Last summer I got together with a model and one of her favourite Japanese fashion designers, to make some photos in the area around the old Olympic stadia in Komazawa.
Mari Hirao is a model I’ve worked with quite a lot before. She’d told me a little about her friend, Ayako, the fashion designer. I’d seen a few of the shots that Mari had done before, wearing Ayako’s creations. Seemed like a very creative lady so when the idea came up doing a little shoot together, naturally I jumped at the idea.
Ayako – who designs under the name ‘mecci’ – had a few new clothes that she needed some shots of. I’d seen some photos of the pieces and one place immediately came to mind as a location: Komazawa Olympic Park.
Why? There’s something both futuristic and retro about Komazawa. It is a vision of the future from 50 years ago. Designed and built for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, once centrepiece of the approach to the gymnasium is a large tower-like sculpture. Both gymnasium and tower were designed by Yoshinobu Ashihara, who also designed Ginza’s landmark Sony Building. The tower sort of feels like it should be in a movie like Gattaca, In Time or some 2000AD comic about a spaceport of the future.
It seemed the perfect place to shoot the mecci dresses which to me had a feel of a sci-fi future about them.
August is not pleasant in Tokyo. Hot, humid and in a place like Komazawa Park – surround by expanses of reflective concrete – a bit like being in a furnace. The light in Tokyo in the simmer is super bright. Quite different to anything you’d have experience in the parts of Europe I grew up in and around.
My son Joe came along to help. Keeping him and me cool, keeping the model, designer and make-up lady cool… it was all quite a job. The massive 72″ Westcott lighting umbrella came in handy as a sunshade.
I used one two Profoto B2 lights for the shoot. Each they lick out 250W which is OK but not really enough to kill super-strong August sun. So I paired them up, sometimes bare, once in an umbrella and for the shots in the yellow dress, under the trees, in a softbox.
We shot in three or four different spots around the park. Each piece needed front, back and side angles – as each piece had many details specific to each angle.
Great fun. Didnt take us more than an hour. Very hot day but everyone was very happy with the results.