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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Tim and Sarah are without question some of the kindest people you could ever have the pleasure of knowing. I met the couple years ago when I worked at an international school in Tokyo. Ever since, I have enjoyed spending time with them and watching their family grow.
I heard from Sarah in the late autumn. Her message read:
We wanted to see if you would be able to do a family photo shoot for the four of us sometime in the late fall. We've been jonesin' for some professional family photos since (L) was born and, now that we're feeling a bit more settled, we're ready to make that happen! We're hoping for some fall colors as a backdrop for the photo shoot. There's a beautiful little shrine along the Nogawa River path with Japanese momiji trees and a little red bridge going over the pond. Of course, we're open to other ideas you have where the fall colors will be at peak then.
I was overjoyed to finally be able to work with the Bernhardt family. Instead of attending meetings with Sarah and Tim, I would finally get the chance to see the whole Bernhardt family in a new professional context.
On our shoot day we met at Nukui Shrine, the small complex in Koganei that Sarah had mentioned in her initial inquiry. Sarah was right, Nukui was the perfect spot for an autumn portrait session. While the area is on the small side for families with small children, I knew that we could make the space work. The leaves were blazing reds and vibrant yellows. The foliage, coupled with the traditional moon-shaped bridge, was the postcard vision of Japan.
To my surprise, the shrine was completely empty. There was no one in sight. The area was silent and tranquil. However, the energy in the shrine quickly changed. The quiet grounds in western Tokyo livened up when H (age 5) and L (18 months) arrived. The young lads were ready to move and shake and Sarah and Tim were eager to get started.
Together we roamed Nukui and played in a nearby parking lot. We chucked rocks around (nowhere near the shrine, of course) and took turns running after the boys.
Towards the end of our session we still had a bit of light to work with. We were quite close to Tama Cemetery, the largest municipal cemetery in Japan. It would be quite morbid (and completely culturally inappropriate) to have family photos made throughout the graves. But the Tama cemetery is also one of the largest green spaces in the Tokyo metropolis. We decided to head over to Tama for a few more frames.
We finished our time together in a grove of massive red maples (far away from the sacred spaces). As the sun went down and the blue hour began, I left the Bernhardt family to start their nighttime routine.
Walking alone to the nearest train station, I had some time to reflect on the session. I had such a great time with the Bernhardts. I was grateful to them for their business. But more, I was grateful to have another window into their life and to have the opportunity to share an afternoon out with one of the kindest expat families in Tokyo.
Are you searching for a family photographer in Japan? If so, I would be happy to craft a custom portrait experience for your family. Learn more about my portrait services and then reach out to book a session.
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The beginning of 2019 has been a whirlwind. With a packed photography schedule, a beautiful wife, an active child, and Tokyo outside the door, I keep busy. With the winter in full force, I am now finally getting the chance to sit down and review some of the images I made at the beginning of the season.
The Robertsons were one of my first family photography clients during the annual cold stretch. I first heard from Gahyan several months ago. She wrote:
We are a family from New York and will be in Tokyo this coming winter. We would like to do a family photo session. We have been to Tokyo multiple times but have stayed in different areas each time. We are interested in your short family session package and look to you for suggestions on locations that are indicative of Tokyo.
After a bit of back-and-forth, Gahyan and I decided on a date and a shoot route. We opted to take the party to Harajuku, a spot that screams Tokyo. Meiji Shrine would provide some more traditional shots and the Harajuku district would account for the modern, hustle and bustle of Tokyo.
When our shoot date came, I met Gahyan, her husband Chris, and daughter Hana (age 3) right outside of Harajuku station. Coming from New York, the Robertson's were accustomed to the cold and weren't put off by the chill in the air at all. I was happy to see that the Robertson's were wrapped up to keep warm and were down for a good time. Most of all, they were excited to get started with their portrait session.
For an hour or so, the Robertson family and I had a wonderful time together. Gahyan and Chris were nothing but smiles. Hana took a while to warm up to me. But, by the end of our session, she was all smiles. I couldn't have asked for a better afternoon with clients here in Tokyo.
Are you interested in a family photography session in Tokyo or throughout Japan? Get in touch today so that we can start planning your session!
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I met the Dohrenwend family a couple of years ago. Secretly I hoped that they would book a family photography session at some point. When Amber inquired in late November about fall portraits, I was thrilled that I was finally going to have the chance to work with the Dohrenwends here in Tokyo. I was certain that a set with this family would be a ton of fun and would, of course, yield a great set of images.
Before our shoot, I knew several things about the Dohrenwend family. I knew that Amber and Pete are multi-talented and that they are just as much at home in the forests of northern Michigan as they are in their home in the Japanese capital (if not more so). I knew that A&P are artists and educators, thinkers and makers. I also knew that they had a special something in the way they parent their children.
I also knew a thing or two about Dohrenwend girls. They are just as amazing as their parents are. Young E (9) and I (6) are energetic, spunky, and curious about the natural world. They climb trees like monkeys, have amazing senses of humor, and smiles that will melt your heart. And more, E&I are some of the most independent kids I know (a trait I love in kids).
On our shoot day, I met the Dohrenwends at Nogawa Park, a vast and beautiful expanse of space in Chofu, just outside of downtown Tokyo. In the late autumn (early December), the park is ablaze with the deep reds of Japanese maples and the patches of ginko leaves on the ground are circular yellow carpets surrounding the trunks of the many biloba trees. For our session, we decided to incorporate as many elements of the Dohrenwend's ordinary lives as we could. For years the family has played, picnicked, and explored in the park. So it seemed only natural to start our portrait session there in Nogawa.
From Nogawa Park we moved on to Mushashi Koganei Station, a stop on the Tama line that the Dohrenwends most frequently use. While we weren't able to hop the stalls and shoot inside the station (even though E asked the station attendant in perfect Japanese), we were able to meander around the train stop and incorporate a lot of elements of the station and Tokyo's public transportation system into our shoot.
Our family photography session wrapped up outside of the Dohrenwend's home. There, I spent some time photographing E&I playing with their neighborhood crew, riding their unicycles, and spinning around on their scooters. I found a rhythm there in the parking lot of the Dohrenwend's apartment complex and even managed to summon my own inner child while I nailed some shots of the girls doing what kids do best.
In the end, I was incredibly happy with the massive count of photos we created. After spending some quality time with this family, I remain in awe of the Dohrenwends. The troupe of four is, without a doubt, one of the most fascinating families I have worked with in a long time. As I had expected, the 90-minute session was heaps of fun. I couldn't have asked for a better day out with one of Tokyo's finest expat families.
Are you searching for a photographer in Japan who is ready to capture your family dynamic? If so, I would be honored to serve you. Learn more about my family portrait services and then reach out to book a session.
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Ling and Ryan are no strangers to Tokyo. In fact, the couple spent most of their engagement living in the Japanese capital together. For three years the pair called Tokyo home.
Anyone who has ever spent time in Tokyo realizes that the pull of the Japanese capital is strong. Though only a year has past since moving away from Tokyo to start a new life in Hong Kong, Ling and Ryan felt the tug and decided to come back to Japan for their holiday. But, this trip was different. Now Ling and Ryan are married and more, they had a third wheel, Aerin (6 months), along for the ride.
When they lived in Tokyo, Ling and Ryan frequented Hinokicho Park, using the small greenspace as an oasis away from the mid-town hum. To me, it sounded like the park was the perfect spot for our family photography session. Hinokicho would offer a mix of spots that would suit both Ling and Ryan's artistic tastes and be centrally located.
When our shoot date came, the morning sun was blasting. I didn't mind. I knew that we could use the harsh light to our advantage. I was also confident that there were some shady spots in Hinokicho that would help make some more traditional family portraits.
The family of three arrived and we got straight to work while Aerin was alert and happy. But by the end of our hour-long portrait session, Aerin was completely spent and fell asleep in Ling's arms. With the baby sound asleep, we all tiptoed out of the park together and waved goodbye. But, something tells me that I will see the Li family again...
Are you searching for family or vacation photographer in Tokyo or anywhere else throughout Japan? If so, reach out today so that we can start planning your portrait session.
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When you mention Tokyo, most people immediately think of bustling streets and futurist Bladerunner madness. But, Tokyo is much more than neon-soaked streets and anime culture. It is more than skyscrapers and bullet trains.
Tokyo is vast, filled with tranquil green spaces and areas far removed from the idyllic scramble crossings of Shibuya and Shinjuku. In fact, most Tokyoites live in calm wards, mini-cities removed from the the pulsating glow of the capital's downtown. It is here, in the "suburbs" of Tokyo that I met the Gotterson family.
During the first portion of our family session, Stephanie and Tim invited their parents to join us for some whole family fun in Nogawa Park, one of western Tokyo's best kept secrets. It was awesome to have Tim and Stephanie's family together and interacting with Freya, the youngest Gotterson (age two).
For the rest of our session, Tim and Stephanie wanted something a bit more intimate and reflective of their everyday life here in Tokyo. We waved goodbye to both sets of grandparents and headed into the streets of Tama, the tiny enclave of Chofu that the Gotterson family calls home.
To most, Tama isn't much more than a train stop. The area hosts a vegetable stand, a convenience store, and a ramen shop or two. But to the Gottersons, the area holds a lot of meaning. These are the streets that they walk daily. These are the only corners of Tokyo that Freya is familiar with. For the Gottersons, this little area will represent Tokyo long after they have moved on from the megalopolis.
For the next forty-five minutes, the four of us popped here and there around Tama, making portraits, eating strawberries, and sharing smiles. In all honesty, it was the perfect family portrait session and it is my hope that Stephanie, Tim, and Freya continue to make wonderful memories in Tama.
Are you searching for a photographer in Tokyo? If so, contact me today to schedule your own family portrait session.
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I imagine a "last anything" brings up a lot of emotion. I think that endings can be weighed on a balancing scale; the best experiences still have cons and the worst experiences have pros. Preparing to leave any place is no different. You start to reflect on all of the great memories you have made and you affirm the reasons for leaving. But, I have never heard of anyone who leaves Tokyo with the scales tipped towards the negative.
For the Palmer family, Tokyo has tremendous significance. It is where Sharla (2) and Ellis (6 months) were born. Tokyo is where the family began to grow as a unit. For that reason alone, I imagine Tokyo will always be a part of the family's identity.
In our initial correspondence, Ceyda specifically mentioned that she wanted our portrait shoot to "encapsulate the beauty of Tokyo." We decided that Chidorigafuchi would be the perfect place for our family photography session. There, near the Imperial Palace, the sakura would still be in bloom and there would be enough room for the kids to be kids.
I met the Palmers as planned right outside of Kundanshita station. It was bright and early in the morning and I was excited to spend a couple of hours with the energetic family, We began our session right away and, in our time together, leisurely strolled, laughed, and made some great portraits.
I remained impressed with Ceyda and Sam as they navigated the park with their young children (and learned a thing or two about how to "interact" with my own two-year-old son). It was obvious that, no matter where the Palmers end up, they have nothing but good things on the horizon.
In the end, I was honored to spend a bit of time with this beautiful family and can only hope that our portrait session will be added to the long list of great memories the Palmer's have of Tokyo.
This year's sakura season has past but I am already booking portrait sessions for the 2019 cherry blossom season in Tokyo, throughout Japan, and beyond. Don't wait until its too late. Book your 2019 sakura family session now!
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Above all, being a professional photographer is about relationships. I am always overjoyed when I have the opportunity to connect with a client and establish a relationship that extends beyond a single photo session. That relationship is what I am after, what I hope to create with each client I serve here in Japan.
For some photographers, a paycheck is good enough. But, for me, I would rather have a handful of clients whom I enjoy spending time with than a million clients who "just want some photos." Why? Well, great images are created when both clients and photographers are comfortable with each other, when there is a level of trust and respect.
I worked with the Schultz family a couple of years ago and was thrilled that they wanted to schedule another family portrait session in downtown Tokyo this year.
Even though I have kept in touch with the Schultz family these past years, I was shocked to see them in person. Joyce and Matt hadn't aged a bit, but the kids had grown so much. But, as much as the kids had grown, their personalities hadn't changed at all. The Schultz children still had as much spunk and energy as they had in 2015.
In the end, our second portrait session together was a nice as the first. I left our session overjoyed that I had the chance to see this beautiful family one more time. I was honored to spend another hour or two chatting with Matt and Joyce and creating more images to remind the Schultz family of their time in Japan. I was grateful to know that the family was, and will continue to be, one of the clients I cherish.
Are you searching for a family photographer in Tokyo? If so, please don't hesitate to reach out to secure your spot on my 2018 session calendar!
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