All posts filed under: Photojournalism

Tokyo Bars – Bar Ben Fiddich in Shinjuku

Tokyo is a great place to be a photographer. In a city this big you’re going to find a lot of world class institutions, and one such institution that Tokyo is not lacking in is cocktail bars. In this post, budget airline carrier Jetstar commissioned me to photograph one certain Bar Ben Fiddich for their in-flight magazine、and let me tell you, photographing bars are some of the shoots that I most look forward to. Mainly because you get to drink the subject matter afterwards! Bar Ben Fiddich is located in Shinjuku, and would have been impossible to find if I hadn’t been told about it. The feel when you walk in is similar to that of an apothecary or the potions room in Harry Potter – the shelves behind the bar are lined with big glass jars filled with all manner of exotic spices and seasonings. The owner Kayama-san is actually a big absinthe fan, and studied in Switzerland in order to learn how to make it himself. I tasted a little of his home-brewed absinthe …

Irwin Wong - Tokyo Plastic Food (13)

Maizuru Plastic Food Company – Tokyo

Hello all! I’m back with another blog post detailing some my (paid and unpaid) photographic adventures in Japan. As a professional photographer in Tokyo I often get to visit some of the more wacky and interesting places on this side of Asia and this time was no exception. Today we have a bit of documentary and editorial photography of one of Tokyo’s most famous plastic food sample makers, Maizuru Plastic Food Company. Earlier this year Australian-based magazine Smith Journal contacted me to go photograph them for one of their features and I was all to happy to go. A bit of introduction to what the folks at Maizuru do – they hand make all of the plastic food samples that you’ll often see in the windows of Tokyo restaurants or cafes. That’s right – everything is hand made, right down to the molds and as such at the end of the day not a single food sample is identical, kind of just like actual food. Walking through the factory is a little surreal at times because there …

Tokyo Photographer Irwin Wong - Nissan Design Center (34)

Car Stuff: Nissan Design Center in Atsugi, Japan

Back in the day, when I was a young whippersnapper in Australia, my friends and I used to have dreams of owning a sweet import Japanese sports car so we could go drifting in the Dandenongs and pretend we were in some mountain drift racing group. We were fucking stupid, now that I think about it. Years later the impulse towards suicidal driving is gone but the love of Japanese cars still remains. Cars like the Toyota Supra or MR-2, Mazda RX-7, Honda S2000 or NSX, Mitsubishi Evo, Subaru WRX, all such automobiles as to set the pulse racing with thoughts of irresponsible speeding and reckless endangerment of other motorists on the rubber-streaked roads of Melbourne, Victoria. High amongst them all though, were the offerings from Nissan: the turbocharged Silvia and the 180SX, the svelte Fairlady Z or best of all, the mighty Godzilla itself, the venerable GTR Skyline. The mere thought of owning such street machines was enough to bring a hotheaded youth to full tumescence. To us, Nissan was the company that made cool, fun, daring …

Kimono - Tokyo Photographer Irwin Wong (34)

A Kimono Dyeing Factory in Tokyo

It’s a new year but I’m continuing my series from last year, which is to show you a bunch of cool kimono-related things I shot for this book a few years ago. In the last blog post I focused on a really exclusive and high end kimono dyeing atelier run by a single guy. Here is a different kind of kimono dyeing factory that is a little bit on the other end of the spectrum, but no less cool. The first thing you see when you arrive at this place is this enormous rack for hanging and drying these really, really long bolts of kimono fabric that have just been dyed. It’s really impressive and there are plenty walking about on top of it hanging bits of fabrics or taking them in for folding. More photos of this thing later. By the way I used to have the Nikon system until I sold it and bought into the mirrorless camera revolution – I don’t miss anything about Nikon all that much except for the spectacular Nikkor …

Tokyo Photographer Irwin Wong (33)

Hirose Atelier – A traditional kimono dyeing workshop in Tokyo

I know I’ve been harping on about it endlessly but when you’re a photographer in a country such as Japan that is so rich traditional culture and arts, you’re going to have some easy days on the job. Case in point, that time when I visited Hirose Atelier to take photos for an awesome book called Kimono Now. This place uses traditional Edo Komon stencilling techniques to print extremely intricate and detailed patterns or illustrations onto kimono fabric. Hirose-san, the owner, is a young star in the kimono world and one of the few remaining masters of this craft. It was absolutely fascinating visiting his workshop and seeing the painstaking process of dyeing and patterning swathes of fabric that will eventually be made into kimono. Here are some outtakes from the book, hope you enjoy them! Hirose-san lays out a bolt of fabric on one of his long tables in preparation for dyeing. This is the interior of the workshop. The boards in the ceiling are long tables to lay the fabric out on. The lighting was super even …

A Book! Kimono Now by Manami Okazaki

Here’s a philosophical question: if a tree falls in the forest but no one’s around to hear it, does it still make a sound? Answer: Yes of course it fucking does. Just like if you write a post for your blog and nobody’s around to read it, doesn’t mean it somehow doesn’t exist. It’s there all right; it’s just unpopular. I’m kind of on a blogging roll at the moment, which is to say that I’ve made at least 1 post per month so far, which for me is a fairly regular basis. This at least means that the amount of blog posts I’ve made this year has surpassed the amount of people who actually read this blog (I’d say hi to my mum at this point but I’m certain even she doesn’t stop by here). Anyway, I know this sort of talk this doesn’t really befit an aspirant to the title of BEST FOTO BLOG EVARR but hey, things are things, and sometimes it’s alright to talk about things. Here’s another question: if you shoot a photo and nobody …

Printing Dat Portfolio

I’d like to introduce my portfolio – I’m super proud of it and yet it’s still nowhere near where I’d like to be, but it’s exciting to have it up regardless. At the risk of repeating every other photographer on the Internet, print portfolios are super important and here’s why: 1. It shows that your work looks good on paper (that is, if your work looks good to begin with) 2. It makes you feel good to have one. 3. You don’t look like a doofus walking into a meeting with nothing but an iPad, or worse, a laptop. I bet some of you bristled when I mentioned that last point right? Don’t delude yourself into thinking an iPad is a worthy substitute for a book. YOU NEED A BOOK. The very fact that the word ‘substitute’ is part of the equation means that you’re compromising, and you should never compromise when it comes to showing your work off to people who you want to get money from. And let’s face it, if you’re putting your effort into …

Career milestones as a photographer

So, recently I felt like I had hit some kind of milestone in my photography career, so I’m going to talk about that a little bit. It wasn’t my first one, and I’m really hoping that it won’t be my last one, but somehow this one was important to me. Late last year Japanese magazine and newsstand fixture AERA let me shoot one of their longest running regular articles called ‘Gendai no Shouzou’ (現代の肖像 translated: Portrait of the Times) – which basically is an in-depth profile on someone prominent in Japan at that moment. Usually it takes a few months to shoot and write the story, which means hanging out with the subject a lot and finding a good way to shoot some kind of iconic portrait. I’ve shot regularly for AERA for a while now, but this was kind of the first time I really felt I’d had real trust invested in me. Like I’d made it to the next level in a video game suddenly. The milestone for me was not being able …

Nintendo’s Miyamoto Shigeru – It’s on like Donkey Kong (Literally)

In the lead up to the release of the Wii U console recently, I photographed Nintendo’s creative brain and main game designer, Miyamoto Shigeru. This man is credited with creating some of video gaming’s most famous franchises, including Mario, Donkey Kong and Zelda, to name a few; he is an elder-statesman, a legend of the nerd world and being a massive nerd myself, I was literally over the moon at the prospect of meeting him and photographing him (I think Zelda: A Link To The Past for the SNES is one of the greatest video games ever made). Better still, the photoshoot would be at Nintendo Headquarters in Kyoto, so I would get a bit of travel in to boot. In addition to all of that, we got to play the at-the-time unreleased new console, the Wii-U, with Miyamoto-san giving us the lowdown on all of the new features and specs while trying to knock us into bottomless pits. All in all, one of those awesome jobs that makes me glad I’m a photographer. I …

GAIJIN – Scott T. Hards: CEO, HobbyLink Japan

Here’s another notable gaijin: meet Scott T. Hards, the founder and CEO of HobbyLink Japan, the country’s biggest exporter of Japanese hobby-related goods. Back when I was a young nerdy lad living in Australia, I really wish there had been a site like this where I could get my hands on the latest Gundam model kits (not that I could afford it). As it was, back in the 1990s Japanese anime-related goods were extremely hard to come by and where available they were at extremely inflated prices. Scott originally came to Japan as a banker, and like many of us, just ended up staying. He eventually went into the business of exporting, starting out in a small apartment in Tokyo, and over the years his business has grown to the point where it operates out of a gigantic UFO-shaped warehouse in Sano, Tochigi, and employs several dozen people, both local and international. HobbyLink Japan exports to all countries, satisfying the otaku needs of nerds everywhere around the globe. How I shot this photo: This is …