Everybody Has Black Hair !

Friday I went to an Elementary School Graduation for my Granddaughter.

Participation is mandatory for these events.  In Okinawa, family is a big thing.  Whatever the event, everyone attends.  Not that I would have skipped-out or anything like that.  It’s just, being a photographer, I get stuck shooting everytime, anybody, anywhere does anything.

My Granddaughter is special, though.  She’s the first; number 1 and she knows it. She’ll be a teenager, this year.  We go back aways, together.

Knowing a gazzilion kids would be bouncing around on the wooden floor, bumping into my tripod or popping up in front of my lens, I  begged the organizers to let me climb up to the concrete balcony surrounding the auditorium.  It was great, just myself and one other cameraman had the whole place to ourselves.  We had a clear, unobstructed view of the whole place.  Awesome !

Walking around, above the hundreds of students, parents and teachers below, I found the places I could get the best light for my photos, wherever the graduates would be moving.  While the speeches, singing and all the other unimportant stuff was going on, I set up my tripod and made setting adjustments on the camera.  Then, started composing some practice shots.  That’s when it dawned on me, some students were wearing black, some white, some black and white.  I had no idea what colors my Granddaughter was wearing.  I hadn’t seen her ahead of time.

AND EVERYBODY HAS BLACK HAIR  !   So, I started zooming-in looking for her.  I couldn’t find her, anywhere.  Damn.

Too far away to yell downstairs to the wife, son-in-law or daughter to point her out to me, I kept scanning and searching.  I recongized all her friends she brought by after school over the years.  Kids who ate my ice cream and cookies and anything else I didn’t hide were all there.

So, I took close up pictures of everyone I recognized and wide angle shots of the whole crowd.  If she was there, she’d be in some pictures.

Then, I started thinking maybe they had her stuck somewhere in hiding.  She was always an honor student, grade-wise, anyway.  Maybe all the smart kids are hiding in a closet and they bring them out to get their diplomas, last.

Two hours in the balcony and I took around 50 pictures when I heard the Principal say, “Owarimashita”.  It’s over.  What ?

So, I scramble downstairs and find the family, before the mass exit starts. ” Where’s, Marin?” I ask the wife and daughter.  “You know, the kid I came here to shoot”.  I couldn’t find her anywhere.  I shot pictures of everybody in the place but, never found my Marin.

She was in the front row, wearing black, third from the right.  I didn’t recognize her.



9 Responses to “Everybody Has Black Hair !”

  1. March 22, 2010 at 11:05 am

    “Maybe all the smart kids are hiding in a closet”? Oh, Mike.

    This is very funny reading. It’s a shame you missed watching your granddaughter graduate because they re-styled her black hair. On the other hand, you have an entertaining story now, not that that’s any consolation. Surely you accidentally got some shots of her, though, so that you’ll kind of be able to see her. And did anyone take video?

    • March 22, 2010 at 9:47 pm

      Sure enough, I had plenty of her when I downloaded. She’ll probably like the group photos best, anyway. I have a habit of zooming-in and isolating the subject from the background. It’s a wildlife thing.
      Luckily, I caught a few close-up shots of her with tears in her eyes leaving the school. The girls all cry as they leave the building. Never could figure that out.

      Me, I was just like the boys; happy to get out of there. I had on a brand new pair of yellow flip-flops and my feet were killing me !

      Videos, oh yeah, I forgot to mention them. Seems like every Japanese family owns a video recorder and at every school event there’s 300 people jumping up and blocking the view trying to record their precious. Another reason I go for the balcony whenever I can get permission.

  2. 3 Sumitran
    March 24, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    LOL !!! Interesting experience to read.

    Can only imagine how anxious it could’ve been for a proud grand dad !! Great work though, Mike !!

    And, your smart caption “Morednization in motion: Dubai” (on my post) made the copywriter in me feel really proud – but for that inadvertent typo (Modernization)!

    Best Regards,


  3. March 24, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    Ah, we spell a l’il differently where I came from; it’s the rebel in us, I guess !

    Good to see you found this blog. I have so many places I’m blogging now, I can’t find half of them. But, when you have time read all the posts here and see how I got started.


  4. March 27, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    This is too funny, Mike! And interesting to hear how your wildlife photography habits bleed into your people shot habits…

  5. March 28, 2010 at 1:33 am

    Well I learned a long time ago, when you’re shooting groups of kids, plan 100 shots to get one without someone picking their nose or wiggling around causing a blur somewhere in the photo. Rarely do I catch a critter pickin’ their nose. Wildlife rocks !

  6. March 28, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    Restyled her hair without telling the photographer. Not a nice thing to do 🙂
    Good thing Marin was in the group shots.
    Is Marin a common Japanese girls’ name, btw? (Somehow it doesn’t sound Japanese)

  7. March 29, 2010 at 8:05 am

    Not all that common of a name but, nowadays I think you see alot of new names popping-up in the culture over here. You just got me wondering what the Kanji would look like for that. I’ll have to go get my Granddaughter to teach me !

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