menolly – ‘through a quiet window’


Apologies for my somewhat over-enthusiastic behaviour (2 posts in 2 days, no less!) but the release of Steve’s book of photographs has elicited such a strong response from so many people over the last 72 hours, that I feel some of this positivity deserves to be shared. And none more-so that this heart-felt piece from Menolly Pitts.
The reason that this one stands out to me, is that the writer is a relatively new fan of both Japan and Jansen – and what amazes and thrills me, in equal measure, is that people who have only recently discovered the band, are as passionate and enthusiastic about them, as those of us who are now grey of hair and long of tooth. The fact is that Menolly hadn’t even been born when any of the photos in the book were being taken; and yet she feels a kinship, and gains inspiration from it, which is truly wonderful.
So, over to Menolly for her thoughts on the book……..and how she came to be a fan of Japan.
menolly with her signed copy of the book
menolly with her signed copy of the book
My thoughts on ‘Through A Quiet Window’                         Menolly Pitts

Okay, so I really don’t have any kind of way with words, nor am I any good at writing things down, I generally find it very hard to express what is going on in my head but with the arrival of ‘Through A Quiet Window’ a few days ago, which led to me spending a total of about 3 ½ hours with my nose in it being completely awestruck by the photographs, I thought I at least wanted to try to put my feelings into words…try being the most prominent word here.

So where do I start?.. this could end up taking a while. I hadn’t heard about Steve’s photography until really quite recently, bearing in mind I am only 19. So let’s put a little bit of a back story here. I was around 15 when I first listened to Japan from the suggestion of my dad and seeing posts about them on Tumblr, I decided I quite liked what I was hearing but at the same time I wasn’t particularly blown away by it. I did however buy all their albums but I listened to them rarely, when I did I quite enjoyed them, I just wasn’t that fussed. Then about 2 moths ago (yes it was that recently) I was sitting in front of my CD collection wondering what to listen to when my eyes landed on ‘Quiet Life’, ‘I haven’t listened to this in a while’ I thought, so I decided to put it on… when it finished I spent a good 5 minutes sitting there in silence and I just thought, ‘how did I not remember how incredible this is!’ Needless to say it sparked my interest and it was sort of like discovering them all over again, turns out I was much more impressed the second time round. I still didn’t discover any of their solo projects etc. until I was scrolling down my Tumblr dashboard and came across a gifset where a couple of the gifs were of Steve in a box. That had me looking at it with one eyebrow raised thinking ‘What on earth is going on here?’ I look at the tags and one of them was ‘The Dolphin Brothers’ I thought that had to mean something so I opened up Google and found out that The Dolphin Brothers were in fact a band, and this strange gifset was from their equally strange video for a song called ‘Shinning’, even though the video concept was very abstract I loved the song so I decided to search for more. I listened to a total of 2½ songs and just went: where can I get this? So Amazon was subsequently opened and ‘Catch the Fall’ was bought. This is what evoked the notion in my head that surely there must be more music and such from the members of Japan other than just what they did all together, and through this notion I also found the Japan ‘community’, on Tumblr and the various Facebook groups. It was through these I found out about Steve’s photography and to put it mildly I loved what I saw and the rest as they say is history.

So, back to what I actually started writing for, ‘Through A Quiet Window’ elicited so many emotions for me that finding words to describe them is a real struggle, being an amateur photographer myself – albeit not a very good one – I was incredibly moved and inspired by what I saw. Let’s start from the beginning shall we? On October 2nd  2015 I, unsuspecting, was sitting in my room doodling when my dad called up the stairs ‘There’s a parcel for you M, and it’s from Japan’ I perked up instantly, ‘oohhh I know what this is’ I thought, so I rushed down the stairs and opened it to find a signed copy, I got very excited and may possibly have let out a small squeal, to which my dad laughed at, thanks dad. I took it up to my room, sat down only to realise I was literally shaking from excitement, so I took a deep breath and opened it up…

Now I’m not going to describe what any of photographs are because ssshhh spoilers! But to say I was utterly mesmerised and blown away would be a complete understatement. The thing that draws me to Steve’s photography the most is just how much of him is in the photos, not in body – obviously – but in ‘spirit’ as it were. You can feel the emotion in them and it gives it so much depth and feeling other than just what is on the surface. It’s like you, the viewer, are looking at this particular moment in time through his eyes. This aspect projected itself so much at me because some of the time when I look at photos they just feel flat, almost as if the person taking the photo took it just for the sake of taking it, and personally I think that if the photographer found no beauty or meaning in that moment how is the viewer supposed to find any?

The fact that all the pictures in ‘Through A Quiet Window’ were taken before I arrived into this world, showing things about this period of time that I wasn’t around to see evoked some wonderful ‘images’ in my mind, for lack of a better word and it let my imagination run wild. I saw the beauty, the friendship and the comradery in them, the sharing of a journey and of memories. There were some pictures that took my breath away, some that made me smile, some that gave me butterflies and even some that made me feel like crying. The whole thing was a roller coaster ride of emotions that I didn’t really want to have end. Unfortunately of course everything does have to end but strangely enough even as I turned over the last page, the emotions were still there.

Looking through this book was such an inspiration to me that it completely changed the way I look at my own photography. Before I saw it I would look through all the things I had taken thinking, well this is awful and this is not right and this is so technically bad I can’t believe it. I am such a perfectionist and always so critical of myself I focus entirely on what I did wrong and never on what is good about it. Looking through this book got me thinking, I never look at other people’s photography like that, the thing that I always look for and that moves me is the emotion behind it not so much the technicality of it, so why don’t I look at my own photos like that? I somehow found the bravery to look back through a few of my photographs and saw a whole other layer to them that I’d never noticed before, the flaws in them still stuck out at me like a sore thumb but for the first time I saw my reasons behind taking them and the emotions that I had felt, suddenly I found myself slightly proud of some of them, something I can honestly say has never happened to me before. It gave me the inspiration and the confidence to create my own photography page on Facebook, something I never would have dreamed of doing before. I found a whole other view and some much-needed confidence from this book, so thank you Steve.

I’m not really sure if any of that completely sums up the way this book made me feel, but it explains it at some level, there are so many more emotional thoughts going through my head about it but I’m not sure that I will ever have the words to describe them….

steve - self-mirrored

Thanks so much to Menolly for sharing her thoughts with us. If anyone else would like to contribute to the blog, please email sjphotographyblog@hotmail.com

‘through a quiet window’ is available to purchase from the artes website:

http://artespublishing.com/books/86559-127-9-en

Limited edition prints are available to purchase via Steve’s website here:

http://www.stevejansen.com/imageshop/

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