subjects and backgrounds


I enjoy the calmness of traveling alone. I like to be able to explore a city where no one knows me and blend into the background. It makes me feel like less of a tourist and more of a local, walking around like anyone else is walking around. I enjoy traveling with other people too, whether they be friends or family or even sometimes strangers -- but sometimes, traveling with other people can be mentally draining. In these situations, I feel the need to adjust my own plans and desires in order to make my travel companions happy. However when I’m alone, I can plan a perfect day by the minute or I can have no plans at all and either way, I’ll feel a sense of peace.


The peace that I feel is something that I try to reflect in the pictures that I take while traveling. For the past few years, one of my hobbies has been analog photography. Unlike in digital photography where you have many chances to take multiple pictures of the same scene to get it perfect, when working with a film camera, your opportunities are limited to the amount of film you have. Nothing can be deleted or tested beforehand to make sure that the settings are what you desire. Thus, there is a greater focus on intention when shooting with a film camera, at least for me.

そんな私が感じる安らぎを、旅先で撮った写真に反映するようにしています。数年前から、私の趣味の一つはアナログ写真撮影。完ぺきな写真を撮るために同じ光景を何度も撮影できるデジタルの写真と違って、フィルムカメラを使う時は、使えるフィルムの量が限られている。 それにデータを削除したり、試し撮りしたり、自分が望んでいる設定になっているか確認することはできない。だからフィルムカメラで撮影するときは、少なくとも私にとっては、目的を重視した撮影になる。

While I love photographing my travels, I have recently been reflecting on the photographs that I’ve taken. In the photographs that I took on trips where I was alone, the images come out the way that I desired from an aesthetic standpoint since I was able to focus on composing the image in the frame without worrying about a companion getting bored of watching me shoot. However, the absence of humans makes the pictures feel slightly cold. In the pictures that I’ve taken with friends and family in them, I feel more emotional when looking at them and the pictures themselves feel more meaningful.


But, greater than the absence of people, it is the absence of myself that bothers me. There are many trips that I’ve taken in which there is not a single photograph of me. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like to ask for favours and so I feel uncomfortable asking a stranger to take a picture of me.

しかし、人がいないことよりも、自分がいないことの方が気になる。 私自身の写真を一枚も撮らなかった旅行は今までにたくさんあった。私は、誰かに頼みごとをするのが苦手だから、見知らぬ人に自分の写真を撮ってもらうのは気が引けてしまう。

Further, the camera that I use (a Pentax K1000) is one that has no automated features which means the shutter speed, aperture, and focus must be set manually, so I can’t just hand it off to someone and expect that they’ll know how to use it. Even if I hand my phone over, posing with an artificial smile directed at a stranger then going off alone is something I find difficult to do.

さらに、私が使っているカメラ(Pentax K1000)は、自動的に機能が設定されず、シャッターを切る速度や絞り、ピントを合わせたり、自分で設定しなければならないので、誰かに気安く手渡して、そのカメラを扱う方法を知っていることは期待できない。たとえ自分のスマホを誰かに手渡して、見知らぬ人に向かって作り笑顔でポーズを撮った後に、何事もなかったように一人でその場を立ち去るのは私は難しく感じる。

Once, I was in Fukuoka waiting for the winter illumination at Ohori Park when I saw a tourist set up a tripod and take various pictures of himself from different angles. That scene was amusing to me and while I admire his shamelessness, I don’t think that is something that I could do.


In retrospect, it seems unfortunate that while I’ve been to so many places, the documentation of me in those places is limited. In moments when I think about this, my pictures seem no more meaningful than postcards. They’re pictures of buildings and landscapes and animals and the backs of strangers. They could’ve been taken by anyone. The absence of myself and my loved ones from these pictures is a constant reminder that I’m experiencing everything on these trips alone.