Have you been thinking of booking a session with me somewhere in the world?
For the benefit of prospective clients, I occasionally write about some of the previous photo sessions I’ve undertaken.
A great deal of my commissioned work is from individuals and couples looking to create lasting memories of a professional standard; something that can’t be replicated with a tripod and self-timer.
By default, my booking rates for this type of work cover digital photography. Medium format film options are available after a more in-depth consultation.
One of my memorable Kyoto sessions was with Cheryl and Ryan, from Singapore. In preparation for their wedding day, they’d come all the way to Japan during the peak cherry blossom season to make the most of Kyoto’s unique spring colours.
The original booking had been for one 8-hour session; the weather had other plans. Thanks to their flexibility, we were able to chop the session into two four-hour sessions spread over two days. Our rainy day was spent under traditional Japanese umbrellas and within temple interiors, making the best of the situation. On the second day, the sun came through in a perfect balance of light and cloud and Cheryl was able to flex two different dresses! Both were very long and very white - not compatible with rain and mud.
I’ve photographed countless couples in the years I’ve spent working as a photographer. In a way that I find almost surprising, I’ve found myself greatly educated by the dynamics and interactions of the people I’ve worked with. Behaviour patterns become apparent, relationship power balances appear and personality types show through.
Without a doubt, the strongest couples are often made up of people who are able to stay calm and gracious in challenging circumstances. Cheryl and Ryan moved through outfit changes, adverse weather and an extremely tight schedule with calmness and ease - they were good to each other and to me, and this effortless positive energy shines through in their images.
One of the biggest challenges I faced as a location-based photographer in Kyoto was managing to bypass the city’s ever growing number of tourists. When I first visited Kyoto in 2009, it was uncommon to see another foreign face in most parts of the city. You could walk through the red gated passage of Fushimi Inari Taisha on a Wednesday afternoon and it would be empty - sadly this is no longer the case. The days of shooting early mornings in Fushimi and Sagano’s bamboo forest are now long-gone, as enthusiastic ‘travel influencers’ are there in their scores, armed with tripods or ‘Insta-boyfriends.’
Fortunately, I’d spent three years working with and for various local and international destination specialists in Kyoto, and knew every location there was to know - from isolated mountain waterfalls to hidden underground temple catacombs (yes, really). This gave me an edge on creating images for all of my clients that were devoid of tourists en masse; the quiet beauty of Kyoto could truly shine through.
Timing is often a vital (read: terrifying) imperative for seasonal dress shooting in Kyoto. Brides-to-be from all over the world will opt for Kyoto as their preferred location for ‘dress shoots’ - photos taken in a full wedding outfit.
I was often surprised at how many dress sessions I’d see around the various cherry blossom spots within Kyoto; so many were intensely focused around Gion and other heavily touristed areas. Some even took their white wedding dresses to the outer areas of Buddhist temples - it’s a strange thing to see, as although Buddhist wedding ceremonies do occasionally happen, the Japanese relation to Buddhism deals more with death, funerals and the generalised ending of things. Shinto shrines are the most common location for weddings in Japan, as Shinto is a religion based around life and vitality - naming ceremonies, coming of age and weddings.
Very few of the photographers shooting these sessions seemed to be willing to think outside the box; another reason that I was able to find locations that were unspoiled and serene. Nobody (photographers especially) wants to have to jostle for position or wait for hours in order to secure a clear background for the perfect shot, or spend hours on needless photoshopping to remove people in neon hiking jackets from scenery shots.
I often look back on sessions like these and find myself smiling with the fondness of these memories. There is no better line of work than documenting a moment of true happiness between two people.
Check back again every month to catch up with other families, couples and solo travelers who commissioned me to capture their best side while traveling through Japan. Are you in need of any good location tips for your trip to Japan? I’ve got three years of country-wide travel industry and photography insider knowledge - and I’m very happy to share it!