A few months ago I heard from Samuel and Vickie. The recently engaged couple was heading east to enjoy the food, drink, and ambiance that Tokyo has on offer. Between ramen meals and sake sips, Samuel and Vickie thought it would be nice to have a pre-wedding photography session while they were in town. But before booking a session, Samuel wanted to ensure that he and his fiancé had an engagement shoot that would be as relaxed as their holiday itinerary, nothing stuffy.
Most couples who contact me about engagement and pre-wedding photography share Samuel's outlook. I, too, am put off by the idea of long, drawn out portrait shoots. Like most of my clients, I care just as much about the experience of a session as I do the final product. I assured Samuel that our time together would be low-to-no-stress and, above all else, fun. With that promise given, I began planning an calm itinerary.
I was excited to meet Samuel and Vickie and was curious to discover if they were as relaxed in person as they were throughout our online correspondence. Minutes after we shook hands, I realized that I had not been tricked. Their vibe was just as casual as they had claimed it would be. Samuel's personable demeanor was soothing and Vickie had a smile that could light up any room (or a street for that matter).
I was delighted to lead the couple through the historic streets of Kagurazaka, one of the few geisha districts still operating in Tokyo. After making some portraits we, of course, stopped for some coffee and chatted about their life in Hong Kong and their initial wedding plans. After coffee we strolled to Idaibashi, one of my favorite neighborhoods in Tokyo. There, just before sundown, we found some "urbanisms" that just had to be incorporated into our session collection.
In the end, I couldn't have asked for a better afternoon or for better clients. Samuel and Vickie's session reinforced why I do, what I do, the way I do. I love creating portraits and serving others with my camera. But more, I love sharing time with those who are just as eager to relax in good company as they are to have an amazing set of images.
Are you interested in an engagement or pre-wedding photography session here in Tokyo or throughout Japan? If so, contact me today to book your session.
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I first met Samar and Matt last year when they came through Tokyo and booked a pre-wedding portrait session. Sadly, the weather did not cooperate at all during our first session. A cold drizzle fell the whole time we were together. But we made the best of it, shooting inside and around Shinjuku station.
I was happy to hear from Samar and Matt again this past spring. Recently wed, the couple was headed back through Tokyo (one of the several stops on their around-the-world honeymoon) and wanted to book another portrait session.
As our shoot day approached, I kept my fingers crossed and hoped for good weather so that Samar and Matt could have a collection of images that would nicely compliment the imagery from their previous Tokyo-based session.
My prayers were answered. The weather on our scheduled day in April was nice enough to get "out of the station" and into one of Tokyo most relaxed traditional gardens.
I met Samar and Matt right outside of Koishikawa Garden, a private green space tucked in the shadow of the Tokyo Dome. In the early spring the garden is lush with bright, chartreuse foliage and the carp are overly active. Samar and Matt had missed the peak of sakura season. But they did make it to Japan just in time to catch a glimpse of the most stubborn blooms and to witness the Japanese spring really kick into high gear. Without a doubt, the peaceful enclave was the perfect location for our shoot.
For the next hour or so we meandered through the gardens, stopping to admire the weeping blossoms that dot Koishikawa and to skip across the stone bridges of the garden's pond. There were times (as there are during most of my portrait sessions) that I left Matt and Samar to wander along so that they could relax together and enjoy the scenery.
The hour flew by and, before we knew it, the attendants began to close the gates. Outside of the garden, I asked Samar and Matt to pop into a phone booth so that I could shoot a few images that would add a little spice to the collection we had already captured. I even managed to convince the two to have an extended-we-just-got-married kiss inside of the old school call box.
We ended our time together with hugs and high-fives. As we parted ways, I was filled with gratitude, thrilled to have had the opportunity to spend some more time getting to know Samar and Matt.
On my way home I had the chance to reflect on the session. Instead of thinking about the images we made, I thought about the client/photographer dynamic. What had made our portrait shoot go by so quickly? Why did that end-of-session hug linger a bit longer than normal?
My mind drifted to my core beliefs about photography. I firmly believe that to make stunning images, a photographer must connect with their subject/s. After two portrait sessions with Samar and Matt, I realized that the rapport we had built had a direct affect on both the images we made and our time together. I can only imagine what our third session will be like...
Are you in need of a honeymoon or vacation photographer in Tokyo or anywhere else in Japan? If so, be in touch today to find out how I can best serve you.
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A package stamped "rush delivery" arrived in the mail. I had been expecting the parcel for a few days and knew that its contents were tremendously important. Upon arrival in Japan, Rob and Christina learned that they were missing some paperwork required to obtain a marriage license so I quickly offered my mailing address up. Naturally, I was relieved to see that the necessary documentation had arrived so that the lighthearted couple from England could legally tie-the-knot.
Months before that package arrived, Rob contacted me. He was searching for a pre-wedding portrait photographer in Tokyo who could handle more than just a couple hours with him and his fiancé Christina. Rob wanted to book two sessions, a week apart, so that the couple could have a multitude of images taken in a variety of locations. But more, Rob wanted to ensure that the sessions were relaxed and stress free as humanly possible.
I was excited that Rob booked two sessions. With more time together, I would be able to really get to know Rob and Christina and would be able to create images that reflect who they are as a couple. With Rob and Christina's permission, I planned two engagement portrait sessions that would give the two a nice taste of Tokyo and selected specific locations that wouldn't totally be swamped with people.
The sessions went off without a hitch. During our time together, Rob, Christina, and I hopped all over Tokyo. We explored several spots that were, thankfully, showing some of the sakura blossoms that Japan is famous for. We visited Chidorigafuchi near the Imperial Palace, the impressive grounds of Zozoji temple, and even the streets of Kichijoji in western Tokyo. As a capstone, I took Rob and Christina to a secret location that is a photographer's paradise; a lonely spot on the outskirts of Tokyo full of bamboo and World War II history rarely visited by, well, anyone.
At the conclusion of our second portrait session, I handed over the envelope that had arrived in the mail a few days before. With the paperwork handed over, Rob and Christina could tie the knot and I could rest easy knowing that our two shoots were a great success. I was honored to spend some time with the couple and wish Rob and Christina many, many years of happiness together.
Are you in need of a pre-wedding photographer in Tokyo, throughout Japan, or beyond? If so, reach out today to begin planning your custom portrait session.
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When you mention Tokyo, most people immediately think of bustling streets and futurist Bladerunner madness. But, Tokyo is much more than neon-soaked streets and anime culture. It is more than skyscrapers and bullet trains.
Tokyo is vast, filled with tranquil green spaces and areas far removed from the idyllic scramble crossings of Shibuya and Shinjuku. In fact, most Tokyoites live in calm wards, mini-cities removed from the the pulsating glow of the capital's downtown. It is here, in the "suburbs" of Tokyo that I met the Gotterson family.
During the first portion of our family session, Stephanie and Tim invited their parents to join us for some whole family fun in Nogawa Park, one of western Tokyo's best kept secrets. It was awesome to have Tim and Stephanie's family together and interacting with Freya, the youngest Gotterson (age two).
For the rest of our session, Tim and Stephanie wanted something a bit more intimate and reflective of their everyday life here in Tokyo. We waved goodbye to both sets of grandparents and headed into the streets of Tama, the tiny enclave of Chofu that the Gotterson family calls home.
To most, Tama isn't much more than a train stop. The area hosts a vegetable stand, a convenience store, and a ramen shop or two. But to the Gottersons, the area holds a lot of meaning. These are the streets that they walk daily. These are the only corners of Tokyo that Freya is familiar with. For the Gottersons, this little area will represent Tokyo long after they have moved on from the megalopolis.
For the next forty-five minutes, the four of us popped here and there around Tama, making portraits, eating strawberries, and sharing smiles. In all honesty, it was the perfect family portrait session and it is my hope that Stephanie, Tim, and Freya continue to make wonderful memories in Tama.
Are you searching for a photographer in Tokyo? If so, contact me today to schedule your own family portrait session.
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I imagine a "last anything" brings up a lot of emotion. I think that endings can be weighed on a balancing scale; the best experiences still have cons and the worst experiences have pros. Preparing to leave any place is no different. You start to reflect on all of the great memories you have made and you affirm the reasons for leaving. But, I have never heard of anyone who leaves Tokyo with the scales tipped towards the negative.
For the Palmer family, Tokyo has tremendous significance. It is where Sharla (2) and Ellis (6 months) were born. Tokyo is where the family began to grow as a unit. For that reason alone, I imagine Tokyo will always be a part of the family's identity.
In our initial correspondence, Ceyda specifically mentioned that she wanted our portrait shoot to "encapsulate the beauty of Tokyo." We decided that Chidorigafuchi would be the perfect place for our family photography session. There, near the Imperial Palace, the sakura would still be in bloom and there would be enough room for the kids to be kids.
I met the Palmers as planned right outside of Kundanshita station. It was bright and early in the morning and I was excited to spend a couple of hours with the energetic family, We began our session right away and, in our time together, leisurely strolled, laughed, and made some great portraits.
I remained impressed with Ceyda and Sam as they navigated the park with their young children (and learned a thing or two about how to "interact" with my own two-year-old son). It was obvious that, no matter where the Palmers end up, they have nothing but good things on the horizon.
In the end, I was honored to spend a bit of time with this beautiful family and can only hope that our portrait session will be added to the long list of great memories the Palmer's have of Tokyo.
This year's sakura season has past but I am already booking portrait sessions for the 2019 cherry blossom season in Tokyo, throughout Japan, and beyond. Don't wait until its too late. Book your 2019 sakura family session now!
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With this tattoo, I thee wed...
A few months ago, Kalika and Garrett contacted me with a somewhat non-traditional post-wedding shoot idea. Instead of rings at their wedding ceremony, the couple decided to go with a more permanent expression of their love. Forgetting about silver, gold, or platinum, Kalika and Garrett wanted to have rings tattooed and wanted me to document the process.
I loved the idea of a documentary session mixed with a couple's lifestyle session. It seemed like a perfect day behind the lens and I was thrilled that Kalika and Garrett had selected me as their photographer in Tokyo, Japan.
I was stoked to finally meet Kalika and Garrett on our session date. I could tell immediately that the two were both creative and energetic. Within moments of meeting the couple, the idea of the documentary session made perfect sense; wedding-ring-tattoos mirrored their personalities well,
Before heading to the tattoo parlor, we took some time to unwind with an abbreviated lifestyle photography session in the streets of Harajuku. We made some portraits in the backstreets of the trendy, downtown neighborhood and meandered our way towards their chosen tattoo shop. As the couple's appointment time drew near, I could tell that Kalika and Garrett were getting excited. I must admit, I was too. There's just something about getting tattooed that gets people giddy.
Arriving right on time, we popped into the parlor and I got to work shooting every last external detail of the experience. Being heavily tattooed myself, it was awesome to finally spend some time in one of Tokyo's premier tattoo shops. More, it was an honor to experience Kalika and Garrett's "ring ceremony" without feeling the needle's sting.
Do you have an idea for a non-traditional portrait session? If so, contact me today to start planning the portrait experience that you have always wanted.
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Asheville, North Carolina
I try to make the most of my time in any place. Last summer was no exception. While "home" in Asheville, North Carolina, I kept my camera warm in between visits with family and friends.
One of my favorite portrait shoots from this time was with my friend Casey Puhr. I always love working with Casey. Not only is she a beautiful model, she is also smart, relaxed, and an excellent conversationalist. She also has the ability to keep calm when things don't go her way (read more about that here). Needless to say, I am always chomping at the bit to work with her.
For this particular portrait session, Casey and I headed to Asheville Glamping, a wonderful retreat just a stone's throw away downtown Asheville. It was the perfect location for a portrait shoot, full of vintage Airstreams and a quirky tipi. It also helps Joanna Cahill, Asheville Glamping's owner, is a huge supporter of local artists and creatives.
Casey and I spent our afternoon exploring the beautiful property and making some stunning images. I can't wait to make it back to Asheville to see what kind of madness Casey and I can get up to next.
Are you thinking of having portraits made? Be part of my summer schedule when I am next in Asheville! Contact me today to schedule your portrait session in Asheville, Tokyo, or beyond.
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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.
Who Is Andrew Faulk?
Tokyo photographer Andrew Faulk specializes in portrait, editorial, event, and commercial photography assignments. With over a decade of experience living and working in Asia, he collaborates with individuals, families, publications, and corporations to create timeless images under any deadline. Andrew's work is frequently featured in a variety of international travel and lifestyle publications. He is a husband, father, and lover of fried food.