I remember hearing the story of a poet or philosopher who would write poems and then fold them into paper boats to float down the river. He wrote and released many poems this way, until some of his disciples started sneaking down river to rescue some, discovering that they held beautiful prose. The idea that someone would devote time to creating art that might never be seen struck me. I’ve heard it said that a true photographer will be compelled to capture an image even if she knows it will never be seen. I wondered if I met that definition. Certainly, I have taken thousands of photos that I have never showed anyone, but the ones I’m proud of I generally want to share, so even if I take many photos knowing I will only share a few, I still generally have an audience in mind. Three years ago, however, I became the “unofficial” photographer at the junior high school I work at. For big events, the school always hires an official photographer. His photos are used for the school yearbook and the pamphlet advertising the school. So, my presence is fairly superfluous, but it gets me out of having to do other duties during school events. Throughout the year, I shoot the ski trip, dodgeball day, the choral competition, mochi-making, the Hyakunin Isshu competition…But, the biggest two events of the year are the sports festival (体育祭) and the school festival (文化祭) which both take place in September. I took over a thousand photos each this year and then spent maybe eight to ten hours on two consecutive Sundays culling photos and editing the final 400 or so that made the cut for each event. I think I was able to capture the mood and emotions of the two events, mostly as told by the faces, sometimes laughing, sometimes yelling, sometimes concentrating or grimacing... I metered for the faces, used a wide aperture to get separation from the background, took from a variety of angles to add interest. I stayed present and focused and caught all the key moments.
But most of the photos will never be seen. Because of concerns over privacy and personal information, I cannot share any of them on Facebook, Instagram, Flikr or my homepage. The only place I uploaded them was to the school’s shared computer, where they now “sit” in obscurity. At some point one of the teachers in charge of media will look through some of them and maybe use a few for the school newsletter or the event page on the school's website, and that will be that. Mostly, they will be paper boats floated down the river. But, I knew this to begin with, and I still worked my ass off capturing the scene as best I could. So, maybe I pass the test. Here are a few that don’t show faces or reveal private information. The rest I'll just have to leave to your imagination.