Firstfruits 2015

April 12th, 2015 by Jacob

The second image in a series that began with the Unleavened Days.  The Feast of the unleavened had finished and it is time for firstfruits.

Feel free if you wish to republish, distribute as you like.  Spread the word, sound, image, power.





Unleavened Days, Exodus

April 3rd, 2015 by Jacob

As people observe passover across the globe we set off on a new exodus.  We have decided to break bread with the world and inaugurate a new collaboration consisting of myself, Jacob Schere, and my brother, Seth “Brimtstone” Schere.

Our first image Unleavened Days is being released this Passover.  We aim to release at least one image a mothy for the coming year and beyond.

We invite all to remember the days of old and apply heart to our collective lives in today’s age.

Exodus 12:18

Please feel free to distribute and share this image around the world.  Let us all take a month to reflect and remember why partaking in unleavened bread.



Chag Sameach

chag kasher v’same’ach

חַג כָשֵׁר וְשָׂמֵחַ


2014 into 2015 and Life Just Keeps Rolling

January 3rd, 2015 by Jacob

January 2nd Good WIshes 2015, Hachimanjingu Shrine (1 of 1)



The Gregorian calendar ticked over from 2014 to 2015.  One number now has become a new number.  Most see it as a chance to renew and hope for something better.  We dissect bits time into pieces that are manageable.  Seven days into a week.  Thirty days become a month.  Twelve months are a year.  We humans like the idea of a year.   We toss out the old, with the hope of filling the new with something better.

my 2014, like many others, was full of highs and lows.  Sometimes the lows are overwhelming and appear as if they will never end.  For us, and myself in particular, I need to focus in on the highs, even if they are just a small one.

Some of the highest heights of 2014 in no particular order.  I will let them flow out in a stream of consciousness.

•traveling the Caribbean with my extended family.

•meeting up with the photographic soul brother Giovanni in NYC. Taking large format images, and developing them in coffee.

•working with my wife in our patio garden.

•rescuing a kitty off a rooftop next to our home. (she became known as Roofy).

•cycling from my home to Skytree and back again.

•witnessing Nisan graduate from the Asian Rural Institute before she headed back to Myanmar.

•cooking most shabbats for my family.

•getting over a million views on Flickr.

•wife getting over the flu, and me over a sinus infection and still making it to the hot spring in Nasu, Tochigi, Japan

•guiding my brother Jerry on his first visit to Japan.

There are more.  There are many lows too, but I honestly try not to dwell on them.  Life’s sweet moments wouldn’t have that same flavor if we didn’t have those pains that slice into our soul.

On a January 2nd we headed into Tokyo for the annual hatsumode, going to a shrine or a temple for the first time in the new year.  Japan celebrated the lunar New Year before modernizing in the Meiji Era. After midnight on the 31st we usually cycled over to our local shrine and sipped some hot nihonshu (sake) or amazake after a moment of asking for a safe New Year.  Out of nowhere this year my wife decided to go to one of the larger shrines that she had never visited before, Hachiman Jinjyu in Yoyoogi, Tokyo.

All buses and trains are running on a holiday schedule as people make trips to visit relatives or shrines.  A short distance front he station and up a flight of stone steps the line began.  Shrine volunteers helped keep the line orderly as people kept on arriving.

Being the observer I just tried to take it all in.  The sights, sounds and scents of the new year.  People drop off their old amulets to be burned by the shrine and purchase new ones.  Coins are tossed into worn wooden boxes, as hands clap and bells rattled.

All and all a good day out on a short winter day.

We are never as alone as we may feel. We are never as low as we might fall.  I wish all good health and wishes for the coming year.  Let it be one that we regain our personal then our communal humanity.

much love!



The Line Up at Hachimanjingu Shrine, 2015



Inari Shrine Line Up with Flags at Hachimanjingu Shrine, 2015



The last Shrine at Hachimanjingu Shrine, 2015

KRS ONE: Brooklyn to the Bronx, Short Documentary

September 26th, 2014 by Jacob

KRS ONE:  Brooklyn to the Bronx, Documentary

Our short documentary KRS ONE: Brooklyn to the Bronx is now online and available for viewing and sharing.

Thank you to everyone who helped make this video a reality!

Jerry Kolber
Seth “Brimstone” Schere
Joshua Moïse
Natalie Lewis Schere

KRS ONE the Teacha

for more information please check the website

the video is available on youtube




please share!


Analog Slowdown in Kyoto

September 15th, 2014 by Jacob

Dusk on the Bamboo Path Above Fushimi Inari Taisha, Kyoto


It has been more than 10 years since I lasted visited Kyoto.  I was there with my wife and my parents as we explored the city.  There have been shifts in the way I see the world; especially in the way I photograph the world.

Photography is my path to understand our world.  It is not only a way to remember, but more importantly it is the way in which I connect to our world.

I was looking froward to wandering the streets, shrines, and temples with my oldest friend, Jerry.  I was nervously anticipating how I would react and photograph Kyoto.  My approach to photography has grown since that visit with family 10 years ago.

What really surprised me is actually how few pictures I took.  Even though this collection were all taken on a film Contax T3 camera, even the way in which I shot my Ricoh was sparingly.  Images are precious.  I shot my digital in much the same way I used to shoot film and now I shoot film as if it was treasure.

After photographing for more that 30 years I know what I want.  It was fascinating to see without having to snap the shutter.  I enjoyed being in the lovely space of Kyoto.

Eventually there is a limit to how much one can take in of the city.  It is a must to be on foot as much as possible.  There are the “must see” places like Kinkakuji (Golden Pavillion Temple), Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion Temple) each renewed for the opposing Japanese aesthetics.

The most moving Kyoto treasures were the smaller less visited places like Honen En (Temple) or the completely amazing Fushimi Inari Taisha (Shrine) were we wandered around at dusk to the early evening.  Entering into a special space that was as creepy as it was refreshing.

I still know I have only scratched the surface of this city but, on each visit I come tiny step closer to understanding it.

As always there is more to come.



Double Drinking Felines, Kyoto



Walking the Dragon at Nanzenji, Kyoto



Outside Gingakuji (Silver Paviion) Street, Kyoto



By the Rivers of Arashiyama, Kyoto



Royanji Temple Rock Zen Garden Corner, Kyoto

Getting Down in the Organic Dirt at ARI (Asian Rural Institute)

August 19th, 2014 by Jacob

Bean Crop Coming Up, Planted by Nisan's Work Group


My good friend Sawmi from Hualngo Land Developement Organization (HLDO) invited me to go to the farm.  She explained that this wasn’t just a day in the dirt, I would be meeting the people who run ARI (Asian Rural Institute).

ARI is an organization that attracts candidates from all over the world to come the countryside in Japan for 9 months and they will learn, use, and become leaders of their agricultural homes when they return.

The students attend lectures in each group.  They study about nothing going to waste on the farm.  They are encouraged by the staff to figure out the yes way for them to solve projects giving to them.  Each student is a member of a group which they will tend together.  In addition, each student has a small plot to plant and reap what every they like as a personal project.


Stepping out of the station we all noted the air was a tad drier and cooler than Tokyo.  It took nearly 3 hours of subways and local trains to get here.  Kathy met us at Nasunoko station in the farm’s van and wisked us over to the farm.  There was a mix of its permanent staff, volunteers, and the students.  We walked around the administrative building before heading out into the farm.  S
Nothing Goes to Waste on the Farm

Nothing goes to waste on the ARI farm.  Even the husks from rice are burned and added to the compost, or to make natural pesticides.  The mission is to get the students to adapt what they learn to their home country.  To learn how waste from one crop can be the nutrients that feds the next.

We came to Nisan’s groups plot of land.  They had just put down some beans on raised beds and then covered them with the straw leftover from a rice harvest.  The straw keep the grounds moisture and keeps the weeds from getting sunlight to grow.
Keepring the Crows Away, Scarecrow
All the classes are conducted in English and Kathy supported Nisan in her explaining their methods to us all in English.

Livestock is also raised on the property including pigs, goats, sheep, chickens, and carp (fish).  Students often choose to study about a livestock depending on their need of their country.
Fresh Picked Farm Blueberries bu the Bowlfull

We had a communal lunch of fried (tempura) green eggplants, tomato and vegetables salad, a a slightly spicy potato salad.  I was thankful for the bounty, and even more so that it was a vegan meal.  The meal was topped off with bowls full of luscious blueberries.

All the participants, volunteers, and students joined in on the communal lunch.  A quick prayer song was recited and we dug into the food.
Nisan, Farmer and Future Leader

Nisan at the Communal Lunch

One man from Liberia named Romeo was giving drumming lessons to a Philippino guitarist before we all broke bread.  Really a lovely harmony.

There was so much to see and do at the farm.  I was full of joy to see Nisan coming forward as a farming leader.  I will continue to support her and the Hualngo Land Developement Organization (HLDO).

I didn’t walk away empty handed.  Nisan handed us a bag full of long beans, eggplants, okra, tomatoes, and long green peppers.  Also picked up a little rhubarb jam for a breakfast treat.

Those of you in Japan who might be wanting to volunteer, look into the ARI (Asian Rural Institute).  Or, if you know of a country’s people that could use some solid training filled with love invite them to check it too.

some special shout outs!

Kathy, for picking us up and showing us around.

Yukiko, for telling her story, and giving Nisan all the support she can.

Sean- from Hawaii,  you are on your path.

Romeo- for making me feel welcomed and reminding me of my youth.

ALL the ARI staff, participants, and volunteers. Who have made my world, OUR world, a better place.


Drying Garlic on the ARI Teaching Farm


Garlic curing behind the communal kitchen


Farmers' Workboots


Rows of women’s workboots outside their dormitory.


Keeping it Hot in the Greenhouse


Heated Hot House
Maize, Corn Drying, Ready for Grinding


Nothing but stone ground maize.


Blackberry Straight from the Bush


Fresh plucked blackberry in Nisan’s hand.

In the Heart of the Chiba Jungle, with Monkeys Too

August 11th, 2014 by Jacob

Cross Step Creek, Yoroukeikoku, Chiba


Summer is here.  I do love summer. The heat is relentless.  The storms are fierce, but best of all is the freedom to wander with a camera.

This year my photo wandering partner, Tomo, and I returned to Yororukeikoku.  Tomo chose to bring a TLR to capture the day.

Yororukeikoku lies deep in the heart of dog shaped Chiba prefecture.  A place so unvisited at this time of year, that we passed only to other hikers on a 10 kilometer trail in over 5 hours of time.

It took a bit over 2 hours by train including the double car Kominato line.  We took the train to the end of the line at Yororukeikoku station, snagged the remaining rice balls tow local summer mikans (mandarin organs) from the local conbini and made our way down the road.

The asphalt was streaming hot.  The conversation bounced around until I mentioned that it would be incredible if we encounter some “real” Chiba monkeys.  We both kind of laughed and kept stepping.

The winter storms had wrecked havoc on the paths, and many trails had been closed.  Our first major obstacle was getting around a fallen tree.  Not a big deal, but we would see other trees uprooted, and small landslides along the way.

The path criss crossed a small creek about a dozen times.  Sometimes it took us a minute or two to find the path on the other side.  After a rain storm, I am sure that the path would be even harder to keep track.

Lucky I had been breaking in a new pair of hiking shoes, which kept my feet dry and my ankles from twisting.

The first real rest we took about 2 hours in on the hike was an old homestead built in the 19th century.  All that remained were some of the foundation’s stones, and piles of broken shells and pottery.  It was a perfect place to break out some dried fruit and ice water, and just listen to the sounds of the countryside.
Jungle Hill Homestead with Ceramic Fragments, Yoroukeikoku, Chiba


We got back on the train, and we began to ascend out of the valley.  This is when, even though we were in the shade, the sweat began to pour from all of our pores.  We reached the first ridge in the forest when sometime darted down a tree on our left.  At first we both thought a raccoon, but, it scampered rather oddly, it was then we realized it was an honest to goodness Chiba monkey.  My home, I had made in jest, had come true.

But we weren’t out of the valley yet and we still had to climb higher.  After some strenuous moments of plodding forward we reached the top and a small paved service road.  The rest was mainly down hill.

Coming out of a the forrest there were a few small farms ahead.  When a small brown blur bolted across the road.  Yes!  We had seen another monkey.  Not only one, but in the trees and bamboo on our left we could see others jumping about.  I was elated!  After seeing a half dozen snakes, and countless frogs, we had eyed the reclusive Chiba monkey.

They must prove problematic for the farmers, because in this part of the jungle they had fenced in their farms, I speculate to keep the monkeys out.


Monkey Tree with Wiresm and Shadows, Yoroukeikoku, Chiba


The road leveled out to view rice paddies to our left and right.  The sun was falling and the sky was filling with some cloudy wisps.  The Kazusa-Ōkubo station was ahead.  We had about 40 minutes before the next train.  No one was insight.  This station’s area was the inspiration for the Okubo Nekobus stop in My Neighbor Totoro.
Wating for the Train, Kazusa-Ōkubo Station, Yorokeikoku, Chiba

We rested.  Shot our last couple of pictures, and waited for the train.  The sounds of summer were mesmerizing.  The chorus of cicadas, crickets, frogs, all in discordance harmony.  Not a soul was around.  Except, for the guy who drove up in a car, used the bathroom, then kicked up dust on his way out.  That was it.  We drank some cold water with paintings of Totoro to our backs and waited for the train.

A great day out in the jungles of Chiba.  Something I need to do more often.  I need to escape the concrete jungle for a lush green one.
Rice Paddy with Wires and Clouds, Yoroukeikoku, Chiba



Rice Paddy to the Hills and Sky, Yoroukeikoku, Chiba



Rice Paddy with Narita Memeorial Yoroukeikoku, Chiba


Time Heal Scars, Yoroukeikoku, Chiba



Small Gorge with Stream, Yoroukeikoku, Chiba

The Summer Hunt is On! First, Kitasenju

August 4th, 2014 by Jacob

One Vine Strong with Corrugated Metal, Kita Senju, Tokyo


It is that special time of year.  The Days are long.  The air it think with humidity that the annual summer hunt begins.

No animals will be harmed.  In fact, no one, and nothing will be harmed.  The only suffering are my feet and sweat glands.

It is the time of year to hit the pavement and go on a serious walkabout around my city.  I have been here for 15 years, and there still are areas within the city limits I have never explored.  It was this passion for exploration that I hopped on a train to wander around Kitasenju.

I had heard that it has a bit of a shitamachi (下町) feeling.  Or, as I like to say, an old part of town.  The sun was blazing as I began to wander.  No plans.  No guides.  Just a pair of boots and a camera.

There were pockets of some lovely old houses on the tiny twisting alleyways.  It really must have been something 30 years ago.

These old pockets of Tokyo are very quickly succumbing to the bulldozer all in the name of progress.

My camera does process some negative special powers.  There have been many times I have photographed some of these nuggets of urban treasure, only to revisit them later to find a 7-11 in its place.  I hope it doesn’t happen.

Stay posted for more hunting updates.  Stay cool, and hydrated.

Catch you all in the shade.


Today Brocolli, Kita Senju, Tokyo



Shaded Garden Home with Bicycle, Kita Senju, Tokyo



Plussy Sign with Meagerie, Kita Senju, Tokyo



Red Wall with Aloe and Bicycle, Kita Senju, Tokyo

Return to Okitsu Beach

July 21st, 2014 by Jacob

Diver's Fishing Basket


It has been a while since I have taken the time to gather my thoughts and post.  There has been much that has been swirling around my heart as the summer heat rises, and energy can be sapped.

There are times the world is overwhelming.  There is too much stimuli.  Not only too much, but it is often distorted through the lens of propaganda and misinformation.  The constant stream weighs heavily on my as I make my way.

It with all these emotions that we packed up the car and headed for the annual Slump Tennis beach BBQ party.  What is Slump?  That is a good question.  It is a casual group of friends that all play tennis together.  I, myself, don’t chase the fuzzy yellow ball, but my wife does.

Okitsu beach is on the southern end of series of beaches of Katsuura on the Chiba Peninsula.  It is a quiet town, that in it’s glory days was a small thriving fishing port.  Those days are long gone, but the fisherman’s boats and nets still trek out into the open Pacific Ocean.

Okitsu beach is a place for families.  There are nearly no groups of boys hoping to pick up some bikini clad girls.  None of that here.  Just lots of families gathered together for a day of fun in the sun.

We were lucky that the skies were a bit overcast which kept the mercury low.  The day before had seen a high of 35C (95F).  The sun poked out from time to time, but for the most part it was a lovely day with out searing our flesh.

It was great to let the cold salty waters wash over my overloaded heart and mind.  Just to get away from the city sprawl and reconnect with the beach of my youth.  I love to just wander around the old town, and walk up and down the small sandy stretch of beach.

The beach is littered with fragments of Japanese blue and white porcelain pottery.  No one has been able to tell me why there is always so much pottery to be found on this beach.  Do the fisherman just toss bowls into the waves when they are done with them?  Some of the pieces have had their sharp edges polished by the surf and the sand.

I was thankful to be away from it all.  To be able to relax with some friends, have some good food, play a little beach baseball, and to wander with my camera.

When the times are as turbulent as they are these days the first tragedy is the truth, we need the time to reconnect and sort though and discard the unneeded.  The day at Oktisu Beach helped to put it all back into proper perspective.

High Tide Coming Storm

Okitsu Lazy Nets

Creeping VInes into Cold Storage Warehouse

Boats Docks Sea Hills Sky, Okitsu Beach

7 Buddhist Years for Yachiyo

June 8th, 2014 by Jacob

7 Buddhist Years for Yachiyo (My Mother in Law who Accepted Me and Kept Me Well Fed)


It has been 7 Buddhist years since the passing of my mother-in-law, Yachiyo.  I am not exactly sure what is the difference between a Buddhist year and other years, but it doest really matter.

The immediate family all gathered at our local Shingon Temple to hear some sutras, burn some incense and a short sermon by the 3 generation priest.  I am always fascinated by the bells, chimes, and bead rubbing the priest performs as part of the rituals.  I was torn between being absorbed in the sights, and repeating the Kaddish in my mind.  At least the bits of it i have committed from my youth.

The bits of wooden incense that are burned of hot coals always make me feel ill.  I am not sure if it is psychosomatic, or actually allergic to the woods and perfumes.  I was so deathly ill at the wake back on a cold day in January, 2008.

Yahciyo was special.  She always treated me like a son.  She would stuff money in my pocket no matter how much I protested.  There was always food in the house to keep my belly full.  No matter how oddly unconventional I looked I was her son from the west.  It never mattered.

She rarely ever went out with the family.  There was one time when she took us to her favorite sushi shop somewhere in Ginza.  It was the first authentic sushi I had ever eaten.  Before that it was only the cheap kaiten sushi.  The maguro flowed off the vinegar tinged rice.  She laughed and had a good time with us all.

We both shared a sweet tooth, and once she found out I like Pocky, she always kept stocked around the house or shipped it in care packages to us in the states.

I miss her.

This is for you.

Lots of love

Jacob, your Miami born son.


Sunamachi Ginza, The Other, Other Ginza

June 2nd, 2014 by Jacob

Wall of Plants (No Bicycle Parking), Sunamachi Ginza


I have passed by this shopping street countless times.  It was always on my list to head back over there and take a stroll down the street.  After all, it is relatively in my own neighborhood.

The sun was high when I started off for the Sunamachi Ginza.  It is one of those spots that isn’t talked about much in a guide book.  It is off the beaten Tokyo path.  It is not like the Ginza of endless shopping stores.  These are little mom and pop stores that line a narrow street.  They are hawking every thing from all sorts of delectables to assorted stationary goods.  And if you can imagine it, it probably can be found on this street.

This is the way Tokyoites used to shop.   Spread all over Tokyo were shopping streets.  They are usually known as Shotengai or Ginza.  They are places were you’d do your daily shopping and then some.

I really didn’t buy anything on the street.  But I did head down a couple of the even narrow streets to see how the Sunamachi neighbors lived.

The houses were all neat and cramped.  Lots had the frontside gardens that I am so infatuated with.  It was a good day out.  The sun was blazing.  It was a great three hour cycle ride. The summer starts here.
Corrugated Living with Post Slot, Sunamachi Ginza



One Door, One Cone Three Plants, Sunamachi Ginza

My Girl on a Sunny Afternoon, with Purple Twine

May 25th, 2014 by Jacob

My Kasai Girl with Purple Plastic Twine
It hadn’t been the best of weekends for me.  I spent most of the time ill in bed with having had my stomach turn upside down.  I had been surviving on some Jewish penicillin aka chicken soup and, for some reason, I have been crazing simple sweet breads.  That is pretty much all I have eaten since Thursday night.

I woke up feeling pretty good and really wanting to take my cycle out for a ride.  The weather forecast was predicting a high of 29C (84F) but it thankfully never climbed that hight.  My stomach decided for me that it would be best not to stray to far from home.

I spent a little bit of time on my patio garden.  I enjoy just sitting and being with my greenery.  I slowly inspect the leaves looking for pests.  Some no-see-ems have invaded my little vertical garden, and the green lime caterpillars have come back to much on my citrus trees.  I don’t mind.  It is a balance we all have to keep.

I finished the last bowl full of jewish medicine and needed to go to the home center to buy a few things.  I picked up some printer ink, some assorted packs of sunflower seeds and a few odds and ends at the OK Supermarket.

I spied my girl.  You know, don’t you?  My girl!  My Minami Kasai Girl.  She is always there between the elementary school and the used car lot.  Her hands are outstretched, not asking for anything.  She is just there being, and waiting for someone, anyone to put something in her hands.

Listen closely.  She isn’t begging.  She is not asking for handouts.  She just appreciates a little something something.  Thats all.  Nothing expensive, or trendy.  Today she had been blessed with a bit of purple plastic twine.  She is simple to please.  I just have to keep an eye on her to make sure she is well taken care of.

Just another pre summer Sunday afternoon.  I wish these days continue before the humid furnace is switched on.  It is often those simple familiar objects and people that make everything feel all right….



Contemplating Temple Lotus Leaf, Rain and Bang

May 13th, 2014 by Jacob

Contemplating Temple Lotus After the Rain, Ichikawa, Japan


Last night the winds howled around the apartment buildings and homes in my neighborhood.  The rain splattered against my window.  The night was one of constant interruptions.  No real quality sleep, just lots of sleep deprived dreams of oddities.

Then without warning the floor moved.  It wasn’t a shaker.  It didn’t build to a crescendo and released its power.  It was as if the world’s table had been slammed into and then it was over.  It was enough of a jolt to induce a surprise.  As quickly as it came it was gone.

On my walk to the station I often pass through a temple on top of a hill.  The vividness of the green Japanese maple caught my eye, and I walked over the circular driveway to get a different vantage point.

I looked down into the claw pots that were filled with lotus leafs.  They too were incredibly green.  There were jewels floating on the gaps over the leaf’s veins.  I starred.  Did hail fall from the sky in the storm?  I was curious so I ever so gently poked the bobble with the tip of my umbrella, and it moved.  Not ice, but crystal clear water.

The walk through the temple always calms my nerves.  I take the time to look around to see what is blooming, greening, and fading away.

Rain, will bring flowers.  The earthquakes bring fear.  They all can be released though the passion of attempting to live life though artistic expression.


Thankful as a Bunch of Snap Peas

May 2nd, 2014 by Jacob

Snap Peas Thankful Harvest


There was a serious hankering for some tacos for this shabbat meal.  You know how craving just come out of know where.  This was no different.  I prepared the meal, and as sun was setting I wandered out onto my patio to be in awe of the abundance of snap peas.  As if the rains of the other day had made them all pop out with the true SNAP, in the snap peas.

I am truly thankful that my wife had sowed these seed while it was still winter.  We have been just about supplementing our meals and salads with a few snap peas.  There is really nothing quite as satisfying as bringing in something that you had grown and being able to say a shabbat grace over that food.

I wish you all a fabulous day of rest.

Be thankful for all that we sow.  For what we sow will come back to us.  Make sure we so the seeds of love and compassion and a few sweet snap peas for good health.


Sipping, Chatting, and Developing in Coffee, with NYC Photographer Giovanni Savino

April 30th, 2014 by Jacob

A Man and His Camera, with Giovanni Savino, Inwood, NYC
You can learn a lot about someone by what they choose to post about on social networking sites.  There is so much junk to wade though that those that actually have  a voice stand out and speak to me as a human being.  This is how I first became aware of the work of NYC based photographer Giovanni Savino .

I am not sure exactly how our paths crossed in the image making digital stratosphere.  Most likely it was though our mutual friend art historian John E. Walford.  I very quickly became fascinated with Giovanni’s candid NYC street portraits.  His brilliant black and white portraits on the New York streets stood above the much of what people unfortunately call “street photography.”  It didn’t hurt either that Giovanni often hit the streets armed with my favorite camera, the Ricoh GR.

I did what I usually do when I come across work that I can relate to, is I want to dig deeper and explore more of the artists vision of the world.  His website’s images came alive.  The portraiture of everyday people in the DR (Dominican Republic).  His images were unpretentious, and full of soul.  I instantly developed a rapport with the images, I wanted to know more about the man behind them.

I read his blog.  I waited with anticipation for the next images top be posted on Flickr,  Facebook or fascinating thoughts on his blog.  Again, I was drawn into his world.  We started some backchannel conversations, and I decided, since I was coming to NYC, if he was down, we should link up for a face to face meeting.

It was on a freezing snowy Tuesday in February that I headed uptown on the A train, last stop, Inwood 207 Street. Any further and I would I have been in the Bronx, or New Jersey.  The absolute top of Manhattan.
Giovanni Savino on the Water's Edge, Inwood, NYC

Before heading up to Giovanni part of town, I made a quick stop in a hungover haze to the Moma, thanks to borrowing friend, Jerry’s MOMA card.  I got there before the galleries opened and I knew all I really wanted to see was a small selection celebrating the 75 anniversary of the publication of Walker Evan’s  photographs .  It was a pleasure to see them in the flesh, as printed by the master himself.

In a quiet corner of the Museum I stood gazing at a Jackson pollock painting.  Away from the noise of school children running amuck, I just stood and stared.  The splats and splatters danced and pulsated like never before, possible due to my underestimating the power of NYC sized martinis versus Tokyo ones.

The trip to MOMA, was only the beginning to a beautiful day.  Giovanni greeted me just outside the station like a long lost brother.  In fact, he often used the word, “brother,” when referring to me.  I instantly knew this was going to be a good day.

Inwood is a dominantly DR neighborhood, yet, it is on verge of gentrification like most of the city.  Giovani told me the hood was much different 20 years ago when he first moved in.  Giovanni and his wife took me to their favorite DR place to have some roasted chicken, sadly, they were out, but that didn’t stop us.  We had a great meal and then he showed me the sights around the neighborhood.
Roasted Chicken Reflection, Inwood, NYC


He would occasionally take out one of his “cursed” e-cigs and puff on it as we chatted about the streets of New York, photography, life, and everything.  There was nothing off limits, and we both opened up and were happy to be in each others company.

The sun had finally come out by the time we reached a view of the George Washington Bridge.  It was time to head back to his studio and really dig into photography.

From Inwood to The George Washington Bridge, NYC

He brewed us up a cup of black espresso using an Italian stovetop maker.  This coffee was for sipping, but we would soon brew up another batch for developing, in coffee.  I would love the way Giovanni would say “in coffee!”  There was such wonderment in the way the words would just roll off his palette.  Just the simplest of pleasures that photographs can be developed in a brew of homemade Caffinol.

He told me that he had been depressed at the end of last year.  His doctors wanted to put him on anti-depreesents.  He wouldn’t have it.  He knew that there had to be a better way.  And there was.  He brought out his large format camera, and started developing “in coffee!”  So coffee and photography was part of his progress to a healthier life.  That was so beautiful to share with me.  We all struggle with depression, and to find happiness by getting our hands dirty by making a clean mind.

He told me that our energies that create our work come from either the light or the dark.  I want to be in the light!  We both do.  We are both comfortable with our place, and the work that helps us though, and understand the truth in life.

Brewing Coffee (for Developing), with Giovanni Savino, Inwood, NYC


It was time to bring out the lights, and big old fashioned Tachihara 4×5 camera loaded with first poloraoid then  Fujifilm positive, with a mounted Schneider Symmar-S 210mm lens for a portrait session.  First with polaroids and then some negs that would be processed, “in coffee!”  I hadn’t used a large format camera since my high school days, but we set it up, mixed up some different temperature lights and got down to business.

There is no waste in Giovanni’s studio.  After peeling off the back of the polaroids, we taped them down and removed the plastic to save the negatives that most people discard.  I loved that low tech way of making images.  Perfection in it’s imperfection.

Low Tech Perfection, with Giovanni Savino, Inwood, NYC

Then it was time to brew up the Caffinol and another portrait session.  Giovanni explained the chemicals needed, and we went to town.  I sat in the light, and he squeezed the cable release.  We went into his light tight darkroom/bathroom, and in complete darkness set about to develop the negatives.  It was so dark that after a few minutes you think that you can see.  Our conversation continued in the pitch black.  About my life in Japan.  Giovanni’s history in NYC, as a news cameraman, his work at ground zero after 911, his support of his wife’s family in the DR and beyond.  A good soul, with a gentle heart.

Polaroid Portrait Exchange with Giovanni aka Baron Von Savino, Inwood, NYC


Such an oddness two photographers in the dark, chatting.  I loved every minute of it.  But, all good things don’t necessarily have to end.  The conversation has been started.  The lucid communication will continue.  Giovanni is full of love and joy, and that shines though his art of photography.  I know that I will always have my photographic brother in NYC, Giovanni Savino.

Check Giovanni’s images, and writings with the links below.





some more images from my one day adventure in Inwood, with NYC Giovanni Savino


Petals, Snow on a Manhole Cover, Inwood, NYC



Used Cars in the Snow with Graffiti Inwood, NYC



Brewing Coffee (for Sipping) with Giovanni Savino, Inwood, NYC



One Photographer's Lightroom and Another's Pixels, with Giovanni Savino, Inwood, NYC

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