Still Photography

Written By Aston Tsui

Author Bio: Always writing, always dreaming, just trying to make it make sense


I’m a very novice photographer, but even I know that it’s mostly about composition. Well, there’s lighting, foreground, the subject, background, depth, scenery, mood, and other elements, but all of that can be captured by the composition of the photograph. Basically, it’s how you frame it. 

I don’t have a picture of this picture that I’m about to talk about, for it only sits in my mind’s eye. It’s the first picture my mind took when I got off the train at Ueno Station from Narita airport when I was 19 years old. 

It’s hard to separate the description of a photo from the interpretation of a photo in written form, but I’ll try. 

Deep on the surface of the picture, zoomed in, is a man. He is middle aged and wears a black suit, like all the other men around him. He wears thin-framed glasses that are delicate and finely made, like all of Japan’s exquisite products. His hair is half dark half white. He seems expressionless. 

But when you look into his eyes, you can see a steely stoic sense of fortitude, of enduring will. Whatever he had to do, he would do whatever it took. It’s not a matter of worry or consternation or doubt or pressure. No…for it was duty. 

He is lifting his cigarette to his lips, but halfway there, the smoke trails in the background, where others dressed in black suits and white shirts carry briefcases, zigzagging to their next destinations. The hair of the young is slick like a lion’s mane, the eyes filled with fire. 

That is in the slight right of the center. Above this small gathering is a small bridge where train tracks run. A train is on its way. Just underneath the bridge is a sign: Narita: 12:17, Ikebukuro: 12:22. A train is never late in Japan. 

The colors of the JR are many—but none are as beautiful the Sakura flowers, the cherry blossoms, blossoming in the top left side of the scene. The pink is enveloped by the softness of the white, with the petals surrounding the center yellow. They grow on branches long and thin, allowing the vivacity of spring to take over the scene. 

“It’s too bad cherry blossoms come and go so quickly,” I thought to myself. 

There are many other things in this photograph. Vending machines, ramen shops, and even a couple of robots can be spotted here and there. 

But those—those are the things that I remember most, as my mind captured its first still of Japan.