Tuesday, March 9, 2010
A good reason to carry a tripod
I've been going to Japan on and off since 1989 and in all those years I had never been inside a capsule hotel. Don't ask me why, I'd just never got to it. In fact I didn't even know where one was in Sapporo, which is like my second home.
Anyway last year I thought that this is the year I should definitely go and try one out. Staying in a hotel is easy, getting permission to photograph inside it not always so. It helps if you're on assignment (whether self or for a magazine) and can present a letter.
I spoke to the Japan National Tourist Organisation and they organised a night in a lovely capsule hotel called Avinel in downtown Sapporo for me. When I checked in the PR lady told me I had the run of the place to photograph whatever I wanted. The only condition was that I wasn't to photograph any people unless they gave me permission.
As it turned out that wasn't much of a problem. Seeing as it was the middle of the week the place was pretty much deserted. This is a problem that travel photographers often face. Travel photography often calls for people in a shot but there's nobody around! Enter your trustiest model - yourself!
The only problem is that you need someone to hold the camera. And that's why I always carry a tripod. I can't count the number of times I've had to put the self-timer on and photograph myself pretending to be doing something. So here I am stretched out on my trusty bed ready for a good night's sleep (after I hit the town first!).
I have a strap for my tripod and I sling it over my back ala Robin Hood. It doesn't get in the way, is easy to carry and pretty much goes with me everywhere. I know there are some photographers who swear they never use one but I would never be without one. Hell if it's good enough for Steve McCurry it's good enough for me. :)
Later that night after I'd wandered around the entertainment district I came back to my little cubby hole and went for a bath. I spent hours in the bath talking to a Zen monk (no he didn't speak any English but I speak, read and write Japanese fluently). What an amazing experience and one of countless that my camera has led me to. Really could there be a greater entree into a foreign culture?