My Life or Something Like It

A compact digital view of the Ara River in Saitama. A 4×5 version of this scene appears on page 79 of the November issue of Gakujin magazine.

The November issue of Gakujin 岳人 magazine hit the stores today. I got an advance copy last Sunday. I checked out my profile and photos right away. I have to say that I am pleased with the end result, considering all that might have gone wrong. When I was sent the original draft of the text there were a number of factual inaccuracies. Some were minor and understandable – we simply hadn’t discussed those points in detail and the writer had decided to mention them in the text based on the information I had mentioned. But some points were largely fabricated. I had to suspect the writer had his own idea of what to write and made things up for better reading. I sent him a message clarifying and explaining any points that I felt needed amending.

The next time I could review the text was when he sent me a PDF file so I could create captions for the photographs. The corrections he had made to the text were for the most part acceptable and appreciated. It was almost my life story now. A couple of minor points that only exaggerated the truth a bit I left alone. And to be honest, we downplayed the significance of my ex-girlfriend’s role in my coming to Japan. The only point I disagreed with was the story of a friend of a friend who was leaving for Japan to teach English. Upon hearing of his up coming adventure I was inspired with the idea of going to Japan but I felt in my situation at the time it would be impossible for me to go. The importance of that time, however, was that I learned it was possible for a Canadian to go over to Japan and work. That was an important step in the processes that brought me here.

The writer had a different take on it. He wrote that it was my good friend who had come back from teaching in Japan and that he told me, “There are beautiful mountains, green forests spread wide, and crystal clear streams. Japan is a beautiful country.” This did not happen at all, and furthermore I couldn’t see why a Canadian would try to sell Japan to another Canadian by focusing on the natural beauty, which Canada has many times over. I explained to the writer twice that this was not how things happened but it seems he insisted on leaving his version of the tale in the final published text. Looking at it now it’s not so bad. One could consider that knowing of Japan’s natural beauty made the decision to come here easier for me because it meant I wouldn’t have to give up nature and landscape photography.

The photographs turned out beautifully. I am really impressed how the 4×5 images came out, and the others – 6×7, 645, and 35mm – all look good. Overall I think I can be pleased.

In related news, it looks like my rapport with Outdoor Japan is going well. I hope this will lead to future published photographs and short articles.

I have been asked by the Society for Scientific Photography 日本自然科学写真協会 to do a presentation about photographing rocks and landforms at their December seminar. This will be all in Japanese so I really have to work hard to prepare my presentation.

Yama to Keikoku 山と渓谷 magazine will be returning a portfolio of photos I sent them, the reason being that they already have many photographers who have sent photographs from landscapes abroad and that the editor thought my theme was a little weak. I had sent images of the Canadian Rockies captured from autumn to early spring and entitled the collection “Off Season”. The text I wrote explained that most people visit the Rockies during the summer months but I usually visited outside of summer and was able to enjoy a different view of the Rockies. I appreciate the editor’s candor as I was thinking to submit the photos to other magazines. At least now I know that other editors might not think much of the theme either. The good news was that the editor said they would welcome any submissions I had of Japanese mountains and that Japanese scenery had a better chance of being accepted. I have already thought of three themes and will start sending the first of them out in the New Year.

I have still not had any kind of “breakthrough success,” however every effort I make that takes me a step forward in one way or another is worth the sleep I sacrifice staying up late at night sorting photographs and typing at my keyboard. It will be interesting to see if my feature in Gakujin will bring about any possitive developments or if it will simply pass like so many other achievements. In either case, it is still another notch on the resume as I like to say.


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