Haru-chan

Haru-chan 2 December 2012

Family/baby candid portrait is also something I really enjoy doing for my clients. I had a chance to photograph this beautiful girl for the second time, for good friends of mine. Last time, Haru-chan was crying every time daddy came to pick her up. But it seems his effort has finally paid off and now she is daddy’s little princess!

Haru-chan 2 December 2012

Shhhh… now she’s fallen asleep. How pretty is her soft skin glow in the soft light from the window…

Haru-chan 2 December 2012

Haru-chan 2 December 2012

What a beautiful family. Thank you, Kuni and Tin, for allowing me to photograph you with your beautiful daughter!

 

Oh, one last photo, while we’ve got Haru-chan…

Haru-chan 2 December 2012

Thank you for being nice to Uncle YT, too, Haru-chan! Looking forward to seeing you again soon.

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!

Just the way you are

That was one of my favourites in the college years. I used to hum along to it as Billy Joel sang his romantic message to his (former) wife through my walkman’s headphones. Maybe I love the words so much, but I cannot explain any other way to describe my philosophy towards photograhing people. I just love you just the way you are, and that is what my photography captures.

This post is lots of words, but if you don’t mind it, please read on:

Mixi is a popular Japanese social network site. On the main page after log in, for the past few weeks I always see the same ad on the right hand side. It is an ad of the lip sticks called ‘Rouge Automatique’, with a slider on the side that reminds me of those ’80s big music stereo component and their equaliser sliders. Anyhow, I have problem with this photo, the one that is on my face as I log on every day.

Rouge Automatique 広告
Mixi にいつも表示される広告

The first word that comes to my mind is ‘ooh, what a fake!’. Sure, MAYBE, she actually looks like this. Maybe she actually has those deep true-blue eyes. If that is the case, I’d say, that is a fake-looking face. In any case, it is quite obvious that this ad was not made for Japan market. You don’t find women with skin tones like her. And you don’t find women with such striking pinkish rouge on, unless you go back to the ’80s when she had a big stereo system in their living room, complete with 10-point sound equaliser sliders. When I saw this oddly placed unfashionable ad, it reminded me of a video I’d seen many times before. It was rather sensational and it was well received in creative world, so you might know this.

I believe it received a number of creative awards. It was not shown in the places I’d lived in, or when I was regularly watching TV any way, and I saw it for the first time in some meeting in an ad agency when I was working there in Singapore. It has a strong brand message, the kind that appeals to the user’s loyalty. But when I see this ad on Mixi, what I remember is the end product of the process, the manufactured face.

It was probably 4-5 years ago, when many of the photos used in printed advertisement were fake. With multiple lighting to create a sense of the place, rather than shooting in a real environment, the image was ‘improved’ heavily on Photoshop, removing irregularity from the skin, hair and shape of the body. It has become more of an issue since they have negative impact on the teenagers with their perception of an ideal adult woman. We adults know that there is no way such a human being could exist or considered ideal, but kids don’t know that yet and they are bombarded with such manufactured extreme images through media.

If you look at ads of automobiles on magazines these days, most, if not all, are manufactured images of cars driving smoothly in an impossible situation. They are products of 3D imaging and the amazing technology in texture graphics. They are there to impress potential shoppers with positive feelings, so that they actually go to the point of sale.

In fashion, perhaps as a rebound from the extreme length it’s once gone to manufacture perfect images, or as a simple change in trends, many images are made in a natural, simple manner. Even in the top fashion magazines, many photos are made with a simple single-lighting set up, and the photos are often used in print with very little modification.

I personally enjoy shooting in a documentary style, so I normally do not modify my images much. One exception would be one time when I was working on a mother-and-child series. The mother came in and said she hasn’t got a make-up on but she wouldn’t worry too much about it. I prefer to keep that mood going on, so we got right into it. Of course I took care in choosing the lighting, but there was a moment where the emotion was visible and I could see the connection between her and her baby. The lighting was not ideal but to me the main thing is capturing the real feeling rather than takng ‘pretty’ pictures. So we pressed on, and it turned out to be a beautiful image. The lighting, however, emphasised the skin texture a bit and made her look more aged than she was. After all, she, just like many women out there, would put a make up on before being out in public, and a photograph, by nature, is something that should be displayed in public, among their other family photos. So I put the image in Photoshop, and assumed the role of the make-up artist. I lightened the wrinkles ever so slightly, and also powdered the spots around her nose. It is just so light and natural, rather than manufacturing something artificial. It looked like she had her make-up on, and others may not notice it from the natural image. I delivered the print in 6″x9″ which is not a small print, and I’m sure she would have noticed the make up that somebody else put on her face, but there was no mention of it. It was me who encouraged to proceed with the shoot right there and then, and it was my job to ensure she doesn’t look older in the frozen memory called photograph.

Any photographer with proper image editing skills can do that much. Controlling the tonal contrast in parts of an image to draw viewers into it more strongly is something photographers are used to doing. But fundamentally, it is about what and how I, the photographer, capture. What I really care about is the integrity in the reality, the real feeling, the real memory at the real place in the history of people I photograph. That is why I normally go to the customer’s house or some place that is familiar to them, dressed up like they normally would, and use the lighting of the location as much as possible, to make photographs that look just like how everyone in the family would remember how they are in that place and the point in time. I photogrpah just a day in life of a family, birthday party, gathering of relatives and friends, to weddings, as well as other, more corporate or creative photographs. If you like to have photographs of your history, your family and friends, just the way you are, please speak to me. I’ll work according to your schedule and location as much as possible.

mother's embrace

Daisy make-up class

busy at one month out

Things have been rather hectic on my end, but hay fever aside, I am still alive and kicking! There have been a few enquiries for my service and responding to them took a little bit more of my time than I thought it would. As you can probably guess from what I say on blog, I am a detail kind of guy and once I start putting a document together, I tend to try to explain as much detail as possible in the most readable manner. While there are things that need to be mentioned to avoid surprises later, it is an opportunity to explain what I recommend and why. Each and every customer has her/his wishes and desires. I would really like to respond to each unique need, so I can satisfy each customer as they deserve. So what i am hoping to do is offering a framework which helps them work out what it is that they want, and give them an idea of how it works out in terms of pricing. I have not so far had a chance to put together the website but we are coming to the stage where it is reasonable to be out there. As for some of you with whom I have already worked with (i.e. I have photographed you), I would really appreciate your kind contribution to testimonials. I would like people to know how it feels to work with me, and I would like to offer exactly that, if not more, to everyone.

While the website is on the drawing board, a couple of projects I’ve been working on are coming to their final stage. It is time to optimise every image towards the target printing environment. Each paper, printer and print size requires the source digital image to be modified accordingly. If the target paper or printer in use is new to me, the test print is required, so that the final print can be adjusted to look exactly as intended. It takes time and require resources, but I believe that extra effort is the difference that viewers appreciate many years later when they come across the photograph. Sending a photograph to a quick print kiosk in the shopping centre is easy and quick. But easy job can only produce easy job quality. Given all the effort made in producing the beautiful images to start with, I would like to follow up with the workflow that ensures that quality at every step of the way. The projects will be finalised in the next fortnight and my prints will be mounted properly on beautiful white window mount board. I am excited to hear how people respond to the final product.

While I’m busy working with printing process, I am also scheduled to be photographing a few events in the next fortnight. I have been going through those jobs in my head and constructing images. It is fun because I would not really know it until the moment I finished shooting. It is not like I’m a producer who conducts every movement of a play on stage; I set a general direction to things as necessary, but I allow for the real life event to take its course, and wait for something exciting to happen before my eyes, for me to capture, frozen on a printed photograph for ever. Before the end of November, when I set off photographing on my travels, I would like to photograph a few more friendly dinner gathering, birthday, casual wedding or event. So if you have anything planned and are interested in having photographs of your natural expressions, please contact me as soon as you can.

Tomi – Hen’s picnic

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On the day when St Kilda was up on the re-match final, I was walking down Fitzroy Street towards the beach, with my camera gear down my shoulder. There are balloons of red, white and black everywhere. I was on my way to the grass field by the sea baths, to photograph a picnic Tomi was holding on her hen’s day. There was not a cloud in the sky, and it seemed to be telling us that the winter was over.

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Vanessa

Hi princess!

A day after a scheduled photo shoot was postponed (baby always wins!), I had an unexpected pleasure of photographing a lovely baby. Vanessa is a month old but she is a beautiful little thing. I’ve also had a chance to photograph a 2-year-old boy and mother just last week as well. But I did not know how much I enjoy working with mother and child. There is something undeniably beautiful about them together. It is a challenge for a photographer to capture something that is already known to be beautiful (there is a better chance of doing a poor job of letting them down than exceeding their expectation by producing images that look more beautiful than, well, something that is already so beautiful), but I do enjoy the process and the pleasure of actually capturing it is enormous.

who is this staring at me?
yawwwwwwwwn!

Yash

Yash
Yash

On Sunday morning, my friend Yash came into the city to model for me in the studio. I had a pleasure of photographing him while we were still working at the same office, and I always thought he was photogenic. He has strong features, sophisticated, ‘metero’ kind of feel about him. He is a soft-spoken and kind gentleman. Girls, if you like to get to know him, maybe we can arrange something…

Enough of that! :p Let’s get right into it. We caught up over lunch last week to discuss some ideas about what we might like to do on this session. He started off from a call centre, demonstrated his leadership and commitment to move up to marketing team, where we worked together in some marketing related projects. We had coffees and chats, sometimes discussed office politics and shared our ideas. Things were not looking all so rosy when I eventually had to leave the team but he still remains standing. He speaks positively, as always, of the situation around him. I encourage him to fight on for his own goal, his way up.

He tells me he started training in a boxing gym recently. He is a fighter and he is an athlete.

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