It’s always fun to discuss a work in progress with my students. This sake shot generated a great session on the brainstorming a photographer might go through to come up with a shooting concept.
For its pure visual elegance and color, I chose a traditional wooden box, or masu, as the centerpiece. (The masu was a measure of rice that could be found in almost every feudal Japanese household. Patrons would bring their own masu to drink sake - assuring they would get the correct pour.)
Since water is so critical in the making of sake, I had the notion to echo the image of the raked gravel at the famous Japanese gardens at Ryonji in Kyoto that I had seen years earlier on assignment. (in my classes, students are challenged to connect their own lives and experiences with their photographs.) Some visitors think the raked sands represent clouds or water and the rocks mountains or islands.
The tricky part was finding the right sand and raking it with a smooth and flowing touch. It’s a bit like calligraphy and I discovered that one should never have two cups of coffee immediately before attempting this procedure. I will forever respect the gardeners at those Japanese gardens!
I wasn’t certain every reader would make the historical and cultural connection, but the pattern itself has a certain poetry and serenity to it. Just like Ryonji!