I first met my wife Laura at work. We were both first grade teachers at a public school in North Carolina, forced to spend time together in the name of collegiality and collaboration. After a year flirting, we hopped into a relation and the rest is history.
From 2007 until 2018, my wife and I spent nearly every minute of every day in close proximity to one another. We worked together, slept together, ate together, and played together.
Sure, we found time to do our own thing. We had lives without each other. But, if I looked at a graph, I would be willing to wager that more than 75% of the past decade was been spent within shouting distance of each other.
I enjoyed being close to my wife. It was a comfort knowing that she, more often than not, was either by my side or just around the corner. Now, as a professional photographer in Japan taking on a range of assignments, I am often on the road, far from my wife (and son), too far for me to be comfortable about the distance. This is one of the toughest parts of the job. But, at the end of a week-long project or commission, I get to return home to family and pick right back up where we left off.
Similar to the first phases of my relationship, some couples spend nearly every waking hour together. Other couples are forced to make long-distance work, connected only by Facetime, text messages, and their love for one another.
Every relationship is different and as a couples portrait photographer in Tokyo, I am always interested to hear my client's story. I recently heard from Mary who, like so many others, is currently away from the one she loves. While the decision to be afar is what is best for the couple's future, the fact remains that the distance is not an easy burden to bear. Mary wrote:
Hey Andy! I will be in Tokyo for work from August through October. Thankfully, my fiancé will be visiting me during the first two weeks of September. I want to get engagement photos taken in Tokyo while we are both there, something special to commemorate our time together (as we will celebrate our 4 year anniversary this coming November).
This will be my second time in Japan, but John's first so we really need to default to your experience and expertise in regard to location. Neither of us are huge fans of the heat, and I am usually anti-sun. A late afternoon or evening shoot may be the better option, but I will leave that up to you as far as your availability and what is best for light.
I was, of course, pleased to hear from Mary and wanted to create a session that not only showcased the couple's love, but that would also be a bit of a souvenir from Tokyo.
After chatting back and forth with Mary and John, we decided that my two-hour couples offering would compliment their vision of an ideal portrait experience. Two hours would give us enough time to relax and not run through our location choices. It would also provide us the opportunity to create some stunning imagery that the couple could use for a variety of purposes.
I presented two route options to Mary and John. After a bit of deliberation, the couple opted for a long loop around Shinjuku station, the world's most used transportation hub. We would spend an afternoon together shooting in the various locations found around Tokyo's well-known neighborhood.
Our plan was to hit some iconic spots like Omoide Yokocho and Golden Gai. But I also wanted to take the couple of a few locations less traveled by the throngs of tourists smashed tightly in places like Shinjuku or Shibuya.
In the end, I had a blast with Mary and John. They were both so calm, flexible, and easy to work with (my ideal clients). I was thrilled to present them with a collection of images that will hopefully remind them of their special time together in Tokyo and that can add a bit of happiness while the couple is oceans apart.
Are you interested in scheduling a pre-wedding, honeymoon, or vacation photography session? If so, take a look at my couples photography services and then contact me today to begin planning your custom session in Tokyo, throughout Japan, or beyond.
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Earlier this year, I linked up with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to cover their Technology & Innovation Bootcamp, an accelerated-learning program for students to learn and practice leadership principles. This year's Tokyo Bootcamp focused on Technology and Innovation, allowing participants from all over the world to gather in the Japanese capital for an intense week of collaboration in hopes of solving some of the world's toughest problems.
Sponsored by Nikkei, the University of Tokyo, and Sony, the week was filled with intensive ideation sessions paired with a lecture series given by scientists, medical doctors, engineers, and inventors. During the course of the week, I was fortunate enough to attend several lectures by both Sanjay Sarma and Joi Ito, two rockstars of the intellectual world. While looking down the barrel of a lens, I was able to hear the ideals of some of the foremost authorities on IOT (Internet of Things), artificial intelligence, and the forecast for our world (it isn't good folks).
MIT is well-known for innovation and for promoting new ways of thinking. In MIT fashion, I was given the go-ahead to utilize some uncommon event photography techniques, produce a massive amount of black and white imagery, and shoot the week-long event in any way I chose.
MIT’s encouragement was empowering, Moreover, it made me respect MIT for upholding their core values even with their vendors.
When a fellow photographer asked me how my week with MIT went, I responded with a single sentence. I said that the easiest way to feel intellectually inferior is to attend a lecture given by any MIT professor. Sure, I wasn't the brightest crayon in the room, any of the rooms. But after a week spent absorbing the thoughts of some of the world's intellectual authorities, I came out feeling a bit brighter (even if my small intellectual surge was solely due to proximity).
Are you in need of an event photographer in Tokyo for a corporate, private, or government function? If so, reach out today to find out how I can help tell the story of your single or multi-day event.
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One of the things I love most about being a professional photographer is the unknown. I never know what is around the corner, what kind of assignment I will get the opportunity to shoot, or who I will receive an email from. For some photographers, the unknowns are disorienting. For me, the unknown is exciting and is one of the reasons why I chose the profession.
I am eager to open my inbox each day to see if I have received any inquiries. Many days, my inbox is empty. But sometimes I am lucky and wake up to a handful of commercial, editorial, or event photography requests. Since my primary love is portrait photography, I am thrilled when one of those emails is from an individual who wants (or needs) images of themselves.
A recent request came from Beth. She wrote:
Hey, Andy! I am a 19 year old currently living in Tokyo. A few weeks ago I joined a modeling agency here in Japan. I’m getting some opportunities from the agency. But I don’t have a proper portfolio and, without one, it’s been difficult to actually get hired for the jobs. I really like modeling and want to explore it more. I want to build experience and would like to schedule a portfolio building session with you.
I was excited to hear from Beth and was proud of her for pursuing her passions (I support anyone following their dreams). I immediately wrote back with some questions about Beth's ambitions and what she wanted to achieve with modeling. Her answers would provide a framework for our shoot and would help me create a portrait experience tailored specifically for Beth's vision.
After learning a bit more about Beth and how I could best serve her, we moved forward and scheduled a two-hour portfolio building session. With a couple of hours to work with, Beth and I created a skeleton portfolio that she (and her agency) could use to land the aspiring model auditions and, therefore jobs.
I couldn't have asked for a more easy-going or willing client. With little experience modeling, I was surprised how was quickly and fluidly Beth could strike a pose. Beth is a natural and I have no doubt that she will do great things here in Tokyo. I am eager to see her modeling career develop and to flip through the tear sheets she will, undoubtedly, soon have.
Are you searching for a portrait photographer in Japan to help you build the base of a modeling portfolio? If so, I would be delighted to hear from you. Reach out today to learn more about my portrait services or to book a session in Tokyo or beyond.
A couple months ago, I heard from the Yokoyama family. As always, it was a pleasure getting an inquiry from a family coming to Japan for their holiday. Dorothy's inquiry gave me plenty of background information about her family, what they wanted from a family portrait session in Tokyo, and why they specifically reached out to me. She wrote:
Hey Andy! We are interested in scheduling a portrait photography session when we are in Japan visiting family this coming August. We are a family of 5 (ranges 2 to 8 yr olds) from Southern California. I am Taiwanese (born in New Mexico) and my husband was born in California. My husband and I met in college, married, and now have 3 crazy, but fun kids- 2 boys (9 yr and 5 yr) and a girl (2 yr).
My husband’s parents live in Machida. We will be coming to Tokyo to visit them and are so excited about being reunited with the good food and culture of Japan.
What drew us to your style of photography was the way you capture shots at very interesting and creative angles. Last year we had a family photo sessions in an open field at sundown. This year, we would like to do something a bit more fun and hip, modern with street scenes, and backdrops.. Just artsy.
My plan is to have my husband's parents join us for a few pictures at the end of the session as our parting gift to them. Could you tell us if you have availability and also what family photography package options you have?
It is always helpful to receive a first communication stocked with details. With a great introduction like Dorothy's, I am able to gain a sense of a client and can immediately begin to tailor a custom session.
Fast forward to August...
As expected, the Yokoyamas were a blast to work with. The kids were full of energy and, despite the oppressive summer heat, were willing participants during our 90-minute vacation photography session in Kichijoji. In the end, I couldn't have asked for better clients and was honored to spend some time with the Yokoyamas during their Japan vacation.
Are you searching for a photographer in Japan to help capture some special moments on your vacation? If so, I would be delighted to hear from you. Contact me today to learn more about my portrait services and family photography rates.
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As a portrait photographer in Tokyo, I am used to hearing from clients who have never been to Japan. Many of these clients want to book my services for family sessions or pre-wedding photography. But I am also frequently contacted by those who want to capture their proposal in Japan. Earlier this year, I received the following message from Fernando:
Hi Andy! I am planning to propose to my partner on our trip to Tokyo this coming March. This is our first time in Japan. Honestly, I need a lot of help setting the proposal up. Can you please help me? What is the process? Thank you in advance.
I loved the fact that Fernando was blunt about needing my help. I was ready and willing to help him plan a beautiful proposal. After learning a bit more about Fernando and his soon to be fiancé Andrea, I suggested an outline for Fernando's proposal. Fernando trusted me and, with a plan in place, we were ready for a magical evening in one of Tokyo's most romantic locations.
I met Fernando and Andrea right on time outside of Daiba Station, far from the city center. For the next while, we had a wonderful time laughing and making some casual couples portraits. Then, when Fernando was ready, the couples session guise turned into an engagement photography session.
Everything went to plan and yes, Andrea said, "Yes!"
Are you searching for a photographer to help capture your proposal in Tokyo or anywhere else in Japan? If so, I would be happy to help. Reach out today to begin planning your surprise proposal in Japan or beyond.
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Some days are bigger than others. For the Weinland family, a particular Saturday last spring was one of those big days. Caleb, the youngest of the three siblings, was graduating from high school. More, Caleb's siblings surprised their younger brother by returning to Tokyo for his big day. Rick and Sandy, the graduate's parents, were all smiles. To make the party even grander, Caleb's grandparents had also made the massive journey from America to help celebrate.
With the family together, it was only natural that the crew decided on Chofu's Nogawa Park as the location for their family portrait session. Sandy and Rick raised their kids here in this western Tokyo suburb and spent countless hours with their young children running around the giant trees, picnicking on the expansive lawns, and splashing in the creeks that outline the park.
I was happy to help the Weiland family document their big day in Tokyo and wish them all the best of luck.
Are you searching for a family photographer in Japan? If so, learn more about my family photography services and then contact me today to book your portrait session in Tokyo, throughout Japan, or beyond.
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Natalie contacted me more than a year in advance to ensure that she would be able to have the pre-wedding portrait session of her dreams. With plenty of lead time, Natalie hoped to have her engagement session at some of her favorite spots in Tokyo during the annual sakura season. She wrote:
"Hi Andy! Natalie and Eugene here. We're not Tokyo locals but we met as exchange students in Japan. The locations we have in mind carry some significance to us: Toyama Park (near Waseda University) and Senzokuike Park. If there are any places you suggest we're open to those as well! Ideally we'd like a more casual vibe (so no wedding dress). Hopefully we can catch some of the sakura while we're there."
I was impressed that Natalie and Eugene were keen enough to reach out with such advance notice. I also adored the idea that Natalie and Eugene had met and fell in love in Tokyo. I jumped at the chance to work with the couple in their old stomping grounds and planned an afternoon engagement session that could serve as a reminder of their time in Japan together.
Are you searching for a creative portrait photographer to help share your story? If so, I would be honored to be your photographer in Tokyo, throughout Japan, or beyond. Reach out today to begin discussing your pre-wedding, honeymoon, or vacation portrait package.
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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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