Thursday, February 26, 2015

Talking about lately: photography, narration, and life

So tonight, I just came home from a late night narration job audition. Since the audition lasted longer than expected, I missed my last train home and caught a taxi home (the production staff kindly paid for this, otherwise I couldn't have afforded it). In the past, I've only taken a taxi a very few times: riding along with other photographers on a photo job, moving all my stuff from one apartment to another, airport to home after the flight got in too late to catch the train etc... Anyway, it was my first time to take the taxi after a recording, and it felt very exciting and grownup being in there all by myself, watching the glowing night scenery of Tokyo pass by. Rainbow Bridge, Odaiba, buildings made up of hundreds of little white and yellow lights way in the distance. The journey prompted me a bit to think about what's been going on in my life lately.

I feel like often, we get so caught up in the everyday rush and familiar steps that take us through the day, we get so used to thinking about the obstacles in the way and how to get past or around them, the heaviness and discouraging factors holding us down, that we occasionally forget to stop, pull back, look at the big picture. Take things into perspective. And most of all, be thankful.

If possible, I want to remember to be thankful every day. I would like to do that. I'm not religious, so I don't really pray per se, but I think that thankfulness would be the closest thing to something like praying. Being thankful gives you a certain mindset, a frame with which to see the world. It calms you, balances you. Readies you for more.

I'm very, very grateful to be doing photography and narration full time, and making a living off that. Being able to pay the rent and bills and all of that from the jobs I love. I remember wishing, hoping about one day, being afraid. And now I'm in the middle of what I wanted, and keeping afloat. Slowly improving and growing.

I love meeting new clients through my photography jobs. It's so much fun to talk with them, hear about their work, their perspectives on life, what they think of this city. With those who are just in Tokyo for a visit, just passing through, or just arrived here recently to make this place their new home, I experience the exhilaration all over again. View the country through fresh eyes once more, and it keeps me always excited about discovering and rediscovering parts of the city together. I also love sending the photos to the client afterward and hearing their reactions, hearing how happy they are with the result. I am so grateful that some clients find me through my websites and social media, while others hear recommendations from their friends, and they choose me. Thank you for liking my work. It means more to me than you know.

I love going to narration and voice over jobs, and meeting new people through those as well. I first came to Japan with the intention of diving into the music industry with a major company, and although that didn't pan out well in the end, I'm so happy that I can continue doing voice work these days. Since those high school days of secretly practicing and recording for hours in my room, I've loved singing for years. But to be honest, I've never felt 100% comfortable on the stage. Some singers, including some friends I know, are natural performers, feel most at home on the stage and singing to an audience. It's an extremely rewarding experience, a rush, a dreamy feeling, but not when I feel happiest. I always felt so nervous just before going on stage. And I'd feel so relieved upon finishing, when I'd get to go greet my listeners and talk to them one by one, face to face.

So in that sense, even if I had stuck it out and succeeded to become a major label artist for example, I think I would have always dreaded traditional concerts, doing the MC talk in between songs (gosh I was SO awkward at that), that kind of thing. The spotlight doesn't really suit me. I don't thrive in it. I sweat and awkwardly grin my way through it.

I've realized that I really like being in the studio, though. Whether it's singing or narration work, the creation process is exciting for me. Being behind the microphone, making the idea come alive, hearing the result and the satisfaction of the production staff on the other side of the glass. There are often challenges, sometimes unexpected or frustrating moments. But overall, I feel comfortable in the studio. I love being there. And I am so, so grateful that clients actually like my voice.

Over the last year and the first part of this year so far, I've been doing mostly small-scale voice jobs like corporate videos, company or school introductions, products, even shopping mall closing time announcements (I love it!). I appreciate every single job, no matter how small. My dream is to one day do character voices, like in an animation or video game. How cool would that be?! I know I have a long way to go, but I'm excited and can't wait to try more.

Earlier, I finally went to see the Disney film Big Hero 6, and it's just become one of my favorite movies ever. What a fantastic film it was. The voice actors did an amazing job, and I'm so happy to see such a diverse cast of characters. Furthermore, San Fransokyo is a perfect combination of two places I love most - Tokyo and San Francisco (and the Bay Area). Seeing this film truly inspired me, made me rethink my perspectives lately and what I want to do from here on out.

I want to create work that can make others happy and inspire them. I want to connect with others who are passionate about their art, whose goals are also to grow and work hard and keep dreaming now matter how old they are. I want to rise past the bits holding me down, whether external or internal factors, not waste excessive time and worry on those, but keep surging ahead and up. I don't ever want to be at a standstill and think as an excuse to myself, "That was the best I could do." No, I want to push the limits and try everything. It'll turn out okay. I'm sure I can find the strength for that.