Shinjuku Pre-wedding Portraits
Matt and Samar's pre-wedding shoot had been on the calendar for months. Throughout the weeks leading up to our session, Samar and I communicated heavily about the type of shoot the couple from California wanted. Samar was very specific. She and Matt wanted a night session that skipped the natural environments many couples are after. The couple wanted there images to feel like Tokyo.
Our session date finally arrived and, of course, it was raining. For portrait photographers, rain can either mean an immediate cancelation or it can be an opportunity. For me, I prefer to think of a rainy day shoot as a chance to get creative. But, moving forward with a portrait shoot on a rainy day it is all up the client. I kept my fingers crossed.
Samar and Matt met me outside of JR's Shinjuku station right on time. After exchanging high fives and handshakes we immediately addressed the fact that it was pouring sideways.
To my surprise, Samar and Matt didn't seem to mind a bit. We evaluated the situation and decided to move forward with our shoot. But, instead of heading full on, out into the streets of Tokyo, we decided to shoot the majority of our session right there in Shinjuku station. Samar, Matt, and I spent an hour or so in JR Shinjuku, one of Tokyo's busiest transportation hubs. We managed to get a few frames on the platforms and near the ticket booths.
We then headed into the drizzly neon and walked several blocks to a location I had previously scouted for the couple. The rain fell. I kept shooting. Samar and Matt kept smiling. In the end, the couple walked away with a pre-wedding portrait session that was one-of-a-kind.
Coming to Tokyo with your lover? Get in touch to discuss your own pre-wedding or couples photoshoot in Tokyo or beyond.
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"Not so headshot," headshots...
I was very excited to hear from Josh, a fellow photographer and creative from east Tennessee. Oddly enough, Josh and I have a history that dates back almost twenty-five years. Josh and I went to school together as kids/teens and, as kids do, had an on-again-off-again friendship. A few years ago, Josh and I reconnected via Facebook and have rekindled our bromance.
Josh is moving forward with several new endeavors and was in need of professional headshots that were in line with who he is as a creative, as a person. When clients contact me for any type of portraiture, I always do my best to find out what they really want for a product.
For Josh, my investigation was no different. I wanted to know exactly what he was looking for. Josh did a great job articulating what he was after. When he said he needed, "not so headshot, headshots," I knew what he meant.
I loved his description and realized that Josh wanted to create environmental portraits instead of the stale, white-background headshots that rule the roost (until the fade is over) on LinkedIn. While I am always keen to help others create any kind of portrait, I was stoked to hear that Josh wanted to spend his time out and about instead of in the studio.
In the end, we had an amazing session. I got the chance to work with to reconnect with an old friend while making portraits. For me, it doesn't get any better than that.
How does your profile look these days? Perhaps it is time to update your thumbnail on LinkedIn, Facebook, or even Tinder. Contact me today to discuss how I can help you create a "not so headshot, headshot."
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Catherine's attitude throughout our correspondence blew me away. I always try to get a sense of a client's personality through those first initial emails. Sometimes it is hard and sometimes, thankfully, it isn't.
With Catherine, I had a pretty good idea of who my client was, at least in regard to personality. I could tell that Catherine was positive, funny, and as amiable as they come. She was obviously excited about her vacation to Tokyo and I was honored that she had selected me to help document some the family's time in Japan's capital.
I was really excited to finally meet the family from California in person, Catherine showed up to our meeting spot in Shimokitazawa with a smile, her husband Brian, and her two handsome sons Lucas and Max. I was right. Catherine was no different than her emails led me to believe. Better yet, Brian and the boys were also cheerful and ready for an afternoon in one of Tokyo's hippest neighborhoods.
For the next hour or so, the five of us shopped, popped into nearby temples, admired antiques, and strolled through Shimokitazawa at a snail's pace. It was the perfect family lifestyle session here in Tokyo.
Are you interested in a family portrait shoot in Tokyo? By filling out this contact form, you are one step closer to booking your very own session.
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Five Reasons You Should Book A Portrait Shoot Today
Ah, the selfie. The portrait that most of us take from time to time that serves as proof that most of us have a desire to be photographed in some shape or form. Lets face it. We want photos of ourselves. We want to make memories and use photography as an aid to capture moments in time.
Why settle for jacked up, cell phone selfies? You're better than that. You're worth more. With that said, here are five reasons why you should ditch the selfie and book your legitimate portrait session today.
1) You will never again be who you are today.
None of us are getting any younger. But this isn't a bad thing. Life moves forward and we roll with it. I am an advocate of living in the now and documenting the present. But I also acknowledge that there will come a time of reflection, a time when I will want to go back and mentally relive my past.
Having images of yourself at certain parts of your life will serve as a reminder, years from now when it is time to have that big retrospective, of who you were throughout your many stages of life. The clock is ticking and, sadly, time machines haven't yet hit the shelves of your local electronics chain. You will never again be who you are today. Don't take it for granted.
2) Portraits are your legacy.
Sue Bryce says, "Exist in photos." Sure, everyone wants an amazing portrait of themselves. But, you aren't the only person who wants to have stunning images of your likeness. Portraits are your legacy and will survive once you are long gone. A portrait session will ensure that your children (and your children's children) will have a glimpse of who you once were and will be tremendously grateful for those visual keepsakes.
3) Portraits allow for self expression
People chose to express themselves in many ways. Wether through dance, song, or art, we all long to give the world a glimpse of our soul. Portraiture is another form of self-expression. As a client, you determine how you will be seen in your portraits.
Feeling somber and isolated? Craft a session that details your experience. Feeling sexy? Book a high-key boudoir session. Feeling mysterious or confident? Book a fashion-inspired portrait shoot. Making photographs allows you the opportunity to express what is often hard to put into words.
4) Being photographed relates the sense of importance.
From time to time, we all feel unworthy. Sometimes we feel like we don't deserved to be treated well or that others' needs are more important than our own. The truth is the opposite. You hold worth and are worthy. Stepping in front of the camera proves that you are valuable as a person and that you deserve to feel important (because you are). Having your portrait made is empowering. Trust me, you' re worth it.
5) You don't have a legitimate reason not to.
When I speak with others about portraits, the same lines always come up. People always say that they don't have enough time, money, or energy to have a portrait session. I call BS. As the saying goes, there is always a million reasons not to do something. But the reality of it all is that you don't have a legitimate reason not to book a session. Money comes and goes and time commitments will, if anything, only become more intense. Your excuses are simply that, excuses.
Still not convinced? Contact me and I will give you another five reasons why you should reserve your portrait session today.
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Six months prior to landing in Tokyo...
Justin contacted me about my pre-wedding portrait services. I am always impressed with folks like Justin, those who want their time in Japan to be special and ensure that it is by crafting a well-planned trip. Justin and his beautiful fiancé Tori were interested in having a multi-location portrait session in Tokyo. But they wanted to see some of the city that is a bit off of the usual tourist circuit.
Justin, a designer by trade, also needed to ensure that I would be able to provide a variety of imagery (fine art, lovey-dovey portraits, and street style). I was stoked to hear that the Canadian couple were looking for a wide-range of images and I quickly realized that Justin and Tori fit my "ideal client" description.
Over the next months, I scouted Tokyo for the perfect locations, spots that would offer Justin and Tori the variety of imagery they were looking for. I also made sure that the locations would be far removed from Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo Tower, or Shinjuku Gyoen. I was determined to delivery a set that no other couple would have framed on the wall.
Location One | Kagurazaka
Months later, Justin and Tori arrived in Tokyo. As soon as their jet lag curbed we met at Kagurazaka station, close enough to downtown to be convenient but far enough away to get some breathing room from the droves. After getting to know each other a little bit we began meandering downhill through Kagurazaka, a neighborhood with a rich history.
During the Edo period, Kagurazaka was located just outside Edo Castle's outer moat. Because of its location the neighborhood became an entertainment district, complete with restaurants and a slew of geisha houses. The neighborhood is now affectionately known as Tokyo's "little France." Sure, the bakeries, cheese stores, and amazing cuisine on offer are appealing. But, was Kagurazaka's alleys that I wanted to show Justin and Tori.
We meandered through the cobblestoned back-streets and admired the modern facades of the still-active geisha houses (one of the very few geisha districts still operating in metropolitan Tokyo), stopping every so often to make a portrait.
Before leaving Kagurazaka, we stopped at one of Tokyo's famous game centers so that Tori and Justin could try their hand at electronic taiko drumming (a bit of a couple's portrait shoot tradition). After a quick game, we hopped on a train at Idaibashi station and headed west to our second location.
Location Two | Nakano
Nakano station is just outside of Shinjuku (one stop on JR's super-express to be exact). Still, the special ward is much less busy that its rowdy neighbor. I selected Nakano as our second location because the neighborhood's iconic streets, old Tokyo ambiance in a condensed area. I knew that Justin and Tori would vibe with Nakano and I was eager to show them some of the character that can be found right outside of the big-city bustle.
We started next to Nakano station's mural, an attraction that is often overlooked but keeps me coming back. The happy, animal-covered mural made for an excellent backdrop before we moved to Nakano's trademark alleyways. For the next hour or so, we popped here and there, stopping for portraits and a break on my favorite bench in Tokyo.
Are you interested in a pre-wedding, engagement, or couple's portrait shoot in Tokyo? Don't wait... Contact me today to reserve your own portrait session in Japan's capital or beyond!
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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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.