Samm Bennett and his Chance Encounters in Japan

Samm Bennet is an amazing musician.  He is at home with just about any instrument that can vibrate and be used to make music.  His specialty is as a drummer and a percussionist.  Making those beats, to soothe our souls.  Drumming is a mimmic of the human heartbeat.  Boom, boom, it goes on and on, telling the world that we are alive.  We are full of life.

Many of you may not know this but Samm is an amazing photographer too.  I actually knew him first through his eclectic images of his wanderings in Tokyo through his Flickr stream Flapjax at Midnight.  I really dug his way of seeing the Japanese world.  His eye to pick out the ordinary beautiful urbansacpes of Tokyo attracted me to his work.  I didn’t come across images of temples and shrines, i came across Nobori (advertising flags)  and Humans melding into an image of chance encounters.  Or there were amazing details of architecture that were landscapes in the macro details.

We decided to meet up and check out an area neither of us had photographed before in Sugamo.  Sugamo is famous for the elderly crowd to get their red power inner garments. I first met Samm a few years back because of Flickr.  It was a great time wandering around and watch each others photographic styles in action.

I really want to focus in on Samm’s Chance Encounters ongoing series as of this posting includes 421 photographs.  These are images that he has framed between the inhabitants of Japan and their advertisements, posters, and two-dimensional art.  He has created a visual language of how we react, or do not react to the environment that we are in.  Conversations (lucid ones) occur in these images, and at other times the two-dimensional humans are ignored by the flesh one.  I has so impressed with this series that I was inspired to create a few Chance Encounters of my own, as an homage to Samm’s style.

I got a chance to talk to Samm Bennett about his photography the other day.  His replies can be found below.

Please take a minute and introduce yourself to Lucid Communication.

My name is Samm Bennett: I was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, and have lived in Boston, Massachusetts, New York, NY and, since 1995, in Tokyo, Japan. I am a musician (singer and songwriter, drummer, percussionist, and player of certain idiosyncratic string instruments like the stick dulcimer and the diddley bow, as well as jaw harp and mouth bow). I am also an avid photographer.

(Author’s note, Samm is a very avid photographer.  He is constantly uploading images to his flickr stream.  Samm has such vitality as an artist)

Where do you like best to take pictures?

I take pictures pretty much anywhere and everywhere: from macros of weathered tape affixed to telephone poles to street scenes to walls to shadows to reflections to objects… to what I call “chance encounters.”

Tell me a little about your chance encounter images?

I spend a lot of time riding the Tokyo rails, going to my various jobs and gigs, and I’m in a great variety of different train stations all around the greater Tokyo area. The stations are a world of advertisements: there are ads everywhere, and many of them rather large ones, like billboards. I began to be intrigued by how actual living, breathing humans, waiting on trains or moving through the stations, interact with the human representations in the advertisements. The two-dimensional humans that are forever trying to sell something to the three dimensional humans: they are like two different species, yet they somehow complete each other. Even though they are in fact essentially oblivious to each other’s existence! I document the way these species coexist: how they complement or battle or challenge or ignore one another. These interactions are sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant, sometimes ridiculous, sometimes touching, sometimes banal. An epic drama, played out daily, over and over again, by millions of souls across the vast network of the Tokyo rail system.

Do you see a connection between your music and your photography?

Not any glaringly overt one, but there is a connection. I’m just not entirely sure of how to put it into words!

(Author’s note:  the connection that I see is pacing and rhythm to Samm’s photographs.  In addition, Samm often posts multiple images that are slightly varied from each other that generate patterns, and variations on a theme, much in the same style of jazz riffs.  Samm also will post before and after like images, of humans passing through a space.  This is using the medium of photography to be a story teller, and to create a timeline to his images.)

What are you trying to communicate to the viewers of your images?

This varies widely, depending on the type of photo we’re talking about, because I actually produce a pretty big variety of images, and these have varying objectives. But if I had to define some sort of overall intent, I’d say that I hope to introduce to the viewer something that is in some small way “fantastic”. And I mean the “fantastic” that resides in the “mundane.”

(Author’s note:  there is such beauty in the unseen mundane beauty in the world.  I believe this is the reason that Samm and I get along so well, because we view the world through similar shaded lenses.)

What is your internet presence? ( we can see your music, works, videos, anything you want to share with us)

Polarity Records



Samm is a prolific photographer, and narrowing down some images to share with the Lucid Communication has been a difficult fast.  I do ask that you check back in with Samm now and then to see what new images pop up on his Flickr stream, and if you are ever in the Tokyo area, make sure you pop in on Samm playing live somewhere in the crazy nights of Tokyo.

he'll eat you next...

multiple personalities

for me? thanks!

his three girlfriends

under my thumb

our eyes met, as the train whisked you away

fresh victim

don't go disrespecting Tommy Lee_2

all the above images are copyrighted Samm Bennett 2011, with permission to post.

My homage to Samm Bennett’s Chance Encounters

Double O's


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