Spring had past and hydrangea season was in full effect, an odd time of transition. This short period is one of the few calendar segments in Japan when it is difficult to tell what season it is. Not spring, but not quite summer. The heat had ramped up but it wasn't yet unpleasant. Though not swarming, the mosquitos were creeping out but the cicadas weren't yet screaming through the forests and leaving their exoskeletons on the trees. To add to the seasonal confusion, everyone in Japan was then, as we are now, dealing with the unknowns of COVID-19.
Understandably, personal branding and/or portrait session bookings in Tokyo had slowed due to the range of pandemic concerns. However, once clients knew that I was willing to travel to them, adhere to social distancing etiquette, and diligently wear a mask throughout any shoot, they were keen to book.
During this time, I heard from Sandie Herron, a budding author awaiting the publication of her first book. Sandie wrote:
Hi, Andy! I am currently based in Tokyo and will be publishing my first book soon. I am working with a publisher in Jamaica and am set to publish in a few weeks. The Title of the book is 'Journey into the Unknown." The book essentially captures my journey moving from Jamaica to live in a foreign country.
I would like create a series of fun, professional photos in anticipation of the book launch and would love to work with you to capture imagery for social media (primarily be used on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.). I also hope that the images can be used on promotional materials as well as for the book itself.
Regarding the images, I would like to capture multiple looks. Some of the ideas I have to showcase my personal brand are:
I was happy to hear from Sandie and to be chosen as her portrait photographer in Japan. After reading her ideas, I was more than willing to do what I could to help Sandie reach her goals as an author and to provide her with a custom set of portraits. We immediately began a conversation relating to the professional goals she had outlined and started planning Sandie's personal branding session.
On our shoot day, I traveled north to Sandie's home in Saitama so that she wouldn't have to worry about traversing Tokyo or deal with any of the stress caused by pandemic commuting. There, in the northern suburbs of Tokyo, Sandie and I spent a couple of hours making the images that are now being used to promote her as a budding author and speaker here in Japan and beyond.
Are you searching for a photographer in Japan to help you cultivate your own personal brand? If so, reach out today to begin a conversation about your portrait, personal branding, or headshot session in Tokyo or beyond.
Troy knew that to sustain himself during his first years of life as an expat he would need to keep his mind open to a variety of personal and professional possibilities. Like Troy, many who come to Japan pursue a variety of endeavors to support a lifestyle that has more in it than convenience store ramen and a barren flat on the outskirts of Tokyo. Simply put, young expats like Troy have to hustle to prosper.
One avenue of possible employment and/or revenue is modeling. Luckily, there is relatively broad market in Japan for foreign models as a range of modeling opportunities in the fashion, lifestyle, and commercial branding sectors are available. For many, modeling is a great way to earn some extra cash while building a life in one of world's most expensive countries.
There are several caveats to consider before making a leap into the modeling industry in Japan. One crucial piece of the puzzle is how to align with an agency, the industry's gatekeepers. Most modeling agencies in Japan want to have a collection of images (or a z-card) on hand so that they can promote any new addition to their model roster. Yet, most agencies place the responsibility on their fresh intake to independently have these portraits produced.
Troy was forward thinking and realized how the system works. Without any professional images of himself, Troy knew that he needed to book a portfolio building session so that he could put his best foot forward when meeting with agencies. Moreover, Troy knew that having a portfolio skeleton would expedite his ability to land modeling jobs.
Troy is a fan of fashion photography and likes grainy, muted imagery. By the end of our pre-shoot consultation, Troy and I decided to rent a studio space to correlate with his goals and visual aesthetic. While I don't considered myself a fashion photographer, I do know the types of images that model agencies need to have to move forward with a new model. Agencies and casting directors want to see a clean headshot, a variety of looks, and a handful of photographs that reveal a bit about the model's personality. Considering this, Our goal for Troy's portrait session was to nail these "must-have" images so that Troy would be ready to approach agencies as soon as possible.
I had a blast during working with Troy during our two-hour portrait session and know that Troy has great things ahead of him in the modeling world.
Are you interested in starting a modeling career in Tokyo or elsewhere in Asia? If so, give me a shout to start a conversation about how I can help you reach your goals with a headshot, personal branding, or fashion inspired portrait session.
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By mid-May, Cassidy had already been in Tokyo for two months. Throughout that time, she had seen the inside and exterior of her parents house in nearby Chofu, a grocery store, and a convenience store or two. Basically, Cassidy's time in Tokyo has been nothing the rising university senior thought it would be.
When the University of California stopped offering classes on campus due to COVID-19 concerns, Cassidy decided to leave Berkeley and head to Japan to quarantine and socially isolate with her parents. Here in Tokyo she could finish up her remaining course work online, spend time with her loved ones, and have a change of scenery. But even though Cassidy had made it to the Japanese capital, she wasn't able to explore Tokyo in the ways she had hoped.
During the last days of Cassidy's visit, the Tokyo government lifted the state of emergency. With her canceled-now-rescheduled flight to California a few days away, Cassidy decided to wanted to see something in Tokyo before heading out and decided that she wanted to book a portrait session to document the outing.
I met Cassidy at our chosen location right on time and, before getting started with our session, we took the time to debrief our experience with lockdown. For more than two months, neither Cassidy or I had been around anyone other than our own families (as most in Japan have done all that they can to keep themselves and others healthy) and were both a bit weary to be back in "civilization." We discussed how surreal it felt to be in the city where, it seemed, life was starting to move forward with the "new normal."
For ninety minutes, I took Cassidy on an abbreviated tour of Kichijoji, one of Tokyo's most vibrant neighborhoods. The area is full of cafes, boutique stores, artist enclaves, and Inokashira Park (one of the most beautiful green spaces in Tokyo). Close to her accommodation, Kichijoji was a great location for us to meet by bicycle and would serve as the perfect alternative to other Tokyo locations that would require train rides and other unnecessary worries associated with traveling during the pandemic.
Throughout our session, Cassidy and I were successful by keeping six feet of distance from each other and the crowds that, here in the world's most populated city, are hard to avoid. We only took our masks off when we felt safely distanced. Basically, we eased our way back into some sense of normalcy.
I was grateful to Cassidy for making our outing so enjoyable; full of laughs and great conversation. Working with Cassidy was the first times in months I felt like myself. While we were careful to observe recommended protocols, there were times during our session that I forgot about COVID-19 and the collective trauma we have all experienced. In the end, I couldn't have asked for a better afternoon as a photographer in Japan and was elated to be back behind the camera after an extended break.
Are you searching for a portrait photographer in Tokyo, throughout Japan, or beyond? If so, reach out today to begin planning your individual, couples, or family photography session.
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I arrived a few minutes early at our pre-determined meeting spot. I'm always early as the thought of a client having to wait on me is the stuff of my professional nightmares (seriously, I fret about it). Upon arrival, immediately noticed J&K. They had shown up moments before and seeing them prompted a wave of shame within me. But, I was also filled with hope for humanity knowing that are others in who still value punctuality.
After a gregarious greeting, we chatted a bit about our session. I wanted to learn more about J&K's artistic tastes. They were, of course, familiar with my work and were able to articulate that they wanted a set of images that was "conservatively artistic." J&K didn't want the overly cheesy set of maternity photos that we have all seen on Pinterest. But, the expecting couple didn't want me to go completely rogue (which I love to do) and deliver over 100 monochrome images full of motion-blur and double exposures. I knew exactly what they meant and, with a good idea of what J&K had in mind for their product, we started our portrait session.
We headed into one of my favorite spots in western Tokyo and strolled towards a section of the location that I knew would be great for maternity portraits. As always, the location was empty, an incredibly rare treat anywhere near the Japanese capital. I was happy to see that the sakura were still in bloom and was excited to utilize the cherry trees in some of our images.
I spent 90 minutes with J&K, the perfect amount of time to create a massive collection of imagery that will serve as a reminder of this special time in their lives. I had a blast with J&K and haven't laughed so much during a portrait session in a long, long time. Being around the couple reminded me of the time, years ago, when my wife and I were expecting our son.
My time with J&K was wonderful, a perfect spring afternoon during a spring that is anything but perfect. I was honored to be hired as J&K's portrait photographer and wish them nothing but luck as they enter the new chapter in their relationship as a family.
Are you expecting a new family member? If so, I would be honored to serve you. Whether you are located in Tokyo or beyond, contact me today to begin discussion your custom maternity session.
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Spring has finally come to Tokyo. The plum blossoms have come and gone. Now the sakura blooms are having their turn. All around Japan, streets are lined with cherry trees bursting with pink and white fluff. It is a magical time of the year and I am always amazed by the natural beauty on display.
As we all know, this spring has been exceptional due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are no massive hanami parties with thousands of Tokyoites downing sake together. Cherry blossom festivals around Japan have been cancelled. You can't even get a sakura flavored latte because Starbucks is closed (as it should be). This year, there isn't frenzy and mass capitalism surrounding the natural spectacle and we are left to enjoy sakura season in its purest form.
With the sakura blooms here, it is the perfect time for family portraiture in Japan. I was delighted to hear from the Confers, a family of four living in the suburbs of Tokyo. The Tama-based foursome decided to book an extended session to celebrate the coming of spring.
Japan is not in a lockdown. Still, I wanted to make sure that the Confer family felt comfortable during their session and that we were being socially responsible by distancing ourselves from others. Considering this, we decided on some locations that would be void of other people.
I was eager to get out of the house and into the fresh spring air with the Confers. To my delight, we started our session surrounded by sakura in a place that I had hoped would be relatively isolated. As I suspected, there were very few people basking under the sakura trees which gave us the space to make some images and to relax under blossoms in full bloom. From there, we hopped on bicycles and meandered along the banks of the Nogawa River. Every now and again we parked, took some portraits, and soaked in the beautiful scenery surrounding the river.
With stunning blue skies, spring flowers, and a ton of laughs, my ninety minutes with the Confer family flew by. Honestly, the spring photography session was just the thing I needed to lift my spirits during this unusual spring and I couldn't have asked for a better day as a portrait photographer in Tokyo.
Are you searching for a family photographer in Tokyo or beyond? If so, reach out today to learn more about my family photography services or to book your portrait session.
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It had been over a year since I had seen Nicola, Alex, and their sweet girl J. I couldn't believe how much J had grown since I last saw her. Her curly hair bounced up and down and she ran down the street to greet me. J is one of those kids who is endearing the moment you see them; you can't help but smile and giggle at the sight of her.
As Alex and Nicola caught up to their toddler, I noticed that the couple was likely expecting a new member of the family. After hugs and greetings, Nicola confirmed my suspicions. Knowing that Nicola was pregnant immediately made our family photography session that much more special. While maternity photography is far from my specialty, I enjoy it. There is something powerful about photographing an expecting family and I was pleasantly surprised that this portrait session was really of a family of four, not three.
The Sergeants and I roamed around Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, a massive green space plopped right next to one of the most congested neighborhoods in all of Asia. The ponds and little bridges, open lawns, and well-manicured gardens are an oasis of tranquility and one of the best places in Tokyo for portrait sessions of this type.
Just like my last session with the Sergeant family, our time together went off without a hitch. For an hour or so, we ran around the park, visited some of the quiet spots in the gardens, and made a ton of great images that will hopefully serve as a reminder of this special time in the Sergeant's life. I couldn't have asked for a better day as a family photographer in Japan or for better clients.
If you are searching for a family photographer in Japan, look no further. Contact me today to begin discuss how I can best photograph your family here in Tokyo or beyond.
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I recently heard from Michael. He wrote:
My wife Kaelyn and I will be visiting Tokyo in mid-January and would love to have some vacation photography taken! We had a pre-wedding photoshoot before getting married and really had a lot much fun with that. This is our one year anniversary trip and we'd love to have another, similar portrait experience in Japan.
Regarding our "perfect session," we really don't have that much of an idea. We are interested in a bit of an extended session with you. Could you recommend a location where we can get multiple different types of shots in?
We are comfortable going with whatever you think would be visually interesting and are pretty easy-going. We love your work and hope you have some availability.
I was in Lalibela, Ethiopia when I received Michael's inquiry. Over the next couple of days, the internet went in and out. But, thanks to the internet gods, Micheal and I managed to plan an anniversary portrait session for the day after my return from Ethiopia.
We decided on a street-style session in Shinjuku, one of Tokyo's most popular neighborhoods. As Kaelyn and Micheal had seen some of my work from previous sessions in Shinjuku, they wanted to take a similar route visiting Omoide Yokocho, the backstreets of Kabukicho, and the infamous Golden Gai.
I was more than willing to take the couple of a similar path that I had offered previous clients. But I wanted Michael and Kaelyn to know that I would be creating custom images for them (I did not want to simple recreate another client's session). Micheal and Kaelyn were more than happy with that caveat.
I loved Kaelyn and Michael the minute I met them. Not only were they on time, they were dressed like Tokyo locals. Before our session began, we chatted a bit. I learned about their backstory (they met at a dance studio in New York City), where their anniversary trip had taken them, and that Kaelyn had just broken her tailbone a few days earlier on her first run down a ski hill here in Japan.
Wait... What? You read that right. Kaelyn had a broken tailbone. I checked to see if the couple still wanted to move forward with the session. To my surprise, Micheal and Kaelyn were keen to roll on as planned. I was impressed with how badass Kaelyn was and was shocked that the pair hadn't cancelled the session.
We decided then and there that we would make our time together as relaxed as possible. We would ensure that any posed portraits wouldn't be pain inducing and that we would work very, very slowly.
For the next ninety minutes, Kaelyn (bless her) and Micheal were the perfect clients. We had a great time meandering through the streets of Shinjuku, laughing and making fun of ourselves along the way. In the end, it was an amazing January afternoon as a couples photographer in Tokyo, Japan.
Are you planning a pre-wedding, vacation, or anniversary portrait shoot in Tokyo, throughout Japan, or beyond? If so, I would be honored to work with you to create the perfect couples portrait session. Reach out today to learn more about my session offerings for couples or to reserve your date.
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It seems like with each flip of the calendar there is another natural phenomena to look forward to in Japan. During December, I enjoy the yellow blasts of the ginko trees when they fully turn and the warm-colored carpets they make of the streets when the leaves decide to drop. In mid-February, the bright pink plum blooms accent the carefully manicured ume trees in the parks and neighborhoods throughout Tokyo. I look forward to the late summer rains that turn foliage so lush that one would think they were in a sub-tropical paradise. And, like everyone else, I anticipate late March or early April when the majestic sakura season comes.
The arrival of the cherry blossoms means a variety of things. The sakura signal that winter has finally yielded and that the Japanese spring is roaring in with force. The sakura also inspire deeper musings. The sacred blooms relate to the natural cycles of life and remind us how fleeting our existence is. The cherry trees burst open, show their glorious nature, and are quickly gone. So is life.
Last spring I had the opportunity to work with several couples and families under the sakura blooms. One of those clients was the Yung family. Many of my clients elect to have their portrait sessions in packed locations like Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden or along the edges of the Meguro River. But the Yungs wanted to keep things simple and save the majority of their day for touring the Japanese capital with their friends.
I was thrilled to avoid the blossom-crazed crowds. I had the perfect spot in mind, a place in Tokyo's Midtown that was full of sakura trees and façades that would be perfect for family photography. As luck would have it, the spot was also within a short walk from the Yung's accommodation.
The Yungs were a lovely bunch. By the end of our family photography session, we were able to quickly capture a slew images with and without the iconic cherry blooms. In under an hour, the family of four waved goodbye and headed into town to enjoy all that Tokyo has to offer.
Are you searching for a family photographer in Tokyo for the upcoming 2020 sakura season? If so, time is running out. Reach out today to discuss your portrait session and to book your cherry blossom photography date.
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