jason donato | portraits in tokyo a japanorama production
no.14 january 2016 < japan, cars, fashion, photography, lifestyle, life
素敵 すてき su-te-ki /ste ki/
adjective: beautiful, great, lovely, splendid, wonderful, nice
credits EDITOR IN CHIEF Alfie Goodrich. SPECIAL THANKS & ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Hiromi, Joe, Ami and Charlie [for putting up with and supporting me throughout the years], Gianluca Carrero [for the initial magazine template design], Matthew Lamb [for that chat in tbe van, on the way back from Kinugawa]. produced by japanorama www.japanorama.co.uk/stekki
WELCOME TO STEKKI
ocation portraiture forms a large part of my work as a freelance photographer in Japan. Along with shooting fashion on location, the portraiture is my favourite kind of photography. There’s something very special for me about using the city as a studio, a playground. It’s like a film set for me, waiting for the actors to be ushered in. With so many wonderful locations across such a large city, it’s hard for me to imagine a time when I will ever get bored of exploring and shooting people here in Tokyo. I’ve been living here the best part of a decade and it’s been sixteen years since I first visited.
Alfie Goodrich, Editor in Chief Photograph by Ben Torode
For me the photographic adventure and the adventure of discovering Tokyo are one and the same. I hope you enjoy this set of shots I made recently with US Navy chef, Jason Donato. Alfie Goodrich
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HIE SHRINE, TOK YO PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY
IN TOK YO, JAPAN
LAST SHOOT BEFORE LEAVING WORDS & PICTURES | ALFIE GOODRICH
reating memorable portraits on location in Tokyo is one of the things I most like about my work as a freelance photographer in the city. For me it combines two of the things I love most about my work: meeting people and using Tokyo as my studio, my ‘film set’. Tokyo has some extraordinary locations, whether you are looking for traditional charm, parks and nature or characterful streets. It’s a superbly satusfying playground for a photographer. Jason Donato had commissioned me once already, back in the summer, when he asked me to do one more shoot with him before he was posted away from Japan with the US Navy. The first time, we shot around Shinjuku. This time I had a few more locations up my sleeve, which I’ve used before and whichwould provide - with the previous set - a lovely range and contrast of portraits for Jason to take away from Japan as a souvenir of his years here.
Hie Shrine tokyo’s magical spots Hie Shrine is located in Tokyo’s Akasaka district and is surrounded on almost all sides by high-rise offices and residential buildings. At the rear of the shrine complex is a superb set of red ‘tori’ gates, the longest in Tokyo. Set on a staircase almost 100metres in length, the tori provide a wonderful location for portraits. The light can be tricky and often before I have used flash to help create atmosphere. Jason and I travelled fairly light the day we visited, with no lights or reflectors. The sky was grey and the light soft, making for perfect conditions just to use the ambient light. We shot several cuts from the bottom of the stairs, looking up and then reversed angle to shoot a few more from the top down. First stop inside the shrine were the doors of the storage buildings which, despite it being late December, were fronted by a carpet of fallen, bright yellow gingko leaves. The leaves provided the perfect counterpoint to the bright gold of the emblems on the dark doors. A local man was practising his flute right next to where we shooting. I like Faure’s ‘Pavane’ and having it as
accompaniment to our shooting was a lovely and unexpected touch. Inside the shrine preparations were fully underway for the coming New Year, so a lot of the usual spots I’d choose to shoot in were either much changed by new construction or busy with workmen getting everything ready for the shrine’s busiest day of the year. The staircase at the front of Hie is long, wide and has great backdrops of the shrine’s main gate and bordering trees. We made some shots there and a few more either side of the main stairs. A spot inside the covered wings of the inner courtyard is a favourite spot of mine in the summer. The usual benches were gone though but we got some lovely shots using the lines of red pillars and the large wall coverings that had been installed for new year. A lovely set in the bag, we moved on to Ginza, Yurakucho and Shimbashi for our other locations.
Hie Shrine tokyoâ€™s magical spots A range of light conditions, colours, lines and geometries at Hie Shrine make it a perfect place for some beautiful environmental portraits. HIESHRINE-AKASAKA
TO K YO I N T ER N AT I O N A L FO RU M UR BA N LO C ATI O NS WITH SUPER B CH A R AC TER
A PUBLIC FORUM Raphael Vinoly’s striking city-centre building is perhaps the closest thing one can get to a cathedral in Tokyo.... The Tokyo International Forum was finished in around 1997 and I have been visiting it since first coming to Japan in 1999. The striking design, huge public atrium and spectacular roof make it one of my favourite spots for photography in central Tokyo. TOK YO’S CATHEDR AL? Built to fill the space left empty by the demolition of the old Tokyo Metropolitan Government buildings in the mid-1990s, the Tokyo International Forum forms a centrepiece to the land between Yurakucho and Tokyo stations. The result of an architectural competition, won by Uraguyan-born, New York based architect Raphael Vinoly, the Forum is for me the closest thing I can get to the kind of large, booming acoustic and vaulting heights of the cathedral in the city I grew up in: Canterbury, in the county of Kent, Great Britain. Tokyo has few spaces which afford the ‘emptiness’ that the Forum does which, given the land prices and need to put as much as possible into the least space, is not perhaps surprising.
SOFT LIGHT, HARD LINES The forum is currently undergoing the last few months of a long run of repairs. The main roof will be finished and rid of the sheets that presently hide it from view in September of 2016. But despite the construction, the building still has many vistas worthy of a dramatic portrait. On an overcast winter’s day, such as we had for our shoot, The Forum’s massive glass area throws soft light down into every corner of the building. The hard shadows on a sunny day are spectacular but the soft light is magical too. In various locations all across the 7th floor, we used the soft light, the lines, the concrete and the reflections on the many glass surfaces to good effect. Everything was shot in monochrome, which the location suits very well.
Despite the oof being covered for construction, the 7th floor offers some superb locations for portraits with dramatic lines and wonderful layered perspectives. THEINTERNATIONALFORUM
A Public Forum
IMAGES ALFIE GOODRICH
For the final shots of the day we headed away from The Forum and into the streets of Ginza and Shimbashi. The day was drawing to a close and the light was fading, neon and the lights of the shops dialling up in brightness to create a new palette of colours and shades for us to explore. ... AND THE LIGHTS CAME ON As day transitions into evening, Tokyo becomes another city entirely. Small shops and cafes light up the pavements and restaurants cast their glow out into the streets. Neon signs light up the high background and the sky turns a purpleblue. The grey day we had for our shot had everything but the blue-purple sky but the more muted palette always makes for some drama. PL ATFORMS AND TR AINS I’ve shot a few sets of portraits and some fashion on Shimbashi Station. The platforms are long and have a backdrop of a busy district of the city, making it a great spot to create some depth. The shots I got of Jason here saw me stay in monochrome: somehow the mood just seemed to suit it. We shot some on the platforms, then on the train itself.
FINALLY SOME COLOUR ... The shot on the back cover is one of a set we did in the bus, narrow backstreets filled with bars and restaurants that surround Shimbashi Station. The tall buildings in nearby Shiodome provide, at the ends of the streets that run perpendicular to the railway tracks, a wall of lights ready to be turned into soft bokeh by a large aperture lens. The colours can be played with a lot by using different custom white-balance settings i the camera, which we did to create a range of tones in the portraits we shot last. We shot a few standing, some with Jason sitting - when we borrowed a stool from a restaurant owner. It was a lovely final set of shots that captured a nice slice of that Tokyo that switches on when the sun goes down. If you’d be interested in booking Alfie for a location portrait shoot in Tokyo, drop him a line at: firstname.lastname@example.org You can find back-copies of Stekki at: http://stekki.photography Alfie’s portfolio is at: http://alfie.photography
THE FORUM TOKYO’S C ATHEDR AL
stekki is a japanorama production | http://stekki.photography 18_stekki
Some of the shots from a recent shoot and an example of the location portraiture I shoot a lot in Tokyo.