Updated: Apr 19, 2020
I was having lunch at this small and cramped Japanese restaurant near the place where I used to work. It's too cramped, it's impossible not to hit the elbow of the person eating next to you. While I eat, I lugged my camera around my neck as if I don't want it to be touched by the person next to me.
The sushi chef behind the counter observes me while I eat. He then asked, 'Dare desu ka? (Who are you?)' I replied, 'Oh! Uhmmm... Watashi no namae wa, Meruvin desu.' Sensing that I was struggling with my Japanese, he replied violently, 'No! No! No! Who are you!? What are you?' The fucker can speak English well. 'What are yooooou?!' I said I'm a creative director. He then replied, 'The camera? What are yooooouu?' 'Oh, this? I'm not a pro. I love to make photographs. I sense a great purpose in doing this.' 'Then you're that! Not a creative director. That's your IKIGAI!!! Your reason for being. You answer to that not your job! Jobs make life short. IKIGAI makes it worth while.'
'Oh, arigato gosaimasu!!! thank you, sensei! Can I have free saké?'
'No!!! Don't push it!'
I have an innate love of stories. And this is the reason what drew me to photography. I believe storytelling matters—it heals and teaches; it inspires and resolves; it enchants us as well as enlightens us. Since then, this has been a core pillar of my career as a photographer.