Tokyo in Black and White: a temple and my drug of choice
For this article I was really hoping to go somewhere a little more exciting, but the weather was terrible. But terrible was kind of okay as becomes a great reason to shoot black and white, especially as I love Fujifilm's Acros film simulation. So, what I thought would be a potentially boring day turned into something rather exciting. It BECAME exciting and I realised why I liked photography so much. Photography has that special power to change how I felt and make me feel really good while I was doing it, kind of like a drug.
A few years back I was working for a business and suddenly I got an e-mail from my then boss. It contained my new contract along with the new work regulations. It blew me away. I found out I wouldn’t receive a minimum fixed salary anymore (which could be exceeded if I got my business up and over a certain level), I would be paid purely on hours worked but I had to guarantee him I would still be available for a certain number of hours per week, and that number was not small. No matter what I said, he didn’t want to understand that there are days when people didn't need our business; there were times the company would be on vacation, and; other times when customers didn't need our business and I wouldn't be making any money. The safety net of a guaranteed minimum salary was completely gone.
The contract he offered me was for a fixed term, which meant I would have to stay until it expired. Could you imagine that, working at a company that doesn’t guarantee you a wage but expects you to be available for work when required. Seriously, could you imagine that? Potentially, you could end up with zero salary for a month, and how would you live? Completely impossible. And of course, there was no pension or insurance. I won’t bother telling you about the regulations, but draconian would be the gentlest word I could use. Work place bullying to make me quit? Maybe. It seemed like he was trying to make me quit. What caused it?
A massive breakdown in the relationship. I just couldn’t see him working. He liked to sit around and chat, but not work at his real role, which was find business for us. That ground me down eventually as I never earned over the minimum guarantee. I ended up working at other jobs to make ends meet, often seven days a week. I asked a few times about when more work was coming but he didn’t want to talk about it. That was the beginning of the end. The relationship ground to a halt as, I think, he was that old style of boss who believed staff don’t question orders and resented me for questioning him. I think that is why a completely new contract appeared. He needed to get rid of me as I had become a problem. After reading that e-mail I was looking for a pick-me-up, and a new job.
It didn't take me long to get a new job, but I still felt pretty bad, betrayed and I was at a low point in my life. It made me very thankful for photography. Photography is the ultimate form of stress relief. I like the pictures I take, I honestly do, but I know my limitations. It’s doubtful I’ll ever get invited to do paid work and that is okay. But just getting out and taking photos is exciting. It feels like I’m about to do something special. When I hit that shutter button, it gives me a burst of pure pleasure - regardless of how the picture eventually turns out. In some ways, I guess it is like a drug. Take it and you feel good - stop taking it and you don't feel as good.
It’s great. I can’t think of a better way to spend my time. Just temporarily removing myself from the real world and being in the world of image. I won’t say it removes all the stress in its entirety, but it certainly does make a big dent in it. Temporary pain relief? Just like a drug.
Anyway, the photos for this article, were taken at the temple of Myōjūji, which is near Kugayama station in Suginami ward. It’s nothing super special but it does have some great architecture, a bamboo grove and a cemetery (which is usual for temples). I found it while looking on Google maps for a place to shoot. That area has lots of little temples and some of them look very interesting, so don’t be surprised if I go there again. However, it’s not a major place for tourists, not even a major place for locals really. It's just a nice place just to take a few pictures.
I can’t honestly say I was satisfied with the pictures I took but, what I can say is that when I finished there and started walking home I definitely felt a lot better. Until next time anyway. Yes, photography is definitely my drug of choice.