Around da block 6

April 16th, 2013By Category: Photography


It’s Saturday evening and my girlfriend askes me whether or not we are going to go and give the print to the old lady from Around da block 4 or not.

I think about it for a while and tell her don’t worry about it. I was initially scared to go on my own but I have been thinking recently that not only should I be trying to refind fearlessness in photography, but in all aspects of life.

Things that make me think “I would be scared to do that” are things that I am just going to start jumping into head first without thinking too much about.

I decided I would go on Monday morning. Monday morning came and I put the print into a pack to stop it from getting damaged and headed outside into the wind.

I had spent the past few hours thinking of all the possible scenarios that could occur when I ring the doorbell and had a couple of different preplanned speeches depending on what happens.

One worry I had was that in the past I had shot a few elderly people and they said to me beforehand that they don’t have money (they assumed I wanted money to take their photo). I was a bit worried that the person coming to the door might assume I am trying to sell them something and end up shutting the door on me before I get a chance to explain myself with my poor Japanese.

But anyway, like they say, just speculating wont get you anywhere.

I got to the door, took a deep breath and rang the door bell. All of a sudden I heard the intercom voice,
“Hello, who it is?”

I froze. It reminded me of the Mike Tyson quote that says, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face”.

For all my planning I forgot the one most vital piece of information. Japanese people don’t actually answer their doors.
Normal houses even have an intercom system. Gahh, what do I do now?

I stayed frozen in silence and the person spoke on the intercom again,
“Is anybody there?”.

At this point I had to answer. I replied,

“Hi my name is Ade, I am a photographer that lives in the area. I took a photo of someone that lives in this house the other day and wanted to give them the print”.

I then raised the print and showed it to the intercom. I don’t even know if it had video camera capabilities or not lol. There is a chance that they didnt even see it, but after a few seconds he said, “Ok, give me a second”.

Nearly 1 minute passed and nobody came to the door. Well to be honest, it might have only been a few seconds, but it felt a lot longer.
I kept looking down the road hoping police on bicycles didn’t show up.

The door opened and a man greeted me saying he knows who I am and that he had heard everything from his mother (he was the son) and thanked me for helping her.

At that point the lady showed up and thanked me and asked me what my name was. I laughed and said, “My name is Ade!”.

The man who was her son gave me a bag of apples and thanked me again. I mentioned that I was pretty scared to come knocking on the door and he laughed saying it is cool, that they have lived in China, Germany and have mixed quite a lot with people of all different races and cultures so they don’t really care about who is Japanese and who is not.


The lady even joked about how she has become so westernized that she goes to peoples houses and forgets to take her shoes off sometimes and that she has been told off a few times because of that.

I gave him the photo and he smiled saying he used to do darkroom printing and liked how the picture came out. We spent about 10 minutes talking and he mentioned about how he tries to tell his mother to not be so active at her age but because she used to run marathons and stuff she feels she has to move around and exercise.

Hearing that put my mind to rest a bit. Oh yeah, when I met her she was 93, but January was her birthday so she is now 94! I took their photo with my phone and said goodbye.


Author of this article

Ade Ogunsanya

Taking portraits of strangers is becoming quite popular among photographers nowadays. I find that I normally see two types; 1) Complete focus on fashion with not much of a focus on technical photography 2) Technically sounds pictures that focus on repetition (taking the exact same headshot over and over again etc). What I strive for is a happy balance that incorporates a mix of good photography using composition and color theory and some elements of fashion.

For me it is more than just just collecting photos. The encounter and interaction is equally as important. The chance to meet new people and put a smile on people's faces is priceless.

If you see me around Tokyo with a big film camera on my neck come say hi and I will take your picture.

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