photo of the month
from randy kato


As my city (New York) deals with the aftermath of superstorm Sandy, I was looking through photos from a cross-country trip I took a few years ago. Specifically, I was thinking of using a photo from the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans a year after Katrina.

I found one that was particularly poignant - a previously residential street with little living there but the year-old weeds that had taken over and the street sign reading "Flood St." But it simply wasn't a very good photograph.

So as I continued to look through what I shot on that trip, this one from a few days before we reached New Orleans caught my eye. Somehow it evoked a similar feeling to what I was trying to find with the too obvious Flood Street shot. I'm not sure if I can explain it though.

First, the back story. My friend's family has some land up in the hills of longhorn country, outside of Austin, TX. Since we were taking a southern route across the country he said we should go check it out and stay there. Just getting there was quite an adventure. Our first clue should have been the obscure directions, things like "when you see the donkey and the goat, turn right." Surprisingly, the directions were quite clear and did in fact lead us well off the pavement and right to a donkey and a goat! But from there things got pretty rough. With no roads to follow, I'd like to say that I got in touch with an innate ability to sniff out the place. In reality, technology saved us; the iPhone had GPS and we had the coordinates.

We found the land and the cabin. This is the one photo I shot inside, and I love it for the light, the pure essence of photography (which basically means 'recording of light'). I love the mottled light on the window, the reflections, the details in the woodwork accentuated by the angle of the light...and the darkness, I really love the darkness in this image.

The mystery of what lies up (or down) the stairs is both spooky and exciting. The beauty of this window - no doubt placed here intentionally by my friends' ancestors who built the cabin, specifically to capture this light - is inspirational. And it's all very personal.

Perhaps that's the connection. What I've seen here in New York City post-Sandy includes a lot of darkness and uncertainty, but also a lot of light and inspiration in the way people have come together to help each other through the tough times. And it's all very personal.


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