This is professional violinist Shinn Hirayama, a 22-year veteran of the instrument. Believe me when I tell you this photograph sounds beautiful. Hirayama san and I met prior to the holidays, in-between his seasonal concerts of Beethoven’s 9th. We shot his new headshots and a dry run of an upcoming portrait series with his orchestra. Headshots do not normally sweep you up in the moment; yet, as we explored and allowed Shinn to place the bow on the strings something manifested.
My entire vacation this manifestation nagged at me. What felt so special about that shoot? Returning to the images I found standard headshots on white and a start for our project but nothing justifying this need to revisit the film. Then I began examining the images of him playing and his expressions. I tried to remember the silence of the studio, punctuated only by his living notes born of wood, strings, horsehair, and rosin.
Once he began to play he changed. You could see it in every frame. His eyes closed, his expression softened and he drifted into the music. Every time I broke the spell to direct movement or placement I felt I was intruding, stepping in for a dance during the slow jam. I would finish a set, lower my camera and watch; it was a lovely gift to listen to him in the throws of mastery. I think what struck me was his seamless bridge to the connection of his art. It was instantaneous. The bow bounced, his eyes closed and he was there in the middle of creation.
What does that level of mastery look like in my life? I believe that’s the question I was asking myself while on holiday. How do I transcribe that grace into my craft? I know it is poor form to conclude with unanswered questions, but for now this is how I am starting the year. Time to do the work in 2012.