Does it snow in Yokohama while Cherry Flowers are in full bloom?

Does it snow in Yokohama while Cherry Flowers are in full bloom?

I’m going to answer the question from the very beginning. This is a question to which most people(including me) would have answered until last weekend with a big smiling face saying a big NO. Yet, nature has its own way to spice things up from time to time. Luckily for me, I am a photographer ready to shoot at all times. I knew the fairytale will last only for a short while, so I rushed out to enjoy.

Although spring has come and Cherry Trees are in full blossom, the past weekend has brought over some parts of Japan a thin layer of watery white snow. This phenomena doesn’t usually happen in Tokyo Metropolitan Area and there are explanations why it doesn’t happen often which I’m not going to cover in this article. When the snow does fall, it will only last for a little while, exactly how it has happened this past weekend. Winter wonderland is brief but charming sight to see. Down bellow you can see a short movie recorded with my iPhone on the street I live. Later on I’ll post another video I made during a bight sunny day in Seseragi Park from Yokohama.

Snowing on the street I live in Yokohama

This time around, the snow fall caught me at home, in Yokohama. I always enjoy snow and especially snow fall, when I want to be outside and enjoy shoveling it. Or just simply be outside and enjoy watching the calmness of the snow flakes coming down from the sky.

The past Sunday (29th of March 2020), I got to enjoy this rare phenomena in Yokohama. Needless to say, I used my bare hands to clear the snow off of the flowers and off of the car, just to be able to have a little bit of winter sensation. 

Snowing in Yokohama, Tsuzuki-ku, Japan, March 2020
Snowing somewhere in Yokohama

After that I decided to take my camera and walk around my neighborhood taking a good few photos while snowing. I might actually be the only one in the whole neighborhood  to go out with an actual camera to capture and document the mood of the moment; after all, I’m the only professional photographer in know around here.

My walk has lasted for about one hour, during which time I had only seen a hand full of people and just a couple of kids playing with the snow. It is always interesting to see my neighborhood changing over the year and this past weekend managed to make me very happy.
Although maybe a sad scene for some, this was for the first time I could see Cherry flowers covered with snow. Most people aren’t that happy to see such a rare sight.

Very near my house there is a little kids park that’s usually full of children paying cheerfully. This time there were only 2 of them who managed to gather some snow and build something which looked like a snowman. Amazing how fast kids can do something only by playing.
At some point, one of my neighbors came out the house only to take a couple of photos with his phone and then he has rushed off inside the house.

Snowman in a local small park in my neighborhood in Yokohama, March 2020
Snowman in a local small park in my neighborhood in Yokohama

Wish I was in down town Tokyo this time so I could Frame more Life Stories, with more people in my photos. It’s probably not the best time around …

I know that parts of the world are now quarantined and for a while now I refrain myself traveling by public transportation for no good reason (I actually don’t travel if is not a must) and I only use my personal car, event though the Japanese government doesn’t enforce any travel restrictions. Strange times we all get to live these days due to corona virus (COVID19).

Until next time, I let you enjoy the gallery I made with the snow and Sakura photos from the tiny cosy neighborhood I live in Yokohama, not until you see another movie I made very recently in another near by park. There are some Cherry Trees too in it.

Another Park in my area, during a windy, yet sunny day

Don’t forget to stay connected to my Instagram profiles @crisphototravels and @cristiancbucur for more photos.

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A Snapshot of Tokyo’s Underground Music Scene

A Snapshot of Tokyo’s Underground Music Scene

Last Thursday, on the 13th of February, I was the official photographer covering the event for the debut show of Catherine Forte in downtown Tokyo in a cozy and interesting venue named Mame Romantic (Haretara Sora ni Mame Maite).

The venue is quite hard to find if Japanese language is a barrier (it is for me anyway), but apparently this is a well known spot for underground music events. Ironically, this venue is actually underground as well! It was the first time I’ve ever been to Mame Romantic in Daikanyama, Shibuya. After attending last week’s event, I can now objectively say that I’ll be back as an audience member to check out their other interesting music events.

Catherine Forte band members
A Snapshot of Tokyo’s Underground Music Scene: Catherine Forte and her band

If you have ever read any of my blog posts, you already know that I love events. All kinds of events. Here you can check out my other post about another event I had covered in January 2020, titled: ONE EVENT, MANY CREATIVES IN TOKYO, JAPAN.

Before digging deeper into the article, I should make some clarifications. By and large, music for me is divided into two main genres: “I like” and “I don’t like”. Of course I know about rock (actually love listening to Queen), pop, hip-hop, classic music, reggae, jazz and probably, if I do some brainstorming, I’ll be able to name another few.

Catherine Forte’s music falls into the category of “I like.”

Who is Catherine Forte? I asked her myself to tell me about her time here in Tokyo navigating the underground music scene.

“After moving to Tokyo in 2018, my first show was in the corner of a small bookstore without any amplification. I booked it myself after applying to a ‘singer-songwriters wanted’ post I saw on Facebook. Shortly after the intimate show, bookers and promoters began reaching out to have me play at bigger venues such as Ruby Room, Shibuya NOB, and Varit Roppongi, just to name a few. Things seemed to just fall into place; one opportunity led to another. Even though I was being placed on bills with full bands, I did my best to win the crowd over with my lively acoustic music, passionate voice, and honest songwriting. I think even a few laughed at my silly jokes! Eventually, I was introduced to Japanese producer Takashi Shirayama of W.M. Studio Music Factory, who wanted to use his network of professional musicians to establish a backing band to help my music career in Japan. He believed in me and my music. It was validating to say the least. A week before the show, I met all the members and we practiced for 2 hours in a rented studio space in Shibuya. This past Thursday was the debut show of my band and an accumulation of a year and a half of hard work performing in the Tokyo music scene. It’s humbling to think of my first show: crammed in the corner of that bookstore…”

Catherine Forte portrait taken during her music debut show in Tokyo
Catherine Forte portrait taken during her debut show in Tokyo

Catherine Forte’s musical momentum continues with a new single, “First Dance”, set to be released in March across all streaming services worldwide.

Working closely with San Diego producer, Drew Chammas (aka DruLoop), Forte’s new single is the beginning of a new fresh pop sound, but still maintains the same emotional and engaging songwriting that fans fell in love with.

Join the Catherine Forte Newsletter on to keep in touch with her musical journey in Japan and be sure to follow her on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and very soon – Spotify and Apple Music.

My favorite song of Catherine Forte

Catherine continues to describe her music and passion:

“I write music on my acoustic guitar or on a piano, sometimes I perform completely acoustic yet it still holds energy. People tell me they close their eyes and think there is more than one person on stage with the rhythms I create on my guitar. And now, I am excited to be producing music in a pop style for the first time with Drew Chammas.

My first single, ‘First Dance,’ will be released in late March on all streaming platforms and will represent my first dance with my audience with this new exciting sound. 

There will be synth, funky bass lines, electric guitar, and electronic drums but still have the emotional and honest lyrics and storytelling of my singer-songwriter background.

I used to only write sad music, but now I want to give people a soundtrack to their lives to bring happiness and to inspire. I still love melancholy so there will be a few softer, more intimate songs that I will release sporadically that will remind those of my acoustic beginnings. “

Catherine Forte during her music debut show in Tokyo, full stage take
Catherine Forte during her music debut show in Tokyo

For a while now, whenever I am working on my computer, editing photos, doing social media, writing this blog, I listen to music. I find at times that depending on how I feel and what I do, I listen to different music, sometimes only instrumental, other times Mozart, Queen, or John Coltrane. It seems that music indeed is a form of therapy for me and an integral part of my everyday life.

Catherine’s music speaks to me and even fits my old-fashioned taste (I mentioned Queen before!). I guess this is the best compliment I can make to her. From the first moment she stepped on the stage, it caught my attention and doing my work as a photographer was sooooo easy. There is a symbiotic relationship between photography and music, yet I’ve combined the two only a handful of times. The show lasted for about thirty minutes but it felt like it was only three minutes. During her show, Catherine successfully managed to catch the crowd’s attention in a very natural way, I was really amazed. There were people in the crowd singing along during the band debut show and this proves she already has a large fan pool.

Catherine Forte Portrait
Catherine Forte debut music show

Everyone was very engaged during the show and from an outsider’s view like me, they actually looked like they knew each other and have sung for a lifetime. That is impressive. I am already looking forward to hearing Catherine Forte and the band live again.

Make sure you check her out and follow & subscribe to her newsletter. And why not, become a fan. I know I am.

Thank you for staying with me until the end of the article. Since you are here, go check my other blog post I already mentioned above about another event in Tokyo I covered as a photographer.

Cristian Bucur Photography Logo
Cristian Bucur Photography Logo

Don’t forget, if you are looking to hire a photographer in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area, I am here to Frame Your Life Stories!

Huge thank you to Catherine for helping me to make this blog post possible.

Video from the show.

Lifestyle and Casual Portrait Photographer in Tokyo Metropolitan Area

Lifestyle and Casual Portrait Photographer in Tokyo Metropolitan Area

Lifestyle Portraiture nowadays had become a photography genre by its own, in my own opinion. It’s more popular than ever in this digital era. I’m not going to impose my own opinion on this topic and is all right if there are other views. Lifestyle portraiture for me as a professional photographer (especially since I live in Tokyo) means that I am there for my clients to put up my technical skills and help composing the photos with my vision. It also means when and if needed I will give directions to be able to achieve better and consistent results, all under a positive and happy approach. Whenever I make photos, I am happy and I tend to pass along a lot of my happiness. 

Lifestyle portrait at Zojo-ji Temple, Tokyo, Japan
Lifestyle portrait at Zojo-ji Temple, Tokyo, Japan

People take thousands of photographs of themselves (the ever so popular selfies) or of their family, kids, in all kinds of environments without a special occasion like it used to be in the analog era of film cameras limited to only 36 frames. Now only sky is the limit. Or the hard drives. Digital era of 21st Century, has brought us so many options to make photographs starting with smartphones, small digital cameras and ending with top notch professional cameras readily available to anyone. With all this, de demand for hiring professional photographers is more popular than ever. According to some research I have done, Japan needs a lot more professional photographers. It’s interesting how in a country that produces the most amount of cameras for a world wide market has such a need. I always thought that here photography should be at the highest level possible, with the biggest amount of photographers.

Lifestyle portrait at Zojo-ji Temple, Tokyo, Japan
Lifestyle portrait at Zojo-ji Temple, Tokyo, Japan

What is the difference between lifestyle, casual and vacation photography, according to non-photographers?

In big cities like Tokyo in Japan, it is very common for a photographer to have inquires for casual vacation photography sessions from tourists coming to visit this beautiful and amazing place. Now you probably have noticed I have been using lifestyle, casual or vacation photography. I have been asking some of my friends what is the difference to them. Answers were enough so I could draw a clear line between these intertwined photography genres, at least in a sense as what general public thinks. 

According to Wikipedia, “is a kind of photography that mainly aims to capture portrait/people in situations, real-life events or milestones in an artistic manner and the art of the everyday.

Casual Portrait In Shiba Park, Tokyo

In big cities like Tokyo in Japan, it is very common for a photographer to have inquires for casual vacation photography sessions from tourists coming to visit this beautiful and amazing place. Now you probably have noticed I have been using lifestyle, casual or vacation photography. I have been asking some of my friends what is the difference to them. Answers were enough so I could draw a clear line between these intertwined photography genres, at least in a sense as what general public thinks. 

To some of them, lifestyle shots are tied up to the place and area where they live in the sense that they feel “at home”, in familiar places. It is not related how the photos are made, whether or not the photographer gets involved. They get prepared, carefully put on makeup, take care of all the small details.

Casual photography on the other hand (according to Wikipedia it doesn’t even exist), in the opinion of some other friends of mine, relates more to being on the household grounds. Clothing, makeup and all the rest of the possible preparations are left behind and nobody really thinks about it. Posing and composition are a matter of spontaneity and is not planned ahead. 

Lifestyle portrait at Zojo-ji Temple, Tokyo, Japan
Lifestyle portrait at Zojo-ji Temple, Tokyo, Japan

Vacation photography, on the other hand, according to the case study I had done, is a term to which will be referred to only in cases of travels, while visiting other places, cities or countries, such as Tokyo. In this case, people would do their own research, find a suitable photographer like myself (Cristian Bucur Photography), research places, poses, other photos published in the same place. They will know already where to go and at what time, although the latter in my opinion is hard to comply with; after all, the main goal of a vacation should be relaxation and not a tight schedule which most of the times can get delayed. In my experience, anyway.

Lifestyle photo shoot in Shiba Park

A while back I had and enquiry from a client who wanted to have some casual, lifestyle photos taken in Shiba Park, which is very near the Tokyo Tower and Zojo-ji Buddhist Temple. Actually, the temple is wrapped up by the Shiba Park. I went ahead and did my research about the park and the surrounding areas to know what to expect and be able to perform and easy going photo shoot.

Lifestyle portrait at Shiba Park, Tokyo, Japan
Lifestyle portrait at Shiba Park, with Tokyo Tower in the background, Japan

Luckily my client is a beautiful woman from Philippines who works in Japan. She wanted a very casual shoot, although she brought two outfits. The photos were meant to be send back home to showcase herself in front of the family. 

After spending a while talking and walking in the park I made a couple of portraits of her including in the background the Tokyo Tower. Perfect day to be there as the weather was perfect. There were even a few clouds which helped to filter the light to be more pleasing for portraiture.

After that we decided to head towards the Zojo-ji Temple and do there some more portraits. At this point I must say that her shyness only helped to get better photos of her: instead of going in the middle of the crowds, we went sideways under the trees where the amount of people was very little.  This is a goof tip for those who wants to make photos without the ever stepping in tourists. 😉

Lifestyle portrait at Zojo-ji Temple, Tokyo, Japan
Lifestyle portrait at Zojo-ji Temple, Tokyo, Japan

The photo shoot went smooth as a walking in the park, exchanging information about how each other experience Japan. Always a pleasure to hear what others think and how they see the world around us. Everyone see and feels differently, which is good.

Thank you for reading the article this far. Your support is very much appreciated and sharing would be great way to repay my time spend typing in front of the computer.

Lifestyle portrait at Zojo-ji Temple, Tokyo, Japan
Lifestyle portrait near by Zojo-ji Temple, Tokyo, Japan

As always, if you have questions about photography photo sessions and are looking to hire a photographer in Tokyo, or for that matter anywhere in Japan, please send me a message using the contact for by clicking here or the button down bellow.

I would love to hear from you.
Don’t forget to show your love by liking my Facebook Page  and following and Instagram Profile.

In case you’re looking for the travel side of photography, fear not, I constantly update my travel Instagram account with photos mostly from Japan but also from other places and countries I have visited over time.

Frame your life stories, the best thing you can ever do to have a great reminder of what you’ve done in life. And showcase how awesome you’ve looked.  Bellow are most of the social platforms you can find me. 🙂

One Event, many creatives in Tokyo, Japan

One Event, many creatives in Tokyo, Japan

Last week, Fabien Sena had texted me about a casual social event in Tokyo, meant for meeting like minded artsy people: models, photographers, make-up and hair artists as well as other creative people. I have to confess, I knew about this from my friend Raluca Sandra Moore of Asia Group Shoots by Sandra Moore Productions , but because lately things are quite hectic in my everyday life, I totally forgot about it.

Fabien is running a Facebook Page dedicated solely to this kind of events, @pics_japan, as well as a website where people who share similar interests can find each other. Thank you for organizing this Fabien.

Fabien, during his speech talking about the pioneers how have made this possible: Raluca Sandra Moore, Louise and Fabien Sena.

The idea was born between the three : Fabien Sena, Louise & Raluca Sandra Moore of Sandra Moore Productions.

Sandra Moore Productions has been the active company that instilled Asia Group Shoots as a trademark event back in 2017 in Macau S.A.R.

Ever since SMP has had 2 glorious and successful events in Macau that revolutionized the creative scene in and around that region.
Never before have creatives come together in 5 star locations for the sole purpose of shooting for a whole entire day, and building their portfolios.
This event become quite popular very fast and most of the local news and tabloids noticed and spoke of it.

Images and videos from the Asia Group Shoots events were projected on the walls within Sankeys Penthouse on the event day.

Sandra Moore Productions is the 3rd organizing part of the Pics-Japan event & sponsor of the competition in Tokyo.

Sandra Moore Production

Since the begging of my journey in the world of photography I was continuously looking to connect with actual people who have the same interests like I do. Being able to meet people off-line to me is and will always be a great opportunity to hear interesting stories and share ideas and thoughts. Therefore, it was a no brainer that I will attend and be part of this little but exclusive community. Being a photographer, more often than not my camera goes where I go all the time, regardless of the fact that sometimes I may not use it. Sankeys PENTHOUSE in downtown Tokyo is an interesting venue spread on two levels (10th and 11th). Being able to freely shoot around was a chance I couldn’t pass. I’m a big fan of shooting all kinds of events, and this time I decided to use a photography technique that isn’t very popular due to it’s increased chances to miss a lot of shots. Even so, I could make quite a few interesting photographs which you can see here in this article.

Women trying on fashion accessories
Women trying on fashion accessories during the party. @eenabo

Arriving there Fabien was a great host right at the entrance meeting each and every one of the guests. Everything was organized very well, with snacks and drinks ready for us to “relax” and enjoy the atmosphere.  During the whole evening, there were screens showcasing the work of those who wanted to submit photos/work to be displayed during the entire event.

Some of the snacks available 🙂

The first people I met are Grace @gracemaureen_ and Edy @eduardocortesmorales, from Utah(USA) respectively Mexico. I hope I got that right. During the evening we had shared information about our life who and what has been doing; well, as much as possible during a party 🙂

Next in turn with whom I was talking was Jessie @jessiewithea. Jessie is originally from China and runs a studio in Tokyo, which focuses on Japanese Style Photographs. Our conversation was going around what it takes to run a photography business, the challenges, pros and cons of being an entrepreneur. I have realized that sometimes we tend to forget the real cost of doing business. The discussion was a good reminder to not overlook  even those small details which can add up by a lot at the end when calculating the real cost and figures.


In between conversations I did take my time to shoot a little bit around the venue, especially to have a reminder of what it was like. After only a couple of shots, I have decided to use a different approach to how I shoot and use a technique that can fail big if used wrong: Rear curtain sync with the flash and a rather long exposure to be able to get that movement around the subjects. It was quite fun actually. 

While ordering a drink at the bar, Karl had popped up for the same reason, to pick up a new drink, and so we managed to say hi to each other and have a little chat. Karl has deep roots into visual arts, Nikon University College of Art being only one of the schools he had studied. He was talking about the challenges of nowadays social media and the subsequent success it can provide when properly used.
After a lot of time invested to learn about social media(in all forms and shapes) I am still a beginner when it comes to mastering it. It is always changing its rules, demanding long lasting presence and keeping up with new standards, which most of the time it takes away from creating. For me social media it is indeed a side job, totally parallel with me being a photographer. 

Portrait taken during a party
Portrait taken during the party

If let’s say, I need two hours to produce 20 photographs,(travel time + shooting time + post processing + delivery of the final edited images), to spread the word and showcase those photos will take at least as much time (if not more), if the main goal would be to effective to produce results and not only throwing them somewhere in the cyberspace.

Portrait taken during a party
Photograph of an amazing artist drawing a portrait taken during a party

Another passionate in this field I had the opportunity to previously meet was Louise @edenthecollection. Who know Louise knows there is not much I could say bout her, she’s absolutely lovely. Fashion photography is just another of her names. 🙂 Thank you for your efforts put into making this event happen.

I thought of choosing a different photograph of Louise, and not because she has a big mouth, but because she has a lot of experience to share.

Right after I had decided to return home, Fabien had introduced me Reina, @enrei.reina, with whom I had an elevator ride and common walk to the subway during which time we have discussed about photography, of course. This has led us to talk about being or not specialized; you may have noticed that at the moment I choose to not be specialized and I enjoy shooting from corporate events to pet, family, vacation, Save the Date, you name it, and I photograph it. Any day I could choose to specialize, but I feel like it’s not the time yet. As and example, making portraits of people it would still be doing portraits, regardless of the occasion, during a corporate event or for a family photo session in the park. After all, that CEO speaking in front of the shareholders more often than not has a husband/wife, a child, a family. Of course, the approach will be different, but still, in my philosophy a portrait is a portrait. 

Portrait of Reina, taken during the party

Reina brought up the table that being specialized once can get to be the best in his field. That’s very true; I feel the decision to be or not to be specialized is a very personal decision which I believe it must come naturally.  For me it didn’t. I am sure one day it will, if not for other reasons, at least because of the time involved to do certain photography jobs.

Well, with this I have reached the end of a great night, which I hope it will only the first of many more. Beautiful bright and talented people are always people I want to meet and be surrounded with. Always a pleasure to talk and discuss with like minded people.

Portrait of a man
Portrait of Robb

Down bellow I have chosen to share with you not only people I could meet, but also people who wanted to write and share a couple of words about themselves, even though the time wasn’t nearly enough to get to know everyone. 

Remy Busson

“I’m a French Creative Director. My work primarily focus on Animation, motion design and projection mapping projects.On my personal time, I like to make creatives side projects. 
I started to experiment with photography 10 years ago, taking photos of models experiencing my digital work. Since then, I occasionally take creative photography side gigs. Recently, I have an on-going  project shooting projecting video mapping on models, capturing the performance in photo and video. An exhibition should be released in 2020.”

Model mapping project teaser:
 IG: @remy_photographer

Gregor McGregor

“After years of doing the work grind in Japan I decided I wanted to ranch out and express myself, to do something I truly wanted. Last year I launched my business, focusing on travel/tour photography.  I stumbled onto the event page for pics_japan by accident and decided to take a chance. I wasn’t sure what or who I would find at the event. What was waiting was a little bit comfort, and familiarity wrapped in the unfamiliar. It was like coming home, in a kind of strange way, finding the warm embrace of community.”



“I am now running a photography studio in Tokyo. Focusing on Japanese style. Check my homepage bellow:”


Shelby Lynn

“My interest in fashion and film began when I was 13, where I modeled and creatively directed pretend shoots with friends. By age 23, I was studying makeup in London, working on small films. I have modeled sporadically throughout my life, and my current focus is in combining fine art, psychology and philanthropy into a film project centered on the effects of PTSD.”

Facebook Link:
IG: @shelby.magnolia

Eena Irina

@Eena Irina ( Eenabo) is a creative director/ stylist & designer at Eenabo Select- a rental fashion & design studio in the heart of Tokyo, providing styling services and custom designed accessories  for various creative productions – photo shoots, fashion films, personal event styling, runways, beauty pageants and more. Various high brands available : Gucci, Balmain, Cavalli, Red Valentino, Carven, MSGM, Maison Margiela and more.
@Eenabo FAB and @Eena Irina joined our creators event to style models for the photo shoots. Models and guests were trying on some fabulous fashion and unique accessories  and modeled them at the event.

 Facebook- @EenaboFAB
IG- @eenabo 

Make sure you get to follow me on Instagram, one of the most updated media channels I use.

Thank you for reading my blog and for following my story as a professional photographer who covers Yokohama, Tokyo and beyond.  My services extend  beyond event, family, fitness, pet studio photography. If you have a great idea, please shoot me a message by clicking here.

Cristian Bucur Photography Logo
Cristian Bucur Photography Logo

Remember you can always follow me on any of the social platforms associated down bellow.

My editing workflow

Pet Photographer in Yokohama. How I started to learn and love human’s best friend Photography in my little Tatami Studio. Tips and tricks.

Pet Photographer in Yokohama. How I started to learn and love human’s best friend Photography in my little Tatami Studio. Tips and tricks.

Photographing Pets has a lot in common with “regular” portrait photography. Making a successful animal portrait requires not only an equal amount of technical skills necessary for human portraits but also a great understanding of pets behavior. And a lot of love and passion. 

Yorkshire Terrier during a studio photosession in Tatami Studio
Yorkshire Terrier during studio photosession in Tatami Studio

If there is a clear channel of communication between humans, trying to communicate with an animal, be it a dog, or any other best-loved for that matter, is more gentle and delicate and more often than not it goes beyond words. Giving a snack to an adult while taking her or his portraits may sound silly, although is proven that sugary snacks makes us humans more prone to be happy. When it comes to dogs, well, receiving a delicious snack (sugar free of course) from time to time makes it easier to catch their little attention, thus making better photographs. 

My little canine friend has almost nine years since I have it and our joint history goes long beyond typical pet and owner relationship. Tzitzy has joined my wife and I throughout our life around the globe. Originally from western part of Romania, he has traveled and lived with us in Serbia for two and half years followed by another five years in South Korea. After our 3rd international move to Japan, since 2019th, until today January 21st, 2020th he is a proud Japanese “citizen” (and continues to be so), right now being under my office desk, while I’m typing this article, somewhere in Yokohama. At the moment he has to wear a collar because he has a couple of stitches after removals of some papillomas at Center Kita Animal Clinic. I know, he is aging, that’s why the idea of me doing portraits for my dearie in studio has been born in the first place. My dog is a fluffy friendly Yorkshire Terrier which is longer legged than average and weighs a little more over four kilograms. 

My faithful dog resting underneath my office desk while writing this article

As I wrote above desire to make portraits of my dog came out of an idea of how to have other than phone memories of him long after his life…. Of course, you may think this is a little bit creepy, but this is the truth, regardless of how it sounds, whether I like it or not. For the fist time trying to get the lights right was a challenge; I had put Tzitzy on a wooden chair which made it look like he was sat on a chopping board. 😛 Silly I know, but I was so proud of the photos until a friend pointed out that I might want to redo the photos using a more flattering support underneath my dog. Shortly after the feedback, I had repurposed a table which I had covered with a black textile to have the same color as my background. 

Yorkshire Terrier during a studio photosession in Tatami Studio
Yorkshire Terrier during studio photosession in Tatami Studio

Tip #1: groom, clean and brush your pet before a organizing a studio photo shoot

If the first try was indeed just a try with a couple of photos as a result of the test, the second try was a full studio photography session with my dog as a full time model. I made sure I gave him a bath, brushed his coat, and teeth. Yes, due to a stomach condition, I have to brush his teeth regularly in order to clean up the residue, bad smell and reduce the amount of plaque that builds lighting fast.

Yorkshire Terrie looking straight t the camera
Yorkshire Terrie looking straight t the camera

 While taking the first few shots of my dog while testing out the intensity of the flashes covered by softboxes I noticed that my dog was really interested where the light is coming from, especially because with each camera actuation the flashes were making a discharge noice. After around ten shots, my little canine friend released his interest to my studio lighting equipment and was more interested on how to jump off of the table. Luckily he truly listens to me and after I told him with a firm voice that he isn’t allowed to jump he just started to look at me, almost like trying to ask: “what do you want from me”.  The attention life span of a animal is quite small (I haven’t researched this, but trust me, as a pet owner I know) so as a photographer you need to have everything in place and start shooting right away. 

Yorkshire Terrier
Yorkshire Terrier

Tip #2: Snacks, your best bet to attract the pet’s attention 

Soon I had to start using a whistle, start doing noises I didn’t think it would be possible for me to do. One thing you need to know about noises and favorite ones: they are effective the first and maybe second time; after that is just noise.

Because in part I knew some of these “behind the scene” insights, I was prepared with snacks. After serving the first snack it was clear that my dog was back with me with full attention towards my camera. I may or may not put the snacks bag on top of my head and a dog’s treat….or two on my camera lens. This last resort was gold for the photo shoot I have organized for my pet. I didn’t starve my dog beforehand, don’t worry. On the contrary, I struggle to make it eat his food, because his appetite is very low and sometimes he’s forgetting to eat for an entire day. 

Yokshire Terrier moments after having a treat during studio photography session.
Yorkshire Terrier moments after having a treat during studio photography session.

After finishing the pet studio shoot, I took the memory card upstairs in my office to download the photos in the computer. You’d think my job was done right after I have finished taking the photos. Well, the process of producing one photograph it’s not completed until after applying corrections in editing programs like Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop. Sometimes the photo post production resumes to only color correction, applying contrast, all basic steps. Other times the edit requires removing stains, hairs, or simply enlarging the table due to “poor” positioning of the dog. Although I use a fairly small table, for small dogs is big enough and they move around freely. 

You can see the dog here is on one side of the table I used during the studio shoot. A final edited image would have been with the table extended in Photoshop.
You can see the dog here is on one side of the table I used during the studio shoot. A final edited image would have been with the table extended in Photoshop.

My Tatami Studio is open to any kinds of pets, from dogs to snakes, rabbits, parrots. When is the case, handling may be required to be done by the pet owner. For large animals shoots please add detailed information through the contact section on my website. The location of my Tatami Studio is in Yokohama, for the exact address please ask.

Thank you for reading my blog and for following my story as a professional photographer who covers Yokohama, Tokyo and beyond.  My services extend  beyond best-loved studio photography, and also include pet and owner in outdoor settings. You can read here the story of a previous photo session I have done for a beautiful Maltese and it’s lovely owner in Yoyogi Park in Tokyo.

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Cristian Bucur Photography Logo
Cristian Bucur Photography Logo

Portrait of Xoloitzcuintly taken during a Studio Photography Sesson in my Tatamy Studio

Story of the Worst Day I have chosen to visit Instagram worthy Hot Spots in Tokyo, Hie Shrine (Tokyo’s own like Fushimi Inari Shrine) and Tokyo Tower

Story of the Worst Day I have chosen to visit Instagram worthy Hot Spots in Tokyo, Hie Shrine (Tokyo’s own like Fushimi Inari Shrine) and Tokyo Tower

This travel article was born after I decided to leave comfort of my home during the extreme heat that covered the entire Japanese Island last summer. After being prisoner days after days due to summer high heat and high humidity, I finally decided to go out and explore sites in Tokyo. After all, I was in the first year living in Japan and exploring a Metropolis that is home for around 37.000.000 (thirty-seven million) people is both huge and impressive. Before deciding where to go and what to take with me (if you have a friend that is professional photographer you already know is not that easy to decide whether you need all the gear you have or you need to buy more 🙂 ) gear wise, I did my research as where to go to and so I decided to choose some of the best Instagrammable spots in town.

From previous visits in Japan before moving here, I have learned that a maximum of two locations for an afternoon is more than enough, otherwise the time wouldn’t suffice to wonder around with my Nikon Camera. For those  camera geeks I will write down bellow the list with all my gear. Qualifying for the short list, Hie Shrine and Tokyo Tower made my list for the day.

Hie Shrine, afternoon view
Hie Shrine, afternoon view

Qualifying for the short list, Hie Shrine and Tokyo Tower made my list of some of the most Instagram worthy places for the afternoon trip to Tokyo

You might be wondering why exactly I have chosen to write down in the title “story of the worst day”…. Well because it was due to high heat and humidity, and because I have hurt my back after carrying around my camera backpack with all the gear, from which, to be honest, I could leave at home some without issues.
Down bellow you can see some of the photos and print screens I have posted on Facebook on that day. The past summer was the hottest summer ever for me, with the heat going on for months and although the temperatures weren’t absolute extreme, in Japan… “feels like 37” have a different feel compared to the rest of the world. High humidity makes it unbearable. The not so top notch, without insulation houses with questionable sliding windows and doors, makes the air conditioning running twenty-four hours a day, to be able to keep the moisture out and a decent temperature inside the house to be able to breathe and sleep.  It’s that bad, especially because the temps never lower under 30 (thirty) degrees Celsius even during the night, so most of the houses never get the chance to cool off. During this past hot summer, I even have done a long ride from Yokohama to Boso Peninsula. A total of 148km with an elapsed time of little over 14 (fourteen) hours along a great partner who showed me the way, an avid cyclist and photography passionate man (you can read his blog here).

As you can see on the photo posted above, after walking around for a couple of hours I have decided to buy towels from a convenience store to wipe off the sweat from my face, because I couldn’t keep my eyes open, let alone use my camera to make photographs.

View from inside the premises of Hie Shrine, Tokyo

To be able to get to Hie Shrine, I had to take a bus to Tama Plaza and from there the subway to Tameike-Sanno Station which is in Akasaka Area. From the station, only a couple of minutes walk and I was at the entrance of the Shrine where I was a little bit confused because there is no English directions. To make my sweat worthwhile, I had decided to go right (wrong!) around the hill where I could find another entrance to the Shrine, not knowing that if I would have gone left only after a couple of steps I would have arrived at the stairs covered in the famous red torii gates. Lesson learned, since I have been there a couple of times already for personal exploration. Of course, Hie Shrine is well known for portrait photo shoots. A lot of tourists go there with the aim to enrich their Instagram feed (this is mine). No worries if you aren’t a selfie person, you can hire me as your personal vacation photographer in Tokyo and I will be delighted to to show you around.

Man walking up the stairs covered by torii gates at Hie Shrine in Tokyo

Step by step I was enduring the heat and humidity but I couldn’t stop exploring, the joy of hanging around with my camera exploring a new place made it worthwhile. Hie Shrine is located almost dead Center of Tokyo and is an extremely beautiful Shrine which attracts lost of local and overseas visitors. Known for the red torii gates that covers the stairs which goes up to one of the entrances, it is nicknamed Fushimi Inari of Tokyo.  Locals and tourists visit the Shrine for it’s famous Love Knot/Marriage Tie known as Enmusubi.  Due to it’s location, during and after lunch many business people can be seen taking a break under the big trees with surrounds to Shrine premises. It’s a little green Oasis in the middle of the city. On one day during a portrait photo shoot I had here, I could witness parts of a traditional Japanese wedding and I must say, I was impressed. Is there anyone who can invite me over to observe a traditional wedding? 🙂 

Torii Gates tunnel at Hiw Shrine, Tokyo
Torii Gates tunnel at Hie Shrine, Tokyo

I consider this to be one of the best places to visit  in town or to make great photographs. From certain angles you can see the contrast of old and new, of a great traditional architecture and the new high-rise buildinds which surrounds the place. If you are lucky and patient enough you may be able to get a great photographic effect of the path line made of torii gates even without stagers wandering into your photo.
While enjoying a well deserved cold drink, I have contacted my friend who lives just near by in Akasaka to see if I could meet him to say hi. To my surprise he was at home and have invited me to see where he lives. I took the chance because I was in acute need of cooling down and refill my blood with some caffeine. Said and done, here is the view where I had the coffee with my friend. I bet the views he is having throughout the year are awesome. 

Man's portrait in a coffee shop in Akasaka Tower Residence
Man’s portrait in a coffee shop in Akasaka Tower Residence

Tokyo Tower, one of the most known landmarks in Tokyo, is visited by millions of tourists annually-h3

After the coffee break I had and cooled off with a great view, I decided to get back and face the heat again and go on foot to Tokyo Tower. This wasn’t my first time visiting the Tower, because in 2014th I was visiting Japan for the first time. I had no idea at the time that it will come a time when I will move in Yokohama and become a professional photographer. But guess, what, the life is awesome and here I am living the dream.

The view I had while enjoying my coffee on top of Akasaka Tower

I was lucky I had chosen to walk to the tower, because on my way I could find by chance the showroom of Mitsuoka Motors, a small car manufacturer founded in February 1969 with a special retro design, although I can assure you, the cars are brand new. Since then I remained a fan of this car manufacturer, scoring one more point than Toyota  on my Japanese car podium. Down bellow are a couple of photos I took of one of their car displayed in the showroom.

Tokyo Tower makes for a perfect start of the evening showing off the iconic glowing orange tower. In case you are wondering why white and orange, according to Wikipedia, “The structure is an Eiffel Tower-inspired lattice tower that is painted white and international orange to comply with air safety regulations.

What is Tokyo Tower? Tokyo Tower is the Eiffel Tower Replica

This Eiffel Tower replica is 13 meters taller than the Parisian Structure and nowadays is more a source of tourism than a radio and television antenna. 

Tokyo Tower view during night time; photograph taken using a tripod and Nikon D750.
Tokyo Tower view during night time; photograph taken using a tripod and Nikon D750.

Because the Tokyo Tower is taller than most of the surrounding buildings it can be seen from far away while walking towards it. That fooled me and got me a little lost through the side alleys somewhat behind it. It wasn’t all that bad as I could make some photos that aren’t that popular online. After drinking some cold water I headed up hill to find new vantage points to make some photos. You can see here, I was all sweaty and using the little neck towel to wipe off and keep my eyes clear and salty free. After some time, I took a break and bought one Crepe (pancake for the rest of the world) to fill up the emptiness in my stomach. After my snack I have continued to do some photos around the Tokyo Tower. All this time it made me think how to do some portrait photos for possible clients having the Tokyo Tower in the background. Due to how tall the tower is, being that close it would make it very unlikely to be able to make flattering portraits, with no distortion. Checking the map, I was thinking there must be a near by open space with clear view towards the tower. After calling out the day, I went walking around and have discovered Shiba Park near by. Later on, I had the chance to put to work the insights I knew about Tokyo Tower and even did a couple of photo shoots in the Shiba Park premises with the Tower in the far distance. I was a great time I have spent with two amazing women, one from Italy and the other from Philippines. Here you can see my other post  about photo shoots I have done near by.

Self Portrait of me Cristian Bucur Photographer
Self Portrait of me Cristian Bucur Photographer

Although I have been choosing the worst day ever to go out shooting due to the heat outside (as far as i recall, it was the hottest day last year in Japan), despite the heavy pain I got injuring my back, visiting Hie Shrine and revisiting Tokyo Tower was a great time spent.

Tokyo Tower view during night time; photograph taken using a tripod and Nikon D750.
Tokyo Tower view during night time; photograph taken using a tripod and Nikon D750.

I managed to make new memories, new photos, remember where I have been to in 2014th. To top it all, now I can be a great tour guide too while doing what I love the most: be your professional photographer anywhere in Tokyo. Starting with this coming spring I will be able to provide photo shoots outside of Tokyo too. Most probably this would mean Kyoto and places near by Fuji Mountain like Oshino Hakkai, Lake Kawaguchi. 

Here you can access my Travel Facebook Page and the Tavel Instagram Profile, sharing and supporting me with a follow and like will go a long way for me, thank you in advance.

If you are looking to hire a photographer in Tokyo, please don’t hesitate to contact me, i’d love to hear from you.

Thank you for staying with for so long, I promise I will keep creating new content soon. Cristian Bucur Photography, the only photographer you want to follow via the buttons down bellow.

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Gear used:

Nikon D750
Nikon 20mm, f/1.8
Nikon 35mm, f/1.8
Nikon 50mm, f/1.8
Nikon 85mm, f/1.8

My Photo Travels during the first month after I become a “local” in Japan

My Photo Travels during the first month after I become a “local” in Japan

A year later after moving to the Land of the Rising Sun I decided to write about what I have done in the first month living in Yokohama. You’d probably think that wasn’t much…. well, it kinda was: I have been walking more than 100km according to what my iPhone was counting for me.

View towards the end of Ōoka River in Yokohama; very near the place I have been living for on full month.

Leaving South Korea after five beautiful years and moving to a new country wasn’t easy. I have left behind friends, places, memories. It’s true, I took with me all of the good memories and left behind the struggles but… even though I have been visiting Japan before more than once, little things like buying toilet paper can be troublesome at first for newcomers. Where do I go to buy proper sized socks? You know, asian sizing… “in/frustrates” me quite often but it also keeps my pockets fuller. 😉

What it is like to live in Japan as an expat

I had a month for myself before moving from the short time rented apartment in Minato Mirai to a more quieter detached house with a yard and garden, to decipher how things works. And I thought I had discovered…

Vertical panoramic view of the Landmark Tower
Vertical panoramic view of the Landmark Tower made out from many horizontal frames stiched together using Adobe Lightroom

Every day I would take long walks with my camera hanging around my neck (by the way, all the photographs you can see here are taken exclusively during the first month here) and snap here and there things, people, cityscapes I would consider interesting. Because most of my walks weren’t meant for street photography solely, I kept decent the amount of photographs I took.

These Japanese taxi cars, most of them Toyotas, are very well know for their automatic doors.

So… you probably know the big super or mega markets all over the world, right? Well, it took me a month to realize that except Costco, they don’t exist. Most of the “super-markets” look closer to convenience stores in South Korea for example and are very focused on the local consumers with a couple of blocks rather than having an exact range similar to other places.

View of the Yokohama Bay during evening filled with flying seagulls
View of the Yokohama Bay during evening filled with flying seagulls

The first couple of days I have been sick and the weather wasn’t up to the Land of the Rising Sun, but nothing to worry, only cloudy days with little rain and only with degrees on the positive side of the scale with a minimum raging between 5-7°C and a maximum ranging 12-17°C. It seems that Yokohama and Tokyo have a warmer climate compared to the rest of the country due to the mountains sheltering the area, combined with opening to the sea. As a photographer I can’t even ask for more. Once I felt better I started to discover Minato Mirai Area which is beautiful. It’s a relatively newly built area, with plenty of high-rise buildings, both designated for living and offices and companies headquarters.

Fuji Xerox in financial district Yokohama, during evening
Fuji Xerox in financial district Yokohama, during evening

In the mean time I stick with Save the Date and After Wedding Photos, the latter known as Trash the Dress too in some parts of the world (sometimes quite literally).

Ferris Wheel and Anniversaire Cafe Yokohama
Ferris Wheel and Anniversaire Cafe Yokohama, the latter being an exclusivist wedding hall

I’ve been waking all around the Rinko Park, Yokohama Cosmoworld, Kishamichi Promenade; from the last place seeing the Anniversaire Cafe, which is both a restaurant and a wedding hall, quite exclusivist if judge by the prices. I couldn’t help myself thinking about shooting as a professional photographer weddings in such a place, but… later on I had found how things go for these events on the local market. Most brides and grooms are renting a wedding venue which in turn comes with a planner that brings the whole package needed for the entire event, including teams of photographers, videographers, wedding dress, tuxedo, shoes, table and floral arrangements, menu, wedding invitations. Wedding last for about one hour and half and at the end the entire visual production is already edited and photos and video are given to the groom and bride on the way out. Thats… this sounds like a factory, but if the local wedding market pays for it… many $$$$ more often than not.

In the mean time I stick with Save the Date and After Wedding Photos, the latter known as Trash the Dress too in some parts of the world (sometimes quite literally).

Ferris Wheel Yokohama seen in section against the blue sky
Ferris Wheel Yokohama seen in section against the blue sky
Red Porsche convertible parked in front of a building

Day by day I was learning new things about how things work in Japan, how people seemed to adapt to be living in such small homes and even got stunned seeing restaurants, very well rated, taking activity in places not much larger than my actual bedroom. Uhh! 

Ferris Wheel Seen from across the Ooks River

Next discovering was “Fit Care DEPOT” for which, you have guessed already, my wife was very grateful. 😉 Google that if you don’t take my word for granted. 😛 Near by it there is Yamashita Park, a very nice park that has a beautiful structure  with a green dome, built and donated by the Indian Union to console the souls of Indian people who have died in Japan during the Great Kanto Earthquake. I hope I got that right.

The park has more landmarks and attractions, another one that I like a lot is the garden area, filled up with various flowers. Now I know about the flowers, but in January (2019th) last year there weren’t many, the fact that I didn’t even notice them.

From the park people have access to Kihawa Maru, a retired luxury liner which had been used from 1930 to 1960. It can be visited and view the inside, something that I have yet to do.

NYK Hikawamaru, Yamashita Park, Yokohama
NYK Hikawamaru, retired luxury liner, Yokohama, Japan

During the first month I have learned a lot of things, some worth being brought up and some other not so much. Because I’m an avid cyclist (please read “was”) I was checking all the bike shops in the area accessible on foot, from Y’s Road to Trek.

In one of the days I have even walk past a huge cemetery, and by the looks to the map it seems that it’s not only one but more of them, one next to another. The house agent even took my wife and I to a near by house to see it if we want to rent it. My wife didn’t like the idea of having so many silent neighbors. I couldn’t care less; I even liked the house. 🙂

Another place I have discovered was the docs where workers have restored the Sail Training Ship; unfortunately I didn’t visit the place every day with my camera, but I did it without it. However I could see the entire process with every step they took to drain the water around it, how they have cleaned it, welded and painted it. The photo you can see down bellow is from the beginning of the process.

Sail Training Ship Nippon Maru
Sail Training Ship Nippon Maru

On the west side of Sakuragicho Station (on my way to Y’s Road bike shop) I was walking one late evening through the tunnel on the side of the street (not sure what purpose is serving) and got me thinking to go back there with my camera and do some street photography during the night time capturing the people going to the station, most probably returning from work. Quite interesting. This reminds me that I have some great night shots I took in September 2018th while raining. Yeah, sounds intriguing right? That’s for another blog post tho 🙂

Night view of man walking under an underpass near be a street
Night view of man walking under an underpass near be a street
Car parked in front of the Moon Cafe Yokohama

Going further “down” towards south-east I have found Mooneyes which has been a bless to my eyes a vintage car and parts store. Ohhh! Beauties over there are so classy and well maintained that you can’t just walk past without noticing that a something goes on, on a big scale.

Red Vintage Car Parked in front of Moon Cafe Yokohama
Red Vintage Car Parked in front of Moon Cafe Yokohama

During my walks I could find a lot of small alleys which have their own feel, which sets them apart from the big boulevards. I could say nor only their vibe, but also musicality that draws me to rise my camera to the eyes and photograph them. Unfortunately at the time I didn’t have my computer with me discard the photos from the camera’s memory cards (remember, just moved here and all my stuff was in a container) and I have kept low the number of them. Next time I’ll be better prepared, although I’m absolutely not looking forward to move again soon.

Bicycle parked in a small alley somewhere in Yokohama
Bicycle parked in a small alley somewhere in Yokohama

Of course I have been walking through the amazing Yokohama China Town, but since I was lazy, I haven’t had my camera with me, so no photos; remember, not I am talking about only about the first month here, fear not, since then I have hundreds of photos and videos taken in the best looking Chinatown on Earth. In the middle of it, there is the Chinese Masobyo Temple, but for that I will write an entire article, as it is absolutely beautiful. This place is absolutely amazing for me and I can’t get enough of it, be it street photography, Chinese foods, restaurants, vibe, everything.

Politness beyond words in Japan

Having the opportunity to visit many places on Earth, not as many as I wish-I shall say, I can clearly see the differences between Japan and anywhere else. One of the most astonishing thing for me is that people smile and are extremely polite, Extremely Polite; they go over and beyond the definition of politeness. Sometimes I feel awkward because I say thank you and do a little bow only once, while the locals follow a proper etiquette, until the last bit of it. Thank you for taking the time to thank me is the daily norm. Something that could be spread in many parts of this beautiful world we live in. The explanations I got about this behavior is that Japanese people are educated to treat everyone, every day, no matter what, like it’s the first and the last time they meet someone. I find this to be very interesting and in the same time I appreciate it.

Man walking during evening time on one of the many pedestrian overpasses available in Yokohama
Man walking during evening time on one of the many pedestrian overpasses available in Yokohama

With the above I am closing the short version of the story of my life in the first month on Nihon land.

If you plan visiting any place in Japan, please drop me a message, I might have some insights to share. It goes without saying to contact me if you need to hire an English speaking photographer in Tokyo, Cristian Bucur Photography is at your service, “day and night” depending on my schedule.

Take your time and visit my Instagram Travel Profile here, or just type in the search tab of IG @crisphototravels and follow my profile.

Down bellow you can directly click for my business IG and Facebook Page. I appreciate every like, follow and comment you might have, so don’t be shy!

The last but not the least, I have already another blog post in the making about my experience as a professional photographer in Japan, so, stay close, will follow shortly.

As always, thank you for reading my blog posts and make sure you check other posts too! Sharing is caring and it could help me boost the traffic to my website.

Screen video of some of the workflow I do while editing. This is specific to this bdibuilder photo shoot I have done in Shibuya Area in Tokyo