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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Shinjuku Pre-wedding Portraits
Matt and Samar's pre-wedding shoot had been on the calendar for months. Throughout the weeks leading up to our session, Samar and I communicated heavily about the type of shoot the couple from California wanted. Samar was very specific. She and Matt wanted a night session that skipped the natural environments many couples are after. The couple wanted there images to feel like Tokyo.
Our session date finally arrived and, of course, it was raining. For portrait photographers, rain can either mean an immediate cancelation or it can be an opportunity. For me, I prefer to think of a rainy day shoot as a chance to get creative. But, moving forward with a portrait shoot on a rainy day it is all up the client. I kept my fingers crossed.
Samar and Matt met me outside of JR's Shinjuku station right on time. After exchanging high fives and handshakes we immediately addressed the fact that it was pouring sideways.
To my surprise, Samar and Matt didn't seem to mind a bit. We evaluated the situation and decided to move forward with our shoot. But, instead of heading full on, out into the streets of Tokyo, we decided to shoot the majority of our session right there in Shinjuku station. Samar, Matt, and I spent an hour or so in JR Shinjuku, one of Tokyo's busiest transportation hubs. We managed to get a few frames on the platforms and near the ticket booths.
We then headed into the drizzly neon and walked several blocks to a location I had previously scouted for the couple. The rain fell. I kept shooting. Samar and Matt kept smiling. In the end, the couple walked away with a pre-wedding portrait session that was one-of-a-kind.
Coming to Tokyo with your lover? Get in touch to discuss your own pre-wedding or couples photoshoot in Tokyo or beyond.
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Six months prior to landing in Tokyo...
Justin contacted me about my pre-wedding portrait services. I am always impressed with folks like Justin, those who want their time in Japan to be special and ensure that it is by crafting a well-planned trip. Justin and his beautiful fiancé Tori were interested in having a multi-location portrait session in Tokyo. But they wanted to see some of the city that is a bit off of the usual tourist circuit.
Justin, a designer by trade, also needed to ensure that I would be able to provide a variety of imagery (fine art, lovey-dovey portraits, and street style). I was stoked to hear that the Canadian couple were looking for a wide-range of images and I quickly realized that Justin and Tori fit my "ideal client" description.
Over the next months, I scouted Tokyo for the perfect locations, spots that would offer Justin and Tori the variety of imagery they were looking for. I also made sure that the locations would be far removed from Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo Tower, or Shinjuku Gyoen. I was determined to delivery a set that no other couple would have framed on the wall.
Location One | Kagurazaka
Months later, Justin and Tori arrived in Tokyo. As soon as their jet lag curbed we met at Kagurazaka station, close enough to downtown to be convenient but far enough away to get some breathing room from the droves. After getting to know each other a little bit we began meandering downhill through Kagurazaka, a neighborhood with a rich history.
During the Edo period, Kagurazaka was located just outside Edo Castle's outer moat. Because of its location the neighborhood became an entertainment district, complete with restaurants and a slew of geisha houses. The neighborhood is now affectionately known as Tokyo's "little France." Sure, the bakeries, cheese stores, and amazing cuisine on offer are appealing. But, was Kagurazaka's alleys that I wanted to show Justin and Tori.
We meandered through the cobblestoned back-streets and admired the modern facades of the still-active geisha houses (one of the very few geisha districts still operating in metropolitan Tokyo), stopping every so often to make a portrait.
Before leaving Kagurazaka, we stopped at one of Tokyo's famous game centers so that Tori and Justin could try their hand at electronic taiko drumming (a bit of a couple's portrait shoot tradition). After a quick game, we hopped on a train at Idaibashi station and headed west to our second location.
Location Two | Nakano
Nakano station is just outside of Shinjuku (one stop on JR's super-express to be exact). Still, the special ward is much less busy that its rowdy neighbor. I selected Nakano as our second location because the neighborhood's iconic streets, old Tokyo ambiance in a condensed area. I knew that Justin and Tori would vibe with Nakano and I was eager to show them some of the character that can be found right outside of the big-city bustle.
We started next to Nakano station's mural, an attraction that is often overlooked but keeps me coming back. The happy, animal-covered mural made for an excellent backdrop before we moved to Nakano's trademark alleyways. For the next hour or so, we popped here and there, stopping for portraits and a break on my favorite bench in Tokyo.
Are you interested in a pre-wedding, engagement, or couple's portrait shoot in Tokyo? Don't wait... Contact me today to reserve your own portrait session in Japan's capital or beyond!