Sunday, September 11, 2011

Zamami People Project

I've alluded to this a couple times, but now for the big announcement!  I hatched a plan a few months ago to do something special for Zamami during my fifth and last year here.  It seemed appropriate, after this much time in a community that has treated me so well, to give something back.  To be honest I can't tell you which ideas I rejected because my mind pretty quickly settled on this one: photographing the community over the next year and culminating with an exhibition at the port next summer.

Before I could lose enthusiasm for the project (which would be a bad sign), I quickly wrote down 40+ photo ideas.  Then I started the small (so far) red tape portion of the project: getting approval from the village office both to photograph for the project and also to have space to display the photos next summer.  The exhibit is so far away that I'm not worried about those details now, I mostly want everybody to have an inkling of what this project is about so my photographic requests don't seem random.  I've also written a letter about the project to give to those whom I want to photograph, detailing their specific shoot, clothing I want them to wear, and other necessary details.

I want the project to center around people who make this community interesting and special (everybody?).  So, for example, there will be shots of school kids, old people, dive guides, summer workers, the mayor, kayak shop owners, key figures in the whalewatching business, probably even some school, police, hospital, and post office staff.  There is a possibility I will pull some shots from my archives, but primarily I want all of the content to be new and developed specifically with this project in mind.  With that said, you've already been seeing some photographs on the blog that were shot for the project.  I debated whether or not I wanted to post the project pictures on the blog, but since most blog readers live on land that is not Zamami, it seems like a good idea to include you.  But if you live in Naha or the Okinawan mainland, I'd love it if you could plan a trip out to see the exhibition next summer.  :)

The project became financially official last week when I ordered an $850 printer.  Ordering all the prints I want for the project would easily run me over $1000 (in Japan), so this printer will allow me leeway for testing and in the end it won't cost me much more but I'll get to walk away owning a fancy printer.  Also, all of my going-away gifts next summer will probably take the form of photographs, so this will lessen that cost.


Here is one of the shoots I did last week.  This is the school sabani team along with a man who helps out the school whenever something is needed from the community.  This photo is about him and I wanted to show the connection he has with the school, so I thought this would be a fun idea.  The race was last weekend and even with all my preparation - asking permission through various channels as well as getting the main man off his dive boat and to the beach for the shoot - I was still pushing my limits with the 10 minutes it took to set up and complete the shoot.  I thankfully fired off a bunch of extra frames (total about 15) because there were some focus issues as well as problems with people looking at the camera and this is a result of a composite.  There is actually a girl still looking away that I may fix later.

An interesting side note is that this photo shoot upset a couple people because of the man I chose to be in it.  As I said before, this photo is about him, not the sabani team.  They are an accessory.  But this was hard to explain and there were a few people who were annoyed because there is a different community member with a greater role in this year's school sabani team.  Hopefully the placard that accompanies this photo will clarify what I was trying to achieve.


Cliff said...

Ha, people whom you haven't chosen to photograph are already getting jealous.

Oh, and what's the deal with not looking at the camera? I see so many magazines/newsletters that always have one person looking away.

Dave said...

Of the two group shots I've taken, in every single frame (30 total?) there has been at least one person looking away from the camera. In the two photos I used for that composite, the same girl was looking off into space for both. And believe me, I was instructing them to look at me. I wish I knew the solution..