Vacation & Street Photography during the Japanese Cherry Blossom, also known as Sakura

Vacation & Street Photography during the Japanese Cherry Blossom, also known as Sakura

Last year, in January, my wife and I have moved in Japan after living for five years in South Korea, a place that has grown on us and had become something we proudly have called Home. Slowly but surely, our time spent in Tokyo and Yokohama has made the Land of the Rising Sun feels like home too.

Today I’m going to write about my experience as a street photographer, living aside stories about shooting families or pets. I know this is a long debated subject, but I will focus on my photos and experience in this amazing country.

Park Picnic in Tokyo during Sakura Season
Park Picnic in Tokyo during Sakura Season

Seeing couples enjoying outdoor scenery is very common and especially during Sakura Season. People around the Globe are having planned the vacations to Nihon land to see and enjoy the Cherry Blossom. For many people the Land of the Rising Sun is also synonym with Sakura and planning the vacation during the photogenic Cherry blossom peak comes without much thinking. 

Sakura Season it’s the best time to schedule a vacation photography session in Tokyo 

Hanami (花見, “flower viewing”) is the Japanese traditional custom of enjoying the transient beauty of flowers” according to Wikipedia and indeed I can tell you that hanami is a custom very popular among both local Japanese people and also tourists. Locals take it even a step further and share the joy of viewing the Cherry Blossoms with the entire families, friends, kids and pets (yes, taking your favorite pet for a walk under Sakura petals is quite nice) with whom they toast a glass of champagne (pets don’t react well after champagne 😉 ). Möet is a real thing during Sakura on Nippon land.

Sakura/Cherry Flowers in Tachikawa, 2014th, Tokyo
Sakura/Cherry Flowers in Tachikawa, 2014th, Tokyo

During Sakura, the amount of crowds are something I have never seen before, tourists and locals are pouring on the streets and alleys where Cherry Trees are. People are photographing every side of every tree hoping they’ll get the best shot ever, or at least the best memory. Not to mention the photography aficionados, be it hobbyists of professional photographers with the latest trends in camera gear, tripods, lenses and huge backpacks to accommodate all of the above spend hours creating millions of photographs that will probably will never be consumed. Couples and families hire photographers to provide them great memories for the loved ones or just to capture beautiful moments for years to come. Photography is indeed one of the best solutions to “Frame Our Life Stories” as I like to say. As a tourist on the Nippon land during Sakura (and not only) you can book a photography session with me (Cristian Bucur Photography) and even rent out a Kimono to complete the Japanese experience from Yae in Asakusa

Friends wearing Komonos in Asakusa, near by Sensoji Temple, Tokyo

Couple photo shoot in Tokyo

As a photographer, my Sakura adventure started in the first year living in here at Nakameguro canal. Trust me, this is the Cherry Blossom Wonderland, the most accessible place if you are in downtown Tokyo. On the sides of the canal you can experience street food, the aforementioned champagne, coffee shops and more. Couples and families arrange photo shoots during walks under the Cherry Blossom which will become memory treasures for years to come. After all, this is the Land of the Rising Sun, with the most relaxed and easy going people.

Sakura/Cherry Blossoms in Shinjuku Gyoen National Park
Sakura/Cherry Blossoms in Shinjuku Gyoen National Park

Cherry trees were one more beautiful than the last one. Birds were chirping and people enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere. Occasionally I would stop so I can take more photos or steal portraits of people enjoying their time in the park. Some of the more talented people were painting and drawing the beautiful trees in full blossom, with patience and dedication. Blending in as a tourist helped me as a street photographer to create beautiful photographs to remind me of the first Sakura Season as a “local”.

Man painting Cherry Trees during full blossom in Shinjuku Gyoen National Park
Man painting Cherry Trees during full blossom in Shinjuku Gyoen National Park

I couldn’t stop telling to myself what a dream I live to be a photographer located in Tokyo 23 wards; this city has so much to offer, any time of the year. It feeds my photographic appetite any time of the day, be it with street photography or photo shoots with beautiful big families of four or more members. You can actually read here my latest post I have wrote about the experience I had during a family photoshoot in Roppongi Hills.

After walking almost all of the Nakameguro canal, I decided to head off to the Imperial Palace which is located in the center of the city, only a very short walk from the beautiful Tokyo Station. Here I have spent quite a bit of time admiring the palace’s architecture and the beautiful Japanese gardens that amazed everyone around me, from local to tourists alike. Having my heart and soul filled up with great memories and my memory cards with amazing photos, I went for a late lunch to have Japanese noodles, known also as ramen (wheat noodles). Of course, there are a lot of other kinds of noodles, but you know, we humans have only one stomach and to be faire I kinda looked for menus in English. 🙂

Entrance to Imperial Palace Tokyo
Entrance to Imperial Palace Tokyo

Said and done, I left the restaurant and decided to go visit Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. On my way there, I kinda got lost in another park…. Even to this day I can’t figure out where that was. It might have been the park around the Akasaka Imperial Property, or Meiji Jingu Gaien Nikoniko Park. I have no idea. Down bellow is one table that has a similar concept (to me) with The Table of Silence carved by Constantin Brancuși. Interesting, isn’t it?

Here more about it.

Round stone table with round chairs in Tokyo
Round stone table with round chairs in Tokyo

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is a large park where one can stay for hours to enjoy the tranquil scenery for only 500 Yen. No wonder why this park has a paid entry, because it’s both huge and has a great landscaping maintained all year round. The park is somewhat divided in smaller units, some that look more like Japanese traditional gardens while other have more of a Western look. The bad news is… or was… I haven’t checked the opening hours of the park. Mondays (or following day if Monday is a national holiday) are the days when the park is closed, probably for maintenance. So…. No Sakura photos in Shinjuku Gyoen National Park that day. Because I’m a relentless photographer, days later after my first attempt to photograph this park from Flowery Kingdom, I came back to the park fully geared up with my camera, lenses and tripod. I have even did some long exposures using neutral density filters.
It is worth mentioning especially for people who what shoots in parks in Tokyo, that in most of the parks commercial photo shoots require a permit after paying a fee, information available from the local ward if I understand right.

Sakura long exposure photograph taken in Shinjuku Gyoen National Park, Tokyo (around 30 seconds was the exposure if I remember well).
Sakura long exposure photograph taken in Shinjuku Gyoen National Park, Tokyo (around 30 seconds was the exposure if I remember well).

Don’t think I have kept myself in a continuous photo shoot all over the places, but here and there I stopped when I considered a good spot would help me get a good photograph. In the following days I have continued with my adventure for vacation/travel photos, visiting parts of Tokyo and Yokohama.

Landmark Tower in Minato Mirai makes for such great views over Yokohama and if there is a clear day, even Fuji is visible.

Yokohama Bay panoramic view from the top of the Landmark Tower.
Yokohama Bay panoramic view from the top of the Landmark Tower.

To be precise, you can drink a coffee with spectacular views of Mount Fuji. Red Brick Warehouses, Ohsanbashi Pier and Yokohama Chinatown are also some of the top picks with my favorite place being the Chinatown. I just can’t have enough of it.

View over Yokohama; amazing how many constructions are, right? And all of them perfectly aligned.
View over Yokohama; amazing how many constructions are, right? And all of them perfectly aligned.

Since you red all of my words until here, keep an eye on my blog as I am always trying to write about my experiences as a photographer living in The Great Nihon. This is the first blog post I write about my other photography experiences here and where I show you places and people through my city/landscape and street photography. I have a lot more photographs published on my Instagram Travel Profile which is accessible directly from here or simply type @crisphototravels in Instagram Search.

Are you looking to hire a professional photographer in Japan? Make sure you click the contact button down below and book your photography session with me anywhere in Tokyo or Yokohama and allow me to tell your story through my vision.  Are you going to fly in Osaka and have time to visit only Kyoto? No worries, I can travel there too and show you around. 

Make sure you visit my Instagram profile and support me by hitting that follow button.

Couple photography session in Roppongi Hills, Tokyo

Couple photography session in Roppongi Hills, Tokyo

Now I finally get to blog about my favorite couple photoshoot in Tokyo. Well, to be more precise, it did happen in Roppongi Hills, a place that gives me as a photographer a lot of options to play with the light and shadows, different backgrounds, like Tokyo Tower or just a plain park scene. Roppongi Hills really is a versatile place, visited by many tourists every single day with plenty attractive things to do and see. Did I mention high-end shopping stores? 🙂

Couple photo, Roppongi Hills

At the right time, the couple have arrived at the meeting point near by the giant spider structure that dominates both the square and the tourists’ photos and selfies. Since e-mails and text messages don’t have accents, I was “ambushed” by the lovely couple with a nice, subtle and delicate French accent,  which obviously made me think of Bordo and Edith Piaf: “Non, je no regrette rien”, one of the songs I absolutely love listening to. While I was in school although I hated learning French, I have always loved the way it sounds… “de la musique”. 

Absolutely stunning song.

These are Ambre and Romain. I hope I got the spelling right, because apparently autocorrect spells Amber and Romaine, the later meaning salad…. and for an almost rocket scientist wouldn’t sound quite right. Romain is an engineer who designs robots that go into space to detect, learn and…. lets get back to me being English speaking photographer in Tokyo, shall we? 😉

Ambre and Romain, great looking couple with an inspiring love story

After I only took a few shots, I realized two things: a stunning connection between the two and an engineer frozen in front of my lens. It absolutely amazed me the way they look into each other’s eyes. The problem was… and I quote “you can imagine, SHE dragged me into this”! I totally get it man, I myself, I would rather shoot than be shoot at too, but hey, that’s why I am a photographer doing couple portraits in Tokyo. 

Now, my brain was at full speed, using all of it’s “ram memory”: how do I distract Romain’s thoughts from thinking he’s in front of a camera? Well, I had started to talk about my own fear related to the camera, hoping that this will help relaxing Romain because the photoshoot session was still at the beginning. Indeed, talking about me and refocusing the “target” took off some of the pressure Romain was experiencing, so much by the end of the photoshoot he has forgotten why he was frozen. Not to mention he did it in the name of love, isn’t that beautiful?

That’s how love looks like

As you have guessed already, Ambre and Romain are both from France.  Ambre is from Paris suburb and Romain is from the southern part of France. They have met in engineering school in the west of France when Romain was already in the 2nd year and she was just a freshman.

They both have dreamed of studying abroad but as Romain was one year ahead and he has had already entered the process of coming to Japan for a double degree in a Japanese famous university at the time they have become a couple.

Roppongi Hills gives many opportunities to make couple photos.

Amber is remembering: “for my part, I didn’t have any plan to live in Japan someday, I had thought about going in English speaking countries but not Japan as I didn’t speak Japanese. But I had to decide whether or not following Romain to Japan, which meant whether or not I wanted the relationship to continue because we were young and very long distance relationship are very difficult. But I was in love and after all, why not? Living in Japan for a few years was not in my plan and it was sure a challenge but I loved the culture and I wouldn’t be completely alone so I did everything I could to learn Japanese, be accepted to the double degree and work a lot to get there.

After 3 years including one whole year of long distance relationship between France and Japan, we are living together in Kawasaki, both successful in our study/career paths, still thirsty of adventure in this beautiful country and happy as hell.”

Who would’ve thought that on a beautiful sunny day of November I would get to find out such a great love story during a couple photography session in Roppongi Hills? Well, over the time I have learnt to assume nothing and wait to discover the facts at the right time.

It is such a bless to be photographing so many people and find out their beautiful stories through my lenses. I get to learn, meet and discovered new people on a daily basis. More often than not, people open up and I have the chance to learn their life stories. Even though one hour photography session doesn’t sounds much, it actually is enough to gather precious information. 

What a smile?

Being the man behind the camera I get to see that micro face expression that tells me so much, that sparkle in the eye, that doesn’t need words nor it can be properly express through words. This fills up my soul and motivates me to pursue my passion and live for the rest of my life as a photographer, be it in Japan or elsewhere on our beautiful planet. I know it sounds like a cliche and I have already said it in other blog post about a family photoshoot I did in Tokyo, I do Frame Your Life Stories through my photography and I truly believe my photographs will virtually last for forever and make everyone happy for years to come.

Keep an eye close to my blog as I have in plan to bring up more touching and true love stories like Ambre and Romain’s and also write about my experience as a photographer. 

Great looking couple.

Click the contact button below and book your photography session with me anywhere in Tokyo or Yokohama and allow me to tell your story through my vision.  If you are like me and like to travel, that would only be perfect, you can book me too for your vacation photoshoot in Kyoto, or for that matter, anywhere in Japan. Shinkansen trains are insanely fast and Kyoto is only two hours away from a great photoshoot.



In Tokyo there are many parks and Yoyogi Park is one that can be quite amazing. You can simply have a stroll around the park, bring your favorite pet or enjoy free performances from people dressed in 1950s attire who would dance or sing.

Yoyogi Park has risen interest to me because of two main things: 1950s rock fans  who gather there on Sundays and the pets…. I meant to say pets’ outfits. As a photographer I am always looking for interesting things. Trust me, Tokyo doesn’t lack in events.

Although pets in Yoyogi Park are mostly dogs, they… are more special than anywhere else. Here I have seen the first time in 2014 so many dogs’ outfits that I even didn’t know they existed. If you think a pair of jeans for your dog will suffice… there is also hair stiles to consider as well as hair dye.

Pet and owner: portraits for everyone

Before I take you to a different direction on this article, I shall remember why I was  there last time and that was because Heike and I had scheduled an outdoor photography session, together with her pet, a beautiful Maltese named Blanche.

On the day prior to the photo session Blanche has visited a pet salon where she had her hair groomed, nails trimmed and all the rest of the normal care needed in order to look at her best. Taking care of a fluffy thing that likes mud is not as easy as it sounds because Blanche’s hair color is … what the name suggest: white. (Blanche in French means white 🙂 )

Although I have never asked Heike to do this, it is in fact a very good tip if you want to schedule a photoshoot with your pet.  Taking care of your best friend shouldn’t happen only before a photography session with a professional photographer, that’s a given I suppose 🙂

Heike is a German National living in Tokyo. She works here as an entrepreneur being a Goldsmith and jewelry maker. As you may have guessed already, she lives together with her Maltese Blanche, her best  and only coworker. 🙂

On the day we met near by Yoyogi Park entrance and on our way to the photoshoot spots, she was kind enough to share with me information about her work and life in Tokyo, the challenges and the good stuff she had already experienced in Japan. I was very thankful she had shared quite a bit of information and hopefully that will help me in the future in my entrepreneurship adventure as a professional photographer based in Tokyo and Yokohama. 

From the beginning I fell in love with Blanche and she is a natural poser in front of the camera. As you can see, her eyes makes anyone to meltdown in a heart bit. Making Blanche’s portraits was easy enough because Heike had trained her fluffy Maltese well and her responsiveness to commands was impressive for a small dog. It would be great to see Blanche in my Tatami Studio for a pet session too.  I must say, I love photographing pets in studio settings because it allows me to focus on their personality using controlled lighting setups and of course, there are less distractions.

Because the photo session in Yoyogi Park was about the bond between Heike and her little white Maltese, I had to stay focused and ready to capture any interesting interaction between the two. 

Taking Heike’s portraits was rather easy as she is a successful and a very good looking woman. She’s an entrepreneur in jewelry industry and I can bet it isn’t easy, but what comes easy these days?

The entire photoshoot went on like simple walk in the park, with stops here and there for more photos, listening to Heike’s life stories in Japan.

Being a portrait photographer comes in with great opportunities to meet new people all the time and find out inspiring stories. It is no wonder why I have in my logo the association between my name and “Frame Your Life Stories”. I truly believe that whenever I make a portrait, be it for a human or a pet, it will tell a story, or more stories, because we are all different and we see differently.
Cristian Bucur Photography- Frame Your Life Stories it goes beyond just a logo, it’s deep, it is personal my belief as a photographer.

Cristian Bucur Photography- Frame Your Life Stories it goes beyond just a logo, it’s deep, it is personal my belief as a photographer.
Blanche expecting treats from her mama

If you are already living in Japan and in need of portraits for yourself or your family, or your beloved pet for that matter, all you have to do is contact me to schedule a photography session and I will be delighted to be your English speaking photographer anywhere in Tokyo or Yokohama.

Family Portrait Photographer in Tokyo

Family Portrait Photographer in Tokyo

November was a busy yet a beautiful month for me as a photographer based in Tokyo Metropolitan area. Beautiful weather and great temperatures only helped me and the clients I had to spend a great time outdoors. My clients are ranging from professional models, individuals, pets, families, Goldsmith and Jewelry maker (@diaroxx) and even a bodybuilder who won 1st place in Amateur Olympia 2019 in Japan.

Perfect image to illustrate how dynamic these brothers are

Some of you may know that in January this year my wife and I have moved in Japan after living 5 full years in Seoul, South Korea. Things are quietly falling into place and day after day life becomes easier and more beautiful. Technically we are living in Yokohama,  45 minutes away from the overcrowded Shibuya crossing, which by the end of the day is only a good thing. We live in a stand alone house, have a garden and our area is regarded as a family area, so a quiet and quite serene place, where people say hello to each other and kids play on the street. Here and there an earthquake shakes my computer, one even recently while writing another blog post.

At the beginning of November, Brinley had contacted me to be her family’s photographer. Her e-mail started like this:

“Hi Cristian,

We are the Bradley family. We are from Utah. We lived in Tokyo from 2013-2014 and then moved back to the U.S. In 2019 we moved back to Tokyo, but now with 3 children, ages 5, 4, and 1. We love to travel together. We also love hiking and exploring the mountains.

We have been to Canada, Mexico, France, England, Hawaii, and Japan. Next year we are hoping to visit Thailand or Bali. I work as a nurse, and Kolby works in sales for a tech company.

Could you take our family portraits around Roppongi Area?

Thank you,
Brinley Bradley”

Even when posing, the kids are on the move

I was very glad reading all her e-mail filled up with so much information. Let me tell you, families with many members are a bless to work with. Do you think this statement sounds confusing because in fact that means more challenging work for a family photographer? Well, large families do have a very distinctive dynamic and usually members (read “the children”) are more willing to show off their playing skills in a more competitive way. 

Please allow me to explain this for you: my work as a photographer gets actually much easier, although I have to physically run many times during the outdoor photography session. In the same time, I don’t have to ask the kids to do anything  for me, which automatically translates into natural and genuine reactions beautifully captured into amazing photographs. They will just do it, and I, as a professional photographer I will be ready to capture the essence of each one.

If you tend to think that photographing a toddler is hard, or, on the contrary, it’s easy… well, let me tell you that being a kids photographer is not really a rocket science; you only need to love kids and know when to stop, yes, stop. I always concentrate on discovering the personality of who the little man or the young lady is. I approach any child smiling and trying to be as friendly as possible, but with the same work ethic and  seriousness as I would during a corporate head shoot. And that translates into great photographs where the mother’s will wow like Brinley did after seeing her daughter’s portrait:

“Oh my gosh. That is PERFECT. That is my favorite photo of her I’ve ever seen!”

“Oh my gosh. That is PERFECT. That is my favorite photo of her I’ve ever seen!”

Of course, having a very fit and great looking family in front of my camera, is from the start a very good recipe for making great family portraits and the Bradleys are just that: a very beautiful family, with a smile cut from tooth paste commercials. Yup, I just said it 🙂

Now let me properly introduce you the Bradleys, the way I got to know them at Roppongi Hills in Tokyo. I will start with the mother, Brinley,  which is a very dynamic and strong woman who manage raising while keeping safe her three beautiful children, two boys and one girl. She is smiling all the time and during the photoshoot I never heard her complaining about anything. That’s a skill a need to learn myself 🙂 

The family’s oldest child is a boy, who’s name is Kai. As you can see bellow, he is already a model. His smile says it all: I’m smart, I’m beautiful, I am conquering everyone and everything. It was and absolute bless to make his perfect smiling portraits.

Look at that perfect smile!

Presley is the only daughter of the family, and she is a climber. She would climb anything if she could, while having a giant victorious smile on her face. Even if I see a lot of active children during the family photoshoots or kids parties I photograph, Presley managed to raise my heart bit while climbing after a flyer that was a little (maybe more than a little) bit too high for her height. That’s a good attitude to have: nothing is too hard to reach at any point in life. Parenting success one to one here.

Yup, climbing all the time 🙂

Ledger, is the youngest man of the family, who expresses himself more through cries than words, but that’s what means to be a one year old toddler. He manages to get whatever he wants an he doesn’t stop until everyone around complies. So… he may be the next CEO or a great entrepreneur. I think we need more entrepreneurs than CEOs, but that’s for him to decide, and he has at least 17 years  to take that decision 🙂

You’re guessing right if you think he was looking for his mother.

Last but not the least, Kolby is the husband and the father of the family. I personally believe that he is one of the most involved man in both the photoshoot and being a father for his children.  Usually the fathers gladly takes a place on the side but he was actively involved all the time. Ohh, I appreciate men who aren’t afraid in front of the camera; that’s yet material for another post about about a robot engineer and her girlfriend. He was so scared!
Going back to Kolby, he’s a great person and we connected and start to communicate from the first second we met. This is the best ingredient for a perfect portrait.

Roppongi Hills is a very touristic place, both because of the two observatories  which gives amazing indoor views of the city at 250 meters above sea level or the Sky Deck outdoor at 270 meters above sea level and the exclusivist shopping available in the area.

For me as a photographer, taking family portraits around Roppongi Hills is a great opportunity as I like a lot the ever changing light around the immense glass tower where I can get both park looking photos or city like portraits against the skyline or Tokyo Tower.

Most probably this is the longest blog post I ever made, but hey, great time and memories deserve to be shared. You can guess I love my work and I put a lot of passion into it. I consider photography as great tool to preserve memories but also food for soul, that’s why if you need a portrait photographer in Tokyo or anywhere in Japan  to frame you life stories, please feel free to write me  an e-mail by hitting the contact button bellow.

Instagram @cristiancbucur and Facebook are also just a click away if you want to get in contact with me.

Portrait Photography Session

Portrait Photography Session

A while back, Daria and I have made a plan to meet at Tokyo Station and explore the area in order to get her some portraits. If you wonder who Daria is, she describes herself as “siberian girl in Japan” and you can follow her personal blog on Instagram here, where she posts photos from her trips and experiences.

Daria playing in the light breeze on the terrace

As you probably know, Tokyo Station has a lot of history  which dates back to 1914 if I’m not wrong. Hey, don’t jump to Google, this is a photography article after all 😉

After meeting Daria in front of Tokyo Station, we head to a near by terrace on 6th floor which gave us a beautiful view over the station building and the surrounding area. If you plan visiting Tokyo Station and wonder what else is in the area, well, there is the Imperial Palace too, only a couple of minutes away. Now, let’s go back to the terrace we’ve been to, which is beautifully designed and “fiercely guarded” that no one steps on the grass part of it… which I did touch with my backpack 😉 Needless to say 5 seconds later a cute overly polite guard came to me to explain that is not allowed to leave my backpack on the green. In this regard, I must note that I have never been into a country that is so polite, hat’s off Japan! (And now try imagine me trying to bow properly like a Japanese;) )

Daria against the skyline around Tokyo Station

After moving my backpack off of the grass, I continued photographing Daria and all went smooth. Because she lives in Japan way before me, she turned into an impromptu tourist guide for me and we took off towards the Nihonbashi Area. As a local photographer who lives in Tokyo I have a lot to learn about places because this city, as I said in other blog posts, is huuuge. One step at a time and I’ll eventually conquer this city.

On our way we stopped in different places to make some street shots against the skyline in downtown Tokyo.  We had so much fun as Daria is a very cheerful person who smiles and plays with her hair all the time. This had made my life easier behind the camera as her personal portrait and travel photographer.

It is worth mentioning that if just in case you want to schedule a photoshoot and choose the Silver Package I have prepared,  I shall mention that the Tokyo Station is also very close the the Imperial Palace. This makes it a good pairing for two hour and two location shoot.

While crossing a street using an underpass, I saw this beautiful photograph which turned out to be one of the selected photos that Daria handpicked all by herself from the proofs.

After not so long we reached Nihonbashi and the most famous place for Instagram photos. We spent here a little while chatting about different things we see and experience living in Tokyo. Time had past so fast, especially for me, as I love photographing.

Portrait in Nihonbashi, one of the most chased place of Instagramers

We concluded the portrait session in Nihonbashi area which is in the city center of Tokyo and we split in opposite directions to catch the subways we needed. This makes me to remark that this is an area with many public transportation options.

In case you plan to visit Japan or already live here and need a local photographer based in Tokyo Metropolitan Area, feel free to contact me (button down bellow) and let’s chat about what you want. 

Outdoor portrait using natural light

Keep an eye on your favorite photographer in Tokyo because as already promised in other blog posts, new and more posts will follow with the same topic, my photography experiences. Probably I should hurry up an write them as soon as possible after the photoshoot sessions so I can remember more details 🙂

Vacation Photographer Based in Tokyo

It seems like a coincidence and a repetitive action, but as a vacation photographer I got yet another opportunity to photograph another Italian in downtown Tokyo. As you probably remember, first Italian I had “shot” was Marco Ferri, an amazing artist.

Her name is Camilla,  and she is an Italian woman who has lived abroad for almost 15 years between London,  Barcelona and now Tokyo since 2017th. Camilla was supposed to stay here 1 year but apparently,  she enjoys her life in Japan so much that she has not  left and is not planning to do so in the near future. 

She loves traveling,  getting to know new cultures and languages. As you probably have guessed already, Japanese culture is very addictive and people fall in love with it. After all, there is no other country where people are so so very polite that even the most polite westerner by comparison will look like he’s missed a few years in school, at least not another country that I know of.
After getting in contact with Camilla and find out what she wanted from her photoshoot with me as a private vacation photographer, we decided to start the session at Hie Shrine, and take a few shots with the very well known iconically Red Torii Gates that typically marks the entrance.

The truth is people visit Japan for this kind of unique places and of course capture forever such amazing memories.

The torii gates tunnel are starting at the bottom of the stairs and go up the hill where the beautiful and famous Hie Shrine is situated.

The “competition” of these torii gates are those that are found in Kyoto at Fushimi Inari Shrine (for which I’ll have to visit Kyoto for the second time), but that means an over 2 hour ride with Shinkansen thus a notable extra expense. This makes for a very compelling place to go without having to go outside the metropolis.

Going back to the photoshoot, I started taking photos of Camila from the bottom of the stairs and made our way up, taking turns with the myriad of visitors that day who were “selfieing” unlimited shots. 🙂  A good tip here is to get to Hie Shrine as early as possible if you intend of taking lots of photos that will not look crowded with tourists. Once we got up on top of the hill, there were a couple of photoshoots for weddings happening so we had to wait “our turn”  for the good spots.

Now, there is a certain etiquette for worshiping at temples throughout Japan (for which I personally don’t excel in applying especially if I’m there to work as a personal travel and vacation photographer) and consists of a 3 main steps if I don’t count that one has to throw money as well- this can be as little as ¥1.
First of all, one needs to bow twice, followed by a second step consisting of a soft clap of the hands- also done twice. The 3rd step is the closing one making slowly a deep bow. Doing these steps may seem meaningless for westerners, but think of it like going to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome (Vatican City) and make a cross, something very natural; in any case, experimenting these simple 3 steps will actually give you a nice feeling. 

Another custom step is to wash your hands before visiting the main shrine (as seen bellow) which has the meaning of cleaning both the body and mind and a great opportunity for me to make yet another great photo to document you trip.

After taking the shots needed around His Shrine, we decided to walk instead of taking a subway to Zojoji Temple and Shiba Park which are near by the Radio Tower. (The bad news is in Shiba Park, as well as in other parks, I’m not allowed to use lights unless I have a special permit to do so.)

The way from one place to another lasted for a little longer than 20 minutes, but a coffee to go might have intervened to rise up the blood sugar and caffeine intake. 🙂
Shiba Park is perfect place to get very good portraits with a special background, The Tokyo Tower. The place has an amazing vibe, filled up with people enjoying the great weather and/or having a picnic. Don’t get me wrong, it’s worth going to visit The Tower, after all, it’s one of the most known sites to visit in this big metropolis, but from up close it won’t fit in one photo as the background in your shot, nor it will look professional, trust me on this.

Since I got your attention, it would make me very happy if you hit the contact button down bellow and book me as your vacation photographer in Tokyo or beyond, throughout Japan.

Family Portrait Photographer in Tokyo- newest in town

Family Portrait Photographer in Tokyo- newest in town

My love for the art of photography has been hidden deep in my artistic soul. I remember as a child when my mother would show me black and white photos of her parents; photos taken when they were young. 

I couldn’t believe my eyes what a great looking family they were. Those black and white photos were the only way for me to ‘meet’ both of my grandpas [grandparents or grandfathers?], due to the fact that I never had a chance to meet them in real life.

From a young age I was able to partly understand and cherish the power of photography, which in many instances can be the only evidence available to prove our existence.

During my school years, my parents hired professional portrait photographers to capture my portrait for posterity on the last day of every year. [Of course, at that time cameras used film to record images as the digital age hasn’t arrived yet.]

Family portrait in black and white
Black and white portrait of family of six members!!!!!
Photo of me while on my way cycling from Seoul to Busan.

One of my other hobbies in life is cycling. I love to go outdoors for long distance cycling, my current record for one day being 225km. Through cycling is how I met Cristian and other buddies who were part of a local cycling club. They helped me find many cycling paths and taught me useful things to know and do while on or off the bike. The cycling community is large and growing everywhere. It is made up of people who end up spending lots of money because the sport isn’t the most affordable one. The many improvements made over the years means that my current bicycle is more aerodynamic and has better components than the ones that professionals were using to race some years ago. Crazy, right? That’s how unbelievably fast our twenty first Century world develops. 

Here you can see the photoshoot I did for an avid cyclist a while back in Korea close to the Sakura Season. The story will follow in another blog post sometime in the near future when I get some inspiration to write yet another story.

Fast forward a bit and my cycling rides had brought to me the first family in front of my camera. And not any family, but one that has 6, yes, six members! How awesome is that? It was an amazing afternoon spent in the park with this lovely family with four kids: one toddler, one girl and two boys. Needless to say, at first the little boy wouldn’t want to leave his mother’s lap, but later on he was ready to take over the entire photoshoot and boss around everyone, provided that his mother wouldn’t go farther than tree meters away from him.

Toddler portrait in a park, youngest son of the family
Child portrait

The father, who’s name coincidentally is just like mine, Cristian, is a pastor for the Seoul Union Church(I hope I got that right). His wife Ica is the family’s hero as she takes care of all the members, even doing home schooling with her beautiful children. I truly believe she’s a very strong and powerful woman to be able to keep everyone on track, including her husband! 😉 

Great looking couple: best mother and father
Husband and wife, Ica and Cristian

If you wonder about the family’s children, well, they all are bright, fun, well-educated with great manners. Lastly but not the least, beautiful kids. Did I mention smart too?

The oldest child, a very handsome boy, has a smile that will make a lot of young ladies turn their heads around when he’ll become a young gentleman. I have a feeling the middle boy will become a successful businessman. He’s very sharp and awesome boy.  For the smallest family member (close to five years old now), I predict he’s going to become a politician. The way he’s started to rule the family’s photoshoot, man, I’m telling you, that’s one to one leadership!
Last, but not least, the only daughter should inherit her mother’s personality and become an even stronger, and beautiful woman.

Three boys, one girl. Brotherhood.
The kids gang, three boys and one girl

For this lifestyle photo shoot I have chosen to shoot out in open space, in a beautiful park settings.  Because I like experiment, this time around I had brought with me professional lighting equipment, flashes, light stands, softboxes, all the gear needed to experiment with off camera lighting techniques. I also prayed that the wind wouldn’t blast off any of my lights. Indeed I was a lucky family portrait photographer with no incidents affecting my photographic equipment. (Or were the family’s prayers who helped me? 🙂 )

Young boy’s portrait
Young boy portrait

You see, that’s why I love being a portrait photographer, I get to see such fine details that otherwise I wouldn’t be able. You probably know all those TED talks, where the speakers tell to the big crowds: “do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” 

And this is exactly how I feel, fortunate to be able to do what I like the most. Being able to capture a family’s feelings in my photographs gives me a genuine feeling of a great accomplishment. Of course there are other photography subjects that give me plenty of satisfaction. One of my favorite way of spending recreational and fun time is to capture the street vibe in downtown Tokyo and believe me, this town is huge, with plenty of occasions to capture its Heart and Soul. There is an abundance of street fashion and plenty of life happening all around in this humongous city. The entire metropolis has more inhabitants than my whole home country. Exactly, I’m still picking my jaw off the floor. 

Afternoon view over downtown Tokyo from 28th floor in Akasaka.

Afternoon view over downtown Tokyo from 28th floor in Akasaka.

Moving back to my first family photo shoot, of course there were some posters in between the trees I didn’t see at the time. Being a perfectionist comes at a cost, time wise. After doing basic adjustments in Adobe Lightroom Classic, I had to get into Adobe Photoshop and carefully remove those banners mentioned earlier in this blog post. Easy photoshopping job on me this time as I’m no expert or retouching artist,  but I know my way around. Oftentimes having to remove air conditioning units alongside with other small details. How cool is to be able to do this? Pufff 

Mom, dad, here I come to photobomb your portraits.

Somewhere on the building in the background was an air conditioning exterior unit. 😉

At the end of our photo session all seven of us have headed to fill up our stomachs with home made pizzas by Ica, Cristian’s wife, you know, the hero mother I was mentioning earlier. It so happens that she is not only and amazing mother and wife but a great cook too. 

So, in a matter of less than two hours I have created stunning photos and to top it all, I also got fed. Awesome, isn’t it? 

Keep an eye on my blog to read about what other situations I have been experiencing as a photographer. Soon I will start to write about my travels throughout Japan and the world.

As always, please press the button bellow to get in contact with me and I will answer all of your questions to the best of my ability. I would love to hear from you and shoot your photography session in Tokyo (or Yokohama for that matter). This would make me very happy! 🙂