Shooting the City
Camera-toting Members share their favorite images of the city they call home.
Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures,” legendary British photographer Don McCullin once said.
It’s a sentiment shared by Magnum lensman David Alan Harvey, who urges the young photographers he mentors to “shoot what it feels like.”
Tokyo, with its mesmerizing pastiche of architectural, cultural and human life, provides endless inspiration for photographers looking to capture an essence of the world’s most populous city.
Here, five Club shutterbugs, some professional, some passionate hobbyists, share a Tokyo scene and the feelings it evokes for them.
“Located between my home in Moto Azabu and my office in Hibiya, Zojoji is my favorite spot on my daily commute. Its spacious grounds host several impressive Buddhist structures and you can roam around them freely. The temple’s big bell is not to be missed, especially when it is tolled twice a day, at 5am and 5pm. The morning one is a bit unrealistic for me to hear but strolling through the temple at 5pm makes me nostalgic for my hometown, Matsue, an ancient samurai town full of old temples and shrines. Zojoji is also a neat spot to enjoy cherry blossoms, as the sakura trees perfectly complement Tokyo Tower.”
David Runacres (top)
“I took this last year just as the sakura was coming to an end and the ground was beginning to be carpeted in pink. I live in the apartment building in the background and look down on this little temple—Yusenji in Akasaka—and its beautiful cherry trees. The monk is a real character and is often entertaining children in the grounds. He also has a big collection of cats, one of whom is a spectator here. While many see the end of the cherry blossom season as something of a finale, this child was squealing with joy to be carried around the shrine while the pink petals ‘snowed’ around her. I love the simplicity of the photo and the fact that it could only be in Tokyo, and even more because it’s a view I see every day.”
“This image of Tokyo is special for me because of the peaceful calmness it projects. This huge city’s ability to be so quiet is what really appeals to me. Tokyo Tower must be the most photographed icon in this amazing city, but it has such a grounding quality. The warm color of the tower contrasts subtly with the cool, quiet neighborhood surrounding it, with the bay, sky and buildings all bathed in early evening light. I find it profoundly relaxing to look at. Every time I come back to this image, I find something new: a detail, a temple, a classic hotel. There is so much history and infrastructure, so many dreams and so much silence.”
“This photo was shot in Shinjuku in the heat of summer. Tokyo to me is a mix of confusion and stillness. It appears chaotic and destructive, but it has an abiding beauty. Layers of memories overlap and disappear.”
“I’m not a morning person and my least favorite season is winter, but I have learned to love waking up on crisp January mornings in Tokyo. Daybreak coincides with my alarm for most of the month and each day is a spectacle to behold. Equally as magnificent are the evenings, with Tokyo Tower standing tall over the twinkling lights that blanket the city. Each morning and night as I look out the window, I am filled with gratitude for the people, the beauty, the small shops, the history and so many other blessings that make each day in Tokyo so special.”
Words: Nick Jones