Project Hohoemi | Portraits and Raw Squid

The third day of shooting in Ishinomaki for Project Hohoemi was by far my favorite day. I had the privilege of shooting in people’s homes.  Due to rain or mobility issues some people were not able to come to us to get photos taken. So we went to them. I was welcomed in to their homes and treated as an honored guest. The  first family featured in this post were so unbelievably kind. After I took their photos they invited me to sit with them and began feeding me. And I ate everything they set in front of me. I was so humbled by their kindness that even raw squid was not going to deter me from being grateful for this experience and their hospitality.

Below: My sweet translator Jade being snuggled in the middle. She is spending a year in Ishinomaki to help the people in need.

The next family did not know we were coming. The mom of the family above insisted we go to a few more homes to take photos. Even though they were not expecting me they kindly accepted me into their home. My time with them was very brief so I did not get to hear their story or even learn how they are all related. But I snapped photos just the same.

Project Hohoemi | Assisted Living & Karaoke

For me day two of Project Hohoemi was spent at a kindergarten, photos coming soon, and an assisted living home. Many of the people living here are very capable of living on their own, but lost their homes in the 2011 tsunami. The director of the facility, pictured below on the far left, made things happen for us for sure. He told everyone that they were getting their photos taken and didn’t take no for an answer. But he did it in such a likable way that his assertiveness was almost hidden behind that smile. He used that same charming assertiveness on us after shooting when he demanded that we stay for coffee, snacks, and karaoke. And there was no shying away from singing. Again with the assertiveness.  It was so fun though. And I loved being able to smile with these wise people. I wish I had more time to sit and chat with them about their lives. So many great stories to be shared I am sure.

And here is a little behind the scenes action. Photos taken with my trusty Iphone

Project Hohoemi | Indoor Natural Light Studio

If I had to sum up this post in only five words then this is what I would say…


I am a natural light, outdoor photographer. The number one thing I look for when shooting is not a neat backdrop or a pretty setting. Oh no. It’s all about the light. Light is number one for me. Natural light that is. So when the decision was made to shoot in a make-shift studio I swear my pulse started racing. I’ve never ever shoot with a backdrop before. And even though we were using natural light that was flooding in from the windows I was still nervous to shoot in such conditions. But we only had three days to photograph everyone who signed up for Project Hohoemi and we were not going to let a little typhoon and some rain hold us back. I really hope that even though this was a stretch for me I was still able to take photos that these awesome people will enjoy.

Project Hohoemi | The Nazomi Project

During our first day in Ishinomaki we had the privilege of meeting some of the women behind the Nazomi Projec (http://nozomiproject  This is such an amazing enterprise that is “bringing sustainable income, community, dignity and hope to the women in Ishinomaki, Japan and the surrounding region by training women to craft unique jewelry products.”  They actually use pieces of broken pottery left by the devastation of the tsunami to make each necklace, sets of earrings, and various other types of jewelry. There story is heart touching and I encourage you to read more about their vision here (http://nozomiproject

If you would like to purchase jewelry from the Nazomi Project you can do so one their website (http://nozomiproject They update their site frequently with new pieces so check often.

  If you do decide to support this project and purchase some jewelry  please let me know! I would even love to see a photo of your Nazomi jewelry so be sure to share on the RBP Facebook Page (https://www NULL.facebook

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November 3, 2013 - 6:19 pm

Mindy - Renee, I saw you post about this on Facebook and I already bought a couple pieces for Christmas gifts. I love them!