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Happy New Year everyone!

In keeping with my tradition of shooting a new year’s card with my team (see last one here) – I’ve gone and shot something in keeping with this year’s theme according to the Chinese zodiac – the year of the horse!

Once again, I featured my team in a movie poster, this time with a WWII theme (only because the costumes were the only ones within my budget) and I decided to up the ante a little by including a live animal in the shoot this time. So we all jumped into a car and drove down to a farm in Chiba where I had booked a horse for the shoot. Given that I’m no horse-whisperer there were quite a few risks involved in going forward with this idea – firstly, the fact that it was my first time working with such a large live animal on set with some super expensive gear gave me the f/64 pucker factor, not to mention the fact that it was my first time riding a horse, ever, made me more than a little nervous. Horses are known to be skittish around flashes, but luckily for me the handler there did an amazing job of keeping Merry (the horse’s name) under control and relatively calm. Still, we only managed to get around 8 shots of me atop the horse before she decided she’d had enough and started getting restless.

We also had Profoto and Hasselblad lend me some pretty amazing gear for the shoot;  we got the new B1 battery-powered monoblocs, which were really, really handy in the middle of nowhere with no plugs in sight. From Hasselblad we had the pleasure of using an H5D-40, which has made it very difficult to go back to shooting with my Nikon (although yes, I realize that there are practical differences between the cameras that make it difficult to justify selling all my gear for one)

Anyway, I’ve had a lot of support and help in the past year from all sorts of different and unexpected avenues – I’ve certainly realized that being a freelancer these days is more than ever about connecting with people and finding opportunities to work together. I definitely couldn’t have come this far without all of the people that have for some reason or the other have stuck by me or otherwise put their faith in me. So, thank you very much, and I hope we can all achieve even greater heights in the year of the horse!

Below is the actual poster and there is an intro to each person as you scroll down. Skip to the bottom for a BTS video!

Tokyo Photographer Irwin Wong

Tokyo Photographer Irwin Wong - Year of the Horse (2)

Irwin: Yes, this is me, me use camera, take photo, scratch head, push button, make hooting noise. Nothing special here.

Tokyo Photographer Irwin Wong - Year of the Horse (3)

Asuka: [Borat voice]She is my wife! [/Borat voice]. What can I say, except that I’d be a complete mess without her! She puts up with my terrible ideas and bouts of self-loathing that I occasionally go through as a photographer. Anyway she keeps me going and is an endless source of support, and she’s amazing!

Tokyo Photographer Irwin Wong - Year of the Horse (6)

Michio: Michio helps me with a lot of different things – a capable assistant and photographer, his main skill is retouching. In fact, most of the retouching on the poster and these headshots is by him! I’ll be working with him a lot more in the coming year, hopefully on some even bigger projects.

Tokyo Photographer Irwin Wong - Year of the Horse (1)

Keiichi: Keiichi does everything video related for me – he’s a hardworking honest dude who always seems to be cleaning his room. I wonder if that’s a euphemism for something?  Anyway, he shot 99% of the behind the scenes video at the bottom of this post.

Tokyo Photographer Irwin Wong - Year of the Horse (5)

Maiko: Maiko is my hair and makeup specialist. I work with Maiko all the time – she’s reliable, talented and easygoing, not to mention almost always has a solution for almost any of my random ideas or requests. She is almost always the first person I call if some special makeup is needed on a photoshoot, such as this one.

Tokyo Photographer Irwin Wong - Year of the Horse (4)

Will: My frequent collaborator and raconteur, Will is one of the most dependable guys I know, always down to help me out on whatever stupid idea or project I’ve cooked up – such as this one. We’ve got a few things in the works that might take a while to gestate, but looking forward to moving on with those projects this year!

Anyway, that’s it! Looking forward to working with these guys this coming year, other than that, I just want to thank the people who have helped me grow myself as a photographer over the past year – I’m looking forward to more good times, cool projects and meeting new faces this year. Check out the behind the scenes video below, and more importantly, have a happy new year!

More to come soon!

Year of the Horse – Behind the Scenes from Irwin Wong | Photographer on Vimeo.


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