Another View of Kimina in Miyagawa Ondo
This photo of the geisha Kimina performing in "Miyagawa Ondo," the finale of Kyo Odori, did not make it into Geisha & Maiko of Kyoto: Beauty, Art, & Dance, and I'm not exactly sure now why I left it out! I think at the time I thought it was not the most flattering view of Kimina because I was photographing almost straight up at her since she was literally right in front of me. I could have leaned forward and touched her fan. However, now that I look at the photo again after not having seen it for a few years, I don't have the same feeling. It just makes me feel almost part of the action.
As I have written on this blog and elsewhere, I always sit in the front row at Kyo Odori and Mizeukai in Miyagawa-cho even when I'm not photographing the dances. Part of the reason is that sitting in the front row makes me feel part of the action, as this photo illustrates. Another reason is that front row seats are usually the last seats to sell. For some reason, some Japanese don't like sitting in the front row. I've even had the women selling tickets to the dances try to discourage me from sitting there.
As a photographer, I choose the front row for several reasons. One is that I want to disturb the audience around me as little as possible. If I'm sitting in the front row, I don't have to worry that the sound of my shutter will annoy the people right in front of me, who might not be aware that I'm photographing the performance. The people next to me see my camera before I ever take a photo, so the sound comes as no surprise to them once I start photographing. Another reason is that when I'm in the front row, I don't need to worry about the heads of the people in front of me getting in a shot, which happened at times when I photographed Satomi in Miyako Odori from the third row. At times the angle of a photograph might be a bit more extreme than if I were sitting a few rows back, but I always felt the benefits to me and the people around me outweighed that one drawback.
Also, I made a point to photograph only the maiko or geiko I was there to photograph, not every single scene in the dance. Most of the time, that meant I was only photographing Kimina, although there were a few occasions when I photographed Fukunami, Fukuhina, Taneju, and Tanewaka. I never had another member of the audience complain about me when I was only photographing one or two of the seven scenes of the dance. At most, I would be photographing for five to ten minutes of the sixty-minute performance, and I usually refrained from making a photo at a particularly silent and still moment in a dance.
I could always get the shots I needed without disturbing the people around me, which was always a priority. Everyone deserves to be able to enjoy a performance without a camera clicking in their ear every second!