glasses

Strangers at F1.8

In Tokyo last year I challenged myself to walk up to random strangers on the street and take their portrait. I had a roll of black and white Ilford, and a plastic 50mm lens. I am inherently shy, so asking people if I can take their portrait is pretty intimidating. With my lens choice, I had to be close, and I also wanted to capture engaged (rather than candid) portraits.

These are a few of my favourite ones. I spent quite a while talking to the man in the glasses, after taking about 15 minutes to work up the courage to approach him. He was dressed very eccentrically in bright colours, and was sort of pacing on the spot in Akihabara. He seemed like a real character, but from the way he was moving I wasn’t sure if he had been drinking for a while or not. But I knew I’d kick myself in the butt if I didn’t at least try to ask him. He ended up being really really lovely, and I talked to him for a good 20 minutes. He told me about how he made his own earrings out of metal and bottle tops. He had a very calm, gentle nature and complimented my terrible Japanese. I’m so glad that I got to speak with him and learn a little about his life.

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This girl is one of the many school kids who approached me at Asakusa shrine to ask “what is your country” and “what is your favourite Japanese food?” If you have ever been to Asakusa shrine, you will know that being bombarded by school kids is to be expected if you are a foreigner. I think that the English teachers all take their classes there, as this happens literally every time I go. In any case, this girl was part of a group of 5 that were asking me the aforementioned deep and philosophical questions. Because the ice was already broken, I took the opportunity to ask her to take a picture.

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I kind of cheated on the last one, it’s my friend’s son. Isn’t he just a nugget! Gorgeous light from the balcony door.

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Finally, a non-portrait. This may look like somewhere in developing Asia, but it is actually a game arcade in Kawasaki that is designed and fitted out to look this way. The design is actually more interesting than the games themselves (in my opinion.) It is meant to look like the slums of Hong Kong, and the attention to detail is amazing! To get in you have to cross a misty aqua body of water, carefully stepping on rocks. The doors also make noises as you go through. It’s called Anata No Warehouse (あなたのウェアハウス). I loved the hanging chickens.

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The Worst Time Of Day To Take A Photo

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Sometimes spontaneity is best. I was talking with one of my best friends (who also happens to be my go-to talented makeup artist and stylist) Jyoti Chandra, and we decided we should do a random test shoot. We had no model, but Jyoti got in touch with a girl that she had worked with before, Jasmine, and we organised a spur of the moment shoot.

Because of everyone’s availabilities at short notice, we ended up planning the shoot for 11am in the middle of summer. Two things that we failed to consider; a) it’s darn hot at 11am, especially when the temperature was set to hit 30. And b) hard summer light isn’t the most flattering when it’s right above your head.

Time to problem solve!

After getting ready in Jyoti’s apartment, I brought the Profoto B2 kit on location with me to try to add some light into the deep shadows that the sun was giving us. Unfortunately, that particular kit isn’t powerful enough to overpower such strong sunlight. So I had to change tact. Instead, I worked with pockets of shade, keeping Jas a little more evenly-lit, and avoiding the horrible shadows that were otherwise forming under her eyes.

The shoot was over in about an hour, as Jas had to go to work. But as she was leaving, she put her glasses on and I knew I had to get a shot of her with them (because they were super cute glasses!) This ended up being my favourite shot of the day, I think because of the colour in the background, and the side light (which was just the apartment door being slightly open; so complicated!) Thanks team for a great shoot!

MODEL: Jasmine Geen
HMUA / STYLIST: Jyoti Chandra

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