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Japanese Artisans: Koinobori in Gujo Hachiman

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 Carp Streamers of Gujo Hachiman from Irwin Wong | Photographer on Vimeo. Carp Swimming up a Winter Stream As I write this I am sitting in a trendy cafe in Gujo Hachiman watching the snow pile down outside in swirling flurries. My hands and toes have been frozen two days of standing in a river taking photos …

Tokyo Portraits: Kasumi

–NSFW WARNING!– The good thing about being a busy photographer is that you’re busy, which should never be taken for granted. The bad thing about being a busy photographer is that you have less time to shoot fun things, just for the sake of it. With that said, here’s a shoot I did with a great model Kasumi that had no relation to any ongoing project that I have in the works, but was just something I wanted to try out for fun. The substance on her mouth is melted wax, by the way. Incidentally, the lens used on this shoot was the Zeiss Batis 2.8/135, which is the newest addition to the Batis family for Sony E mount. I wrote a few notes on it here for anyone interested! Just to be clear, this post is 10/10 not safe for work, so proceed at your own risk!      

Tokyo Portraits: Book and Bed Tokyo

Here’s a quick post about some photos I shot in Tokyo for Dragonair’s inflight magazine near the start of the year. The shoot was featuring a new type of hostel in Tokyo (and Kyoto) called Book and Bed, and as you can see, it’s pretty much as advertised. Think of it as a capsule hotel but more homey and there are cool books, and a bit of a hipster vibe. Here are three selects I made for them – it was a pretty small hostel, but if you’re looking for somewhere comfortable, trendy and cheap, Book and Bed Tokyo is located in Ikebukuro! Go check it out!

Tokyo Portraits: Ochiai Yoichi for Nature Index Mag

I photographed this portrait of Ochiai Yoichi in Tokyo in February, 2017 for the cover of Nature Index mag. For the brief, I was told that Ochiai, who is phD  is considered a ‘wizard’ at manipulating matter using computer-controlled invisible forces, such as waveforms or phase arrays. I’m not really sure what all that means, but it sounds impressive, and the editorial team wanted to keep the wizard/magic theme going in the images. Short of a pointy hat and a grey beard, I came up with a concept that Ochiai could have lights on his fingertips, which would give him the ability to lightpaint and ‘manipulate’ the matter around him at will. Also, the lights would look kind of like the wands from Harry Potter- wizards! Short of an actual, LED glove, I decided to make one myself. Using a bunch of cheap parts that I bought from Akiba (below), I constructed a really rudimentary but functional LED ‘finger light’ accessory, that I would tape to Ochiai’s arm, if he was ok with it. Luckily, …

Japanese Artisans – The Magic Mirror Craftsman

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 Magic Mirror Artisan from Irwin Wong | Photographer on Vimeo. There are a myriad reasons why I visit Kyoto. For those tossing up whether to book tickets, just do it – it’s a no-brainer. The city is comprised of so many elements that make it endlessly enchanting; crystal clear canals crisscrossed with stone bridges, ancient paved …

CEO Portraits: Masaaki Kanai of MUJI

Quick post today guys; this one is a portrait of MUJI CEO Masaaki Kanai that I photographed back in 2014. Japan is known as an exporter of many things but Nordic-style furniture is not one of them. That’s where furniture and lifestyle juggernaut MUJI come in – their empire of natural fibers and wood grains has expanded across the globe in an explosive fashion over the last few years. I met Mr. Kanai at the MUJI headquarters in Japan for about twenty minutes and was able to make a variety of portraits before my time was up. On a side note this is the photo shoot that made me decide to give Nikon the boot once and for all – I used my Nikon D4 (quite a high end camera I’d say) and the number of back focused and otherwise unusable shots due to under-performing auto focus made me so fed up that I sold the whole system and bought a into the mirrorless system instead. But that’s a story for another day!

Portraits from the archives: Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Given that I’m somewhat nominally in the creative business, I occasionally find myself indulging in the delusion that I am some kind of flighty auteur type whose sensitive needs and fancies are incomprehensible to the common man, and that the everyday grind of administrative tasks such as emailing and dressing presentably are beneath me. This I use as an excuse for when I eat an entire bag of Funyuns in one sitting while marathoning the extended Lord of the Rings Directors Cut in my underwear. It also helps stave off the guilt when I spend a whole day hungover playing video games. Hey, I’m a sensitive artiste you know, I need all of this special time to get inspiration for my work, and by special time I mean rewatching season 6 of Seinfeld for the eleventh time. Human experience is all relative though and in my line of work I’m fortunate enough to meet lots of people who manage being both creatives as well as fully functioning adults at the same time. One such example is the Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethekul …

Recent Portraits: Yoshiyuki Sankai of Cyberdyne Inc.

I think I was about 8 when I watched James Cameron’s fantastic documentary Terminator 2: Judgment Day for the first time, and by golly that film scared the bejeezus out of me. Something about that scene where Linda Hamilton gets nuked, has her skin burned off and is turned into a skeleton in her nightmare really caused me to crap my pants. Also, the bit where the T-1000 stabs that carton of milk was particularly upsetting to me, for some reason. But the scene that really lodged itself into 8 year old self’s head was the death scene of token black character Miles Dyson, Cyberdyne employee and inventor of the microchip technology that would eventually lead to the self-aware computer called Skynet and all the nuclear shenanigans that entailed. In this scene Dyson, in keeping with the fine tradition of all token black characters in cinema history, has been shot and left for dead by all the white characters who have vacated the area quicker than a train carriage emptying out after a particularly bad fart. Poor Dyson, wounded and unable to …

Portraits from the Archives: Horicho

Now then, welcome to instalment number 2 of semi-regular blog posts from yours truly destined to stop within two weeks. This is the part where I realize that I really have nothing to add to the dialogue so I’m just going to pour out an unedited stream of consciousness, mould it vaguely into some kind of motivational diatribe and occasionally throw in not-so-subtle epithets like GEAR BAD PHOTOGRAPHER EYE BRAIN THINKY GOOD. Having read a fair share of photoblogrographer’s blogs in my time this really seems like the way to go in order to achieve fame and the everlasting adoration of all the Internets and that is certainly something that I want because I have a warehouse full of cleverly designed camera-themed print t-shirts that I really need to sell. So anyway given that I’ve run out of things in my navel to gaze at, I’ll just get straight to the pictures today. Portraits being my main thing, I generally try to get around town photographing the most interesting people I can get my camera lens trained onto. I treat it …

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 …