With the fall portrait season coming to a close, I am glad to finally have the chance to sit down, complete some editing, and share some images from one of my first couples sessions this autumn. While the leaves had not yet changed in Tokyo (the colors begin to pop in mid-November), clients who booked in October were still in for a treat as the weather in Tokyo had significantly cooled down from one of the hottest summers in history.
One of my first couples sessions this fall was with Sami and her husband Arttu. I originally heard from Sami a few months ago. She wrote:
Hi Andy! I'm reaching out to inquire about an "engagement style" shoot while my husband and I are in Tokyo this October. We met there (and used to live in Japan for a couple years) before we moved to California and got married. My husband and I haven't been back to Japan since we moved four years ago and would love to take photos around where we met. We lived in Aoyama area and would like to shoot around Shibuya or Omotesando (but are open to anywhere you recommend)."
Of course I was interested in shooting with Sami and Arttu. I loved their story and how they wanted to return to the places where they fell in love. When I responded to Sami, I asked her a bit more about their time in Japan and what she envisioned for their session. We spoke about several possible locations and the types of elements the couple wanted to incorporate in their photos.
Sami and Arttu decided that we should have an extended shoot together. I love when couples decide to have longer portrait sessions With an extended amount of time, we can cover a lot more ground, make images in a number of locations and have the luxury of time to experiment with different kinds of images. During a two-hour session, we could incorporate both traditional aspects of Japan and some of Sami and Arttu's "old haunts," the areas that the couple frequented when they lived in Tokyo.
I was excited to finally meet Sami and Arttu outside of Meiji Shrine, one of Tokyo's most iconic locations. Sami and Arttu were both stylishly dressed in flat black. Sami, looked beautiful in her dress and Arttu wasn't so hard on the eyes either. After having a bit of a chat, we entered the Meiji complex and got to work shooting along the tree-lined promenade, near the giant tori gates, and inside the shrine complex.
From Meiji we meandered to the spots Sami and Arttu hold dear, the places where they fell in love. Where are those shots? Well, those images are just for Sami and Arttu. I couldn't have asked for better clients or a better afternoon out with a couple.
Are you a couple searching for a vacation portrait photographer in Tokyo, throughout Japan, or beyond? If so, reach out today to learn how I can help craft the couples session you envision.
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Most of my portrait clients come from abroad. Because of the time differences, I usually receive photos session inquires when I am asleep. I am always excited to wake up, pour a cup of coffee, open my email, and to see the engagement, pre-wedding, and elopement session requests that have come in overnight.
A couple months ago, I received the following message from Krista:
"My fiancé and I will be traveling to Tokyo to be married. We are planning on having a very intimate ceremony for just the two of us, an officiant, and a photographer. Our ideal photography package would include:
-Images of preparation, the rings and getting prepared for the ceremony
-Images of the ceremony
-Images around Tokyo following the ceremony (3 or more locations)
We are mostly looking to go on an adventure and to have a great and memorable day. I also must admit that I would like to show off my dress as we will not have the traditional wedding. We would like a great photographic story of our trip that we can share with family and friends at home.
We do need to do a bit more research regarding locations but we are interested in an urban location (with all those wonderful neon lights) and a more traditional location like a temple or garden. We would like to visit several more spots and are also very open to suggestions. Additionally we do not have a location in mind for the actual "wedding" so suggestions on that would be welcome as well."
I loved seeing that Krista already had an idea of what she wanted (One of my five tips for an amazing pre-wedding or elopement session). I could also see that I had the chance to actually help Krista craft a wonderful wedding experience here in Japan. She needed a make-up artist, an officiant, and local knowledge of locations suitable for one of the most special days in her life. I was keen to lend a hand.
I contacted the bride-to-be back immediately. I was excited about the idea of spending a day out in Tokyo with a pair of lovebirds and was willing to accept the challenge of crafting a spectacular experience for Krista and her partner.
Within a day, Krista had responded back and told me a bit more about herself and her fiancé André. Krista and Andre had been together for a little over a year and couldn't wait to tie the knot. The couple was from Toronto and this trip was going to be their first time in Japan. I could sense by the way Krista was writing that the couple was crazy excited about the trip. I admit, I was also looking forward to showing the couple a few beautiful sites in the Japanese capital on their wedding day.
I wanted to know Krista and Andre as much as I could. So, we arranged a virtual meeting. During our hour-long conversation, we discussed what the couple envisioned for their perfect wedding day in Tokyo. I pried a bit deeper to see who the couple actually was. I wanted to know what made them tick. They started opening up, letting me know more than just their photo session wishes.
It was quickly apparent that I had a lot in common with K&A. André is a little bit of an anime/gamer nerd and I am a huge fan of video games. Krista is "an art kid" at heart who also dabbles in photography. I learned that they have a deep love of horribly unhealthy food including mountains of cake and McDonald's breakfast. During our meeting, I found that the couple has a wicked sense of humor and a unique vibe. Without a doubt, these two, this couple, was my ideal wedding client to spend a day in Tokyo with.
I immediately started planning for K&A. I scouted an intimate and unforgettable wedding location and prioritized a list of other locations for our day together. I put the couple in touch with a wedding officiant here in Tokyo and also sourced a make-up/hair artist to work with Krista on their special day.
Fast forward a couple of months...
It was finally Krista and André's wedding day. I arrived early at the hotel and made my way to our designated meeting spot.
Andre met me in the lobby. He admitted he was nervous. How could he not be? I assured him that everything was going to be great and that our day together was going to be the perfect day. My mission was to offer K&A the stress-free, fun-filled day that would serve as a springboard them into a beautiful life together.
Andre led me to their room where Krista was working with Anna, a wonderful Tokyo-based MUAH artist. Krista looked beautiful and I was so happy to finally meet her. After a hug, I got to work.
From the first press of my camera's shutter, I became relaxed and enjoyed the day-long ride with this stunning couple. From the "first-look" all the way through final kisses in Tokyo's iconic Shibuya crossing, I loved every second spent with Krista and André.
Congrats Lovebirds! Of all the photographers in Japan you could have selected to shoot your wedding day, I was so honored that you picked me.
Are you searching for a pre-wedding, wedding, or elopement photographer in Tokyo, throughout Japan, or beyond? If so, contact me today to find out how I can help.
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Pre-Wedding Portrait Time!
Congrats! You have decided to take the plunge. You and your partner have a bright future ahead of you. I am sure you have already started making plans for your big day. Everything is going according to plan and you are head-over-heels in love. But there is one more thing to add to your to-do-list that needs to happen well before your wedding day.
That's right. It's time to book a pre-wedding photo session. What better way to document this special time?
Sure, the idea of a photoshoot (on top of all the other wedding planning) can seem a tad bit daunting. But trust me, you won't regret the decision to have engagement photos made with a professional photographer. Still, some couples who book a pre-wedding session can experience some stress leading into their photo shoot. This needn't be the case.
A photoshoot with your partner is supposed to be a hot date, not a burden. With years of experience working with couples, I can offer five tips that will alleviate most of that unnecessary stress so that you can relax, take a deep breath, and enjoy your engagement photography session.
1) Know What You Want
Many couples who book a pre-wedding photo session don't really know how to express what they want. Remember, these are your engagement portraits and a professional photographer will want to create a product that you are going to love for years to come. It is very important that you identify what you want so that you can have the experience and product you have always dreamed of.
Sure, you want great images to share with friends and family. Sure, you want to be able to make an album with your engagement photos. These desires are understood. But what do you really want? What mood/s do you want to convey? How do you want to be seen? What kind of experience do you want to have during your shoot?
You and your partner should discuss what you truly want for both your portrait session experience and your final product. Once you have a clear vision, do you best to articulate those ideas to your chosen photographer. Better yet, create a visual mood board of images and share that mood board with your photographer so that they have a concrete idea of what your visual tastes are (pictures speak louder than words).
2) Chose a Portrait Location That Fits
Many couples think that a grandiose location will make for the best photographs. Sometimes "those" iconic locations do make for great images. But, more often than not, selecting famous and/or iconic locations for pre-wedding portraits isn't what it is cracked up to be.
On any given day, those "picture perfect" spots are usually filled with dozens of other couples who had the exact same idea. Trust me, the quickest way to ruin a pre-wedding photography session is to show up at a location crawling with hundreds (or thousands) of people.
Good locations don't have to be iconic. Good locations simply have to fit who you are as a couple. Do you like natural environments? Get out in the woods. Do you like gritty cities? Head into some alleyways.
Once you have decided on the type of location that suits you as a couple, communicate those thoughts to your photographer and ask for some location suggestions. Any professional photographer should be able to provide some location options that will both suit your tastes and make for some stunning images.
What if you have never heard of the places that your photographer suggests? Well, that could very well mean that your photographer has local knowledge. With luck, your photographer might be able to lead you to some under-the-radar spots that won't be clogged with countless couples all hoping to get the exact same engagement portrait.
3) Love the One You're With
Before I start shooting a pre-wedding session, I let my clients know exactly what makes a good image. A good image tells a story and conveys a feeling. It is up to you, the couple, to tell that story.
A pro photographer can take care of the lighting and the camera settings. They can help pose you in natural and comfortable ways. But, your photographer can't force you to show how much you love one another. It is up to you, the client, to interact with each other, to show each other in your short time together exactly how much you love each other.
Connection is key to good imagery. Whether is be a gaze, a giggle or a touch, your photos depend on you and the connection you have during your session. So, don't be bashful. Hold hands, embrace, steal a kiss here and there and leave the rest up to your photographer.
4) Pick the Right Attire
Every morning we make a decision about what to wear. Your pre-wedding portrait date is no different. It is understandable that you want to look amazing in your images. Yet, your attire is secondary to your connection with your partner (see Tip #3 above). With that being said, you can enhance your photos by selecting outfits that match your ideal product (see tip #1).
If you are a relaxed, casual couple, show that in your choice of attire. There is no rule that says your engagement photos have to be made in a tux and evening down. If you are shooting on the streets, men can get away with denim and a sports coat. Likewise, women can dress down as much as they want as well.
If you are a couple who is feeling a bit more sophisticated, go ahead and put on that suit and formal dress. Just make sure that the location you have selected doesn't stand in direct opposition to your chosen attire (unless that is the image you envision).
The key here is to make sure that you feel comfortable in your outfit choice and that the attire you wear really reflects who you are. The choice is yours. But, by all means, don't sweat the small stuff. Pick outfits that you are drawn to and just go with it!
5) Relax and Enjoy
I get it... Many couples get nervous in front of the camera. But again, a pre-wedding session is just a grand date (with a third wheel tagging along). Having your portrait made doesn't come easily to everyone.
Despite this, couples should realize that a portrait session isn't just about creating stunning images. Your engagement session, at the very least, is about creating another lasting memory together. Just like sky diving or taking a trip, having a pre-wedding photo session is just another way to add to your story as a couple. Relax. Have fun and leave the rest up to your professional photographer.
Are you searching for a pre-wedding photographer in Tokyo, throughout Japan, or beyond? If so, reach out today to see how I can help. I am available world-wide for pre-wedding and engagement sessions and book up to a year in advance.
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Tung Wei and Priscilla are technically already married. But, despite their legal matrimony, the couple have yet to have their actual wedding. T&P decided to have their formal ceremony and reception in Kuala Lumpur, their Malaysian home, and wanted to have a slide show of photographs to accompany Tung Wei's proposal video.
With a trip to Tokyo on the horizon, it just seemed natural to book a photographer in Tokyo document a day in their life in Japan and to use those images for their wedding reception slide show.
I was honored to be selected as T&P's photographer and was excited that I was going to have the chance to shoot another Day In the Life session. Of all my couple's session offerings, I like the extended shoots the best. I love getting to know my clients and there is no better way to do so than to have a full-day, pre-wedding portrait session.
My day out with Tung and Priscilla was one of the easiest days behind the lens I have had in a while. Even though we were together for over nine hours, at no point was there a single shred of stress. Tung and Priscilla have such a relaxed and warm presence. More, they both have a wicked sense of humor. I could tell that these two lovebirds have a long and happy journey ahead of them.
Best of luck with the real wedding Tung Wei and Priscilla!
Are you a couple searching for a photographer to capture a day in your life? If so, I would be honored to be your photographer. Contact me today to start planning your own portrait experience in Tokyo, throughout Japan, or beyond.
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The sights, smells, and sounds of Tokyo are nothing new to John and Annie. Even though the couple call California home, the couple frequently vacations in the Japanese capital (Tokyo has an affect on people, a magnetic pull). But this time around John and Annie decided to do something a bit different and booked a couples session in hopes of documenting a bit of their time in one of their favorite cities in Asia.
Our session was incredibly relaxed. We strolled through the backstreets of Harajuku and briefly popped into the Meiji complex, meandered through Shibuya and perched on street corners along Cat Street. Throughout our two-hour shoot, I felt like I was on vacation with John and Annie and was honored to spend a window of time with this beautiful couple.
Are you planning a trip to Tokyo with your partner? If so, reach out today to book your very own vacation photography session in Tokyo or anywhere else throughout Japan.
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Five years ago, Kelcey realized that she needed more design in her life. So the Little Rock native pursued a MFA at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. Kyle, on the other hand, attended the University of North Texas to nab a pair of degrees in biology and cytogenetics. Somehow Kyle found his way to Maryland and it was there, in Baltimore, that Kelcey finally met Kyle.
As transplants from the south (As a true southern boy, I argue that Texans and Arkansans are not southerners) Kelcey and Kyle had few connections in the Mid-Atlantic. So when K&K met, it was only natural that they became fast friends. But it wasn't their "southern" claim that truly endeared them to one another. DnD did. That's right, Dungeons and Dragons (and video-games, art. design, and fantasy/sci-fi stuff).
Years later, Kelcey moved from Baltimore to St. Louis and Kyle followed soon after. Ever since, the couple has lived peacefully in Missouri with their two cats. Like so many other couples, Kelcey and Kyle decided to make it official. But for Kelcey and Kyle, no ordinary wedding would do. Nope. The quirk flowing through their veins wouldn't allow it. Kelcey and Kyle decided to elope to Japan.
Six months prior to their wedding date Tokyo, I got the following message from Kelcey:
We are looking for a photographer who will take our photos on our wedding day. What we're looking for is just photos of us together in Tokyo. Portraits. Lifestyle shots. A street session. Unlike a typical wedding ceremony which would require hours and hours and thousands of photos, and loads of ceremony, assistants, lighting etc, we only ask for a few hours of your time. Maybe just walking the streets of Tokyo.
Kelcey's portrait inquiry was a photographer's dream. She had offered more than six months advance notice to ensure that I had availability and had articulated a vision for the portrait session. I could tell that Kelcey and Kyle were perfectly match for me as clients.
Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity to serve the couple here in Tokyo and was honored that they would ask me to spend some time with them on their wedding day. I began planning a portrait experience that would be the perfect compliment to their civil ceremony.
Fast Foward Six Months
Kelcey and Kyle popped out of Kundanshita Station right on time. The late afternoon glowed with warm hues and Kelcey and Kyle's smiles only added to the ambient light.
Our first stop was Chidorigafuchi, a green space smack in central Tokyo. I selected the spot for one specific reason; the sakura trees just outside of Kundanshita station were beginning to bloom (more than any other place in Tokyo). While the cherry blossoms were nowhere near full bloom, I was happy that there were enough pink and white pops of color to give Kelcey and Kyle a taste of what was to come.
We then moved inside Chidorigafuchi, stopping to make some images that would offer subtle hints that Kelcey and Kyle were in Japan. The humungous wooden doors and imposing stone work of the Imperial Palace grounds are impressive and made for some stunning shots. Moving on, we leisurely strolled along Chidorigafuchi's pathways, utilizing every last second of the afternoon's light.
Even though the light was fading, Kelcey and Kyle kept grinning. It was obvious that I wasn't finished with K&K quite yet. We had another hour or so before the couple's dinner reservation so we hopped on a train and headed into the neon-thick of Tokyo.
We popped out at Shibuya to explore the world-famous scramble crossing. It was amazing to see Kyle's eyes light up, accented with highlights from the neon signs blasting off of the buildings that surround the intersection.
Our last shot of the session was there in the middle of Shibuya crossing. Sure, many couples have their photo made in this intersection. But there are few who have the opportunity to pose for that image within hours of their wedding. What an awesome way to legally start a life together.
In the end, I had such a great time with Kyle and his bride and was honored to be selected as their honeymoon photographer in Japan. Their happiness was infectious and the collection of images we made is a perfect representation of our evening together.
Are you thinking of documenting your special day in Tokyo or anywhere else in Japan? I would be honored to be your photographer. Contact me today to learn more about my services or to reserve your session.
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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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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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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.