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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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!
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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Proposing is a big deal.
Asking someone to marry you is, hopefully, a once-in-a-lifetime moment. You want everything to be perfect, everything to go just as you have planned. After all, most of us only get the one shot at popping the question and, for the one being asked, the proposal is what fairy tales are made of.
Those four simple words make up one of the most important questions you will ever ask in life. So, if you are going to ask, you might as well make it memorable. Edwin sure did.
Edwin is a romantic gentleman.
He didn't just pop the question without really, really thinking it through. He knew that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with Yen (that much was apparent in my communication with Edwin). But, what he didn't know was how he was going to do it.
For months, Edwin and I communicated about his proposal. He had great ideas and I was determined to find a location in Tokyo that met Edwin's vision of the perfect proposal spot. I scouted locations and reported back to Edwin several times until finally, he had a perfect proposal plan.
The elaborate proposal started when Edwin and Yen's friends faked a trip to Las Vegas for Yen's birthday. Instead of heading to the glitz and neon of the Vegas Strip, Ed whisked Yen off on a whirlwind trip through Asia. After stopping off here and there in Asia, the lovebirds finally arrived in Tokyo. But here, in Japan, Ed had another surprise up his sleeve.
There on the moon bridge in Tokyo's Koishikawa Garden, Ed got down on one knee and found the courage to utter those four simple words. And with tears of happiness, Yen said "Yes."
I was honored to photograph Edwin and Yen's proposal.
Taking part in such an intimate moment in others' lives is an honor that few people get to experience. It is moments like this that solidify my love of photography and remind me of my love for my own wife.
Congrats Yen and Edwin! I wish you both the best as you move into the next chapter of your lives together.
Are you thinking about a surprise proposal here in Tokyo or somewhere else in Japan? If so, contact me today to find out how I can help ease the stress of your engagement proposal!
Introducing Jordan and Charlie
For Jordan and Charlie, this wasn't just any trip across the pond. They married over a year ago but had yet to take their celebratory honeymoon. The Monday after their weekend wedding, Jordan and Charlie were back to work. Instead of exhausting their vacation days and throwing their budget out the window, the couple decided to postpone their honeymoon. They weren't willing to settle for just any old trip and patiently saved for their dream honeymoon to Japan.
A year after the pair said their vows, I received a message from Jordan and Charlie. Like many of the inquiries I receive, the couple was searching for a photographer in Tokyo to artfully document their trip to Japan.
Throughout our email exchange, I got to know Jordan and Charlie. It didn't take long to understand that the couple from Tennessee were my ideal portrait photography clients. They value art over kitschy souvenirs. They appreciate creativity and wanted their portrait session to be more than the cutesy, cliché couples photography rampant on Pinterest. Frankly, Jordan and Charlie have style.
Needless to say, I was excited about our session from the get go. But, Jordan's emails detailing her love for film noir and monochrome imagery made me even more stoked to work with the couple.
I got to work straight away and scouted a location that would be a great spot for a noir portrait shoot and allow Jordan and Charlie to see a Tokyo neighborhood that isn't exactly on the tourist path. I was determined to provide Jordan and Charlie with more than an amazing portrait package. I wanted to offer them a memorable experience that would help make their honeymoon that much more special.
Nakano Station | North Exit
It was easy to spot Jordan and Charlie as they exited Nakano station. Jordan looked beautiful in her stunning blood-red dress and Charlie looked quite smart in his blazer. They had smiles on their faces which, to a photographer, is an auspicious sign.
After customary high fives and handshakes we stepped to the side of station and chatted about Tennessee and about how the honeymoon was going so far. I was happy to hear that the jet-lag was wearing off and that Jordan and Charlie were making the most of their time in Japan. I could have chatted with the lovebirds all night. But, we were losing day light and needed to get down to business.
We started our shoot right there in the thick of Nakano. The light was cascading all around the station and accenting random spots with streaks of late afternoon light. From the streets running parallel to the Chuo Line's tracks to the stairwells leading passengers to platforms, we created frames that related both the bustle of the Japanese capital and its solitary spaces.
Soon the daylight was gone. I knew that the sun wouldn't last. It never does. But, I wasn't worried. I had planned for most of our session to take place well after sunset.
I took Charlie and Jordan into some of the thin alleys and maze-streets of Nakano. I am drawn to the nooks and crannies of Japanese neighborhoods. Away from the glitzy, Tokyo facade is where I find inspiration. I wanted Jordan and Charlie to be able to see the little things that make Japan well, Japan; single lanterns held by dangling chords, rusting cigarette macihines, low-hanging neon, shy street cats, and little succulent plants outside of apartments and businesses. As we meandered through the alleys, we made portraits and casually chatted about life in Tennessee and our career choices.
A Treat For Charlie and Jordan
I planned Jordan and Charlie's photoshoot route by focusing on the snippets of personal infomation the couple had offered in our email exchanges. Jordan had mentioned a love for film noir, so I shot mainly in monochrome. The couple said that they wanted a mix of photos explicitly stating that they wanted some more somber shots. So, I left a lot of the smile-now-photographer-banter to a minimum. But, there was one detail in particular that I wanted to highlight; Jordan's comment about her love for the film Lost In Translation.
In the movie, there is a scene where Scarlett Johansen finds herself in an arcade. She sees Japanese youth playing electronic taiko drums and virtual guitars (just two of the thousands of insanely fun games in these arcades). I wanted Jordan and Charlie have a dose of that pure Japanese awesomeness. I wanted to recreate that wonder for them.
Like a dad in the mall with his kids, I handed Jordan and Charlie some Japanese yen and told them to get to work. As they played games, I made some relaxed, documentary portraits and had a blast watching Charlie trying to win a giant can of Pringles from a claw machine. While he couldn't quite manage to win any crazy prizes (Tokyo claw machines hold everything; cell phones to sex toys), I was impressed with his determination and intense concentration.
The Last Shots
Before our photoshoot came to a close, I wanted to get one more set under Nakano station. We made our way through Nakano Broadway and found the spot that had originally attracted me to Nakano. There, the three of us spent fifteen minutes together shooting and chatting.
At the end of the day, I was thrilled with our stunning set of portraits. But more, I was happy to have spent the evening with two of Tennessee's finest and felt honored to have been included in Jordan and Charlie's honeymoon.
Thinking of a honeymoon in Tokyo? If so, I would love to capture a bit of your time here in Japan. Go on, cruise through my portfolios and then contact me directly to book your own photography session.
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Tokyo Is For Lovers...
After years of dating, Dana and Yusef decided to tie the knot. Like many others, the couple decided on a romantic July wedding. Stylish and refined, Dana and Yusef decided to take the show on the road and said their vows in France. Hailing from Bahrain, the lovebirds were thrilled that their family and friends could make the trip to share their special day. The wedding was "a dream" and the bride and groom were ready for the real fun to began.
Dana and Yusef decided to take an extended honeymoon to Japan. The two happily cashed in all of their vacation days and headed from Paris to Tokyo to paint the island red. They planned to divide their time in Japan between Tokyo, Osaka, and Miyakojima. While Yusef and Dana had only had professional photos taken once before, they were keen to have some of their honeymoon documented.
Dana reached out and I planned a double session, filled with some of Tokyo's best spots.
Dana and Yusef wanted a variety of portraits; candid, posed, city, nature. Considering this, they did well to pick Tokyo as their honeymoon destination. I thought long and hard about where to take the couple. I asked myself, "Where would I want to go for honeymoon photos?" After some deliberation, I decided to take Dana and Yusef into the thick of Tokyo for our first session together.
We met during the early evening right outside of Harajuku station. Just minutes from their hotel, Harajuku was the perfect place to would give the couple a taste of Tokyo's true vibrance. After meeting and exchanging high fives, we took a few snaps near the entrance of Meiji Shrine, one of Tokyo's most famous shinto landmarks. Immediately, I could tell that both Dana and Yusef had great personalities. They smiled, giggled, and whispered in arabic. Their casual nature let me know that they were my perfect clients. Soon enough, our photoshoot began to feel natural, like I was just showing some friends around Tokyo.
I didn't want to spend too much time near the temple complex. Since Dana and Yusef wanted a lot of variety in their set, we quickly popped from one place to another. We walked to Yoyogi National Stadium and used the architectural marvel as a backdrop. We joined the masses near Omote-Sando station and took street shots. At one point, I even got a frame or two of these kiddos snuggled up in one of the phone booths that still stand on Tokyo sidewalks. As our time together drew to a close, we walked up the world famous Harajuku Takeshita-dori so that Dana could grab one of the massive crepes the street is known for.
After and hour or two of tromping around, I said goodbye and let the jet-lagged couple stroll the streets. But my time with Dana and Yusef was far from over...
Following our first session, Dana and Yusef blasted out of Tokyo and headed southwest to Osaka. While I am a Tokyo boy, I don't blame them for wanting to see as much of Japan as they could on their honeymoon. A couple weeks later, Dana and Yusef returned to the capital and were ready for another quick session before making the long trip back to Bahrain.
We decided to meet in Kichijoji, one of Tokyo's most underrated neighborhoods. Located at the end of Keio's Inokashira line, Kichijoji was stellar for a second portrait session. The neighborhood has everything you could want; restaurants, cafes, city lights and parks.
As soon as I saw Dana and Yusef I got excited. We had such a great first session and I had really been looking forward to part two. Dana again looked lovely and Yusef was a boss in his trademark black t-shirt. Instead of high fives, we gave quick hugs and then off we went into Kichijoji.
We meandered through the streets towards Inokashira Park, one of the nicest green spaces in western Tokyo and the first of Tokyo's parks to be gifted to the Japanese public by the emperor himself (1918). As we walked, we chatted about this and that. I asked Dana and Yusef about their experience in Japan and it seemed as though they had a wonderful time in Osaka. Before long we were at our destination.
Once in Inokashira Park, we began to take a slower pace. Being away from the concrete of the big city usually slows everyone's pace down. And while I wanted to make it to a local shrine before dark, I didn't try to put any pep in our step (When you are rushed, you missed great opportunities). We walked towards the small Benzaiten shrine, stopping to have a chat, make a photo, or play Pokémon Go. Sadly, the Benzaiten shrine marked the end of our time together. After one last photo in the park, we turned around and made our way back to Kichijoji station.
I was very happy to be a part of Yusef and Dana's time in Tokyo and was honored to be their honeymoon photographer. Best of luck to them as they begin their journey as a married couple.
Are you thinking of a honeymoon in Japan? If so, why not make a date you will never forget and schedule your own shoot.
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An Afternoon In Harajuku
I always get excited when a standard contact message shows up in my inbox. As soon as I see the words, "Contact Request" I know that I will have the chance to meet new people, explore Tokyo and make some great photos. That makes me happy, really happy.
Recently I received a message for Jennie and her boyfriend Peter. The two educational consultants were headed to Japan for a romantic vacation away from their native California. Before heading to Tokyo, Jennie and Peter wanted to book a casual couple's portrait session as part of their Japanese experience. I was more than happy to plan an afternoon in Tokyo for them.
My idea was to shoot throughout Harajuku, one of the most famous districts in Tokyo. By doing so, we could have an afternoon mixed with Japan's cultural heritage as well as the hustle and bustle of the city. We would base our shoot in the Meiji Shrine, a Shinto complex dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife Empress Shōken. From there we would head to streets of Harajuku, known internationally as a center of Japanese youth culture and fashion. The two spots were not only close, but would give a diverse perspective of Tokyo in a short amount of time.
As planned, the couple and I met right next to the Meiji's iconic torii that marks the entrance of the shrine. We briefly chatted in the shade of the ancient trees and talked about our session ahead. With a clear plan, we meandered our way through the forest to the main yard of Meiji and spent some time within the Shinto complex casually making portraits and discussing life in Tokyo.
From there we headed out of the complex and into the belly of the beast. We walked past Chiyoda metro station and found our way down to Cat Street. For the next thirty minutes, we made the urban hub our portrait paradise.
Thank you Jennie and Peter for such a great afternoon out in Japan's capital. I was honored to be part of your trip! If you would like to schedule your very own afternoon in Tokyo, check out my work and then send me a message so that I can start planning a portrait session for you.
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Megan and Michael
Award winning photographer based in Tokyo, Japan. Specializing in portrait photography, he shoots a variety of portraiture, editorial, event, and commercial photography assignments. Andy is a husband, father, and lover of fried food.