A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

Tunnels of light lead to differing sections of Nikko’s TOBU World Square amusement park during the winter illumination event.

You know what this photo needs? People. Maybe a young couple strolling hand in hand. Maybe some kids gawking in wonder at the illuminated brilliance around them. Maybe someone standing in silhouette, their pose a study in contemplation…

So, where are they?

I took this photo while writing a piece for Samurai Trip, a website for travelers in Japan, about a small amusement park in Nikko called TOBU World Square. The park is lovely. You should go if you get the chance. My piece is here and if you take the time to go read it, I’d be very appreciative. But, back to the lack of people…

The park had a light crowd while I was there and there were plenty of silhouettes and awed faces and wonderous children to photograph, but, here in Japan, the privacy laws are very, very strict. If you take a picture of someone in public in which they can be easily identified, you can be convicted of violating their right to privacy. Especially if you’re making money off it. Especially if they’re children.

And that’s not even getting into the legal issues surrounding the fact that TOBU World Square is not a public space.

So, because I was shooting on assignment, for a website which will be making advertising revenue off of an article and photographs for which they paid me, they and I, in turn, have to be very, very careful about taking pictures of people.

But, you say, I see pictures of people in Japan all the time! That’s true. However, in each of those cases, you’re looking at a photograph that a) the photographer got permission to use (either before or after shooting) or b) the photographer is willing to gamble that he or she will not get sued over it.

It’s a challenge and it’s a debate that street photographers have been having for decades. And frankly, it’s outside the scope of what I wanted to talk about today, which is the picture above. Rest assured, it’s a topic I’ll be coming back to, probably more than you really want.

So, this picture. There are things I like. I’m pretty happy with the composition. It’s not edgy or avant-guard by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s pretty and I like to think that the “出口” (exit) on the ground adds something to it. But, yeah, it needs people to really work.