You know, a lot of my pictures that I take of people, usually have natural smiles on their faces or an awkward moment look to them. The amazing thing about a smile or awkward moment photograph is it's not staged and real. That person smiling down that barrel of your lens at that moment in time, is a feeling of when all the life's burdens for that individual is completely dropped for a split second. I begin to realize that as we all grow older, how important it is to make pictures, and lots of them especially of the people around you. The people who you would expect to live a long and healthy life, could end up passing in a such a moments notice.
David Coll Blanco is a Spanish photographer that had open arms to anyone and everyone that came across him. Ultra friendly he was and seemed that he didn't worry much about anything and did things his own way. Laid back he is being that he's Spanish and me coming from Southern California, we got along just fine. I can't recall when I first met David but it was in 2005 or 2006 in Tokyo. We bumped into each other a lot while covering movie premieres, Japan Fashion Week, and other press-related events along with Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert. Those were the days…
We hung out outside of work numerous times talking shop at cafes and the likes when the work was a little dry. I remember the very first time we got together, it was at a hole in the wall standing bar in Ebisu along with photographer Nathan Shanahan. We were talking about how amazing Adobe Photoshop CS was at the time! David had a smile on his face a lot of the times and even tried to be sociable with some of those egotistical photographers that fly in for Japan Fashion Week. One time we both just came out from shooting one of the fashion collections and took the elevator down to the ground floor with one of those guys who just intentionally ignored David's friendly question to the guy. It's alright though, there will always be people out there who believe that the world only revolves around them.
In 2010, I was working on a personal solo photo exhibition project consisting of Tokyo's inspiring people to me and of the 60+ portraits I shot of various people, David was one of them. I first phoned him up to explain my project and he was keen on participating. I asked him to come dressed to the shoot as he normally would in his daily life because the idea was for me to capture the individual in his or her elements. I did my best to make each person's picture unique based how I perceive that individual so for David, I saw him as a awesome editorial, portrait, and street photographer. I made a couple portraits of him on the street and I was happy.
He moved backed to Spain somewhere right around late 2010/early 2011 with his family to embark on a new journey in life. We kept in touch online as he would sometimes send me emails about what to do in LA or in some other city that I've been to since he was traveling quite a bit for his job. We tried to make arrangements to meet whenever he'd come back for a visit to Tokyo but our schedules never seemed to line up.
David is gone now. September 6th, 2013 at 39 due to cancer. According to his wife, just after he left this world, that he looked relaxed. He is now survived by his wife and 5 year old daughter who has not had enough time with her father.
The gift of photography is that as a shooter, those photos you take over time, can serve as a priceless and valuable gift of someone's time that doesn't change when everything around us does. And I'm grateful that I could pass on my photos to help someone see how great of a man David was.
Live each day as if it were your last because you never know when your time will come. If you are not happy with what you are doing in your life, it's never too late to change it. Every passing moment is a chance to turn it all around.