As a portrait photographer in Tokyo, I receive requests from all sorts of folks wanting to capture their best self. Some clients book me to establish modeling portfolios. Other requests come from CEOs who need a new corporate headshot. And some, like Sam, hire me to document a specific part of their lives.
When she isn't studying, Sam lives and breathes Kyōgen. The traditional Japanese stage art has been a major part of Sam's high school experience. As a senior, Sam realized it was the perfect time to capture her love of Kyōgen. Instead of a typical portrait session, Sam wanted me to produce images that, years from now, will serve as a reminder of her extra curricular life.
I admit that my experience with theatre isn't extensive. Sure, I have seen a Broadway play or two. But at the time of Sam's request, I was completely unfamiliar with Kyōgen. Originally, I expected to capture Sam in some rendition of Cats or even an elevated version of Suessical the Musical. I was curious about Kyōgen and wanted to know more.
After accepting the portrait commission I turned to Google to research different forms of Japanese theater. Kyōgen, meaning "wild speech," is often associated with the more solemn Japanese Nō. Yet, Kyōgen's primary goal is to make an audience chuckle with deadpan, humor.
On our shoot day, I arrived at the theatre armed with my camera and a new, rudimentary knowledge of Kyōgen. I was ready to see Sam in action and looked forward to experiencing Kyōgen live.
For a couple of hours I shadowed Sam, documenting her final performance from both sides of the curtain. It was a pleasure having a glimpse into the world of Kyōgen and to produce some images that will hopefully remind Sam of her formative years in Tokyo, Japan.
Do you have a special, upcoming event in Tokyo, throughout Japan, or beyond? If so, reach out today to begin discussing how I can best help you capture the documentary coverage you need.
The last time I wrote about my son was a reflection of our first year together. Since then, more than 2.5 years and more milestones than I can possibly count have past. Throughout this time I have been fortunate enough to witness Milo's first time riding his bike down a little hill, his first time drawing a picture, his first hamburger. We have shared his first real tantrum, his first time seeing a monkey, his first time interacting with a ladybug, his first mini-golf game, his first time saying "I'm sorry" or "I love you" without being prompted. The list goes on.
One first that really kicked me in the face was Milo's first haircut. For the past years, my wife and I held out on the haircut. Selfishly, we didn't want Milo to even have a trim. His delicate blonde curls were just too damn cute.
The day finally came when Milo independently asked for a haircut. We knew that this request would eventually come. For months Milo was curious about haircuts, quizzing us about the process every time we passed the salons in nearby Kichijoji. He was naturally curious about the shops hosting draped customers with phones in hand and the scissor-belt stylists working their magic with sheer clippers.
When asked. we agreed to make him an appointment for a haircut without too much hesitation. Who are we to tell him what he can and can't do with his hair?
Soon enough, my son was inside the Anpanman Hair Salon in Yokohama, Japan. At that point, a haircut was just an added bonus for Milo. The real treat was no longer a haircut but an episode or two of Japan's dearly loved animated classic. Milo sat down and sat still. Distracted by the cartoon, the kid didn't acknowledge me making photos of the occasion, his mother sobbing in the corner, or the moment his long hair became short,
Looking at the blond piles on the floor, I felt pride instead of sadness. I felt lucky to have shared yet another first with my son. I realized that I wasn't attached to his hair, but what it symbolized. Each strand was three years of time, each inch a time capsule of milestones, a reminder of how far Milo has come since those first days we shared together as a family.
Sometimes I wonder how many experiences I will get to share with Milo. While I hope that we will have a million "firsts" together, I know that a number with that many zeros is pure fantasy. Ever since Milo was born, time has become a glacial melt that finds the nearest crevasse and disappears. Voices from the dark remind me that I don't have much time left with Milo and I worry, panic, gasp that it is possible that I, perhaps, have more lasts than firsts with my son.
Time is passing, but it isn't gone. I am doing my best to live in the present. To enjoy every second with my son is the best rebuke I can muster to oppose those nagging, brutally truthful whispers.
The notion of firsts and lasts is shortsighted, hyper-focused. I am giving the abstract concept of time too much power over me. In the end, it doesn't matter how much time we have together, how many firsts or lasts we share. What matters is that I treat our time as a precious commodity, each second together as a unique opportunity for potency, for love, for life.
You are my everything.
A few months ago, I heard from Melissa, a 26 year old Australian who has called Japan home for a couple of years now. Melissa was searching for a Tokyo-based photographer who could produce a variety of shots to help her start a modeling portfolio. Melissa's inquiry read:
I'm just getting started with some model/acting work in Tokyo, and need to start building a portfolio. I don't have prior modeling experience, so I'm a bit nervous about it!
In terms of my interest in modeling, I'm really hoping to be able to work my way up to being a presenter/interviewer/commentator on pop culture in mainstream media (especially introducing Japanese pop culture, like takarazuka, to foreign audiences).
Given that I am just starting to build my portfolio, I'd like some "versatile" photos, if possible. Something a bit glamorous and curious, but also accessible and friendly-looking for a general Japanese audience. It would be great if the photos could give a feeling of positive energy and excitement.
I assured Melissa that she need not worry about her lack of modeling experience. My job as a portrait photographer is to ensure that clients feel comfortable in front of the camera and to pose subjects in ways that are flattering. I also reminded Melissa that most of the subjects in my portrait portfolio were like her, everyday folks with various aspirations, not professional models.
Melissa and I chatted a bit more in depth about her goals and how I could best support her with my photography services. Soon enough we had a plan and a date reserved for her personal branding session in Shimokitazawa, one of Tokyo's trendy neighborhoods.
By the end of our 90-minute session, Melissa and I created a wealth of images for her to use as she works her way up the ladder. Have a look at some of my favorite images from our session below.
Are you searching for a portrait photographer to help you establish your personal brand? If so, I would be delighted to help you capture your best self. Get in touch today for an accurate quote or to schedule your environmental portrait or headshot session in Tokyo, throughout Japan, or beyond.
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Running enthusiasts have their eye on the Tokyo Marathon. Not only is Tokyo on everyone's bucket list as a travel destination, the marathon is one of Asia's premier competitive events for runners. Because of this, an average of 38,000 athletes flood the Japanese capital every year for one of the most anticipated street races in the world. It's a big deal.
The Tokyo Marathon isn't just a foot race with a cash prize. The week-long event has charitable components and offers family sprints. There are week-long expos and "friendship runs." For serious competitors, there is more at stake. This year's Tokyo Marathon served as selection trial for the 2019 IAAF World Championship in Doha, effected the Marathon Grand Championship Series, was the Japanese Olympic Trial for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and was a portion of the Abbott World Marathon Majors Series XII.
While I wasn't on hand to capture runners from all over the world hustling through the streets, I was lucky enough to provide event photography coverage of the marathon's afterparty held at Happo-en, one of Tokyo's most exclusive event venues. From Sumo wrestling demos to fresh sashimi, awa odori dancers to live calligraphy performances, the lavish party was accented with iconic cultural elements from Japan. Without a doubt, the party was the perfect capstone to an amazing week of marathon events.
I was honored to work with the event coordinators from DMC Japan, Happo-en staff, and all of the race participants who chose to party the night away. I am already looking forward to next year's marathon celebration.
Are you hosting an event in Tokyo or elsewhere in Japan? If so, reach out today to secure your event photography service and rest easy knowing that the story of your event will be professionally captured.
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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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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.