Eisuke 1 year on

How quickly time does fly! While visiting Osaka in the beginning of the year, I was asked to photograph Eisuke and his parents, 1 year on since our last photo shoot (which is here). The family kindly agreed to share the photos with you, here on this blog.

He was just a tiny thing, but look how he’s grown in just one year. I am amazed!

Putting hands together to the family alter, learning the manners and customs is an important part of growing up.

Grandma loves any excuse for spending some time with Eisuke.

It was pretty cold out, but we shot some in the shop, back in the yard, in the house and around to the shop again. The time passed so quickly before we knew it. We parted with promise to do it again. We’ll share that with you, too.

In the meantime, here’s a hello from Eisuke, Mum and Dad!


Location scouting

location scouting

On Saturday, I did another location scouting. A couple of new spots have been added to the shoot I’m doing in the near future, and I wanted to cover that off. Where I have access prior to a shoot, I try to check out the places beforehand. It is also a process of location scouting in that I may find a place nearby that looks good. The main thing for me is to look for frames that can be used. Would it look good from up there? Rather than doing that on the day, with my subjects waiting down there, only to find something blocking my view in the frame and wasting energy and time going up and down the stairs, I can check that out. Even those places that I’ve been to many times before and familiar with, when I see it with a specific image-making in mind, I sometimes find things that are in the way. Maybe there is a white or reflective material building in the background that limits my choice of framing at that time of the morning, in this time of the year, etc. There was a poster for Romeo & Juliet show at Arts Centre. But can’t do… it was the last day so the same poster won’t be there if I came back with a couple for a romantic mood shot.

laneway laneway


For the next shoot we’ll be using classic, iconic bits of Melbourne. I guess it is not a bad idea when they show the photos to family and friends in their home country, and say ‘this is what Melbourne look like, and this is where we got married’.

For this round of location scouting I was a bit later in the day than the time I am actually shooting there, so I kept readjusting the position of the sun from the north to lower towards horizon in the east. Hopefully I won’t have to worry so much about building in dark shadow as the sun will be on the side rather than back. I am not a fan of HDR and its artificially reproduced sense of tonality. Ideally I like to make image with the natural light that is there.

Carlton Gardens and Exhibition Building

Carlton Gardens

Walking back to CBD, I came across this at City Square. Yes, the Melbourne Fringe Festival is now on. At this time of the year, when it is neither too hot nor too cold, the streets of Melbourne are full of art installation and live demonstrations. Grab your latte or gelate from the take away and sit in the sun looking at so-called art with that knowing look on your face. Not a bad way to spend your weekend.

Fringe Festival

Locations and frames are pretty much all set. The rest is a bit of story, drama, that stuff. I do not normally produce it or stylise my subjects for shoot. I go along with their natural emotion and what they are doing and make the best of it. But this time, I may add a few shots here and there, with specific ideas in mind. How about him waiting behind that big tree or around the corner, with a bunch of flower and a ring in that small box behind him? I’m turning to the TV commercials JR put together on its bullet trains – Cinderella Express – they dubbed it. A couple in a long distance relationship. He gets off work on Friday and rushes to the last train across the country to see her. She puts on her best smile and comes to the terminal waiting for him. I think my subjects have seen this. They might have even loved it just like everyone did back then. Maybe we can share that vision, that sense of romance and longing. Once it’s in their head, they will do the rest for me. They relate to their own experience, and the natural expression will come to their faces. That’s what I am betting on. A few more screenshos from YouTube will be stored in my iPhone on the day.


Eisuke and daddy

It was in early December when the news came; it was a boy!

Keisuke runs a bottle shop along the highway in northern Osaka. He loves driving his MX-5, though his regular car’s been changed to a red Alfaromeo hatchback that he bought when he got married. He is no older than I am, but every evening he is in the truck delivering cases of drinks to this bar and that restaurant, while sitting behind the counter in the store during the day. Since his father passed away a few years ago. His talk is gentle, with accent of people from Tokyo – something he’d picked up in his university years. Always smiling, listening well, it is not very often he talks of himself. I guess that’s what you become when you are in a customer-facing business for a long time. First rule – customer first, you listen.

It was a pleasure to be a part of his wedding which coincided with my last short visit to Japan, and this time his first son. December is a crazy time for anyone in Japan, but especially so for people who are in business. Following the custom you have the gift giving and receiving, you visit your business relations like your wholesaler, customers, and all that, to congratulate each other for another hard year passed and wish for a safety and prosperity in the new year. It is often with a sigh of relief that those people welcome the first day of January, when you can finally sit down and enjoy the meal and sake with family, appreciating the new beginning. I waited until all those madness is gone from his life, and in the mid-January visited his parents’ home behind the bottle shop where his wife and son drove in from their apartment for this photo shoot.

Osaka had a very cold winter this year. During the month-and-half I was there, I saw flakes of snow come down probably more than 10 days. It is not continuous fall, and it tends to melt before it starts to cover the ground white, but it did get to that level for once or twice. On this day, however, I had my sunglasses on, not because of the snow glare but it was a sunny beautiful day, as I drove my father’s Peugeot. I walked into the liquor store to find the tiny baby in his mother’s arms. Her sister-in-law called for her brother for me, and together we walked to the house in the back. I believe this was the first time little Eisuke came to the home his father grew up in. With eyes wide open he keeps staring up at things around him. So much intensity!

Finding himself in the father’s arm, Eisuke seems to be communicating a lot with his father. Unfortunately we would not understand him even if he had made some sound, so he tries with his intense eyes. I wonder what the father is feeling. Is there some special communication only parent and child can have? It must be nice to have your prince. I am happy to travel around the world to find my princes and princesses, only they are not quite ‘mine’ and raised by my friends and brothers. But it is a pleasure to see them grow.

mother's embrace

Kumiko-san takes over as Eisuke starts to cry. Mother knows best. She quickly understands what he wanted. Keisuke seems a bit concerned. I think this is just a lovely image of a couple. Don’t you think? With both parents giving all they can to protect, the little boy is growing up.


Keisuke’s mother, or Eisuke’s grand-ma, had not had many opportunities of holding her first grand child in her arms. She looked very happy to hold her even for a brief moment. I went around to photograph them where they were.

In this cold winter we were blessed with plenty of sunlight on this day. We get to choose the type of light that comes through window and had a great hour of photo shoot. Unfortunately the printed photos I gave the couple as a gift was way too light (whit-ish). I guess that is the problem when you do not have a pro-lab in your neighbourhood and want a good set of prints done quickly. Next time, I’ll know better to choose a professional lab in town, and give it extra few days to process. I’m sure Eisuke would have become a larger boy by then.

I’d like to thank little Eisuke for his patience, and the kind couple of Keisuke and Kumiko for allowing me to photograph their precious boy. And many thanks to Keisuke’s mum for sweet snack with coffee, and a box of rice crackers to take home. I will definitely come back 🙂


Mother's love
Mother's love

This week I had a pleasure of making photographs with a mother and her little princess. It was only 2 weeks earlier that news came that Vanessa, a friend from photography school, had recently received a little girl, Zara. All mothers say their little one is the most beautiful baby in the world, and I’ve heard that many times as many of my friends are already mothers and fathers. Of course, Vanessa told me that too. So it was a mixed anticipation that I knocked on their door on a Monday morning. The forecast for a wet day, a typical of winter in Melbourne, was completely off the mark, and I even had the sunglasses on while driving. Vanessa had already brought her princess down to the living room, and Zara was waiting asleep in the centre stage. The light from the large full size window next to the room was filling the room with beautiful soft light, and there was more direct light beyond the shade pulled down over the window facing the front of the house.

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