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Field Notes
Generations Ishigakis
Photograph by David McLain
David McLain

What was your best experience in the field covering this story?

This assignment was great because I really have a weakness for food. In Sardinia I dined on homemade prosciutto, pecorino cheese, and homemade wine. Then in Japan I had the most beautiful soups and sashimi. I even found great salads, nuts, and other fresh foods in Loma Linda, California. Every place had something.

I also got hooked on oatmeal after meeting a 112-year-old woman named Lydia Newton in Loma Linda. Every morning she and her 90-year-old daughter eat oatmeal with half-and-half. (Lydia said she wouldn't let anything fat free into her house.) Now I can't start my day without oatmeal, although I use soy milk. Lydia thought that was disgusting, but it's going to take me awhile to work up to half-and-half.

What was your worst experience in the field covering this story?

Of the 21 days I was in Okinawa, 17 were cold and rainy. That was torture because so often photographers are held hostage to the light and environment. There were days when I didn't do anything. And there were also photographs I couldn't get. For example, I kept waiting for a 93-year-old fisherman to go octopus hunting, but he never did because the weather was so bad. Eventually I had to cut my losses and move on to the next thing.

What was your quirkiest experience in the field covering this story?

I met this crotchety man in Sardinia who is 102 years old. He's so incredibly independent that he won't let anyone handle his finances. So he keeps his cash and property deeds in a safe and carries the key in a special pocket in his pants.

Of course, I wanted to photograph the key because any key that a 102-year-old guy has been carrying around for years must look pretty interesting. But when I asked to see it, he got really mad and told me to go to hell. His relatives almost had to hold him back.