Towards the end of September, 2017, I spent a day shooting fashion across two locations in Tokyo for my friend Alexandria’s new creative agency startup that she’d partnered for launch with the London based Neon Rose fashion label. Two fun locations, some new friends, lots of cool photos and a video came out of the day. Here’s a little run-down of the whole thing…
Setting the scene
Alexandria had introduced me to Ao just before this shoot. To get to know each other a little, I organised a fashion photography workshop at my studio at which Ao came to model. We got on really well from the start, had a great day and it set the scene for what Alex had planned to launch her new agency.
Alex and I haven’t know each other long but we’d also hit it off from the get-go. She’d reached out to me prior to her first coming to Japan. We’ve collaborated on a few things in the time she’s been here. She’s full of ideas, is a great make-up artist and is awesome fun to be around.
As well as the workshop, we met up again before the day of the shoot, to talk about the locations, the aesthetic she wanted, to get an idea of how much we could get done in the day and begin to nail down precise flow of everything.
We were indoors for the first set of shots, at an amazing little hair salon, Brute, in Koenji that Alex had found. Decked out in a style that for me seemed to mash-up steampunk, Edward Scissorhands and the French movie ‘Delicatessen’, the interior of Brute certainly promised to give us at least three great cuts. You can find out more about Brute, here, at their website. The owner is a lovely guy.
Here’s some of my shots from Brute:
Location 2: night-time, neon, alleyways and grunge…
We left Brute and headed across town to my studio, took time out for a rest, charged up batteries and had a late lunch whilst we waited for the light to drop as our second location really all depended on a night-time vibe.
On the way from the studio to the location, we shot a few things in the subway station and at Hammamatsucho, under the railway bridge in a spot I’ve used a few times before. Great light, lovely lines. It’s a bit of an old fave of mine, that spot.
As for the main location, Alex wanted a vibe like Shinjuku’s famous ‘Golden Gai’.
Golden Gai has a wonderful atmosphere but it’s never been easy to shoot there, even with permission. Some of the locals are lovely. I’ve shot in some amazing bars there. But there are a few locals and bar owners who hate photography, hate filming and don’t seem to like foreigners. These days, I totally get it. The place is drowned in tourists and is treated by lots of them as a theme park.
So, as Alex wanted that Golden Gai sort of vibe and because of the fact it’s such a hassle to shoot there without a lot of stress, we chose to go somewhere I know. Somewhere not far from my home. It’s quiet, it’s got – in my opinion – as good if not better a vibe than Golden Gai and as long as you are respectful, no one minds you shooting there.
Here are some stills from the main evening shoot, from the subway and from Hammamatsucho:
Ray had been filming all day; behind the scenes stuff and bits of B-Roll here and there. But the evening shoot was really as much about the video as the stills. More about the video really. Ray did some shooting with his DSLR rig and we did a load more with my Osmo.
Here’s the rough cut that Ray put together and which I composed the music for.
The end result, how the pics got used & some feedback from Alexandria…
It was a great day. Lovely people – Alex, Ao, Ray and Alex’s friend Vee, who assisted her for the day – and a great result with the set of still and the video.
Working in a creative team is not always such a common thing for me. Freelance video folks tend to work in crews far more often than stills photographers like me. So it’s always a joy when great people come together to work on something cool and creative. I had a ton of fun and Alex and I are looking forward to more collaborations when she is back in Japan.
Here’s a few words from the lady herself, about our day:
“Working with Alfie on this project was fantastic, with his experience and skill he really helped bring my vision together. I wanted to create a “lost in translation” style crossed with the Japanese housewife vibe. After showing Alfie my mood board he very quickly picked locations out that suited this shoot perfectly. He has a keen eye for perfection and that’s what these shots turned out like. They were perfect. I was over the moon.
Plus, he’s not bad with the music composition either! So happy with the tune that came together for the video. Didn’t even know he made music. Big surprise.
Alfie is always extremely helpful and professional, I can’t wait to get creating with him more in 2018.”