course it will be significant, but powerful work may not emerge immediately—Richard Misrach’s excellent post-Katrina book “Destroy This Memory“ just came out last year. I heard that Naoki Ishikawa is up in Tohoku shooting right now. If that’s true, it’s a good sign.

Photojournalistic links

Andrew Burton was in Tohoku on assignment for USA Today. He wrote a thoughtful post examining his own practice of “parachuting” in and out of disaster sites around the world. Some photos of his last day are in this post, more if you click around.

James Nachtwey for TIME. There are words and photos here; they’re both overwrought the pictures generally let the scale of the disaster speak for itself.

An LPV edit of photos taken on the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s “Operation Tomodachi,” its rescue mission to Tohoku.

Photographer links

Coco Young: Some really good posts on her blog of snapshots taken around Tokyo after the earthquake.

Shin Suzuki: Atmospheric photos of Tokyo from the day of the quake.

Patrick Tsai: A diary, with some pictures, of his first week after the earthquake.

John Sypal: Scans from a roll he shot on a five hour walk home after getting stranded.

Charlie Kirk: Unsettling photos of people looking worried in Tokyo.

Bonus radiation link

Nice graphs about current radiation levels. No need for alarm!

Update 4/15/11:

ROLLS TOHOKU is a project where a photographer gave disposable cameras to people (including children) living in areas affected by the tsunami. The photos are now online, and they provide a perspective on the events in Tohoku which photojournalists probably cannot.

A series of AP images showing family photographs that have been recovered, and how they’re being displayed in gyms so people can find them again.

Update 4/19/11:

Some more images from photojournalists:

Jake Price for the BBC. Interesting comments, he’s taken a small beating here for shooting photos like Nachtwey’s.

Dominic Nahr for TIME, this falls into many of the traps of disaster photography.

Very thoughtful post from Ikuru Kuwajima, a Japanese photojournalist who has lived outside of Japan for the last 8 years. Recommended.


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3/11 Earthquake

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2011, Mar 18


I’m taking refuge in Seoul right now with my girlfriend, who is Korean. The first day here I resolved to avoid Japan-related news, a policy which ended up carrying over to the second day. After the post-quake stress, it was necessary to unwind—and I mean this in an almost literal way. An hour or so after the earthquake hit, as the gravity of the situation became apparent, adrenaline took over and did not let up for days. Living in this state twisted my thoughts and crippled my decision making. Booking this flight out put me at ease, but even then I couldn’t believe what I was doing, I almost talked myself out of it. There is something exciting about this time, when the city becomes a wild place. The aftershocks were not reason enough to leave, but the situation in Fukushima really poked a hole in the quasi-romantic, urban camping fantasy of holing up in one’s apartment with food and batteries.

The problem with the situation in Fukushima is that the quality of information is so poor. It’s hard to trust what TEPCO and the government is saying, but it’s equally hard to believe that someone in Washington really knows what’s going on either. It’s incredible that even with the full attention of the world’s media on a tiny area, we are still in the realm of speculation. Cameron Allan McKean is writing as clearly as possible about this experience. He’s around Osaka right now, having left Tokyo a few days ago.

Cameron said this as well, but what we really want is to go back to Tokyo. After the mental break of the first two days in Seoul, we’re starting to live in reality again: reading the news, thinking about Tokyo, talking about when we might be able to return. Although we’ve unwound from the stress of the earthquake, we’re not at all back to normal. It’s my sneaking feeling that things may be the same for Tokyo.

The photo is from Tokyo’s Yushima Station, at about 7pm, a few hours after the earthquake.


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3/11 Earthquake

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2011, Mar 12
Stephen Vaughan, work about earthquakes in Japan

A couple of weeks ago Marc emailed me a link to some work by Stephen Vaughan, a British photographer who is working on a project about the relationship between geologic activity and civilization in Japan. It’s called “The Catfish Sleeps.” The work struck me as way too vague, but it’s certainly timely, and he was supposed to be coming to Japan sometime this month. It’s definitely make or break time for his project!


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3/11 Earthquake, Stephen Vaughan

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2011, Mar 12

I assume that by now you are aware of the earthquake that’s hit Japan. I’m OK for now, I am in my apartment in Tokyo with my girlfriend and a bunch of food. It’s difficult to know how scared we should be, which I think makes things scarier. Watching the news on TV increases my own hysteria, so I’m giving that a break for a moment. The things I’ve read in the past hour about the nuclear reactor link have been more positive, which is nice of course. Still, it hasn’t even been two days, so many people here are on edge.

Anyway, two series have come to mind in the past couple of days. The first is Ryuji Miyamoto’s photographs taken after the 1995 earthquake in Kansai. Some photos are here and here. The second is Robert Polidori’s “Zones of Exclusion,” which is a project he made at Chernobyl. Some photos are here, though I’m honestly not searching that hard right now.


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3/11 Earthquake

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2011, Mar 05
Tayama Koyuki, “Ariadne’s Thread” (田山湖雪の「アリアドネの糸」)


I featured Tayama Koyuki a while ago, and now she’s holding a solo show at Totem Pole Photo Gallery which is up until March 13. I realize that it’s not always so useful to write about current Tokyo exhibitions, but I have to write about this show: it’s the best thing I’ve seen in months. If you’re around Tokyo now, I can’t recommend it enough.


Tayama recently graduated from Tokyo Zokei University, and thie show is her senior project. I think her photographs—black and white, ambiguous, full of visual pleasure—are very strong on their own, but what really blew me away is the series of entirely handmade books that accompany the exhibit. I’m down with Xeroxed zines, but these are something else. The production value is really high, as she’s gone and perfect bound each book herself. (It’s a two-day process to create one book.) The book version of “Ariadne” only costs 1500 yen (roughly $18) which I think is incredible given the amount of effort that went into it.

We’re starting to hear more and more about the self-publishing boom here in Tokyo, and while zines are becoming more popular, this is something really exciting. Who knows if it will take off, but for now I’d just suggest enjoying it.

田山湖雪は何ヶ月前ブログをしたけど、いまTotem Pole Photo Galleryで個人展をしています。2011の今までの一番いい展示です。田山の作品は上手だけど、彼女は自分で本を作ります。この本は、全く普通のものじゃない。見に行った方がいいと思います!


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Koyuki Tayama, Totem Pole Photo Gallery, Zines

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2011, Mar 03
Street Level Kansai

Photos from Osaka that Nate Shockey took over a few days last summer. Although he’s now in New York City, Nate has lived in the Kansai (Kyoto/Osaka/Wakayama) area a number of times over the past 10 years.


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