Is the banner better? You vote!


Those of you with eagle eyes may have already noticed I’ve got a new photo at the top of my blog. (If you hadn’t before, you have now.) Let’s call this #1. To refresh your memory, this is the original photo:


To be honest, the photo wasn’t anything I put any thought into. I needed a “featured photo,” in WordPress-speak, and used what I happened to have, which was a video grab from a program I made for NHK World back in 2009. It had potential — nice color, pretty Japanese setting, taken with a good camera — but because I don’t know diddly about photos, it got posted as a pixelated mess.

Over the years, a few readers complained about it. One, upon meeting me in person for the first time, commented: “Don’t take this the wrong way but you’re better looking than the photo on your blog would suggest.” Not long after, another long-time reader,
Jeffrey Friedl, who contributed some very snazzy photos for an article about Japanese candles for my column in The Japan Times, said he found the pixelated photo so grating that he’d happily take a new one for me, if only I’d get myself down to where he lives. (Kyoto? Twist my arm.)

I did, and we had a lot of fun doing a shoot together. To hear Jeffrey’s side of the story, and see more of the photos he so kindly and skillfully produced, check out his account of the photo shoot. We’ve selected a few of those photos to present here, in the ridiculously long and skinny shape WordPress demands:

Photo Shoot with Alice Gordenker in Kyoto

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7 Responses to Is the banner better? You vote!

  1. tinna says:

    Dear Alice, All of the photos of you are great. Some of them are extraordinary. Personally I really liked the one where the lanterns float into your mind, or maybe it is your bright mind that lightens the lanterns? To me my stay in Japan was like that. I got from what I thought being rather knowledgeable and humble in my own European way, to a long period of being totally lost both in mind and body, and then into a more “enlightened” state in some small way about Japan and myself. No religious experience, just the everyday life development that in Japan was “extraordinaire” and challenged me more and pushed me further than in my home setting.

    We moved from Japan a month ago, left our apartment in MinamiAoyama, my morning walks through Aoyama Cemetery and around AkasakaPark, and I cried when the Japanese emigration police at Narita cancelled my alien registration card. It feels rather empty, but I will follow you. (sorry the song got in my head ;) ) I will keep reading your columns as they made me smile and develop. A good combination. You introduced me to so many things that I had never gotten to know otherwise. Thank you.

    We did actually meet once when I stopped you, when you were biking down the small street from Aoyama Dori towards Cat street. We talked about the school bags and the Dutch and Swedish words for those, and about the very fascinating topic of that so many Japanese people use too big shoes. I never solved the mystery, but I got presented to many interesting explanations by friends and acquaintances during my three years in Japan. Now, in retrospective, I can see that it was indeed a very Japanese experience. ;)

    Best Regards TInna Prather Persson

  2. Alice says:

    Tinna — I remember that happy surprise meeting, and almost mentioned it in this blog post as an example of why the photo is important. We had never met before, but you recognized me from the photo. Which is pretty amazing when you consider I was on a bicycle and almost whizzed right past you.

  3. Frank says:

    All three look good.  Why not have some fun and alternate between any of #1, #3 and #4?

  4. Anthony says:

    I chose other, because I liked both

  5. Anthony says:

    I chose both 1 and 4.

  6. Tim says:

    The composition of #2 is the best, although it may not be a good quality photo. It is unique. The other photos show different personality traits. Choose the one that shows the side that you want to project.

  7. It is in point of fact a great and useful piece of
    information. I’m satisfied that you just shared this helpful information with us.
    Please keep us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

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