A journey Unknown
This is my story of the a journey undergone years ago to get the perfect image in a country that I have never been to or even know the language. This entire journey to the final outcome has been one of the most memorial experces of my life. I could not ask to change any of the high or lows! There were so many people that I have met along the way that took me under their wings and showed me their country and culture that I may never get to experience on that level again.
A little inside history on me; my first ever cover was the Alliance Wake photo annual! I was lucky enough to have my man Garret Cortese give me that first opportunity that helped launch my motivation to push my self to photographer of the year the following year.
Ounce again Garret reached out to me, this time from his former competitive magazine that he is now editor of! He told me that my image with Shota Tezuka had been selected of the cover of the Surf Expo issue. Garret then proceeded to explain that this would be his first magazine redesign as well as photo annual! I could not have been more shocked and excited at the same time. Garret has ben the one that pushed me in the past to get me to where I am at, and I can not thank him enough for producing my favorite cover of all time with the new mag!
In the Making
A lot always goes into getting the hammer shot for the cover of a magazine. But I always thought that dropping a straight emoji onto the front page would be pretty impressive. 3 years ago I went to Japan with Shota Tezuka to shoot a previous cover of Mt Fuji in the winter seen below. Little did I know this would be the beginning to a drive to come back several times a year to immerse my self in the culture and find a way to make the perfect spot Shota and I had found work. As I write this I also just realized that Fuji is another emoji, so I am 2 for 2 on dropping emojis on covers from Japan!
If you do not know about the Yamanaka area; I would break it down as the Great Smokey Mountains of Japan, except with one of the most recognizable mountains in the world.
Our Dock next to the cabin in the woods
Our home base for the week
Local fisherman coming in at sunrise in front of Mt Fuji
The Chureito Pagoda overlooking Mt Fuji
They don't call it Swan Lake for no reason
|Daytime Wakeboarding was had|
|And Sunset almost freezing Temps wakeboarding was had|
|Shota loves the cold|
|Shota dad serving it up right as his restaurant in Yamanaka, Japan|
In good action sports fashion, we had to go out in Tokyo and celebrate getting the hammer shot as well as explore some of the blooming Sakura (Cherry Blossom) around Tokyo!
Shota Tezuka checking out the Sakura in Tokyo
Possibly the busiest street in the world
Just one more we said
One More Time!
I made several other trips over to Japan to work out a few locations and yet again explore the country. I even made a 24 hour trip one time to capture some of the cherry blossoms in front of the imperial palace and meet up with the crew at Red Bull Japan to make the project I had in mind happen.
The Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan
A very long story short, Shota hit me up and said we have a green light and everything is dialed to get us down to a Tori on Lake Biwa we had found several years ago. There was only one catch, I would have to come over for about 2 weeks! Needless to say I booked my flight that same night!
After staying the first night in Tokyo our journey brought us back to Yamanaka for a few days to try and get some warm weather riding in front of the mountain. The weather was super cloudy and we spent most of out time riding bikes around the lake, dialing in the shots we wanted to get in Lake Biwa. We made a decision to go back to Tokyo for a night to kick it before heading down south to my new favorite city, Kyoto.
Upon arrival to Kyoto were were picked up by my "professional" boat driver and non english speaking friend Macaroni! We spent several days in the city exploring the sites and getting an unreal tour of the some of the temples in the area including the Kiyoumizu Temples with the Son of the Temple!
Bento and Bullet Train?
Mellow coffee stop at % Arabica (The number one Master Latter Maker in the world resides here)
The Crew with the son of the temple in Kyoto
Bamboo Forest and Chill?
The map of the endless shinto shrines in Kyoto, they are a lot longer than I ever thought
Shota Tezuka sizing up the Shinto Shrines
Getting the Shot
The entire two week journey came down to and single 10 minute session at the 8pm sunset and another 430 am sunrise session the next day! We ended up battle some heavy waves on our hour long lake crossing. After all Laka Biwa is the largest body of water in Japan. We fought off massive fishing boats, bad weather, and a protractor of angles that just did not want to work. Just when we though nothing else could have been against us on the shoot, we may or may not have had a few engine problems.
The crew on Deck and Ready!
The final image was shot from them shore of the Shirahige Shrine, a 1,900 year old structure that defines the area! Shota and I had to use hand signals to "drop' him into the right spot on the wake to get him the in the perfect center of the Tori. I was also shooting with 3 Elinchrom rangers to light the area and shota. So we only has a handful of chances as well as one frame per try.
Final Image for the Cover of Wakeboarding Magazine
Send angle Option for the Cover
The Shirahige Shrine literal translation is "White Beard." They say all who cross under the Tori will have longevity, a prosperous business, and better luck. There is also mention of a baby and match making but I may have skipped over that section :). I love the fact that everyone gets the chance to cross that Tori when they open the Magazine and be blessed with a longer more prosperous future!.