Souvenir portraits in Tokyo: Kim from Malaysia

Souvenir portraits from Tokyo

Showing my home city off to people who are travelling is something I love to do. Lucky me that I also get to make a job out of doing it, by shooting souvenir portraits in various places around Tokyo.

Last weekend I had the pleasure of meeting Kim, who was in town from Kuala Lumpur for a few days of business and a little sightseeing on the side.

We visited Tsukiji, Asakusa and Ginza – to give the shots a variety and for Kim to have experienced a few of the key Tokyo sites. We also shot a few pics on the subway trains.

Kim, like a few of the customers I shoot for, wanted finished shots straight away. He’s a keen traveler and likes to share his experiences as he is having them. I ended up at his hotel after the shoot, downloading them onto his laptop. This sort of shoot takes a certain sort of workflow and it basically means shooting both RAW and JPEG for the client. This is also where having the set of custom Nikon Picture Controls comes in very handy, as they allow me to shoot in certain styles and show the client immediately, on the back of the camera. A lot of people ask me why I bother to shoot to a custom monochrome or colour style in the camera if I am shooting RAW. Well, even if the client doesn’t need finished JPEGs straight away, shooting to a style in-camera allows them to see a range of styles. Kim and I decided upon a few styles he liked and those are what we shot in for the day.

Nailing the shots immediately, without the safety-net of post-processing, is something that – because of my film upbringing – comes naturally. I don’t always have to do it these days and I don’t always want to: some shoots need a specific feel that can only really be achieved with a mixture of in-camera and post-processing work. That’s not really any different to the old days: you couldn’t have an idea for a selenium-toned shot with the effect of printing it on platinum paper straight out of the camera. It needed shooting, developing, printing and then toning.

But carrying the equivalent of rolls of TMAX, Ektachrome and Agfachrome around for the day – as I do with the picture controls in my Nikon – allows me to shoot and give the client a set of prints and negs straight away: they get the ‘processed’ JPEGs [the prints] and they get the RAW files [the negs] for their archive purposes. They have something to share immediately and something to re-visit and edit if they want to. Or if they want me to.

It was a great half-day of walking and shooting. Kim seemed happy. I was happy too, not only that he had some great shots but that I’d got to show someone new around my lovely city and get paid for a job well done.

Work doesn’t get much better than that.

See some more of my portraits from Tokyo and Japan here.

Here are some of the shots we made. These are all straight out of the camera JPEGs, just re-sized for this article.

 

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Japanorama is run by British professional photographer, Alfie Goodrich, and provides practical photography teaching in Tokyo. Weekly workshops, group and one-to-one lessons bring together photographers of all ages and abilities.

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