by Skip Cohen
It's Throwback Thursday, and as I wandered through my files this morning, I realized I had never shared the image above from my buddy "Three Buffet Brian." Brian was in Japan in 2011, just after the Tsunami hit. He shared the backstory below. Click on the image to view in the SCU Lightbox. It's a pretty remarkable shot.
Visit his website to see more of Brian's work.
by Brian David Casey
I photographed a wedding in the state of Washington in 2010 and the groom emailed me months later asking if I would be interested in photographing for him in Japan. It would be for a couple of private schools and an English language program. I said yes because it would be my first international photo shoot and it was in a country I really enjoyed visiting when I was younger.
Little did I know that there would be one of the biggest earthquakes and tsunamis ever to hit Japan just weeks before I would leave on my photo shoot. The Sendai airport I was flying into was on YouTube just weeks before. I left with a video showing the ground at the airport underwater from the tsunami. I was amazed at how quickly they were able to get some things going again. Although a number of restaurants were still shutdown around Sendai when I arrived, I was still able to do all the photography they needed.
When the weekend came, I had friends take me to the tsunami sites to witness the aftermath. One place we visited that really stands out to me was Kesennuma. It was one of the hardest hit towns (see photo above with the large ship in it) I had witnessed.
What surprised me in my observations of the tsunami aftermath was the height the water had reached at its peak. Some areas had a run-up height of over 100 feet. Also, it was unreal to see some homes untouched while their neighbor across the street had their home swept away.
I have another assignment in Sendai in May. What may prevent me from going this time is not another tsunami but rather the coronavirus.
I hope I get to return to such an amazing country that has the best hospitality, incredible food, friendly people, beautiful scenery, and a land full of new beginnings.
But that's only one part of today's throwback. Brian and I met when he attended Skip's Summer School in 2009, or 2010. When I left Rangefinder/WPPI in 2009 we did an intense summer program each year in Las Vegas and later in Chicago through 2013.
Brian was the first person I'd ever met to eat three meals one day at all three of the hotel's buffets. He's also one of those people we all hate, because of minimal body fat and his ability to eat just about anything. Well, the nickname "Three Buffet Brian" caught on.
But the nickname wasn't the only thing that caught on. Social media has given us the ability to stay in touch, and over the years, the friendship also caught on.
Before the pandemic, Brian and his wife, Fawn, were here in Florida a few months ago. We went out for breakfast, which seemed like such an easy natural thing to do. Now, it feels like it was years ago. Life has changed so much because of the coronavirus.
And that's a part of what makes Throwback Thursdays so special for me. Photographs help me stay focused on the importance of great friendship and photography's contribution to the world. It's also like the light at the end of a long tunnel with a never-ending dream of this nightmare ending and life getting back to some level of normalcy.
We'll get through this together!
Wishing everybody a terrific Throwback Thursday - take the time and turn the clock back to a memory that makes you smile!
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.