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It’s been a fast start to 2019. I started with a trip to Las Vegas, followed by the trip to New York City, and then a trip to San Francisco. I’ve spent most of February in Tokyo but I’ve already logged 43,000 miles flown year to date. Thankfully I plan to be in Tokyo for a while now.

I mentioned back in October that I was applying for Global Entry. The most recent government shutdown delayed my getting approval as TSA wasn’t conducting interviews during the shutdown. I finally conducted my interview on arrival in Chicago on my way to Las Vegas. I got approved for Global Entry which included TSA-Pre and APEC Business Travelers Card. I can’t believe I’ve waiting this long to get it. This was easily the best $85 I have spent.

When I land in the US I am pretty fast to customs so I usually don’t get stuck and have to wait in lines. The beauty of Global Entry is you skip the lines all together, you walk up to a machine that is off to the side, swipe your passport, get a ticket, and pass it to the customs agent on your way through. The entire process of passing through customs took about 2 minutes. I could see this being very useful if a few big planes land before me.

Where I really found benefit was in TSA-Pre and the APEC Card. I met a friend at SFO and we were going through customs together. I went through the TSA-Pre line and was through customs in about 3 minutes. There was only one other person going through the TSA-Pre section along with me. We were both surprised and commented to each other that the line was so empty. My friend had access to the premium security line but it still took him 23 additional minutes to get through the security check than it took me with TSA-Pre.

With the APEC Card you get to use the diplomat/airline staff lines at customs. I can see this being very useful when landing at busy airports around Asia. After grabbing my bag after arriving in Narita I was able to whisk through the customs check using the diplomat customs baggage check line. I highly recommend heavy travelers apply for Global Entry, TSA-Pre, APEC pack. I’m kicking myself for waiting this long. It will literally save me hours per month.

Writing a blog like this can be a very solitary experience. I might get a hand full of comments on a post, the occasional reply to the email that automatically delivers new posts via email (sign up here), or the occasional retweet. Things are relatively quite as compared to the level readership on the posts. It’s easy to forget that tens of thousands of people will end up reading a given post so it’s nice when I get to meet readers of my blog in real life.

I had 3 “aren’t you that ShootTokyo guy interactions” in one week a few weeks back. It doesn’t happen all that often but it’s nice when it does. One was on an airplane where someone casually mentioned as we were deplaning “I really enjoy your blog”. It made me think when in the flight did he recognize me.

Another interaction I was in a camera shop in Shinjuku. I walked up and looked at some cameras in a display case and the guy who was standing next to me said “wait, I know you from somewhere’‘. It took him a few minutes but then he figured out it was from my blog. He was visiting from Canada so very random to bump into me, especially since I was out of Tokyo most of January and I don’t go to Shinjuku very often.

The last one was very unexpected and in a business setting in New York City. As I said it’s always nice to meet people who read my blog so don’t be shy about saying Hi.

I’ve had a bunch of inquires if I am going to make more ShootTokyo Shirts. I had enough requests that I have decided to do another run of my black shirts. They are being hand silk screened in Osaka as we speak. They are available for order and they will ship out in a little over a week once they arrive in Tokyo. Grab one before they are gone.

Today’s Configuration: Leica M10 and M10-P with a Summicron 28mm f/2.0 and 35mm f/1.4.

Jason Garcia

Meet Jason. He is a Creative Director from New York City recently transplanted to Tokyo with his family. Jason runs a few very cool Tokyo based Instagram accounts; @jgarcianyc for Black and White Images. He also has a more in-depth photography focused account @ShutterAdvance where he also announces photowalks he is hosting around Tokyo. He also has a YouTube channel and website packed with great content. Follow these if you are looking for some inspiration on photography in Tokyo.

As Jason and I live fairly close, we have found ourselves posting content from the same place, within a few hours of each other. We have exchanged a few messages on Instagram and have intended to meet up but our busy schedules haven’t allowed. As I was squeezing into an overpacked train early one morning and settling into my 1 foot by 1 foot space I have been able to carve out for myself I looked next to me and it was Jason.

We end up talking for a few stops and realized we have a lot in common. We were heading the same direction but getting off off at different stops. We decided to jump off together at a stop so I could shoot a image of Jason so I could introduce him to all of you. I shot my image of Jason and exited the station to walk the rest of the way to the office and Jason jumped back on the next train and continued on his way.

A perfectly random Tokyo encounter.

Roppongi Station

Maruli Tampubolon

Meet Maruli. While grabbing a bit to eat at Haneda before my flight, Maruli and I started chatting after commenting on each others cameras. I was shooting my M10 and he was carrying a Leica SL with M mounted lenses. My camera has helped me meet so many people.

Maruli is a very interesting person. He is a lawyer, singer, actor, and entrepreneur, to name just a few things. Follow along his Instagram to see his fascinating life and beautiful family. I was most impress of his selfie with UFC President Dana White ring side for the Conor McGregor fight. #lifegoals

Another perfectly random Tokyo encounter.

Las Vegas

The one moment of daylight I saw during my week in Vegas…

Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas

I took the opportunity on my last day to catch up with my brother Mark and explore the other side of Vegas. We headed out to Red Rock Canyon to see all the natural beauty it has to offer. I can see why this is one of his favorite places to visit. I’ll make this a regular place to go when in Vegas. Check out Mark’s Instagram for better photos of Red Rock and Vegas than I took.

Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas

Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas

Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas

NYC Subway

I had a very short trip to New York City. I landed in the afternoon before a day of meetings. I had a few hours before a dinner appointment to explore some favorite spots in the city. I started my career working in New York City so lots of memories to revisit.


Katz’s Deli

For those that have seen When Harry Met Sally…this is where the ‘I’ll have what she’s having’ scene was filmed.

The Oculus, New York City

Ladder Company 10 Engine Company 10 NYC

The Bull, NYC

New York Stock Exchange

Tom Medvedich

Meet Tom. He is a professional photographer living in Brooklyn, New York. I first met Tom a bit more than 8 years ago when I interviewed him for ShootTokyo as part of a series of photographer interviews I was doing. Tom and I have kept in touch and supported each other’s work via Instagram ever since.

I was in New York City for a few days and Tom reached out to me to see if I wanted to meet up one evening. I ended up taking the train out to Brooklyn and we meet up as a small, quiet restaurant that he really likes. We ended up talking for hours about work, life, photography and entrepreneurship. It was a nice relaxing evening. I’m really glad he reached out.

Check out Tom’s commercial portfolio here to see what truly amazing photography looks like. Most of his photos are technically and artistically perfect. Tom is also has an amazing knife collection which his expertly displays on his very cool NotoriousEDC Instagram.

Akihiko Shigeno

I was in San Francisco for a few days of meetings and through Instagram I realized one of my old co-workers Shigeno-san was visiting near by San Jose. We decided to catch up for dinner on my last night in town. He is one of my favorite people in the world to meet up with so it was fun as always. We met at a very spicy Szechuan restaurant for some mabodofu. He knows me very well.

Check out his Instagram for lots of photos of food, which makes sense if you know him. The first lunch meeting we had he ordered a massive bowl of rice and sashimi. He finished and I was still eating and he said ‘do you mind if I order more’. I said ‘sure’ thinking he was ordering a few more pieces of fish but he order another meal.

In more small world news, as I was walking to the restaurant to meet Shigeno-san, I was taking some photos and I hear “Hey Dave Powell” and in front of my is another previous colleague from Singapore.

The world is really getting small.

ANA Flight

Thanks for stopping by today. Have something on your mind? Leave a comment below.

Be well