A few weeks ago I heard from Eia and Tanner, a recently engaged couple from Utah. The pair were about to get on a plane to come to Japan for the first time. Eia's inquiry said:
Hi, Andy! My fiancé and I are traveling to Japan in a few days and would love to get some engagement photos done while we are there to use in our “save the date” invites. I know it’s super late notice but do you have any availability?
This will be our first time visiting Japan. We definitely want a session in an urban setting rather than a natural environment. We haven’t really thought about locations. What are your suggestions? We are hoping you have some recommendations. We'd prefer some locations that showcase the culture of Japan. Looking forward to hearing from you!
I was happy that Eia had reached out when she did. Luckily I did have a single date during the couple's vacation to Tokyo and hoped that the couple would take the slot. After some chatting, Eia and Tanner decided to book a two-hour casual couples portrait session.
Did I have any recommendations for locations? You bet I did. Knowing that Eia and Tanner wanted an urban environment, I thought it might be best to take them to the "belly of the beast." I suggested that we spend our session time taking a loop around Shinjuku Station, the world's busiest commuter hub. Eia and Tanner loved the idea.
A few days later, E&T braved the late afternoon jet lag and met me outside of Shinjuku station. For the next two hours, we had a great time making portraits around the station, in the famous Omoide Yokocho, through the seedy streets of Kabukicho, in the thick of Tokyo's iconic crosswalks, and in the cramped spaces of Golden Gai. I couldn't have asked for more relaxed clients or a better evening creating pre-wedding portraits in Tokyo.
Are you searching for a couples portrait photographer in Tokyo, throughout Japan, or beyond? If so, reach out today to learn how I can help craft the couples session you have always dreamed of.
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I heard from Jonathan in late 2018. His inquiry said:
Andy - I hope this message finds you well! I have a younger brother who is currently living in Tokyo. He recently got engaged to his long-time boyfriend. To celebrate such a wonderful and momentous occasion, I wanted to book a couples photo session for him and his fiancée. In searching for a photographer based in Tokyo, I came across your webpage and I am very impressed with your credentials and quality of your photographs! To that end, could you please provide me with a quote for a couples session? Looking forward to hearing back from you!
I was grateful that Jonathan gave me a bit of backstory in his initial correspondence. I also loved how thoughtful Jonathan was to think of his brother. Jonathan realized that gifting a photography session is one of the kindest, most generous gifts you can give and, after receiving a couple's photography session quote, he decided to book a two-hour portrait session for his brother.
By the time I met Jonathan's brother Michael and his partner Leo, they were no longer engaged. The couple had been married a few days prior to our session and judging by their smiles, they were still reeling from the excitement of their ceremony.
We met right on time outside of Zozoji Temple, a beautiful Buddhist complex in downtown Tokyo, Japan. There, chatting in front of the temple, I learned more about the couple and found out that the pair lived nearby. Michael and Leo wanted to capture a few shots on themselves in areas that would, someday, remind them of their home here in the Japanese capital. Michael and Leo's only request was that we snag an image that somehow incorporated the Tokyo Tower. If that was the expectation, I knew that my time with this Micheal and Leo would be relaxed and fun.
In the end, I was right. Michael and Leo were as easy going as clients come. For our two-hour-session we strolled along, making photos in some of downtown Tokyo's nicest portrait locations.
Congrats Michael and Leo! May you have a wonderful life together.
Are you searching for a photographer to capture your pre-wedding, engagement, or casual couples session? If so, I would be delighted to help. Reach out today to learn more about my portrait session offerings or to book your portrait photography session in Tokyo, throughout Japan, or beyond.
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It is always a pleasure receiving an inquiry regarding a government event. It is especially nice when the Government of South Australia needs an event photographer in Tokyo. I love working with the crew from Adelaide. The GSA staff is witty and kind. The GSA events are well planned and are, frankly, just a good time all around (the wine and lamb, some of South Australia's finest exports, are always on offer).
The Government of South Australia recently opened a new Trade and Investment Office in Tokyo and I made it out to the Australian Embassy to photograph the ribbon cutting ceremony. But, the day wasn't complete without celebrating the offices' opening Aussie style. After the ceremony, we moved from the embassy to Happo-en, one of Tokyo's finest event venues.
Throughout the banquet, quests were treated to delicious plates of succulent lamb and fatty tuna, world-class wine, a peak at new trade opportunities, and excellent conversation. As always, it was an honor to serve the Government of South Australia. I congratulate them on the opening of their new office and the business opportunities that are on the horizon here in Japan.
Are you organizing a government or corporate event? If so, I would be honored to be your photographer. Contact me today to discuss how I can best serve you here in Tokyo, throughout Japan, or beyond.
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I love May. The beautiful azaleas bloom and the smell of jasmine is in the air. The crisp mornings no longer bite and "sweater weather" is long gone. In May, the spring portrait rush begins to slow down and I get to breathe a bit knowing that the slower months are right around the corner. But, just because the sakura portrait season is over doesn't mean that I put my camera on the shelf and start cleaning my gear. May is still an amazing time for portrait sessions in Tokyo.
I heard from Ysa and Julien just as May began. The couple were already in Japan and decided that it was their chance to have their first professional couples shoot. Ysa and Julien took the time to let me know about their specific vision for their vacation photography session. Ysa wrote:
My name is Ysa and my fiance Julien and I are currently visiting Tokyo from Montreal. We just had the idea to do an engagement photoshoot as we both love Tokyo so much. I was wondering if you have any availabilities in early May. We want to be able to capture two sides of Tokyo: the more traditional side and the modern one. We would also want to showcase the grandeur of the city in some of the shots. Our favorite time for pictures is during the golden hours. We know it is very last minute but we still have hope to be able to have a memorable photoshoot! Can you help?
As with all my clients, I wanted to know more about Ysa and Julien before our portrait session began. With some backstory, I would have some insight into their relationship and preferences. I learned that Ysa has Chinese and Cambodian ancestory but was born in France. Julien was also born in France but, like Ysa, moved to Canada at a young age. In Montreal, the couple met salsa dancing. They both are foodies and seemingly live to travel (as I discovered by flipping through the droves of fantastic imagery of the couple's adventures on Julien's website). I also learned that Julien, like me, had a bit of an inner nerd and loves gaming and anime.
After learning a bit more about the couple, I suggested a shoot route that I have been dying to take with just the perfect couple. We would start at Yushima Cathedral, a very picturesque temple dedicated to Confucious that is rarely visited by tourists. From there, we would move to Kanda Shrine, a shinto monument located a few minutes walk from Ochanimizu station. Our afternoon would end at Akihabara Electric Town (a place Julien would sure to love) as the neon lights begin to come on. I knew that this route would allow for unique set of engagement photos that most Tokyo visitors wouldn't have. The route also fit the description that Ysa has espoused in her original email.
Julien and Ysa met me right on time outside JR Ochanimizu Station. After some high fives and handshakes, we got to work. For the next two hours, I spent a very enjoyable afternoon with the couple laughing, chatting, and stopping here and there to make some portraits. In the end, the session proved to be one of my favorite couples photography sessions of the season.
Are you searching for a photographer in Japan to create a unique set of images from your trip to Tokyo? If so, I would be honored to be your photographer. Contact me today to begin discussing your custom pre-wedding, honeymoon, or vacation portrait session.
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I am always excited to hear from pre-wedding clients who will be coming to Japan. This past Valentine's Day, I woke up to an inquiry from Amber. She wrote:
My fiancé Justin and I will be in Tokyo in early April for a wedding getaway and honeymoon. My dream is to have beautiful pictures taken with cherry blossoms in the background of some of the shots and want to wear my wedding gown. I am looking for the perfect portrait photographer and am hoping you can help us with this. Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.
Amber's email wasn't unusual. In fact, I receive similar messages throughout the year inquiring about springtime sakura sessions. I totally understand the fascination with Japan's sakura and do by best to accommodate as many requests for that special time of year. By February, I am usually fully booked for the upcoming sakura season, the two or three-week period bookending the full bloom forecast.
Still, requests for family, individual, and pre-wedding portraits keep pouring in through February and March. Luckily, I still had two portrait slots available in my calendar during Amber and Justin's honeymoon in Tokyo.
I warned Amber, just like I warn all my sakura clients, that booking at date in early April doesn't mean that the cherry blossoms will be out. Some clients reserve slots too early in the season, some too late. As long as Amber and Justin knew that I couldn't play God, I would be willing to plan an amazing afternoon of portraits for the honeymooners that would yield an amazing set of portraits with, or without, cherry blossoms.
With their date reserved, Amber and Justin took me up on my offer to have a pre-shoot consultation. A few days after Amber and Justin's original inquiry, we video-chatted about their hopes and session goals. I also asked a few personal questions. I also suggested adding more locations so that our session didn't solely focus on the fickle cherry blossoms. With a better understanding of who Justin and Amber were as a couple, I was able to begin planning a custom portrait session.
Amber and Justin decided to trust my judgement and let me sort out a route that corresponded to their dispositions. I planed an afternoon in some of Tokyo's less frequented destinations, a route that would yield sakura imagery (if the little flowers were in bloom) and that would allow Amber and Justin to see a bit a Tokyo that most visitors never see. My plan for the newly wed couple included ancient temples, suburban neighborhoods, and a vast public park that few locals (and even fewer tourists) ever visit.
In the end, I had an amazing afternoon of portraits with Justin and Amber. The weather was perfect and, luckily, the sakura were still on the trees. The couple were as easy going and relaxed as they seemed in our pre-shoot meeting and I felt honored to be selected as their honeymoon photographer.
Are you searching for a photographer to capture your honeymoon here in Tokyo, throughout Japan, or abroad? If so, contact me today to begin planning your casual or formal portrait session.
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It's freezing outside. I am bundled up in my office with a hot cup of coffee and have a jacket over my sweater (my olderJapanese-style apartment has very poor insulation). While I love all seasons, these temperatures are making me long for the warmer months.
Even though it is chilly, I am grateful for the winter. In February, portrait session bookings calm down and I can enjoy a bit of a break. With the "slow season" in full effect, I have the opportunity to complete a lot of administrative tasks, shoot some personal work, and prepare for the upcoming spring portrait season. The lull also gives me the chance to share some work from last year's fall sessions.
One of my favorite family portrait sessions last year was with the Mittelstedts. We met at the Edo Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum (ETOAAM), one of the coolest places in western Tokyo. The outdoor museum is one of those locations that is just fun to explore.
Because of fire, floods, earthquakes and war, Tokyo has lost many historical buildings from the Edo period. Even now, the remaining Edo structures are being eroded due to social and economic changes in Japan. Realizing this, the ETOAAM actively relocates period buildings in the hope of preserving artifacts of cultural heritage.
Having a family portrait session in a place like this might seem quite odd. But, in reality, it is a wonderful location. The museum has enough to see and do to keep everyone entertained and the various Edo façades offer some of the nicest backdrops a photographer could ask for. When the Mittelstedts mentioned that they wanted a casual family session, I knew that the ETOAAM was the perfect spot.
For a couple of hours, the Mittelstedts and I had a blast and I hope that our portrait session last autumn was the first of many.
If you are looking for a family photographer in Tokyo or throughout Japan? If so, reach out today to find out more about my family photography services or to book your session.
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Tim and Sarah are without question some of the kindest people you could ever have the pleasure of knowing. I met the couple years ago when I worked at an international school in Tokyo. Ever since, I have enjoyed spending time with them and watching their family grow.
I heard from Sarah in the late autumn. Her message read:
We wanted to see if you would be able to do a family photo shoot for the four of us sometime in the late fall. We've been jonesin' for some professional family photos since (L) was born and, now that we're feeling a bit more settled, we're ready to make that happen! We're hoping for some fall colors as a backdrop for the photo shoot. There's a beautiful little shrine along the Nogawa River path with Japanese momiji trees and a little red bridge going over the pond. Of course, we're open to other ideas you have where the fall colors will be at peak then.
I was overjoyed to finally be able to work with the Bernhardt family. Instead of attending meetings with Sarah and Tim, I would finally get the chance to see the whole Bernhardt family in a new professional context.
On our shoot day we met at Nukui Shrine, the small complex in Koganei that Sarah had mentioned in her initial inquiry. Sarah was right, Nukui was the perfect spot for an autumn portrait session. While the area is on the small side for families with small children, I knew that we could make the space work. The leaves were blazing reds and vibrant yellows. The foliage, coupled with the traditional moon-shaped bridge, was the postcard vision of Japan.
To my surprise, the shrine was completely empty. There was no one in sight. The area was silent and tranquil. However, the energy in the shrine quickly changed. The quiet grounds in western Tokyo livened up when H (age 5) and L (18 months) arrived. The young lads were ready to move and shake and Sarah and Tim were eager to get started.
Together we roamed Nukui and played in a nearby parking lot. We chucked rocks around (nowhere near the shrine, of course) and took turns running after the boys.
Towards the end of our session we still had a bit of light to work with. We were quite close to Tama Cemetery, the largest municipal cemetery in Japan. It would be quite morbid (and completely culturally inappropriate) to have family photos made throughout the graves. But the Tama cemetery is also one of the largest green spaces in the Tokyo metropolis. We decided to head over to Tama for a few more frames.
We finished our time together in a grove of massive red maples (far away from the sacred spaces). As the sun went down and the blue hour began, I left the Bernhardt family to start their nighttime routine.
Walking alone to the nearest train station, I had some time to reflect on the session. I had such a great time with the Bernhardts. I was grateful to them for their business. But more, I was grateful to have another window into their life and to have the opportunity to share an afternoon out with one of the kindest expat families in Tokyo.
Are you searching for a family photographer in Japan? If so, I would be happy to craft a custom portrait experience for your family. Learn more about my portrait services and then reach out to book a session.
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According to the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), nearly 2.5 million visitors came to the Land of the Rising Sun last November. 2.5 million... the best November on record for Japanese tourism. This number of visitors is hard to imagine. Though, I am not surprised in the slightest by the staggering count.
Japan is experiencing a historic tourism boom. Years ago, the JNTO began a drive that would bring 20 million leisure visitors annually by the 2020. In the past years, the folks at the tourism board have done a better job than expected. Last year Japan welcomed nearly 29 million tourists, smashing the goals set by the tourism board.
The numbers are impressive and, by walking around Tokyo on a beautiful day, I can actually see the influx. Tour buses are parked at monuments, exclusive districts like Ginza are buzzing with foreign shoppers, and restaurants are constantly filled with foodies.
Many would frown at a massive wave of tourism like this. But the perks, in this case, perhaps outweigh the cons. The economic benefits of tourism are boosting the ailing Japanese economy. I am glad that so many people want to see Japan, one of the most beautiful and fascinating countries in the world. I am also grateful that many of these visitors need a portrait photographer in Japan to capture some of their time here in the capital.
A few weeks ago, I heard from Noel and Mel, a couple from Singapore who were searching for a Tokyo-based portrait photographer to document a sliver of their winter holiday. Their initial correspondence read:
Hello, Andrew! We are from Singapore and are planning our 3rd trip to Japan (2nd trip this year). We love the sights and sounds of Tokyo. On every corner you find something different, something you don't expect. The city has the new-meets-old vibe and, of course, the people... We are not the posing kind and are hoping for a casual portrait photo session. Can you help?
I could, in fact, help Melanie and Noel. Every couple I work with is different. Some pairs choose to get dressed to the hilt and spend much of their session posing. Other couples just want a leisurely date, void of elaborate posing and artificial lighting. I was delighted to craft a session for Noel and Mel that that would yield some great images and that would feel relaxed and super casual.
We decided to meet outside of Sensoji Temple, one of the most crowded tourist destinations in Tokyo. Asakusa's Sensoji Temple is the oldest temple in Tokyo and is, on any given day, packed with tourists from all over the world.
Why would we select Sensoji as our location for a casual, relaxed portrait session? At Sensoji, tourists tend to move in a predictable route. Visitors typically walk down Nakamise Street, snap photos at the five-story pagoda, meander into the main hall of the shrine, and then head back out of the complex. This route is always clogged and endlessly frustrating. But I knew that we would be able to capture some great images in one of Tokyo's most iconic locations without having to brave the massive crowd.
Most visitors don't realize that the blocks on either side of the main temple complex are a maze of beautifully calm side-streets with views of the Sky Tree. Moreover, the northern end of Sensoji, accessed by an alternate entrance, is usually empty and offers a glimpse of the temple's façade without a wall of bodies.
Thankfully, our plan went off without a hitch. For an hour or so, I took Noel and Mel through Sensoji's "secret" spots, creating the casual portrait shoot the couple was after. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Mel and Noel, two of the nicest visitors Tokyo will welcome this year.
Are you planning a trip to Japan? If so, why not document some of your time here in by booking a portrait session here in Tokyo, throughout Japan, or beyond? Contact me today to start planning your custom portrait session.
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The beginning of 2019 has been a whirlwind. With a packed photography schedule, a beautiful wife, an active child, and Tokyo outside the door, I keep busy. With the winter in full force, I am now finally getting the chance to sit down and review some of the images I made at the beginning of the season.
The Robertsons were one of my first family photography clients during the annual cold stretch. I first heard from Gahyan several months ago. She wrote:
We are a family from New York and will be in Tokyo this coming winter. We would like to do a family photo session. We have been to Tokyo multiple times but have stayed in different areas each time. We are interested in your short family session package and look to you for suggestions on locations that are indicative of Tokyo.
After a bit of back-and-forth, Gahyan and I decided on a date and a shoot route. We opted to take the party to Harajuku, a spot that screams Tokyo. Meiji Shrine would provide some more traditional shots and the Harajuku district would account for the modern, hustle and bustle of Tokyo.
When our shoot date came, I met Gahyan, her husband Chris, and daughter Hana (age 3) right outside of Harajuku station. Coming from New York, the Robertson's were accustomed to the cold and weren't put off by the chill in the air at all. I was happy to see that the Robertson's were wrapped up to keep warm and were down for a good time. Most of all, they were excited to get started with their portrait session.
For an hour or so, the Robertson family and I had a wonderful time together. Gahyan and Chris were nothing but smiles. Hana took a while to warm up to me. But, by the end of our session, she was all smiles. I couldn't have asked for a better afternoon with clients here in Tokyo.
Are you interested in a family photography session in Tokyo or throughout Japan? Get in touch today so that we can start planning your session!
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Nuria has lived in Tokyo for several years. Like so many of my clients, she doesn't exactly know how long she will call the megalopolis home. Chances are, sooner or later, Nuria will pack her bags and leave the Japanese capital.
Before she does head off, Nuria decided to reach out and book an individual portrait session. Nuria let me know that she was very flexible when it came to imagery. Her top priorities were to create an artistic set of images and to have a relaxed session with a lot of fun. She wanted the portrait session itself to serve as a memory of her time in Japan. When Nuria related these priorities, I knew that she was an ideal client and that we were going to have a great afternoon working together.
After chatting for a while via email, Nuria and I decided to move forward with our portrait shoot in Kichijoji, a vibrant neighborhood in western Tokyo. I love working in Kichijoji. Not only are there tons of great little nooks and faćades to work with, the atmosphere in the hipster enclave is lively and positive (probably due to the plethora of gourmet coffee shops in the area).
On our shoot date, I met Nuria right outside of Kichijoji Station. It was a rare day off for Nuria as she keeps a busy work schedule and is often out of Japan for work. She was excited and her joyful mood was contagious.
For the next couple of hours, Nuria and I popped here and there and created a set of images that will, hopefully, remind Nuria of her time in Japan.
Are you considering a portrait session in Tokyo, throughout Japan, or beyond? If so, here are five reasons why you should book a portrait session. Don't wait until it's too late. Contact me today to learn more about sessions, rates, and availability.
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Who Is Andrew Faulk?
Tokyo photographer Andrew Faulk specializes in commercial, editorial, event, and portrait 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.