Late in 2020, the Vriend family inquired about a family portrait session. Like most of my portraiture clients who live in Japan, the Vriends wanted to capture a slice of their actual life, away from the clichés that are easily attached to the Japanese capital. They wanted to be photographed in "their Tokyo."
The Vriends don't live downtown in Minato where the Tokyo Tower stands tall. Nor do they live in Shinjuku City where the bustle and buzz are the defining characteristics. The Vriend's live, as most Tokyoites do, in a suburban enclave where the streets are narrow and the shops are more likely closed than open.
The Vriend's call Chofu home. This area in western Tokyo is known for large green spaces, a tiny airport, and easy family living. The neighborhoods of Chofu, like other suburban clusters, are authentic. They are void of neon glare, throbbing J-Pop, and massive pedestrian crossings. There is a calming current here. Over the years, I have come to appreciate this typical suburb more and more and could understand why the Vriends wanted Chofu to be their portrait session location.
Our goal, of course, was to capture a glimpse into the Vriend's quiet life in the suburbs, to photograph the family in the spots they frequent. In their own words, the Vriend's hoped that the session would produce images that, years from now, would transport them back to the places they grew together as a family in a Tokyo that only locals could recognize.
With neighborhood streets, mom-and-pop store façades, expansive parks, and Shin-Koganei station nearby, our two-hour family portrait session flew by.
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