Japanese Girl with Mask

Chernobyl Story

I spent a day in Chernobyl and wrote a two part story about it. This is from a while ago, but I thought maybe it was timely… The situation in Japan is different of course.

Print for Red Cross Charity

We started the bidding at $49 and it ended up at over $1500! Fantastic! There was a happy anonymous winner somewhere in the Mountain View area. The print is being assembled and crated right now… on the way. It arrives in a huge Raiders-of-the-Lost-Ark-crate! Thanks again for participating.

If you still want to be involved, even at a lesser level with one of our other charitable offerings, come join Team Stuck In Customs on Kiva

Daily Photo – Japanese Girl with Mask

The white mask is a popular meme in Japan. It’s pervasive and it affects all ages. I see school children wearing masks, old people in the subway, and everyone in between. I was waiting to see a new trend where the face masks have designs — quirky, cute Japanese designs. If no one has done it, then there’s a great idea for you.

I like them, I suppose. In a way, it makes everyone look a little bit mysterious, and that is sort of interesting.

High Dynamic Range Photo

  • Nice shot Trey. I’m from Christchurch New Zealand so I know what earthquakes are all about . Japan has suffered a massive loss and we wish them well from Christchurch New Zealand. They send some of their urban search and rescue to Christchurch during our hour of need. They were great and I know our USAR was ver happy to return the favor after their devastating Quake.
    Trey keep up the good work. If you can draw international attention to their plight all the better



  • Ah yes, the masks. I think she looks pretty cute with it actually.
    What if they were labled with something about themselves(e.g. nerdy,sick, single, looking for American husband….) going along with your design idea. 🙂

  • SoCal Mike

    I think the mask should match your skin tone and have a nose and mouth drawn on it. You could see what you would look like with facial hair, with a different nose, better teeth, etc.

  • She made me smile. Her face said “I am here, there hope, so smile”
    Made me feel inspired.
    I have a question, how was it there? I mean were your thoughts going into Chernobyl?
    Btw, this image is incredible. What camera did you use?

  • Simon Morris

    Thanks Trey for the link to your Chernobyl visit… that place sure looks scary! How accurate have those geiger counters been calibrated? I had to laugh at the last photo – the one where you’re in the decontamination centre and being checked for radiation… the machine has a logo depicting a high heel stiletto- yeah right, as though you’re going to prance around Chernobyl in a pair of high heel stilettos… then again, I’ve read a thing or two about Russian woman 😉
    Nice shot of the Japanese girl, excellent capture of the twinkle in her eyes… did she work for one of the airlines? I’m trying to hazard a guess looking at her uniform.
    G’day Mark Herring – I’m just up the road from you in little old Rangiora 🙂

  • I’m pretty sure they wear masks to prevent the spread of germs. Anyways yes I’m very surprised they haven’t taken to decorating them yet!

  • Patrick Ahles

    Nice portrait! You indeed see this twinkle in her eyes, like Simon says. I’ve never understood the masks. Well, I can guess why you wear them, but then again I see these pictures of people wearing masks carrying a baby without a mask… :$

  • Another fine portrait Trey – I was actually looking through your ‘What They Dream and what they do’ portfolio on Flickr yesterday for a bit of inspiration. I’m really looking forward to the day when I can get something of the quality of the ones in there and of course today’s picture.

    I don’t know if you’re familiar with the show ‘Destination Truth’ but they did an episode from Pripyat near the Chernobyl disaster site and it was very,very eerie but fascinating none-the-less. I hope that the reactor situation in Japan can be resolved soon…..

  • Hi Simon nice to meet you. Hope your all ok after the quake.

  • They do wear them for germs, as Aputure says, but a lot of people also wear them to hide. There have been a few stories about it over the years that I’ve been here, the latest a few weeks ago in the JapanTimes. A convinient way to avoid being recongized in pubic, at least not right away. Sometimes I think it’s a little strange, but who am I to judge. I’ve tried to wear them when I’ve been sick (when in Rome… right?), but they just aren’t comfortabe for more than a few minutes. I’m sure some in the neighborhood may have labeled me as the foreigner who rudely refuses to wear a mask when sick.

    Anyways, great photo as usual Trey. Keep up the great work!

  • Simon Morris

    Hi Mark – yes, we’re all fine here in rock solid Rangiora! Just flicked you an email via your link 😉
    To all the people of Japan – have hope and stay strong… our thoughts are with you at this difficult time!

  • Dan

    Trey, Just thought you should know (it could be a problem my end) but when I visit SIC on my iPhone and leave a comment it don’t seem to save? Maybe it’s just me. :/

    Loving the picture, The ‘bokeh’? and depth of field is astounding :).

    I always wondered why they wore those masks, If your design idea’s kicks off you can say ”I thought of that first!” :P.

    Also, I don’t suppose you have any competitions/another charity event coming around soon a tall?
    I really really REALLY want to get your HDR Tutorial (dvd version) but cant afford it 🙁 Was just wondering if you have anything like that coming around. I’ll start saving though :).


  • JIm

    Another great use of DOF… you are getting really good with it involving people. I agree with the mysterious ideal. Hey, here is a shot that has some mystery to it…. Shaker Village, mysterious staircase leading up to a window….. Thanks Trey.

  • Gail in Montana

    Great photo, Trey. The situation in Japan just keeps getting worse. Now it’s in their tap water,, too. All we can do is pray for them, wish we all could do more besides donate. WTG, the winner from Mountain View!!! Have a great Wednesday 🙂

  • Gail in Montana

    P.S. The like button has disappeared, but I’ll like your photo on FB.

  • Yeah, it’s not a ‘meme’ it’s just something they do to keep their own germs from getting out. They don’t wear them in fear of other people’s germs — it’s when they themselves are sick or feeling under the weather and they don’t want to pass it on. 🙂

    A couple blogs I follow of Americans in Japan (one 17 years, the other 9 years) that I’ve been reading for the past couple years has really shed some light on the culture from a US perspective.

  • (OK. Point taken.)
    But I still really would like to know who you are using to have your work printed on metal.


  • Thanks!

    Project Hope – The camera is not as important as the lens in this case – I used a 50mm 1.4 lens.

    Dan – we do have specials from time to time – stay tuned ! 🙂

    Simon – she worked at a confectionary ! 🙂 It’s hard to tell… everyone wears uniforms there, even if they work at a confectionary

  • Gonzo – sorry I missed your question — sometimes they get buried above in comments ! I get my metal prints done on high white gloss aluminum at Image Wizards. Tell Amanda Davis I sent you.

  • Susan

    Wonderful shot of her Trey – great idea about the masks being decorated! I can definitely see the twinkle in her eye!

  • Dan

    Awesome thanks Trey, I visit at least once a day so I’m pretty sure I won’t miss anything 😛 hehe

  • Ahhh the masks. They are very prevalent during the early spring not just for illness prevention (both wear it to not get sick and wear it if you are) but also for controlling allergies. They’ll wear it outside so they don’t breath in so much pollen. I wear it on my flights to and from Japan too. It keeps the air I breath moisturized so I don’t get a bad scratchy throat and…well…if it reduces my chances of catching anything on a 13 hour plane ride…I’ll do it! Great photo too. Nice smile 🙂 They’re always much nicer to the tall white guy with a big camera than a fellow Japanese with a big camera. I need to start shooting more in the US where I can blend in as a tourist 🙂

  • Great shot Trey. God bless Japan and it’s people during this trying times.

  • @Aputure and @Patrick, They wear the mask so that they do not give their cold to others. It is polite.

    Actually, what I really love about Japanese people is their sense of community and team work. We have seen in other parts of the world recently, what happens when horrible events like this occur. We have seen rape, looting, murder, violence, fear and everything in between. The Japanese, young and old, help each other. They offer food to others, even if it is their last scrap. They drive fearful foreigners to Tokyo to go home by plane, even when they do not have enough fuel to get home themselves. Wonderful, calm, caring and compassionate people.

    When it comes to, “how accurate are the geiger counters”. Very would be the answer, but don’t let numbers like “10X”, or dramatic words such as “spike” fool you when reading typical media columns. 10 times 0.0000001 is not much, but 10 times on its own is terrifying. The situation at Fukushima Daichi is not going to end in the loss of life of ANYONE.

    Another interesting thing for me this week was my class. Many of the students believe that Japan is lost. WHERE do they get this information. I had to point at the map in the classroom and explain where the events were taking place. They then understood why my friend in Osaka was going out for drinks after work and was totally relaxed.

    Anyway, I always love seeing your photos from Japan. Can’t wait to see more.


  • Rachel

    They also wear them if they are afraid of getting germs. I lived in Japan for 3 1/2 years and have never heard of anyone wearing them to avoid being recognized. However, I would not be surprised in the bigger cities.

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  • Putri Wahyudewi

    I’m Putri Wahyudewi from IDNtimes. We would like to feature your original photos as part of our content. The credit’s still yours and we will put the backlink to your page. If you feel uncomfortable, please tell us at [email protected].

  • Stu – SIC

    HI Putri, can you send me an example of an image on your page to [email protected]


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