Never leave home without it…

Never leave home without it…

I often get asked how I have so much time to ‘go shooting’.   The reality is I rarely ever ‘go shooting’ but rather I always have my camera with me.  My approach: Never leave home without it.    It is an extension of me.  It is part of my wardrobe as my wife says.  Legendary photographer Jay Maisel once said ‘Integrate photography into your life. If you always carry a camera, you never have to go out shooting. Use it as a diary or journal.’

I know many people are in the beginning of 52 or 365 projects and will be struggling with how they are going to be able to take all these photos.  Where are they ever going to find the time to go and do all this shooting?

There are always scenes unfolding in front of you if you are attentive enough to notice them.  This is a learned skill and becomes easier over time.  The number one thing you can do to increase your chances of capturing these scenes is to have your camera with you.

Yesterday I had a brutal work day with a tremendous amount of work to get done.   My schedule looked something like this:

5:45am – awake

7:00am – out the door

7:45am – at my desk

12:22am – finished work

2:20am – returned home

I couldn’t have possibly had time to take any photos…

I love shooting and capturing my commute.  I do the exact same path every day but I can always find something I haven’t seen before or see it in a new way…

If I hit this train crossing at Yoyogi at the wrong time I can get stuck for a long time.  I think the longest I have waited here is 17 minutes.  This crossing is the entrance to Shinjuku Station one of the busiest train stations in the world.

I looked up as I entered my office building, the same building I have entered for 11 years and there was something about how the clouds were reflecting in the windows or the light hitting the lines in the building that made me step back and picture of it…  My office is up on the 29th floor.    I was up on the 26th floor when the massive 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck last year.  You can see a video of my building shaking on YouTube.

I have made it a habit when I get onto my office floor to see what is happening outside…

Often you can catch some beautiful light if you are early…

I finished up my work just after midnight…

I arrived at an empty Shinjuku Station after most of the last trains but in time for mine…

Well it wasn’t completely empty… These two very funny and very drunk guys stopped me for a chat.  It went something like this;

Japanese Guy 1: ‘Hey…ah…you’re from Germany..go Germany!’

Japanese Guy 2 ‘ドイツ人ですか?’ (are you German?)

Japanese Guy 1: ’ドイツ人はかっこいいです!(Germans are cool)

Me: ‘私はアメリカ人ですよ。ボストンです’ (I am American, from Boston)

Japanese Guy 2: ‘Boston is so cool…’

Japanese Guy 1: ‘ボストンはどこですか?’ (Where is Boston)

Japanese Guy 2: ‘ニューヨークのいちぶです’ (It’s part of New York)

Japanese Guy 1: ‘Boston is cool…’

Me: ‘どうもありがとう’ (Thanks)

Japanese Guy 1: ‘あなたのカメラはこかっこいいです。わたしいにみせてください。’

Me: ‘え。。と。。じゃ、あなたのしゃしんとっていいですか?’ (ah…how about I take your photo instead)

Me: ‘チーズ’ (Cheese)

I have seen this scene thousands of times but this time I decided to stop down to a smaller aperture thus allowing me to use a slower shutter speed and capture the blur of the train racing by behind the crowd waiting for their last train.

I stopped to take a photo of this wanted poster.  I am not sure if this is getting much news coverage internationally but the man in the middle is Makato Hirata who was one of the senior members of the Aum Shinrikyo Doomsday Cult that was responsible for the 1995 Tokyo Subway sarin gas attack that killed 13 people and sickened thousands more.  He has been wanted for kidnapping and murder charges and on the run for the past 15 years.   He tried to surrender at a police station last weekend but the police officer thought it was a joke and won’t arrest him.  The police officer told if he wanted to surrender he would need to go to another police station that was a half mile away.   He kept telling the officer he was on a special wanted list but the officer just ignored him so finally he walked to the other police station and was immediately arrested.

You know you are late when they are closing the station doors on you…

I stopped off at my favorite standing bar in Shibuya for a bite to eat on my way home…

I jumped into a cab and headed home…

There is always time to take pictures…you just need to make sure you have your camera with you.   If you like what you saw today, please share it by clicking one of the icons below.


  • Viktoria Michaelis

    One of the best reasons for always having a camera with you, aside from the excellent ones that you have demonstrated here, is that everything you see no one else can see. No one else lives what you experience, even if they are standing right next to you and looking in the same direction. Every single photograph is an individual moment in life and, who knows, perhaps one or two of them will be deciding moments ….

  • Brian

    Wonderful post about commitment to having your camera with you and taking photographs even when you think you don’t have the time, and you pictures are lovely. But tell me, out of curiosity, how do you handle the other end of the process—post processing, editing? That’s another chunk of time. Do you take a very minimalist approach to editing and focus on getting the picture you want in camera, or do you spend time editing later?

  • Barbara

    I could not agree with you more. There comes a time in a photographers psyche that you just cannot even consider leaving the house on particular days without your camera along. You look at the world differently when you look or gander at scenes in your daily life. How would I shoot this? What could I do with this shot? Wouldn’t that make a great shot!! Oh, where’s that camera when I need it??? Right there, because you know so many times in the course of the day you see something that catches your imagination and creativity. It’s not always feasible in some cases, but well worth the extra effort to be prepared for the Big One!

  • kzx

    Oh, Hachiko Exit!
    I tried searching here on Shoottokyo if you have photographed the dog statue and surroundings, but didn’t find any.
    So can this be had as a request?
    Or point me in the right direction if I missed it :)

    Loved the movie so much..

  • Kamea

    Magnificent post. Your shots remind me of my 2004 (4 months) JICA Training in Kitakyushu. During field trips into Jica Tokyo Centre I saw the uniqueness of this great Tokyo City. My best buddy Jaanis (from Estonia) and I were lost for words when taking night view (& shots) of the city from Tokyo Tower. I have some photos … but I need to locate them from my CDs. Please post some night shots of the Tower itself….

  • Jeff Stroud


    it is always always a thrill to walk your path through your photographs. I almost always take my camera, but I find it difficult to take photographs at night.

    any advice. I am using a Nikon D60 !

    I love the shot of the last train (blur) !!!

  • Rasho

    Man, Hirata arrested! Amen to that…

    I got hooked to Japanese wanted posters some time ago when Ichihashi killed Lindsay Hawker. I lived close to Gyotoku, a friend who lived there was approached by Ichihashi to teach him English, she declined, and that the Hawker murder happened few days later. She split from Gyotoku and laid low in our place for a month before returning to UK.

    Anyhow, we don’t have wanted posters here, so I was amazed with this old-school method. But than again, knowing how Japan depends on rail system, hanging somebody’s pic on a train station almost guarantees maximal exposure…anyhow, good thing they got the bastard, keep snapping, and all the best to you and your fam in 2012!

  • Ayman Suleiman

    Another wonderful post. I would love to get into photography more but of course, I always use the ‘I don’t have time’ excuse. By the way, which camera are you carrying around with you? I feel like it would be too difficult to carry around a DSLR camera with me and I guess my phone is right there but I never stop to take a picture (or usually because the quality isn’t what I want).

    Also, is your blog setup for Google Currents? I’d love to add it to my feed.

    I’m just starting to learn Japanese and I am proud that I was able to read everything (minus the kanji) :)

  • Dave

    HI Ayman – I carry different cameras with me, usually either my Leica M9 or a FujiFilm x100. I occasionally carry around my Nikon D3s. I am published on Google Currents, you can find me in the Design section or search ShootTokyo.

  • Dave

    Thanks Jeff. If your issue is the images are not bright enough then I suggest getting faster glass. If they are not steady enough then try using a tripod. Your camera body will have the least to do with it, expect regarding ISO. The image here is hand held at 1/15 of a second (I have pretty steady hands) and a aperture of f/5.6.

  • Dave

    H Kzx… I have shot Hachiko before. You can see it in THIS post.

  • Dave

    Completely agree Barbara!

  • Dave

    Brian – I do very little processing. You can reach what I do HERE. I spend less than 5 minutes to tag all of the key words in my images and put in all of my copyright information. I spend 5 minutes looking at the images and adjusting crop, contrast, exposure if needed but ended up only changing about 3 of the images.

  • kzx

    Thank you Dave, came back to check the comments on this post after reading (watching?) your entry about Nikon 24-70mm where I spotted yet another shot of Hachiko.

  • john cruz

    You’re Amazing as always. Your photographs are so full of life it’s like i’m a part of it and is actually in there! Thank’s for always sharing!

  • Dave

    Thanks John.

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