So you are ready to get your portrait made...
You have decided that you want to move forward and invest in a portrait session. Good for you. Everyone deserves to exist in photos and you won't regret your decision to have professional portraits made.
You have scrolled through the first couple pages of Google to find just the right photographer. There are many photographers to chose from but you have your eyes on a particular photographer, a shooter who has a portfolio of photos that you really enjoy.
Maybe you have even gone so far as to send that photographer an inquiry email requesting a package quote. But, there are a few critical points to consider before you finalize any booking.
Keep reading to find out what you should be on the lookout for when selecting the perfect photographer for your portrait session.
1) Website Impression
What does a photographer's website say about who they are as a photographer, a creative, or as a person? More than you would think... Head back over to the photographer's webpage. It's time to take a second look.
Peruse the photographer's portfolio galleries again with fresh eyes. If you don't like what you see on this visit to the photographer's site, for heaven's sake, close the browser window and move on. But, if you still love what you see, engage in a mental exercise.
Imagine that you are in the photos you see, you are the subject being shown. Ask yourself if you would be happy if those were the images delivered to you after your session.
If you answer YES to the question above, your responsibility as a consumer isn't over. You you still have more due diligence ahead.
The About Page
If you are anything like me, your first inclination is to view someone's work without acknowledging who is actually making it. Stop. Slow down.
Portrait photography isn't sculpture, watercolor, or mixed media. You aren't buying a finished product. In fact, you are a participant and a vital ingredient to the success of the portraits. You will have to be present for your portrait to be made so you better make damn sure that you are going to spend time with someone who is, at the very least, amiable.
If a photographer has an About component on their website, check it out. Usually a photographer will have a photograph of themselves and a brief biography. Take the opportunity to pry into the person. Having a glimpse of who a photographer is will help you feel comfortable with them through the communication and hiring process.
Other Website Considerations
It is hard to gauge a photographer's level of professionalism if you have never worked with them before. As a consumer, you should go beyond the "About" page, beyond the portfolio galleries. Luckily, there are a couple of things that prospective clients can do to really get the inside scoop on a photographer's level of professionalism.
Initial emails and communications can say a lot about a photographer. Reach out and ask for more information about a portrait session. You will be able to gather a wealth of information from their response (or lack thereof).
After you have received a response, ask yourself the following questions:
If you feel that the photographer is being short or rude in an email, imagine what it will be like to actually work with the photographer (and have that person around your loved ones). It is usually wise to trust your gut.
Disclaimer: I am not an advocate of stalking. But a little internet "research" never hurt anyone. With this being said, another thing clients can do to ensure professionalism is to check out the photographer's social media pages.
Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Google+...
Each platform can give you a window into the character of a photographer. Take a gander at a photographer's social media accounts. You might be totally sold on a photographer because of their witty Facebook posts or endearing tweets about their previous clients. You might fall in love with their work even more because you share similar interests.
Or, your investigation could steer you in the opposite direction. You could find out that the photographer you have your eye on decides to trash their clients (after-the-fact) on their social media accounts.
Either way, having a notion of the photographer's social presence and demeanor will help you decide if you have found the perfect portrait photographer for you.
3) Reviews and Testimonials
Thanks to the internet you can find a wealth of public information about any business. By simply typing in a name of a company, prospective clients can find out what other customers really think about the product they purchased and the service they received. The same holds true for professional photographers.
Even if you are in love with a photographer's portfolio, make sure you go the extra mile and find out what others think.
Look to see if the photographer has client testimonials posted on their website. These testimonials will highlight a photographer's positive attributes. But remember, if a testimonial is displayed on a website owned and operated by the photographer, it was handpicked and carefully placed. Naturally, all testimonials you will read on a professional photographer's website will be positive in nature.
What if the portrait photographer you are considering doesn't have any Google or Yelp reviews? This scenario should also be a point of information to consider. Is the photographer just starting their business? If so, are you certain that you want to invest with a photographer who has no unsolicited reviews or who is new to professional photography?
Having professional portraits made is a wonderful opportunity. Perhaps this will be the first and last time you have ever have your portrait made. For such a special occasion, make sure you choose the photographer who parallels both your artistic leanings. But more, do all that you can to ensure that your portrait experience is just as amazing as the photographs you receive.
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Meet Heather Fischer
Heather is an actor and a model. She is a also a talented stylist. Heather was in a pickle. Her headshot portfolio was a bit outdated and her agent quickly needed her book to be updated. She needed something fresh, something for her agent to show casting directors.
Heather and her agent are smart. They know that they having stunning portraits in your book are essential to landing industry jobs.
I was happy to step up to the plate and work with Heather for an afternoon to create the images she needed. I didn't feel any pressure at all with the quick deadline. I knew during our short session together that I wouldn't have to edit the images much at all. Heather is beautiful and felt comfortable in front of the camera. I have no doubt that many of those casting directors will be calling her. I was honored to work with her.
Are you in need of new headshots? If so, reach out today to discuss your photography needs.
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Maddy's Portrait Session
One of the best parts about being a professional photographer is meeting people. Starting out, I was always nervous before a portrait session. For about a decade, I have been socially anxious. This, obviously, was a major hurdle as a budding portrait photographer. Before a shoot, my palms would become sweaty and my heart rate increased, a mini panic attack before each and every job. But after years of meeting clients, those jitters have gradually gone away.
The tables have turned and I have a different feeling going into shoots. Now, I tend to get excited. Before any session with a new client, I daydream about them. Who is _______? What makes them tick? What are they in love with? What scares them? I create little stories to go along with the online communication I've had with the client.
I usually spend the first part of any session getting to know a person. I want to connect on a deeper level with them and establish a relationship that goes beyond the client/subject dynamic. Some of the connections are surface level: Musical tastes. travel, or love for southern food. But other connections run deeper and I find that I am endeared to a client, that we could possibly even establish a friendship once our contracted time together had past.
Maddy showed up to our session wearing all black. I could dig it, as my wardrobe mainly consists of black, heavy metal t-shirts and grey jeans. She was tattooed and had dreads, the female version of me from 2005. I must admit that I judged Maddy by her appearance (a dangerous game) in a positive light. We chatted about progressive metal music and about how it was difficult for creatives to make a living. I warmed up to this young, intelligent woman quickly. She just had a good vibe.
Our conversation gradually veered towards our portrait session. Maddy was keen to go with the flow (which always makes for a great portrait experience) and to just shoot whatever came to mind. Maddy's relaxed attitude made me enjoy her even more. Her dispositions and overall affect placed her in the "perfect client" category.
In the end, our hour-long portrait session yielded heaps of great material and I can only hope to have the opportunity to work with Maddy again.
Are you interested in a relaxed portrait session? What are you waiting for? Contact me today to schedule your own portrait shoot.
All of the holiday decorations are down and stored and some sense of normalcy is finally returning to the household. The air in Tokyo is crisp and the sun is shining. New Years is right around the corner.
The end of December always seems to sneaks up on me. It has been a hell of a year and I can honestly say that there is no better time to be a photographer in Japan. What actually happened during the these months that flew by so quickly? Here are some of the highlights from 2017.
January - Travel Editorial Photographer
I brought in the new year with my camera in hand. For the first week of 2017, I shot sunrise to sunset in Japan's Yaeyama islands for the stunning Ritz Carlton Magazine, the hotel chain's chic quarterly publication. I couldn't have asked for a better way to kick January off and was thrilled to finally see some of Okinawa and the isolated island chain.
February | Food Photographer
February is usually a very slow month for photographers, at least the ones living in cold climates. This February was surprisingly different. The shortest month of the year started off with an editorial commission for Qatar Airways' Oryx Magazine. Focused on the art of Japanese cuisine, the assignment took me through the backstreets of Shinbashi and into the basements of Shibuya. But more, the assignment allowed me to try my hand at making incredibly cute, panda shaped onigiri, a skill that I will use to impress my two year old son in months to come.
With the assignment for Oryx completed, I packed my bags and headed to Sapporo to complete my first travel assignment for The New York Times. For three days I shot 36 Hours In Sapporo. It goes without saying that I was beyond stoked to see the piece published.
But February's tour with The New York Times wasn't over. I headed back to Tokyo and immediately began work on my next job for NYT Travel department. The assignment focused on Tomigaya, one of Tokyo's up-and-coming neighborhoods.
March - Portrait, Concert, and Travel Photographer
March is such a tease, always tricking me into thinking that winter is over. And though the days were warmer, spring was really yet to arrive. I started March with a string of chilly portrait shoots and then moved my attention to Konzerthaus Berlin, one of Europe's finest orchestras. Tokyo was the first stop on the group's Asian tour and I was thrilled to be at Sumida Triphony Hall to capture every last note.
After a couple of months of being heavily booked, it was time for a bit of time away from the job. But that doesn't mean I took time away from the camera. In fact, I spent more time behind the lens on vacation that I did during the first months of the year.
Saudi Arabia based photographer Roger Gribbins and I decided to put a big check on our bucket lists and headed to the mountainous Kingdom of Bhutan. For a week Roger and tramped from Thimpu to Paro, slept in local farmhouses, visited monasteries, and learned to play one of the most difficult lawn dart games known to man.
April - Couples and Travel Photography
Spring finally arrived and, as always, portrait photography really picked up in April. My calendar was relatively full with pre-wedding, individual, and family portrait sessions. Believe it or not, I even had a portrait shoot with a certain Royal Family.
However, the portrait shoot that stood out in April was Justin and Victoria's pre-wedding session. I was stoked to spend a few hours with Justin and Tori, causally clicking the shutter in some of Tokyo's lesser-known neighborhoods.
Before April was over I was back at it for the NYT, this time for 36 Hours in Tokyo. From ritzy bars to classy bookstores, the assignment led me to some gems that, until then, had yet to discover.
May - Editorial Photographer In Japan
My favorite highlight from spring was an editorial photography gig for The San Francisco Chronicle. For the longest time, I debated whether or not to wake up in the wee hours of the morning to tour Tsukiji Fish Market as a tourist. I was glad that I didn't because the SFC assignment led me directly to Tsukiji, the busiest fish market in the world. Even though the job started at 3:30 in the morning, I was wide awake as soon as the smell of over a million freshly caught fish hit my nose.
June - Travel Photographer
Much of my work from the beginning of 2017 was editorial and/or travel based and helped to beef up my budding portfolio. I eventually want to house this work separately from my portraiture work. So at the beginning of June, I started the design process on a new website just as the heat in Tokyo was ramping up. While I didn't launch the effort until fall, I spent my share of red-eyed hours behind the screen to create andrewfaulk.com.
With so much focus given to the new platform, my mind was locked on travel photography. I was glad for it because my next big job had me jet set for Langkawi, Malaysia where I penned and photographed a travel feature for Ritz Carlton Magazine's autumn issue.
July - Portrait and Drone Photography
July is a month I always look forward to. Every year my family and I return to the motherland to spend time at our mountain home in Asheville, North Carolina. The weeks in in the Appalachians are wonderful. Cool air. Calm night with fireflies. Meat constantly on the grill. I also manage to squeeze in a few portrait shoots throughout the summer to break up the stretches of couch-potato-bliss.
July's portrait sessions were amazing. But, I must admit I was constantly distracted throughout July by my new favorite toy. Like many other photographers, I got bitten the drone bug and broke into my piggy bank to buy a DJI Mavic Pro.
As a remote-control car lover and a video game fanatic, the child in my couldn't resist the latest photography craze. I guess you could say it was love-at-first-flight (Yes, lame word play). All I wanted to do during July was zoom my Mavic Pro over the mountains of western North Carolina.
Side note: I named my drone Lawrence. I am pretty sure he loves me back.
August - Travel Photography
Before heading back to Japan, I decided to make the trek to India, a country that continues to ignite my curiosity. I went to see Leh, a region (whose largest city shares the name) in Jammu in Kashmir that I have wanted to visit for years. I only had five days to make the trip and learned a few lessons about Indian travel the hard way. Read more about that particular photography trip and how it went south here.
September - Travel Editorial Photography
Safely back in Japan, I was ready to kick off the fall photography season. September got off to a great start with another assignment for The Times. But this job didn't have me scurrying around any of Japan's metropolitan areas or turning my lens on a plate of scrumptious food.
Instead, I meandered south to Koyasan, a monastic retreat and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Surrounded by goliath cedars and moss covered statues, I covered the esoteric Buddhist monasteries and the monastic accommodations available in Koyasan. Read more about the assignment and my experience in Koyasan here.
October - Travel, Family, and Event Photographer
The editorial string continued into October. Next up came back-to-back travel jobs that took me to Osaka, Japan and then onto a smaller town along Honshu's western coast. In between the two locations, I made a stop in Kyoto to have a family portrait session with the Howard family.
Up next was an event for the South Australian Government. The soirée showcased the regional delicacies and wines from, you guessed it, South Australia. It was my first time shooting for the regional government as well as my first time sampling kangaroo which was, in itself, a 2017 highlight.
November | Portrait, Couples, and Tour Photography
As always the November calendar was full. Japan has such an amazing fall season and I will be surprised if November is ever an easy month to get through as a photographer.
My November began with blogger Alejandra Guardado, the force behind Sprigs of Mint, a newly launched fashion and travel blog. I was stoked to spend some time with Ale developing visual content for her Sprigs of Mint project.
November rolled along and it started to feel more and more like autumn in Japan. The change in temperature was soon followed by the orange, yellows, and fire red foliage. I had the opportunity to work with several couples who had come to Tokyo in need of pre-wedding portraits and made portraits of several friends in hopes to "up their Tinder game."
And then it was time to turn my lens on the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Instead of a one-off performance like Konzerthaus Berlin's Tokyo stop (see March), BSO contracted me for their entire 2017 Japan tour. I documented the Grammy winning orchestra's jaunt through Nagoya, Osaka, and Tokyo, and spent time with the group on, off, and beside the stage.
December | Portrait Photographer
As always, end of the fall was stunning. December is, without a doubt, my favorite month of the year in Tokyo. The last of the leaves fell from the trees and I pulled out all of my tacky sweaters. But before throwing in the towel on 2017, I pulled a string of family and individual portrait sessions.
My last highlight was made in a sleek conference room at the Square Enix (Final Fantasy, Deus Ex, Hitman, etc) headquarters here in Tokyo. I was sent to the creative hub to photograph Yoko Taro, lead writer and creative mastermind behind Nier: Automata, one of most critically acclaimed video games of 2017. I was given twenty minutes with the masked, mysterious developer and was stoked to see final images published in Game Informer's December issue.
All in all, 2017 was huge. I worked a lot. There were some successes and a ton of failures (failures are such a blessing). I learned more about myself as a photographer and as a creative than in previous years. I had the chance to photograph a lot of cool stuff in some even cooler places and I couldn't be more grateful.
What does next year look like for me as a photographer? I have no idea and I like it that way. So here's to the unknown and to new beginnings. I hope that your next cycle around the sun is fruitful, peaceful, and positive.
Happy New Year!
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Back For More
Above all, being a professional photographer is about relationships. I am always overjoyed when I have the opportunity to connect with a client and establish a relationship that extends beyond a single photo session. That relationship is what I am after, what I hope to create with each client I serve here in Japan.
For some photographers, a paycheck is good enough. But, for me, I would rather have a handful of clients whom I enjoy spending time with than a million clients who "just want some photos." Why? Well, great images are created when both clients and photographers are comfortable with each other, when there is a level of trust and respect.
I worked with the Schultz family a couple of years ago and was thrilled that they wanted to schedule another family portrait session in downtown Tokyo this year.
Even though I have kept in touch with the Schultz family these past years, I was shocked to see them in person. Joyce and Matt hadn't aged a bit, but the kids had grown so much. But, as much as the kids had grown, their personalities hadn't changed at all. The Schultz children still had as much spunk and energy as they had in 2015.
In the end, our second portrait session together was a nice as the first. I left our session overjoyed that I had the chance to see this beautiful family one more time. I was honored to spend another hour or two chatting with Matt and Joyce and creating more images to remind the Schultz family of their time in Japan. I was grateful to know that the family was, and will continue to be, one of the clients I cherish.
Are you searching for a family photographer in Tokyo? If so, please don't hesitate to reach out to secure your spot on my 2018 session calendar!
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Editorial Website Launch
Over the past year or two, I have shot a lot of editorial and travel work. Many of these stories have now been featured in some of the world's most well known publications. Some of the work was strictly personal. Regardless, I have waited a long time to present a new collection of imagery on a fresh platform.
I am so very excited to share my brand new editorial photography website and look forward to updating the platform regularly in the coming months with features shot throughout Japan and beyond.
Head on over to andrewfaulk.com to see what I have been up to these past months!
From Tokyo To Kyoto, Japan
The Howard family had a family portrait session in Tokyo scheduled for weeks. I looked forward to the shoot but worried that the Howard's session, like so many others this season, would have to be rescheduled due to weather. It has not been the greatest autumn in Tokyo this year, raining much more than usual.
As our shoot date approached, my fears were confirmed. According to the forecast, it was obvious that our shoot would have to be rescheduled (Ain't nobody want to have a family session in the pouring rain). But Pauline, Ross and the kids didn't want to push their portrait date too far into the future. Nor did I.
We looked at our calendars and it didn't seem like we were going to be able to find an available date that worked for both of us. The following weekend the Howards would head off to Kyoto and... wait. I was going through Kyoto the next weekend for a travel editorial. We found it.
While our schedules weren't going to allow for a family portrait shoot in Tokyo, the calendar gods conspired to give us a small window of time together in Kyoto, Japan. I became excited about the prospect of breaking my editorial workload up with a family shoot in a new location. Family portraits in Kyoto sounded great to me.
A week later I connected with the Howard family hundreds of miles away from our original session location. We were finally together and got to work straight away.
For the next hour, we strolled through the Shimogamo Shrine and relaxed in the wooded areas of the manicured complex. It was a wonderful session and I was pleased to have the environmental change. Kyoto delivered amazing weather and the Howard family came equipped with smiles.
In the end, I couldn't have planned it better.
Are you thinking of a portraiture session in Tokyo or Kyoto, Japan? If so, let's chat and start planning your custom portrait experience.
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Iishi Family Autumn Portraits
Jenny and Shunji are happily marrried. Like other couples, they laugh together, relax together, and enjoy their time together. But, unlike other couples, they do the things (that many of us take for granted) thousands of miles apart. Jenny and her daughter Lilly-Rose live in Germany while Shunji, for now, remains in Japan for work.
I was honored to hear from Jenny who planned on making the trek to Tokyo to see her husband and to relax as a family during one of the most pleasant times of the year. Jenny wanted to schedule a family portrait session within Tokyo and wanted to ensure that the shoot would yield great images. But, she was just as keen to book a session that would be a fun family activity. Understandably, Jenny didn't want a single, precious moment of the trip to be wasted.
We set a date on the calendar for late October, my favorite month if the year. Tokyo is amazing in the early fall. In October the autumn leaves have not yet shown their true potential. The daytime is still warm but air becomes pleasantly crisp in the evening. People swarm back to Tokyo's beautiful parks. The city seems to breathe during the final days of October. Tokyo seems to relax.
I met the Iishi family at a traditional, Edo-period garden (one of my favorite places in all of Japan). To my surprise, Jenny, Shunji, and Lilly-Rose were all dressed in Kimono. I was immediately reminded of Jenny's email. I realized then just how much of an event the portrait session was. The photos would just be the icing on the cake for Jenny and Shunji. The time together, having fun, and making memories, was the true intention.
Throughout our session, I gave the family some space, allowing them to laugh and chat together. We meandered through the gardens, stopping every now and again to make some images that will, hopefully, remind the family of their time together in Tokyo.
In the end, I was very grateful to have such kind and willing clients. But more, I was grateful to be reminded of how lucky I am to have my family together, here in Japan, under one roof.
Why not carve out some time to make some memories with your family? Contact me today to reserve your own family portrait session in Tokyo or beyond.
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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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Who Is Andrew Faulk?
With over a decade of experience in living and working in Asia, Tokyo photographer Andrew Faulk specializes in portrait, editorial, event, and commercial photography assignments. He works with individuals, families, publications, and corporations to create timeless images under any deadline. His work is frequently featured in a variety of international travel and lifestyle publications. He is a husband, father, and lover of fried food. Get in touch with Andy today to discuss your photography needs in Tokyo, throughout Japan, or beyond.