Recent Work: Street Photography for Trip Advisor

Last year I had the opportunity to do some street photography around Tokyo as part of Trip Advisor’s global rebranding campaign. The brief involved capturing cities from the point of view of travelers, which meant capturing real scenes of real travelers - not staged! - all around Tokyo’s major tourist spots. Technically it was not a difficult shoot, because it was purely street photography, a genre which I am actually quite good at! The challenge lay in getting permission from my street photography subjects to be used in the campaign. Thankfully, I had the very good luck to have Catherine from the creative agency Hyperion with me, who was amazing at getting release forms signed by people who had (sometimes unwittingly) been photographed by me. We practically spent two days gallivanting around Tokyo, hitting the usual spots; Asakusa, Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ueno and so on. We also joined a Trip Advisor-hosted bar crawl through Kabukicho, which was very, very fun. Having lived in Japan for 14 years at this point it is very nice to hang out with people seeing it with the wonder and enthusiasm that I remember first having when I moved over here.

Thanks to Trip Advisor and Hyperion LA for having me on this project, I am very much hoping that we can do an Osaka and Kyoto version soon!

Portrait Work: Snowpeak CEO

Tokyo may seem like the hub where most of my photography work gets done, but in reality there are amazing companies both new and old scattered throughout Japan. I enjoy the opportunities I have to travel to remote places to photograph some very interesting people.

One such recent opportunity was a commission to photograph Lisa Yamai, the CEO of Snowpeak, a Japanese company specializing in outdoor wear and camping equipment. Of course, you would think a company focused on nature and outdoor activities would feel out of place headquartered in Tokyo, and you’d be right. That’s why Snowpeak HQ is located in a literal mountain range in Niigata prefecture, which is roughly two hours north of Tokyo by bullet train, nestled in a spacious camp ground with plenty of hiking potential for employees  to test out their company’s gear!

As is often the case with editorial shoots from overseas clients, (in this case it was the investment firm Baillie Gifford), they understandably weren’t able to be at the shoot, and so it was largely left to me to complete the shoot with only the broad brushstrokes of a brief to help guide my decisions. As neither I nor the client had visited the location before, it was up to me to find a suitable spot for the shoot that gave me leeway to pivot in case things weren’t going swimmingly. I settled on the balcony overlooking a mountain range in the distance, with the employee hotspring building (!) nearby for a different option.

Ms. Yamai was very nice and accommodating and we talked a bit about cameras after she remarked on my Leica SL2-s, which I was using to shoot on this occasion. 

Portrait Work: Shiseido CEO

WWD recently commissioned met to photograph some portraits of Shiseido CEO Masahiko Uotani in their Tokyo Headquarters. 

From a previous day’s tech scout I knew that I there really was only one viable place to shoot in the 15 minutes I had with Mr. Uotani, and that was a waiting room across from the main atrium. The splash of red on the wall was a good clean backdrop as well as being the emblematic ‘Shiseido Red’ on their packaging.

No pre-light, just half an hour of shoving furniture around until it looked like a good frame before Mr. Uotani arrived. Then it was all about getting as much variety and expression as possible in the time available - standard high powered business portrait modus operandi. 

At the end of the day we all came out unscathed, with a good variety of selects, and that’s all any photographer can ask for!

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