All posts filed under: Models

Tokyo Portraits: Accidental Icon (Lyn Slater)

A couple of months ago my amazingly talented friend and Tokyo-based kimono stylist Anji Salz messaged me excitedly and told me one of her fashion idols had agreed to do a collaboration with her. This fashion idol was one Accidental Icon aka Lyn Slater, professor at Fordham University who had – yes – accidentally become an extremely popular Instagram icon. One look at her feed was enough to convince me that I wanted to photograph her, and so it was that we all gathered on a freezing early February morning near Harajuku’s famous fashionista street, Takeshita Street to take some photos before the crowds rolled in. Ms. Slater herself was warm and cooperative, bearing with my constant changes in settings and posing with the patience of a saint – and that’s saying something considering how cold it was on that day. We wrapped up just as the rain came in and retreated into a cafe for some well deserved hot coffee. The haori jacket and demon mask obi (belt) are antiques provided by the very …

Japanese Masters: The Last Maiko in Gifu

Although I am primarily a photographer based in Tokyo, you’ll often find me traveling to random cities and towns to find artisans and craftsmen to photograph as part of my ongoing personal project to document as many as possible. Since the beginning of 2017, Zeiss has partnered with me to produce a series of videos, photos and text for their newly updated Lenspire blog. Now with this year coming to a close, I’ve decided to post the start of the series on my blog to show you folks where it all started. Please visit the original piece here where there are many more links to nearly a whole year’s worth of master artisans. Anyway, here’s the article below, enjoy! The Last Maiko in Gifu from Irwin Wong | Photographer on Vimeo. It’s twilight in Gifu, and the lights of the city sparkle prettily on the Nagara River. My assistant Will and I are standing on the bridge closest to where the boats dock, and as we watch, several pleasure boats peel lazily away from the harbor and …

Tokyo Photographer Irwin Wong - Kimono Now (11)

Kimono Designer Jotaro Saito + Tokyo Fashion Icon Kumamiki

  Sometimes you really have to work for your shots, and sometimes all you need to do is show up. When you have a top class kimono designer providing attire, an entire Japanese restaurant booked out for your location and a beautiful  model organized for the entire day then I can definitively enter that into the ‘glad to be a photographer’ variety of days that I’m on the job. As I mentioned in my previous blog post I was fortunate enough to work with Manami Okazaki on her most recent book ‘Kimono Now‘, which is in stores currently. There were plenty of photos taken and a lot of the shots weren’t used so I thought I’d post some of the off-cuts here on my blog. Ah the memories. I was still using a Nikon D4 back in those days 🙂 Jotaro Saito’s website is here for anyone curious, and he has a pretty cool showroom in Roppongi Hills for those who need kimonos on the cutting edge of fashion.  This is the man himself: Next up …

NOT a list of 10 things I’ve learnt from shooting 4×5

*Warning: sanctimonious rant ahead* I don’t know what the heck is the deal with people on the Internet these days, but there seems to be an overabundance of ‘wisdom lists’ propagating amongst photography blogs in particular. ’10 things I’ve learnt from street photography’, ‘9 things I’ve learnt from developing film’, ’26 life lessons I’ve learnt from greasing my shutter button’ etc. ad infinitum ad nauseam. People like this kind of thing I guess. Numbers, metrics, concrete results – if you’re shooting photos and spending the nest egg on gear and workshops then I guess being able to quantify your progress into discrete bullet points makes the whole game of photography a little more palatable for the average weekend warrior/aspiring photographer. Also, I hear the list thing is good for search engines, so if increasing that statistic is your focus as a photographer, good luck to you. So, lists. I dislike them for no rational reason and thusly have taken my first good step into crotchety old man territory. Frankly though, if we’re talking about things …

Bad Girls

Don’t be trying to sweet-talk these two – all they are interested in is stolen champagne, suitcases full of money and fast living. You’ll never pin them down, you’ll never catch them napping; try to move in on them and all you’ll find in their wake is the dust settling, blood-stained bills littering the ground and quite a few broken hearts. They are…Cashed-up and Dangerous. Such was the theme of a little photo shoot that I did way back earlier this year. This is another photoshoot in my loose series exploring common motifs in cinema. The other ones I’ve done are here and here. We all had a blast shooting it, tell if you think I managed to make it work!    

Noh Masks

I can’t remember whether I posted these before, but I found these photos kind of hibernating on my hard drive, and thought I might put them up for the world to see. A year or so ago I did a shoot with friend and model Yamaguchi Akiko based on the theme of the Japanese art of Noh. Noh is a very restrained form of theater; it’s extremely strict and very centered on tradition, with next to no room for introducing modern theater elements. Watching it, one would be forgiven for thinking that nothing much was happening – it does indeed appear to move at glacial speed.  An entire play can pass with you being mystified as to what happened, so it’s definitely seen as a kind of entertainment primarily enjoyed by the elderly population. Anyway, one major element of Noh theater is the masks that the main actors use to portray the character they’re playing. The crafting of these masks is an art and each one is skillfully designed to change expression with each subtle …

Motorhead + Carhartt

In my last post I mentioned that I was doing some photos for a Japanese car magazine called Motorhead – these guys are definitely doing some of the most creative and interesting stuff in the Japanese auto-mag world. Here’s hoping I have a chance to travel for one of their features soon. I’d like Finland please. Anyway! The magazine and a certain apparel label called Carhartt were doing a special giveaway of specially-designed jackets bearing the Motorhead logo. Pretty expensive stuff, as the jackets themselves weren’t cheap, so I don’t want to imagine how much the custom logo was. No chance of me picking up a freebie this time, so I’ll have to be content looking at the promo images I shot for the magazine.  The model you see there is Andre, a good friend of mine – he’ll be appearing in other posts in the near future, I wager :D.  The car is a beastly V8 Range Rover, which was a joy to ride around in the whole day as spacious cars in Tokyo …

Vitantonio Luizzi

Just a short while ago I had the privilege of photographing Vitantonio Luizzi, who’s an Formula 1 driver with the team Force India.  What was different and a little bit special about this particular shoot is that Luizzi personally modeled for us his own brand of clothing, at a Japanese racetrack, on a race day. Not his own race day of course; I think it was Formula 3 or something whizzing around the course while we were shooting in an actual pit with the crew working around us. Kind of daunting of course, because I’m pretty sure I don’t have the kind of insurance that covers me if one of my lightstands crashing down on one of those cars (I should probably check that actually). As for even getting permission to shoot in a live pit, well, it certainly helps to have a well known Formula 1 driver to open doors for you, especially if everyone is asking for his autograph. Not being a fan of F1, or any racing in particular, it kind of …

He loves the lamentations of the auditors

My latest movie poster parody featuring random salary men from Tokyo!  For the other ones in the series (and even a making-of video!) check here and here. As you can see this poster is based on the 1982 movie Conan the Barbarian, which to me is an immensely enjoyable film, and I’m happy to be able to spoof it in this way. Scroll down for a very brief overview of how it was lit and put together. So, here’s the original shot I had to work with – as you can see due to my lack of a studio I was forced to shoot it in a nearby park. Here’s the breakdown of the lighting: Light A and B were both Profoto  1D Airs, with no modifiers. Since they already come with that nice frosted glass covering over the flash tube they give off a nice quality of light even without the extra diffusion. On the left side of light B I had taped a small gobo just to control the spread of light enough …

Some light experimentation

So I’ve just finished up one of the busiest periods this year (not bad considering the country is crippled by nuclear/humanitarian/political crises), and am going through a short period of downtime which I’m using to get on with my personal projects.  Some of them are still in production but I’m looking forward to posting them as soon as I’m done, as well as the results of the editorial work that I’ve been doing. In the meantime however, who doesn’t like hot models and a bit of location lighting? Meet Takako Hotta, actress, model and dentist (yep), who was kind enough to accompany me to try out a few things with light that I was curious about.  Namely, using droplets of water to refract light in interesting ways. I figure, as a photographer the more ways I have to work with light, the better for me in this business. Also I was kind of trying to emulate the effect of this Japanese advert that recently caught my eye in the subways.  I liked the use of …