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  • Your Prayers Aren’t Enough | A Month After Northern Japan’s Earthquake and Tsunami

    Apr 14 | Evan | 1 Comment |

    Please take 5 minutes to watch this video before reading my post, make sure to watch to they very end:

     

    It’s been more than a month now since the tsunami destroyed the lives and washed away entire cities in literally a matter of minutes.  As somebody with a personal connection to Japan and directly with Miyagi, Japan, I’m still heartbroken and I am not sure if I will ever really get over this.  What I am feeling is nothing compared to what those still over there are feeling.  We don’t know what is going to happen with the nuclear plant in Fukushima, but I do know that the news is taking a lot of attention away from where it needs to be now: the people of Northern Japan. For probably 99% or more of the public, there is nothing we can do to help the nuclear power plant, but everyone can donate a little to help the victims in Northern Japan. Some numbers to consider:

     

    • 13,456/14,851: Confirmed deaths and still missing.
    • 100,000: Number of estimated orphans from the tsunami.  They didn’t just lose their parents and families, most lost EVERYTHING (yes I know typing all caps is like yelling and annoying).  All of their possessions.  Some don’t even have anything to remember their families by.  Some don’t even have their own hometown anymore.  Please take a moment to think about that.  Think about literally having everything you own, everything that is important to you, taken from you 7 minutes from now, without warning.
    • 4 days:  The donation totals after 4 days, Haiti–150 Million, Katrina–108 million, Japan–23 million. After two weeks, Japan had received an estimated 161 million, 11 weeks after Katrina, 2.7 billion had been privately donated.
    • 309 billion:  Estimated damges, Japan 309 billion dollars, about 4 times the estimated damages in Katrina.

     

    I mentioned the orphans, but many families, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers, are in very similar situations.  Those lucky enough to have escaped with their lives, a lot of them have lost everything else. Again, I ask you to think about losing everything that is important to you and furthermore, if everyone in your town lost everything as well.  Whether you are kid or an adult, how do you cope with that?  You can’t by yourself.  You need others to help.  Time to be honest.  I’m not saying that prayer isn’t helpful nor denying that prayer can be very powerful, but your prayers aren’t enough.  If prayer was all that was needed to get things done, the world would be a lot better off.  Please continue to pray for Japan, but if you haven’t found another way to help besides prayer, I beg you to consider finding a way donate to Japan.  Japan needs our help.   Even if it means you don’t drink your daily coffee for a day or two (or week) or one less drink while going out, maybe share a meal with somebody one day, anything you can afford to send to Japan will be helpful. There are so many easy ways you can save a few dollars to donate.

    I am especially asking photographers to help.  I think it is fair to say that almost all professional photographers use equipment from Japan.  Japan has given us the tools we need to make a living doing what we love.  Photographers, please give back to Japan.  There are so many ways you can do this. How about you take the money from the next print you sell and donate that to Japan.  If all photographers did something similar, the impact would be huge.

    Even with my poor spelling, grammar and writing, maybe I have convinced somebody to donate to Japan. So where should the money go? Please just don’t go donate to the first group you find. Do some research. Make sure that the place you are giving to has a specific fund for Japan where 100% of the funds are guaranteed to go to Japan. Charity Navigator does a great job of explaining what you need to take into consideration before donating.  Many have reached out to me to ask where I have personally donated to.  I recommend you find something you believe in from the link I just provided for Charity Navigator or the google link, but with money I have collected through March Madness for Japan and The First Friday Raffle and Auction for Japan and other personal contributions, here is where I have sent our money:

     

    I don’t have children yet, but I do have a wife and my family. If my wife, sister, mom or dad, lost everything, and I had to choose only one between having you, pray or donate some money to help them somehow recover, I’d pick the donation. Of course having both is best, but again, I don’t believe that your prayers are enough to help with such a catastrophic and dramatic event. I challenge you to ask yourself the same question, if you had to only pick one, which one would it be? The time to help is now.

    My heart, thoughts, prayers and donations will continue to go to Japan and I humbly beg you to consider doing the same.

    *steps down from box*

    First Friday Raffle and Auction for Japan | April 1st Isaac Hunter’s Tavern in Raleigh

    Mar 27 | Evan | 3 Comments |

    Japan needs our help. 400 miles of coastline of Northern Japan was completely destroyed and in some cases literally wiped off the map. More than 350,00 have lost their homes, more than 1 million are without ample food, more than 2 million without water and who knows how many without medicine. Flu and infectious diseases/viruses are spreading in the shelters. It is winter and there is no gas/kerosine to heat homes/shelters. A lot of roads are still impassable. The sun will rise again, but Japan needs our help… Please take a look at these photos to see the devastation and horror that the earthquake and tsunami caused. The first 20 are courtesy of The New York Times and the last three from National Geographic.


    After organizing a successful March Madness for Japan (we raised $900! Thanks again to the 40+ people that participated) I have been working on another charity for event for Japan. This time it is a raffle and auction that will coincide with Raleigh’s First Friday, April 1st, 2011. Join me at Isaac Hunter’s at 6pm on Friday, April 1st to raise money for the relief effort in Japan. We’ll be raffling off tons of great prizes, including gift certificates to some of your favorite restaurants and stores. There will also be a silent auction for for some original artwork and handmade purses. Come out to support Japan, have some food, maybe a drink or two and also, enjoy some very cool artwork by local artist Rick White.

    You can buy Raffle tickets here online or at the event.  Tickets online start at $15 and this gets you 10 tickets.  You can put all your tickets toward one prize or you split it up on multiple prizes.  For every $15 you donate, you will get an additional 10 raffle tickets.  If you can not come to the event, you must contact Evan by 1pm Friday April 1st with how you would like to distribute your raffle tickets or if you plan on bidding on one of the auction items, which one and how much you are willing to pay.

    See the list below and check back as there might be late additions!

    Prizes for the Raffle:

    • $50 Gift Certficate to Neo-Asia (formally Neo-China) Neo-Asia has created a world in which you can indulge yourself in unique culinary art, distinctive décor, the soothing atmosphere and the unparalleled service you will receive each and every time you walk through their doors!
    • $50 Gift Certficate to Sushi Thai in Cary, serving both lunch and dinner, Sushi Thai offers a variety of lunch specials in addition to a children’s menu. Choose from Japanese teriyaki and tempura dishes and Thai rice and noodles.
    • (2) $50 Gift Certificates to Red Dragon in Raleigh (two winners chosen)!
    • $50 Gift Certficate to Jill’s Beach, the Triangle’s premiere tanning destination. With 5 locations and offering a variety of services, including spray and UV tanning.
    • (2) Gift Certificates each one valid for 2 Ultimate Curry Bowls at Martin’s Curry Rice (two winners will be chosen) Chef Martin’s creative genius blends authentic Thai, Indian, and Japanese recipes to cater to American tastes and come up with unique and outstanding sauces. The signature curries are the Red, Yellow, and Green Curries.
    • 10 Free Individual Meal Gift Certificates from Teriyakin’ Delicious. Winners can choose any plate meal from the menu including “The Works” which is worth $9.95. (multiple winners for this one)
    • Gift Certificate to Cold Stone Creamery
    • $15 Gift Certificate to Dunkin’ Donuts
    • 6 large jars of various products from Bertie County Peanuts (6 winners will be chosen), They have been in business since 1919 so they know what makes a good peanut!!
    • (2) 8×10 matted prints from photographer Mary Beth Short (2 winners will be chosen)
    • (5) 8×10 framed prints from Evan Pike Photography from the “Experience Japan” Series.  (5 winners will be chosen)
    • Exciting card game, “Cabo” with the cards illustrated by Adam Peele.
    • Originally silk screen printed on wood by Adam Peele.
    • Handmade Coin Purses by Chiharu Terada (multiple drawings for multiple prizes)

    Prizes for the Auction:


    All donations collected will go towards either Direct Relief International or Architecture for Humanity, both of which have funds where 100% will go towards Japan and both have 4 star ratings on Charity Navigator

     

     

     

    The Sun Will Rise Again | Tshirt for Japan

    Mar 18 | Evan | 2 Comments |

    A friend and local Raleigh artist, Adam Peele, has come up with a great new tshirt to raise money to help Japan. It’s been about one week since the earthquake and tsunami ruined the lives, homes and even complete cities of many Japanese residents. In some cases, all it took was 7 minutes for cities like Rikuzentakata to be wiped off the map. The following video is in Japanese, but you don’t need to understand Japanese to understand the video:

    Japan needs your help and one way you can help, is to buy one of Adam’s shirts. From their site:

    Our hearts are broken.
    100% of the profit from this shirt will go to the japanese red cross.
    Please let us know if you have any questions about the final destination of the proceeds.
    The text on the shirt says “the sun will rise again”

    Shirts are no longer available, thank you for your support!

    March Madness for Japan

    Mar 14 | Evan | No Comments |

    First of all, thank you again to everyone who has reached out to my wife and I. It really means a lot to us. Now it is time to help Japan.

    By now, you have all seen how horrible things that are going on in Northern Japan and you are American, you probably have filled out your bracket (or at least started to). Now it’s time to make it count. To help those affected by the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Tohoku, Japan, I’ve created a March Madness for Japan group to help raise money for Japan. 85% of the money raised will go to an organization involved with helping out and 15% will go towards the top 5 finishers. The more the merrier, so have fun while helping Japan! Thank you in advance!

    Great Tohoku Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011

    Mar 11 | Evan | No Comments |

    It’s with an anxious, heavy heart I’m blogging today. By now I’m sure you have heard and seen the horrific imagery coming out of Japan. The earthquake struck just off the coast where I used to live in Japan, Shiogama, Miyagi Prefecture of Tohoku, Japan, just about 15 minutes by train from Sendai. Thankfully, my wife’s family has checked in and they are all okay, but I’m still waiting to hear back from many friends in the worst hit areas and a few in Tokyo. Thank you to everyone that has contacted me to send their prayers and kind words. For those of you actually in Japan or concerned with those over there like myself, check out Gakuranman and Surviving In Japan for a great collections of helpful links.

    Also, I know this is probably too early, but especially with my connection with the Miyagi area, I’d love to be involved in helping things get back on track there. If you are aware of any mission, church, temple or any group leading a trip over there, please let me know. Whether I’m just needed to document as a photographer or working on something else, I’d love to help. In the meantime, here are some ways we can all help.

    Again, thank you to everyone for your support and kind words. It means a lot to me and to everyone in Japan or connected to those in Japan.

    Experience Japan, A Japan Photo Guide With Andre and Evelyn

    Jan 23 | Evan | No Comments |

    This post is a LONG time overdue! After returning from my latest trip to Japan, everything just steamrolled together and between work and moving into my new home/studio, everything got delayed. In any case, I’m about to launch my new Japan Photo Guide website and decided it was about time to getting this post up on my blog. So without further ado…

    Andre and Evelyn were the latest couple to hire me as their Japan Photo Guide. Andre had been to Japan before for business but hadn’t had much time to explore on his own and speaks very little Japanese. Andre is also quite the hobbyist photographer so it made a lot of sense to hire me rather than a traditional tour guide.

    I’ve met a lot of people during my travels around Japan and taking Andre and Evelyn around Tokyo, Kyoto and a few places in between, felt more like traveling with friends and family than a job. Whether it is before photo shoot or tour of Japan, I always get a little nervous before meeting my clients-after all I had only emailed with Andre before meeting him at Narita Tokyo International Airport-but soon after picking them up from the airport, I knew I had nothing to worry about. Meeting and working for such warm and wonderful people, makes my job the best in the world! Furthermore, between our mutual interest in photography and our sincere love for yakiniku (Japanese style Korean BBQ), I knew we would be great friends!

    We spent most of our time in Kyoto and Tokyo, but did make a few stops in between. This was one of my more memorable trips, highlighted by our dinner experience with a geiko and maiko (geiko is what the geisha in Kyoto are called and maiko is a geiko/geisha in training)! I was going to arrange for just the two of them to experience the traditional meal and company of the trained entertainers, but since the geiko and maiko didn’t speak English, I came along as the translator–poor me!  Seeing a geiko walking around Kyoto is a rare opportunity that most travelers don’t get to see, but actually having a chance to have dinner and drinks with one is even rare for Japanese. Part of this is the price tag that comes along with such a treat, which can easily run $2,000 USD for about 1.5 hours of company and dinner for 3 people.

    Before going, Andre and Evelyn wanted to get dressed in some tradtiional Japanese clothes, and after a quick phone call, I was able to reserve some kimonos that were appropiate to wear to our experience. We arrived at the traditional restaurant and were of course greeted as VIPs. In our private room, the first course of our kaiseki (traditional Japanese course meal) was waiting for us. I’ve often heard that traditional Japanese food is “eaten with your eyes,” because of how beautiful the preparation is. This meal was delicious as it was carefully prepared and presented!

    About 20 minutes into our meal, the geiko, maiko and a musician arrived. I’ll never forget the moment they walked in and all 3 of us were suddenly silent and struck with awe. After introductions, things loosened up quickly and I was translating a lot of questions from Andre and Evelyn but also they had a lot of questions for us, as foreigners traveling in Japan. After teaching high school for 3 years in Japan, I can honestly say that the young maiko, really didn’t act too different from some of my students. Especially after the maiko insisted on playing with my iPhone and Andre’s camera!

    It is easy to forget that under all the clothes, makeup and tradition, that they are just like you and me. After about an hour or so of chatting, eating and drinking with them, the geiko and maiko performed two beautiful traditional dances. I’ve experienced quite a lot in Japan, but this experience with the geiko and maiko was incredibly wonderful and surreal. Certainly a memory I will never forget, but more importantly, I made friends in Andre and Evelyn that I will also never forget.

    [fancygallery id=’2010japan’]

    Evan vs Japan | Tokyo Destination Wedding Photographer

    Feb 17 | Evan | 3 Comments |

    Once realizing that I was going to have the opportunity to return to Japan to photograph a wedding photographer, I made two lists. Friends to reconnect with and food to destroy! Unfortunately, both lists were too ambitious and I didn’t get to see as many friends nor eat as many different kinds of food as I wanted to. Although, to say that the trip, portrait session and the wedding I photographed in Japan were wonderful, would be a huge understatement! Tomoko and Kohei, were simply adorable and perfect together. Between their broken English, my spotty Japanese and gestures, we were able to communicate fairly well (it’s good to know I haven’t forgotten too much). I had a blast hanging out with them and could really appreciate their kindness. It is always refreshing to meet wonderful couples like Tomoko and Kohei and such a pleasure to see how they interact with each other, which for them, the best way I can describe is like innocent school kids in love. Seriously, they were always playing with and making the other laugh. Very sweet and adorable! More

    Portrait Photography at a Japanese Restaurant … in Tokyo, Japan!

    Feb 13 | Evan | No Comments |

    I am so lucky to have a job that allows me to travel! Especially, when it means I get to go to places I love, like Japan! At the end of January, I returned to Japan for the first time since leaving in 2008 to photograph a wedding. I was only in Japan for one week and had a lot of friends (and a lot of food and coffee drinks) to catch up with, but in addition to the wedding, I decided to take on one portrait photography session as well. High school senior portrait photography isn’t a popular at all in Japan, but instead, especially for women, it is common to get some portraits done for Coming of Age Day (Seijin no Hi). Wikipedia explains it better than I can:

    [Coming of Age Day] is a Japanese holiday held annually on the second Monday of January. It is held in order to congratulate and encourage all those who have reached the age of majority (20 years old) over the past year, and to help them realize that they have become adults. Festivities include coming of age ceremonies (seijin-shiki) held at local and prefectural offices, as well as after-parties amongst family and friends.

    So in honor of Ayumi turning 20 years old, we did a photography shoot with her wearing her kimono. As you can see, both Ayumi and her kimono were beautiful! Ayumi and her family had picked out a spectacular restaurant to use as the backdrop for our session and after we finished taking photographs, treated me to a delicious lunch (again, I am so lucky)!

    My favorite photos from 3+ years in Japan

    Nov 30 | Evan | No Comments |

    The title pretty much says it all! As I gear up to photograph a wedding in Japan in January I thought I would put together a slideshow of my favorite photos I made while over there. Make sure you turn your sound on as there is an awesome song by Gunsolo called “Arcadia.” Also, if you are heading to Japan, or know somebody else who is, don’t forget I am available as a photography tour guide for your trip to Japan!

    My Student is a Japanese Pop Star | Hitomi Takahashi

    Nov 17 | Evan | No Comments |

    Well technically, since she graduated and I am not teaching anymore, Hitomi Takahashi is not my student anymore, but while she was in high school and I was her teacher I couldn’t really blog about it. Hitomi was my student when she was a freshman in high school at Shiogama Girls High School. She was this shy, teeny-tiny girl (147 cm, what is that, about 4’8″?), who sat in the back and never volunteered to answer any questions unless she was called on. When I realized who she was, and after hearing her music I couldn’t believe that such a loud, incredible voice was coming from this little girl! Even more incredible than that was when I went to see her perform live. On stage, she was a completely different person. In class, Hitomi was a quiet, down to earth, humble, shy girl, but on stage, she was this all powerful, attention commanding, loud women. What an incredible transformation it was! Seriously, it is so hard to believe how much power–and what an incredible voice– this girl has, especially at a live performance. After a teaching few months, I had found out that we had a common interest in photography, so we made a trade. I gave her a small book of some of my photographs and she hooked me up with a autograph on her CD… I definitely got the better end of the bargain there! 😉 Thanks Hitomi!After the break are some of her songs, even if you can’t understand Japanese, I think you will still appreciate her voice! This first one was her first single that debuted at number 1 in the Japanese Pop Charts, something only one other women singer had done at that point. I am not a huge fan of JPOP, and maybe it is because I am biased, but I really like Hitomi Takahashi’s music! More

    My Wedding in Japan

    May 04 | Evan | No Comments |

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    So… This past weekend, I was shooting a wedding in Georgia with Andrew Bryant Photography, and suddenly realized, my wedding here in the states is (at that time) in 2 week–As I write this post it is less! Naturally, thinking about our wedding here in Raleigh, North Carolina, making arrangements and her family coming over here, has made me think about our time (and wedding) in Japan. Then I realized, I never posted anything about it, so here you are! Since we always knew that we were going to do one in Japan and one in the USA, we decided to keep the one in Japan as simple (and affordable) as possible. We didn’t have a religious ceremony at all, but instead had what was basically a lunch reception. Now what you have to understand, in Japan, there is always an after party and usually an after after party (each time the group gets smaller). So after the reception, we went to another party/reception with a few of the same people but while the first party was mainly for families and parent’s friends and coworkers, the second party was mainly for our friends. After that, there was an after after party and then even an after after after party that Satomi and I didn’t even attend but her friends still wanted to celebrate, party and drink more! After a full 12 hours of celebrating, partying and running around Tokyo, we were exhausted. Whew. I am getting tired again just thinking about that day! In any case, here are some photos from before and during the lunch reception at the Grand Prince Hotel Akasaka. Photographs were taken by my good friend Greg Logan.

    Missing Japan: Sapporo Snow Festival

    Feb 03 | Evan | No Comments |

    Japan has a festival for just about everything you can imagine. To be honest, most of them are over hyped and once you have seen one, you have seen them all. Of course, there are some exceptions. One of which being the Sapporo Snow Festival, which is in Sapporo every February. This was by far my favorite festival in Japan! The main attractions are the huge snow sculptures, some of which are functional, some artistic and some are both. Equally as cool, in the entertainment district Susukino, there are some amazing ice sculptures…the best of which are actually ice bars that open at night and serve hot drinks! Throughout my years of living in Japan, I only went once… now I wish I went every year and can’t wait until I get the chance to go back!