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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Article I wrote for Cultural News

I just wanted to check in and say hello... I realize I have not written as often as I did before. I have been somewhat busy. The publisher of Cultural News felt that my article should be shared with as many people before it is officially published next month. Here is a preview of the Article in full that will be published next month by Cultural News But here is a preview of an article I wrote for Cultural News. It is supposed to come out in the December issue with photographs.



         In August 2011 I traveled to Japan to document the aftermath of the Earthquake, Tsunami and Nuclear Crisis.  Like most photojournalists I was determined and focused to remain objective about the crisis and take the best photographs possible while documenting a true, but positive reflection of Japan’s worst tragedy to date.  Like much of the world I felt a sense of concern, empathy and tragic curiosity for the Japanese and their situation.  I didn’t have any expectations other than to be prepared for the worst.  The worst would never come.
         What I found in Japan were people of resilience, hope, perseverance and presence.  In each city I visited I found a common theme, Gambaru, which means many different things ranging from perseverance to overcoming obstacles.  But to me, and I believe others in Japan, it meant the refusal to give up and the importance to never stop until the goal is achieved.  It became my mantra. That and “Walk, Safe. Walk Strong, Mark Paul” which was written on a hat given to me by my friend Tree in Ofunato. I chose to walk 350 miles of the 600 or so miles affected by the Tohuku Earthquake in Japan. And while it seemed crazy at the time it came to make sense to me.  For within every mile I covered was a story to be told.

In Sendai, I experienced my saddest day in my travels as I met a Mother and her young son trying to fix a part of their mini van that had come lose. I was under the impression that this woman had simply pulled over to take care of the annoyance. What I found out was that the ground where she had pulled over actually once belonged to her parents and that her father and mother had been swept away with their home by the Tsunami. She, and her son were the last of her living relatives in the whole world.  They had come to honor her parents and pay their respects to their neighbors as well. She did not weep, she simply stated the facts: her parents were gone and it was important that she raise her son in the best world possible. 
Japan brings the best out of people.  Be it a photographer or simply a janitor trying to make a difference.  In Ofunato, I experienced true Gamburu in the most heinous of jobs.  A “Foam Factory.”  I met a group of International Volunteers called “All Hands” who goal was very simple to help and facilitate with the clean up of the city of Ofunato.  Every morning a group between 80 to 120 volunteers would be scattered throughout the city working independently in group of six to ten: cleaning debris from roads, painting walls, clearing water drainage systems, cataloging recovered pictures, and breaking truck loads of foam.  I spent a total of three days working with a colorful group of international volunteers but couldn’t get over the commitment they had to their jobs. “James” in particular had come from England to make a difference on his Holiday.  And while in his own words he was a simple Janitor he was to me as the rest of the volunteers I met in Ofunato as well as throughout the Tohuku area a hero. 
Like many of the Japanese and international Volunteers I met. James quietly worked hard, focused to achieve what seemed the most daunting and unrewarding of task.  Breaking large pieces of foam insulation, once housed between the walls of the factories where his team stood working, into very small particles that could be bagged and later burnt.  He never deviated from his task. And when I asked him why, he simply replied “I just want to make a difference.”
James exemplified every Japanese I came across in my travels. Present, hopeful, and perseverant. I found that no matter how old or young a person was they had no problem helping to rebuild their country. In Iwake, not even 20 miles away from the Nuclear Reactor I met a young Mother who volunteered her three children ages 16, 12, and 9 Months.  When I asked what the baby did she said he brought hope. In that same group I met a man in his late 60s, Abe, who every week travelled from Tokyo to make a difference volunteering.
The Japanese never complained.  And the conditions in some of these areas were extremely harsh. Instead the victims and evacuees looked at the Japanese born volunteers or International Volunteers with grace and thankfulness. There was always a sense of gratitude from the victims for the empathy that the volunteers showed them by listening to their stories, and working hard to make a difference in their lives and giving them hope that they had not and will not be forgotten. 
Ishinomaki ©2011 Mark Paul Photography

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Spirit of Compassion the Spirit of Shumei and my first answer...

Good Morning all....

And thank you for all of your support and supporting what is going on in Japan. Yesterday as most of you know an earthquake occurred in Turkey of 7.2.  Please send your best wishes to the people and the region.

A lot of people are curious what I have been doing since my return from Japan.... Well, to be honest I don't know where my time has gone? All I know it feels like I have only been back two days even though it has been closer to 22.   No seriously, I've been busy working, taking meetings and preparing the Exhibition, Film, and keeping up with my photography work.

All I know is that 24 hours in a day is not enough but I am content with the progress of the project and will see it to it's end.

Sunday I was invited by two of my committee members Ron Helgesen and Masayo Sugimoto to the 19th Anniversary of the Shumei Center in Pasadena.  Shumei is a spiritual organization dedicated to the advancing of health, happiness, and harmony for all humankind though applying the insight of Mokichi Okada.

It was an amazing day full of  love, life, and laughter. I was honored to be surrounded by so many people full of grace including  my Mother, Amalia Baker Rosenblum.  Below are a few of the pictures from the event.  Enjoy. One last thing I should mention is that an amazing group called Makoto Taiko performed. If you have never seen Makoto Taiko I highly recommend clicking on the link and watch a few the video clips on their site on their gallery page. They are a talented group of young Musician Athletes (I say Athletes, because to keep their energy up they need to be in amazing shape.)












































©2011 Mark Paul Photography.... All Rights Reserved





Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Please submit questions...

Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening...

I guess depending on where your reading this blog it can be anytime of day. Which makes me wonder, what is the actual time in space for Astronauts? Is there a Universal Time used in Space? Just a thought, Well I digress.

Since my return I have been asked many questions about my trip to Japan and the Tohuku area ranging from "How was it?" to "Did you like the Food?" to "Weren't you afraid of the radiation?" The questions got me thinking, why not do a series of Question and Answer blogs over the next few weeks in conjunction with a few pictures that I have taken.  It is four months before the launch of the International Exhibit in Los Angeles and Premiere of my Documentary in Tokyo (For those of you that didn't know, I accidentally  filmed a documentary and am in the process of completing it.)

So I am asking for all your help. Please email me your questions about my trip, Japan, the Earthquake, Tsunami, Nuclear Crisis, etc. to markpaulphotography@gmail.com . Please also include a name and location so I can give you credit. For my non-english speaking audience feel free to send the question in your original language and I will find a way to get it translated. I am hoping to start doing this as soon as possible which means the sooner you send the emails the quicker I begin to submit the answers on the blog.

Thanks.

Mark Paul


One of the last photographs of me taken in Japan with my friend from Japan and Germany
(From left to right)  Michael, Yamazaki-san, myself, Ayumi, Marcus, Matthieu
©2011 Mark Paul Photography






Sunday, October 9, 2011

Date for First Exhibit....

First off, Apologies to all who have been waiting patiently for a new blog.  I have been rather busy since my return as you can imagine. Today I met with part of the committee that will be selecting the photographs. They were over 15,000. And that's considering that I was down for three days after being slightly injured.

Over the next few weeks I plan to release a few more photographs. I was planning to release a tribute to all my friends in Japan as a form of thank you. I will probably do that first.

The question has arisen when is the exhibition going to take place. Well, as I mentioned before we are looking at a February 2011 Exhibition date in Los Angeles. I realize it is far off but we want it to coincide with the one year anniversary on March 11, 2011. And for many of you that don't know, while I was over there I also filmed a documentary.  It will be pretty exciting to premiere it next year. For now, I simply want to thank you all for following.  I will write a bit more over the next few days.

Mark Paul





Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Returning to the United States..... Thank you Japan.

I have found that The United States and Japan have one thing very common in their culture. A respect and Admiration for Eagles....

©2011 Mark Paul Photography All Rights Reserved...
But in this Case please share the image 

with everyone you know as a form of SOLIDARITY with Japan and the
 World.   EAGLES AS YOU KNOW 
SOAR HIGHER THAN ANY BIRD 
AND WITH COURAGE, 
INTEGRITY AND HONOR. 
The foundation of all cultures.


I would like to thank everyone in Japan, the United States, and the rest of the World who Supported my project and helped me along the way. You are all my collaborators. Thank you. And God Bless you All!!!!


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Penultimate Blog Final

These are the final pictures I have from my last days in Iwaki.   Enjoy.  One more blog in Tokyo... Then it is homeward bound for me. Thank you all for your support and reading my entries.