I was recently interviewed by fellow photographer Willow Paule about portraiture and artistic idealism. It is always a pleasure to sit down with other photographers to discuss the craft of photography and discover how fellow artists create, share, survive, and thrive. I am intrigued to learn more about other artists and how they work. But this time it was my turn to answer the questions.
Thanks Willow or giving me the opportunity to really think about my own process. Read the full interview here.
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Peter and Alejandra are getting hitched!
What better way to celebrate an upcoming wedding than to have an engagement photoshoot here in Tokyo? As the spring began to warm up, Alejandra contacted me to see if I could accommodate a casual pre-wedding shoot. I was happy to find a date on the calendar that worked for both of us.
We met well outside of downtown at Jindai Botanical Gardens, one of my favorite spots to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of Japan. Even in full bloom during the busy morning hours, the gardens in Mitaka are so peaceful and serene. My morning with Alejandra and Peter would not be the exception.
Without throngs of onlookers (like you will find at portrait sessions downtown), we were able to comfortably meander through the gardens and even had enough time to follow the a path that leads downhill to Tokyo's famous Jindaigi Temple.
Ale and Peter were such a beautiful couple to work with and I was honored to be their photographer here in Japan. Congrats Ale and Peter!
Are you interested in a pre-wedding shoot in Tokyo or anywhere else in Asia? If so, contact me today to beginning planning your very own engagement portrait session.
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Not-planning makes perfect?
I always ask clients to tell me about how they envision their perfect portrait session. I ask them about what they envision as a product. I want to know how they want to see themselves. In all of my time as a portrait photographer, I have never had a client answer these questions in the same way.
We are each unique individuals each with different backgrounds, hopes, preferences, and tastes. I acknowledge this and do my best to create an experience based on who my client is. I communicate and then I plan.
But sometimes planning (or over planning) takes the spontaneity out of photography. Those moments of inspiration during a shoot are some of the best feelings a photographer can have.
I was blessed to spend some time with Aubrey who, like so many of my other clients, decided that planning doesn't always make perfect. So, instead of hashing out details and deciding before our shoot what the outcome would be, we winged it.
Without the limitations of a predetermined agenda, we were free to explore whatever ideas came to mind and proved once and for all that some of the best imagery can be created without a mood board, visual samples, or a novel's worth of emails.
Thanks for a great session Aubrey!
Are you searching for a photographer to experiment with? If so, contact me today for your custom portrait session in Tokyo or beyond.
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The Perfect Portrait Subject
Sharon Heit is one of those people that is easy to hate. She is incredibly smart and articulate. She is an amazing photographer and writer. She is funny and easy going. It just so happens that Sharon is also gorgeous. Because of these reasons, Sharon is a perfect portrait subject.
It is rare that a photographer is willing to put down their camera and allow another photographer to make their portrait. Needless to say, I was very excited when Sharon finally agreed to hop over to the "other side of the lens."
Not-So-Boudoir, Boudoir Photography
I wanted to shoot a boudoir portrait session with Sharon. But, I knew that I didn't want to photograph the cheesy boudoir that saturates the industry. You know, the softly lit of woman wearing their husband's work shirts as they lay on a white satin sheet set draped across a bed in a sun drenched room.
Instead, I wanted Sharon's portrait set to have elements of boudoir and fashion photography. I wanted a boudoir feel, but I didn't want a bedroom interior. And, as is my method of madness, I also wanted to incorporate some tomfoolery like multiple exposures and dragged shutters.
In the end, Sharon and I got a tremendous amount of imagery made in a very short amount of time. I love the variety of cuts we produced and am happy to share some of the images from our portrait session. Naturally, I am already looking forward to my next set with Sharon and am eager to see more photos of Sharon on the other side of the lens.
Are you interested in your own boudoir shoot in Tokyo or abroad? If so, I would be honored to be your photographer. What are you waiting for? Get in touch today to start planning your boudoir portrait session.
I did all I could to learn about Ashli and her family before proposing a location, talking turkey, or even thinking about portrait session dates, I like to gain a sense of who a client is and how, specifically, I can craft a custom session for them ( I don't believe in cookie cutter experiences).
I learned that the Dunphy family has lived in Asia for several years now. They like to travel. They value art. They they enjoy their time together as a family. Over email, the Dunphys seemed like my perfect family client.
After hearing about the asian adventure the Dunphys have had over the last few years, I knew that Patrick and Ashli would be down for any location I could come up with. The kids on the other hand, were my primary concern (as always). I wanted Sam (age 4) and his sister Liberty (16 months) to be as comfortable as possible throughout our time together.
Sometimes during sakura season, clients want to join the tourist throngs at Yoyogi or Ueno Park. While the sakura are beautiful in these hot spots, they are the antithesis of a great location for family portraits. Taking the Dunphy kids to one of these spots during the sakura peak would be pure madness.
Considering this, I was delighted to learn that the Dunphy family was very flexible about their shoot. While they wanted to somehow incorporate the cherry blossoms into their session, the little pink and white blooms did not have to be the sole focus.
I was relieved and excited to find a location that fit the bill. I was also excited that we would all be spared of the human throngs politely jockeying (as is the Japanese way) for selfie-position under the blooms.
I started my search for a spot that offered more than just the famous spring blossoms and settled on Nogawa, a suburban park thirty minutes by train outside of downtown Tokyo. Locals from Fuchu, Mitaka, and Chofu wards are quite familiar with Nogawa and prefer it to any of Tokyo's downtown gardens or plazas because of its accessibility and serene nature.
I knew that there would be sakura in bloom in Nogawa. I knew that there would be a playground to bribe the children with. I knew that there would be restrooms and facilities without lines. And, most importantly, I knew that we would have the expansive suburban landscape mostly to ourselves.
Ashli, Patrick, Sam and Libby showed up exactly on time for our shoot. After chatting briefly about our portrait session, I opened my gear bag so that the kids could inspect the tools of the trade. I pulled out my camera and got to work.
As we sauntered along, I learned more about Ashli and Patrick. Patrick flies planes and Ashli is a photographer and potter. I learned about their experiences in Tokyo and we chatted about Seoul, South Korea, a city where both the Dunphys and I lived for some time. Through our conversation I noticed a lot of commonalities and felt as though I was photographing old friends from "back home."
I was really impressed with the Dunphy family. For nearly two hours both the kids and the parents did their part to make a great portrait shoot. We walked through nearly half of the park and it was finally time for the kids to really let loose. Instead of pressing on, we decided to stop, relax, and let Liberty and Sam run wild at Nogawa's playground.
At the end of it all, I was thrilled that we selected Nogawa for our family portrait session location. I was also grateful to have had such relaxed, personable clients during sakura, the most hectic season for any photographer in Tokyo. My initial suspicions were correct. The Dunphys were the perfect family portrait clients.
Are you searching for a family photographer in Tokyo? Contact me today to begin planning your family's session.
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If anyone has the art of food down to a science it is the Japanese. Everywhere you turn there is some sort of delciousness being prepared. From full blown kaiseki meals to surprisingly light tempura dishes, Japanese food is known for its simple flavors and exquisite presentation. Even school children enjoy this cultural tradition when they open their lunches to find animal shaped rice balls and carefully carved vegetables.
This February, Qatar Airways contacted me with a very specific challenge. The in-flight magazine wanted me to explore the art of Japanese food. Commissioned to shoot Empire of the Senses, an editorial exploring the art of Japanese cuisine. While on assignment, I was tasked to align my photographs with Oryx's March theme completely dedicated to "taste." With this in mind, I made my way to some of Tokyo's finest restaurants to shoot (and nibble) some of the finest food Japan has on offer.
Naturally, I was very excited to accept Oryx's challenge. I was also excited to see the piece come through design and into the hands of readers on all Qatar Airways flights. Read the full editorial piece here.
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Sapporo, Japan | Hokkaido's Urban Hub
With a backpack full on lenses, extra underwear, and a heavy sweater I headed off to snowy Sapporo. After spending most of the winter in Tokyo, I was excited to get a change of scenery.
I had been to Sapporo a few times before so I knew that the city contrasts more than it compares to the Japanese capital. The urban hub of the "North Island" is slower and more relaxed in pace. People are eager to stop for a chat and the weather, unlike Tokyo, screams winter. For these reasons alone I was happy to head north.
After landing at Chitose Airport, I was eager to take the scenic train into the city and get out into the streets. But unlike my previous trips to one of the world's snowiest cities, I was in Sapporo to document the essence of the city for The New York Times. I put my personal agenda on hold and got to work as soon as I stepped off of the train at Sapporo Station.
Over the next couple of days, I ran a "photographer's decathalon" to show The Times' readershhip what is possible with 36 Hours in Sapporo. But even with a specific assignment, I still managed to turn my lens here and there and got some snapshots of one of my favorite cities in Asia.
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Age of Exploration
Ran is beautiful, soft spoken, and has a tender disposition. She is pleasant to be around. Immediately you can tell that Ran is turning into a wonderful young lady.
What you can't readily tell is that Ran has an interest in modeling and wants to cultivate that interest. She has come to one of those pivotal transition periods in her life where exploration is necessary for evolution. Ran is at one of those ultra-exciting portions of life where anything seems possible.
Here is where I come in.
I decided to meet in Koenji, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Tokyo known as a stronghold of Japanese subculture. I wanted to shoot in a location that would provide a variety of portrait possibilities. Koenji was perfect. It has a plethora of scenes and is not clogged with throngs of people.
Ran and her lovely mother Rosemary showed up right on schedule and we spent some time getting to know each other (email can only take you so far). Even though I had just met Ran, I was proud of her for taking a step to pursue something new and was grateful that she had asked me to take part in the process.
After sharing a high five, we got to work.
By the end of our session, Ran and I had crafted a wide variety of images in a short amount of time. Though she is nearly at the end of high school, Ran's session wasn't about creating senior portraits. Her session was about moving forward in life and stepping out of comfort zones.
I love working with clients like Ran, people who are willing to explore their interests and take risks. To me, just booking a portrait shoot showed that Ran was willing to allow herself be vulnerable. This, in itself, proves that she is mature beyond her years.
I was honored to work with such a kind and eager young woman. In fact, Ran served as an inspiration, reminding me that there is great potential in personal vulnerability and that every stage in life is full of fresh possibility.
There is no time like the present. Book your portrait session today!
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Over the years I have had a lot of experience working with musicians. I have photographed some of the biggest acts in rock-n-roll. I have also had the chance to shoot solo artists in small, intimate settings. No matter the scale, there is nothing quite like photographing live music. For me, shooting a concert is the epitome of "event" and one of my favorite jobs as a professional photographer.
I was recently contacted by the Konzerthaus Orchester Berlin (KOB). The group was about to embark on their 2017 Asian tour and wanted the first stop of their run documented. I was asked to shoot the group's rehearsal, backstage banter, and portions of their Tokyo performance. I was very pleased to be considered for the job and jumped at the chance to get behind the scenes with an ensemble as renowned as KOB.
Upon arrival, I was led into the depths of Sumida Triphony Hall, an exquisite venue on the outskirts of Tokyo. After the customary greetings and an appropriate amount of bowing, I made my way through the maze of greenrooms to the stage landing. It was then that I stopped in my tracks, a bit dumbfounded.
With a lot of backstage experience, I am rarely surprised by much. But this scene thoroughly impressed me. I was taken aback by the magnitude of KOB's tour production: 120 musicians from 19 different countries, a vibrant conductor, publicists, handlers, road crew, and sound techs all scurried around me.
For a moment, I let my mind wander away from photography to a place of sheer amazement. Who was responsible for getting these classically trained musicians and their instruments to Tokyo? Who arranged accommodation? What did the airlines say when over three hundred oversized hardshell cases came rolling into the airport lobby? Who insured the millions of dollars worth of antique instruments that lay about? I was star struck, not by a celebrity, but by a secret star who oiled this machine. I wanted to shake that person's hand.
Instead of seeking out the mastermind-tour-manager for an autograph, I shook my head at the scene and reminded myself why I was in one of the most beautiful venues I had ever seen.With my head on straight, I got to work. For the next few hours I happily clicked away, providing KOB with imagery that will later remind them of the first stop of their 2017 Asian tour.
Is your organization in need of an event photographer in Tokyo? If so, get in touch today!
Each summer I pack my bags and head out of Tokyo. The summer heat in Tokyo is frankly oppressive. I would much rather spend several weeks of June and/or July soaking in the cool mountain air of Asheville, North Carolina. In my quiet Appalachian hometown, I get to spend time with friends and family, fuel up on fusion sushi (which in Japan is akin to blasphemy), watch fireflies dance, and play with the neighborhood dog named Roxy.
Another benefit of traveling to America is getting the opportunity to collaborate with some of my favorite people. Last summer, my good friend Amanda Anderson of Dollbox Productions and I got to work with the lovely Sarah Harris on a styled shoot. Thanks to the great people of Asheville Glamping, we had the perfect location. We worked in AG's Airstreams and took advantage of the secluded property right outside of city limits.
At the end of it all, I dig how the portraits turned out and look forward to working with this great team again this coming summer!
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Award winning photographer based in Tokyo, Japan. Specializing in portrait photography, he shoots a variety of portraiture, editorial, and event, and commercial photography assignments. Andy is a husband, father, and lover of fried food.