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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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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