I remember the cold, damp air more vividly than anything else in my life. It was around 8pm and I decided to try to get some more photos of the old Geisha district Gion Machi. It was raining and around 50 degrees, the perfect recipe for a bad time, and great photos I thought.
I had been to Kyoto as a child but this was my first visit as a photographer. I tried my best in my photography to stay away from anything remotely close to the cliche of the "mysterious far east." What an outdated and superficial idea I remembering thinking. I still agree with that notion till this day, but no matter what I experience or encounter on my travels, Kyoto still seems to be a center of wonder.
I caught a few snaps of different Maiko earlier in the day as they weaved and bobbed their way through the back channels of town. Their elegance was enchanting; they have such a commanding presence in their clothing and style that it is impossible to ignore them as they walk by. I had no intentions when I came to Kyoto that I would be spending any time photographing Geisha, the idea just never dawned on me. But here I was, along with all the other tourists waiting for my chance for a photograph. I was even shooed away by what appeared to be a handler of the Geisha. But these photos weren't what I wanted. A few hours in, I was hooked. I needed something with more wonder, something to show the beauty of something I didn't quite understand.
So here I am, late at night in the freezing rain. I had pretty much abandoned my hopes of seeing a Geisha in the rain. The idea of it, no matter how ridiculously unoriginal it seemed, was still something I wanted to capture. Then out of nowhere, as I'm sitting there with my rolleiflex, the door next to me opens, and a Geiko walks right out in front of me. My presence startled her a bit, and I tried not to look at her as to not be too obvious of my intentions. This is it. Don't screw it up. She walks away, I snap away.
To be honest, I don't think it's my greatest picture. Hell I wouldn't even call it a good picture. But I still love it, because of the story behind it. These types of experiences are something that all traveling photographers cherish. The once in a lifetime moments, often mundane and literally affect no one, but we cherish never the less. It was an experience that set me on the path, to strive for more stories