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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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 Her headshot portfolio was a bit outdated and her agent quickly needed her book to be updated.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.
"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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Five Reasons You Should Book A Portrait Shoot Today
Ah, the selfie. The portrait that most of us take from time to time that serves as proof that most of us have a desire to be photographed in some shape or form. Lets face it. We want photos of ourselves. We want to make memories and use photography as an aid to capture moments in time.
Why settle for jacked up, cell phone selfies? You're better than that. You're worth more. With that said, here are five reasons why you should ditch the selfie and book your legitimate portrait session today.
1) You will never again be who you are today.
None of us are getting any younger. But this isn't a bad thing. Life moves forward and we roll with it. I am an advocate of living in the now and documenting the present. But I also acknowledge that there will come a time of reflection, a time when I will want to go back and mentally relive my past.
Having images of yourself at certain parts of your life will serve as a reminder, years from now when it is time to have that big retrospective, of who you were throughout your many stages of life. The clock is ticking and, sadly, time machines haven't yet hit the shelves of your local electronics chain. You will never again be who you are today. Don't take it for granted.
2) Portraits are your legacy.
Sue Bryce says, "Exist in photos." Sure, everyone wants an amazing portrait of themselves. But, you aren't the only person who wants to have stunning images of your likeness. Portraits are your legacy and will survive once you are long gone. A portrait session will ensure that your children (and your children's children) will have a glimpse of who you once were and will be tremendously grateful for those visual keepsakes.
3) Portraits allow for self expression
People chose to express themselves in many ways. Wether through dance, song, or art, we all long to give the world a glimpse of our soul. Portraiture is another form of self-expression. As a client, you determine how you will be seen in your portraits.
Feeling somber and isolated? Craft a session that details your experience. Feeling sexy? Book a high-key boudoir session. Feeling mysterious or confident? Book a fashion-inspired portrait shoot. Making photographs allows you the opportunity to express what is often hard to put into words.
4) Being photographed relates the sense of importance.
From time to time, we all feel unworthy. Sometimes we feel like we don't deserved to be treated well or that others' needs are more important than our own. The truth is the opposite. You hold worth and are worthy. Stepping in front of the camera proves that you are valuable as a person and that you deserve to feel important (because you are). Having your portrait made is empowering. Trust me, you' re worth it.
5) You don't have a legitimate reason not to.
When I speak with others about portraits, the same lines always come up. People always say that they don't have enough time, money, or energy to have a portrait session. I call BS. As the saying goes, there is always a million reasons not to do something. But the reality of it all is that you don't have a legitimate reason not to book a session. Money comes and goes and time commitments will, if anything, only become more intense. Your excuses are simply that, excuses.
Still not convinced? Contact me and I will give you another five reasons why you should reserve your portrait session today.
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Not-planning makes perfect?
I always ask clients to tell me about how they envision their perfect portrait session. I ask them about what they envision as a product. I want to know how they want to see themselves. In all of my time as a portrait photographer, I have never had a client answer these questions in the same way.
We are each unique individuals each with different backgrounds, hopes, preferences, and tastes. I acknowledge this and do my best to create an experience based on who my client is. I communicate and then I plan.
But sometimes planning (or over planning) takes the spontaneity out of photography. Those moments of inspiration during a shoot are some of the best feelings a photographer can have.
I was blessed to spend some time with Aubrey who, like so many of my other clients, decided that planning doesn't always make perfect. So, instead of hashing out details and deciding before our shoot what the outcome would be, we winged it.
Without the limitations of a predetermined agenda, we were free to explore whatever ideas came to mind and proved once and for all that some of the best imagery can be created without a mood board, visual samples, or a novel's worth of emails.
Thanks for a great session Aubrey!
Are you searching for a photographer to experiment with? If so, contact me today for your custom portrait session in Tokyo or beyond.
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Age of Exploration
Ran is beautiful, soft spoken, and has a tender disposition. She is pleasant to be around. Immediately you can tell that Ran is turning into a wonderful young lady.
What you can't readily tell is that Ran has an interest in modeling and wants to cultivate that interest. She has come to one of those pivotal transition periods in her life where exploration is necessary for evolution. Ran is at one of those ultra-exciting portions of life where anything seems possible.
Here is where I come in.
I decided to meet in Koenji, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Tokyo known as a stronghold of Japanese subculture. I wanted to shoot in a location that would provide a variety of portrait possibilities. Koenji was perfect. It has a plethora of scenes and is not clogged with throngs of people.
Ran and her lovely mother Rosemary showed up right on schedule and we spent some time getting to know each other (email can only take you so far). Even though I had just met Ran, I was proud of her for taking a step to pursue something new and was grateful that she had asked me to take part in the process.
After sharing a high five, we got to work.
By the end of our session, Ran and I had crafted a wide variety of images in a short amount of time. Though she is nearly at the end of high school, Ran's session wasn't about creating senior portraits. Her session was about moving forward in life and stepping out of comfort zones.
I love working with clients like Ran, people who are willing to explore their interests and take risks. To me, just booking a portrait shoot showed that Ran was willing to allow herself be vulnerable. This, in itself, proves that she is mature beyond her years.
I was honored to work with such a kind and eager young woman. In fact, Ran served as an inspiration, reminding me that there is great potential in personal vulnerability and that every stage in life is full of fresh possibility.
There is no time like the present. Book your portrait session today!
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The Client Coffee
I want to have a cup of coffee with all of my clients before our shoot. Sure, I love coffee and fantasize about it more than the average man. The caffeine helps me stay focused and gives me a jolt of energy for the portrait session. But that isn't why I want to have that cuppa with the client.
You can learn a lot about a person over a cup of coffee. That ten minutes of time is just enough to get a feel for a person. Working with tons of clients over the years, I can tell how a shoot is going to go just by that cup of coffee. If a client is willing to relax and have a warm beverage (as is social convention), then they will likely be relaxed throughout the shoot. Having a cup of coffee and some good old fashion conversation allows me to establish a connection with my subject. It is the connection that will either make or break a portrait session.
I love that ten minute coffee. I love learning about who my client actually is, what makes them tick, and why in the world they would want to spend an after noon with me pointing a camera in their face. This weekend I had the pleasure of having a cup of coffee with Jordan.
Jojo, as she likes to be called, is an accomplished dancer from Canada. Naturally, she ordered a maple latte from the quaint outdoor cafe in Kichijoji's Inokashira Park. Being fond of all things Canadian, I had the same. We took our coffees to a nearby bench and began chatting away.
In between sips of my latte I learned a lot about Jojo. I learned how she moved away from her home in Canada to follow her dreams in New York City. I learned about her experience earning a BFA in dance. I learned about how she also has trouble learning Japanese. And I learned that she is a real life Disney princess.
I was fascinated. I grew up on Disney movies. Trust me, I can sing the whole Aladdin soundtrack by memory and have a story or two about different ways that one can watch Fantasia. But how, exactly, is Jojo a Disney princess?
Jordan left New York to embark on an incredible journey with Disney. Here in Tokyo, Jordan is a stage dancer and plays the part of some of our favorite fairy tale females. Day in and day out, Jojo captivates audiences who have always dreamed of seeing a princess in the flesh.
So why would a princess want to spend an afternoon with me? Like many other artists, Jojo realizes the need to keep an up-to-date portfolio stocked with artistic headshots. With a book filled with stellar portraits, entertainment industry professionals are likely to land contract after contract. While Jojo is enjoying every minute in Japan, she is smart to consider the future and knows that Tokyo is just one stop for a princess.
With our coffees finished and some great rapport established, Jojo and I jumped into our portrait session.
Barnardsville, North Carolina (Summer 2016)
Casey and I had only known each other for a week or so. We first worked together on a review I did on a new Manfrotto stunt bag. In the hour or so we shot together, I didn't really get to know Casey and could only say that she seemed as caring and intelligent as she is beautiful. I really like developing relationships with people, especially those I chose to work with. The better you know your portrait subject or creative team, the better work you can produce. After our first shoot together, I was eager to schedule another session with Casey and get to know her.
We met in the late afternoon at my house outside of Asheville, North Carolina. It isn't often that I get to shoot near my mountain home as most of my year is spent in Tokyo. Casey showed up on time (rare for a model) and was ready to get to work straight away. We packed a bag and headed towards Barnardsville, a sleepy Appalachian town with little more than a convenience store and a post office. The sun was shining bright but I knew that the mountain humidity would bring rain sooner or later.
We cracked the windows and chatted about this and that. I asked questions about Casey's boyfriend and yoga career and she asked me about my life in Tokyo and what it is like to be a new father. Our conversation seemed natural and it felt as though I was having a conversation with a friend instead of someone I had only recently met.
We tore through Barnardsville at forty miles per hour, five over the town's strict thirty five limit. I knew we were near our destination when I saw the sign that said, "Pavement ends, five miles." Those five miles went quick as we winded up the mountain road, entered Pisgah National Forest, and bumped off the end of the paved road. We snaked our way up the one lane road and the forest canopy became thick. The air was clean and the July heat was no match for the thick trees. Basically, I couldn't ask for a better location for an afternoon portrait session.
Past the first creek bridge was our initial stopping point. Pisgah is my stomping ground and I knew that near this particular bridge was a small cascade that would make a wonderful spot for our first set. We parked the car and hopped into the cold mountain creek. Casey was very patient sitting in the frigid mountain water and was able to stop her shivering lips as she lay upon moss covered boulders. Of course I worked as quickly as possible.
After thirty minutes in the creek bed, we decided to head up the forest road to a clearing in the woods. It is odd finding an empty field in a North Carolina forest. These mountain fields seem so out of place after miles and miles of dense deciduous and evergreen. We parked the car along the road and slid past a forest service gate into the field. We got another fifteen minutes of photographs in the field before I saw the clouds.
Over the tree line I could see the nastiest looking storm approaching. They were the kind of clouds that you expect Lord Voldemort to come out of. With the storm above our heads we quickly popped back to the car and headed back down the mountain the way we had come up. We rolled the windows up and the rain begin to drip, drop, pour. I drove a bit faster to get down the mountain. Flash floods are common in the area and mountain roads aren't exactly known for being smooth. But coming around the last real switchback I realized that the road washing out was the least of my worries.
Right where we had been parked for our cascade set a giant oak tree had succumbed to the wind and had fallen across the road. To the right of the tree, a steep hill that once held the old oak's roots . To the left, a ravine. Normally, the forest service is quick to maintain the roads and to clear trees when they do fall. With the rain coming down, no cellphone service, and night coming I knew that the big tree wouldn't be cut and removed until the next day.
I did my best to complete a twelve-point turn on the narrow gravel-mud road and again headed back up the mountain. There was no other option. As we climbed, widow makers fell throughout the forest and the windshield wipers struggled to keep up with the pouring rain. It was at this point that I realized I had never taken the forest road to the top of the mountain. I had no idea where or if that forest road led to anywhere other than a backwoods campsite (So much for arrogantly thinking that these were my stomping grounds).
The road climbed steadily and as we gained altitude my nerves and anxiety increased. Honestly, the complete wuss in me really came out. I don't do well driving in the rain. Hell, I don't do well driving period. But after forty minutes of gravelly curves and rutted road we reached the peak of the mountain and began the descent down the other side.
Soon enough we came to a T where there were several good ole boys sitting on the side of the road drinking beer next to their old Ford truck. I rolled down the window and immediately amplified my southern twang. After a minute or two of jaw harping with the guys I learned that we were in Burnsville, North Carolina. With my most direct route home cut off by a fallen tree our only choice was to begin the ride home along the state byways. On our way we past beautiful creeks, saw rainbows accented by the sunset, and even managed to find a new road to add to my mental map of the area.
Some shoots are standard without too much excitement or anxiety. Some aren't. While portrait sessions with me are never boring, some truly are more exciting than others.
Last Minute In Shimokitazawa
Several days ago a spunky student named Lana reached out t0 me. She desperately wanted to schedule a portrait shoot and had a very short timeframe in which to do so. Lana has been in Tokyo for three months completing an internship. With her work practicum complete, she is leaving "for good" in a couple of days. I could tell that Lana really wanted to have a professional portraiture session and time was indeed of the essence. Though it was last minute, I carved a few hours out of my schedule to help Lana out.
Lana's problem is quite common. She hadn't had any photographs of herself made in Japan and wanted to have a few portraits of her time in Tokyo to share with family in Hanoi and friends at the University of Illinois. Considering this, I knew that Shimokitazawa was the perfect location for my client.
Shimokitazawa station is in Setagaya at the intersection of the Keio Inokashira line and Okakyu Electric Railway. The small station tricks you into thinking that you must have gotten off at the wrong stop. Frankly, the stop is damn small. There aren't large billboards or neon advertisements screaming for your attention. From the platform you can't see a forty foot robot statue like you would in Odaiba nor can you see a massive Godzilla looming from a nearby building. It isn't exactly downtown Tokyo, that much is for certain. Still, Shimokitazawa is definitely the place to be. Vogue Magazine even claimed that the neighborhood affectionately called Shimokita, is the coolest neighborhood in the world.
Throughout the morning Shimokitazawa is extremely calm. but as the day wears on, the the streets of Shimokita begin to clog with hipsters from all over Tokyo. Due to limited traffic access, independent fashion retailers thrive and cafes, theaters, bars and live music venues are filled with Japanese youth. What better place to photograph a creative and artistic spirit like Lana?
We met at the south gate of the small station in the late afternoon. While the south end of the neighborhood is amazing (there is a video arcade there that takes a lot of my spare change), I knew that we needed to head to the north end of the station to avoid the majority of the crowd and have a more relaxing portrait date.
I was right. Once on the north side of the area, the crowds were thin and a gentle breeze cut the summer heat. We lazily strolled the streets, popped into boutiques, ate some pancake pies from Flippers, and even managed to complete our portrait mission.
Thank you Lana for such a wonderful afternoon. Congratulations on a successful internship in Japan and good luck with your junior year of university!
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.