All posts tagged: photography classes in Japan

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, …

Playstation VR Portraits

With Tokyo Game Show coming up this weekend I’d like to introduce some portraits I shot for the wonderful folks at Polygon, one of the world’s top websites dedicated to video game journalism. The article that these photos accompanied was about the long road of development of Playstation VR – the virtual reality headset for – you guessed it – the Playstation soon to be released around the world. The article itself is very in-depth and definitely worth a read; you can check it out on the Polygon website here: http://www.polygon.com/2016/3/9/11174194/the-making-of-playstation-vr. For my part – I was glad to meet Shuhei Yoshida, president of Sony Interactive Entertainment (that’s basically responsible for making the Playstations that I have frittered away so many hours of my life on), and although we were required to shoot all of the photos in the Sony Interactive Entertainment offices, I think I managed to get something interesting out of each portrait I made. Here’s Shuhei Yoshida with the headset. And of course we had to photograph him with it on. For those wondering, …

Japanese Celebrities – Dave Specter

Not-so-recently I had the pleasure of photographing Dave Specter -one of the rare but rising number of foreign タレント (or ‘talent’) in Japan. Dave however is a little bit different from all the others – when he got started in the entertainment business 30 years ago he was the only foreigner on Japanese TV on a regular basis. The Japanese ‘talent’ industry is a peculiar one of hierarchies and strict observances of rankings of seniority, and for a non-Japanese to break into that world several decades ago was probably extraordinary. Of course, Dave’s Japanese is impeccable – beyond the level even of the average Japanese person – but Dave puts it down to ‘being in the right place at the right time’. Back in the 1980s there were few foreigners in Japan and even fewer actively working in the media with fluent Japanese. Dave Specter quickly became the go-to guy for non-domestic related news and has been around ever since. So not only is he the elder statesman for all foreign talent all TV today (after all, …

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 …

GAIJIN – Brett Bull AKA Tokyo Reporter

Welcome to my new personal project under the working title ‘GAIJIN’ (外人), which is a word that means ‘foreigner’ in Japanese. Directly translated from the Chinese characters, it means ‘person from outside’, which is the general blanket term anyone here uses to describe a person – white, black, hispanic or asian – not native to Japan.  Gaijin aren’t especially new to this country, nor are they particularly rare in this day and age, especially in Tokyo. They are tolerated, treated respectfully and fairly on the whole, and every now and then are recognised for examples of greatness. To their credit, most gaijin here behave themselves and have given Japanese people no overt reason to fear or hate them. They are however, still treading the fine line between acceptance and being fully embraced as part of the community. Granted, this takes time, as in most communities around the globe, but Japan more than most has been slower to embrace the potential for raw ideas and energy that foreign hearts and hands can bring into a country. …

Shooting portraits of Japan rock legend, Yazawa Eikichi

Several months ago I had the rare and unexpected privilege of photographing one of Japan’s most recognisable icons – certainly its most famous musician, Yazawa Eikichi. Just to give you non-Japanese guys an idea, he’s a bit like Bruce Springsteen  in that he’s been around for decades, is old-school yet constantly active and has a major (seriously, major) following both young and old. Certainly someone that you don’t get access to all the time. So anyway the brief for this particular shoot was to get three different shots in an HMV record store, one for a double spread with room for text, one for the cover and a headshot for inside. I guess I don’t really need to mention that the allotted time for a celebrity of this guy’s stature that the allotted time was 10 minutes. This kind of thing is par for the course on shoots like this, so it’s really up to you to figure out how best to allocate your time so everything runs smoothly. First things first in this process, …

Yoyogi Boxing Gym

Here’s another batch of photos shot at a recent workshop I held in Yoyogi, Tokyo.  The great thing about teaching photography in Tokyo is that you are always surprised at who will become willing subjects for your students – this time it was  student Rob Piazza who introduced this boxing gym to us, so we were very lucky to have two obliging and aspiring boxers to pose for us. We used Nikon speedlights (a combination of SB-800s and SB-900s) to illuminate our subjects with Honl snoots and the Orbis ringflash for the second and third photo.  Great fun was had by all – especially the boxers, who were very much getting into the spirit of things, as you can see from the last photo! Lighting workshops run every weekend – this week:  Lighting 101 for those who need a primer on flash to begin feeling confident about it.  Email irwin@irwinwong.com if you feel like checking it out. Thanks to everyone who keeps coming out to these workshops – it’s always great to be in a …

The Importance of Having Watt-Seconds

One of my biggest concerns with my speedlighting kit is whether I’ll have enough flash power to make a dent in broad daylight. Of course, using large lights is always an option but not always feasible unless you have a gimp to carry around several battery packs and heads. So when someone suggested we do a couple of shots into the high 2pm afternoon sun, I looked at my two speedlights and knew it wasn’t going to work.  Of course, I didn’t figure on the small armada of Nikon speedlights the students had brought with them, which in total added up to 6 or 7, I can’t remember. What followed was a small debacle that ended up with a forest of tripods and lightstands divided into two groups. The strobes were ganged up to overpower the bright midday sun and it was enough to beat down the daylight enough to get a dramatic mood going. This really demonstrates the importance of having enough flash power, as a shot like this wouldn’t have been possible with …

Marissa @ abandoned train yard

Some shots from the weekend. Sorry for the late update guys, but things have been getting busier. This is Marissa – and as is fairly evident she does a great job modeling. The location was the industrial complex at Ougimachi, where there was an excellent section of unused train track for shooting. At least, we were hoping it was unused – no one ended up under a train so that was a good thing.        

Teva and Gen – Workshop

Big thanks to all who attended the session on Sunday!  As is always the case it’s the models and the students who provide the most creative energy, with me just sitting around in the background fiddling with lights.  Occasionally I do get to take the odd shot though, and here’s a couple from the workshop. Here’s a shot of first-time model Teva – you wouldn’t believe it was her first time in front of a camera, would you? Very difficult to concentrate looking through a lens when you’ve got that innocent yet strangely perilous gaze staring back down at you. Next is Gen, who is a dancer, and had a physique that would definitely bring more ladies to these shoots. I only managed to get shots of him with his shirt on though – sorry ladies.