9. stranger (ds106 #1.2)

It’s been a week since I posted my first photo for the Stranger Portraits assignment. (At this rate, I’m sure it will actually take me another five weeks to finish ><) Anywho, as a refresher, here’s the assignment description:

Take a portrait of a total stranger each day for 7 days. Try to capture their image in a way that gives the viewer a deeper understanding of the person. Write a little about how you approached the person and what you learned about them. This assignment is part photography challenge but the harder part, in my opinion, is forcing yourself to interact with strangers in a fairly personal way.

This is Mr. Takano Yukio.

I met him while walking around Inokashira park today. Or, actually, I first spotted his magnificent painting but couldn’t spot Mr. Takano himself (I think he was standing behind the tree propping up the painting) so I figured I’d keep walking.

As I set off, an older gentleman sitting on one of the park benches asked me in Japanese where I was from. Soviet? No, Norway, I said. At this the older gentleman became a bit agitated and started saying things at a speedy Japanese that I couldn’t quite understand. I must have been very visibly confused because he slowed down and broke it down for me. Last year. That guy. Utøya.

Oh, I see now!

And then he became a bit agitated again and said some things about Denmark and Japan and putting two and two together I realized he was asking me/going on about why we didn’t have death penalty in Norway and how that bastard deserves it. Not being eloquent enough in Japanese to come up with a way to say I essentially agreed with his frustration but that it would go against Norwegian principals and morals, I instead stood mumbling for a bit until he changed the subject upon noticing my camera. Apparently he’s not too impressed with the Nikon corporation.

Anyway, I asked him if he happened to know who had was behind the wonderful painting. He said he did and called out his friend who appeared from I’m not really sure where, and told me to go over and talk with him too.

Mr. Takano is incredibly friendly and soft spoken. He asked where I was from, and when I said Norway he asked, do you speak English? I usually try to force myself to speak Japanese with Japanese people but darn it, he seemed so sweet I couldn’t help but comply. So we carried on talking for a bit in English about him and his art; it turns out Mr. Takano comes to the park every day to paint. The particular painting in the photo above took him a whole month to finish! It’s of a very old tree a bit further in the park. I asked him if there was anywhere else I could see his work, and he said had had a local exhibition in Kichijoji last year and hoped to have one again this year.

In the future, Mr. Takano hopes to open his own little gallery as well.


2 thoughts on “9. stranger (ds106 #1.2)

  1. I think you’re free to modify the assignment as you see fit. Nobody is going to report you to Jim Groom if you don’t do seven consecutive days.

    But I tell you what, the high standard you’re setting with these photos essays is going to wind up redefining the original assignment.

    In pulling such compelling story and imagery out of an everyday walk in a park you’ve created something that will touch everyone who comes here. Perhaps you’ll also inspire others to take the risk to notice and connect with the present moment – whatever and wherever it may be.

  2. These photos are breathtaking! I love the first one of him waling away, you are a talented photographer. I almost am tempted to ask you to turn it all black and white except for the painting.

    I am so glad someone did this project, I want to do it but alas I do not own a camera!

    I may suggest that you should let your photos speak for themselves more and don’t let your words drown them so much. The story is interesting, but this man goes from a stranger to someone we know, and I prefer seeing the photo and making it up for myself.

    In any case, good job this is defiantly a project that is impressive and full of impact.

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