A series of photo shoot opportunities brought a Hawaii-based professional photographer to Majuro last month. Following a visit to the College of Micronesia in Pohnpei to open an exhibit of photographs of Micronesia, Floyd Takeuchi spent several days in Majuro taking photos of three seemingly unconnected subjects: actress and student Save Filolita Filemoni, a Sunday service at Rairok Protestant Church and the Waan Aelon in Majel (Canoes of the Marshall Islands) program.
“Three very different photo shoots, all inspiring in their unique ways, all emotional in that they increased my confidence about the prospects for the future of this place that’s very special to me,” said Takeuchi, who was born and raised in Majuro in the 1950s.
Takeuchi described the portrait session with Save as “inspiring” because he “got to work with very talented young people, who also are very good at what they do.” Takeuchi added that this photo shoot was inspiring “particularly after I quickly realized that Save, despite not having much experience before a camera, was able to confidently collaborate with me during a long day of photography. Her enthusiasm and polish pushed me to work even harder as the photographer.”
Then it was onto Rairok Church. “I spent most of Sunday morning documenting the life of a church on Majuro, in my case the beautiful UCC church at Rairok,” he said. “I was surprised by how emotional I got during the service, when the choir began to sing. Memories of growing up on Majuro in the 1950s, the sound of hymns coming from churches on Sunday, overwhelmed me. By the end of the morning service, I was physically and emotionally drained.”
Monday saw Takeuchi at the WAM program. “My time at Waan Aelon in Majel was shorter, but I’ve spent time at WAM on many occasions over nearly 30 years,” Takeuchi said. “I interviewed Alson Kelen, always a good thing, and came away inspired by his and the organization’s ongoing commitment to making a real difference in the lives of the clients they serve.”
Through his professional photography and multiple international exhibits, Takeuchi has put Micronesia on the map in and outside of the region. A benefit of his recent Majuro photography sessions is the new sets of photos become material for possible future exhibits and publications.
“They all could easily form the basis of either an expanded regionally-focused photo exhibit, or be the foundation for a Marshall Islands specific show,” Takeuchi said of his recent photo shoots in Majuro. “I’d want to spend more time on Majuro, and on some of the other atolls, before I would be comfortable enough to mount an exhibit about the Marshalls. But the photographs I made on this most recent trip are strong, and do give me the visual framework for an exhibit.”
He’s had multiple exhibits in Japan since last year.
“I’ve been fortunate to have so many overseas exhibits of my photography,” he said. “The Association for Promotion of International Cooperation, a Tokyo-based foundation that’s particularly active in the Micronesia region, has sponsored my exhibits in Japan. My exhibit at COM-FSM came about through an invitation from the college’s president, Dr. Joe Daisy.”
Takeuchi said that two more of his photo exhibits will open in Tokyo in November, bringing the total to five over the past couple of years.
While in Majuro recently, he spoke at the College of the Marshall Islands about his photography and offered tips to local photographers.
“Photography is a very personal process for me,” he said. “In my talk at College of the Marshall Islands, I shared a quote from the American photographer David Allen Harvey, who famously said, ‘Don’t shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like.’ His quote guided me in all of the photography I did on Majuro on this most recent trip.”
Read more about this in the May 4, 2018 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.