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- Tokyo, Japan is an incredible place to photograph. Have you been there? Well, I'm going to take you there. Hi my name is Steve Simon, the passionate photographer and welcome to the latest episode of photo critique of the week. We're going to go to Tokyo through the eyes of some workshop students of mine from a recent workshop and we're going to get to see some of the highlights that I felt were just amazing to see and photograph here in Tokyo. You know, one of the things that we encourage our workshop students to do and that is to sort of react to the place that they're in from a very personal perspective and just follow their own curiosity to see what is it that connect with them or what are they most interested in in shooting.
And I think when you do that in your travels, you come away with a more personal coverage of the place that you've been. The images that I've selected here I think are a good range showing kind of what we saw in Tokyo. This first one was made by me and it was kind of iconic I guess and it was something I was looking for at the Shinagawa Station, the busiest station in Tokyo. I was not really sure exactly, we're shooting a lot of different stuff, but this was one of the pictures that I happen to really like from it.
And I think what draws me to this image, obviously isolating one gentleman's foot, but it's like everything. The gesture and the decisive moment and I think this step is a very decisive moment. It shows I think the urgency and the speed at which people travel to work every morning in Tokyo. It's a bustling city. Bill Richmond made this image I believe from his hotel room. I think it shows sort of the different layers of Tokyo.
You have sort of a skyline here yet you're within a skyline. It's not your typical, it's not a night scene, it's not a golden light scene but I think it shows a city that's alive and awake and ready for action. Often, images that isolate certain elements that you see a lot, Anne Dunford made this image one of the masks. You see it a lot with people who I guess are sick and don't want to spread the germs which is very nice. I wish more people did that.
But this one was discarded on the street but it's a very iconic thing if you will and it's something that you see a lot when you're traveling there. I think she made a really interesting image from it. These kinds of little things, I think communic had a lot. They say a lot about the culture and the people who inhabit the places. Even though they're not in the pictures, you have a sense of life, you have a sense of mystery too and I think that's always important in our photographs to not give away the whole story.
Maybe hold back the punch line a little bit and let the viewer's imagination fill in the blanks. Everyone's going to have a different interpretation and strong photos I think do that. Of course the people. Teresa Zafon took this image of this beautiful woman in a kimono dress. Juan Carlos Ocana made this portrait. Isolated this gentleman but very, very with a more telephoto lens yet the connection is very strong the way he's looking into the camera in a very soft light illuminating him.
I think it's incumbent on us to at least try and get out of our comfort zones and make some images of the people that we are visiting, if you will, when we're traveling because it makes for not only a great travel experience but also it makes for great photos and could lead you into some interesting directions. Pat LaPrairie was playing around with the reflections here in this kind of sculpture in an office building just waiting for people to come. And I think that's always a lot of fun.
Whenever I see reflections and mirrors, I think it's worth spending some time and see what you get in terms of you're looking for that one image that really kind of says it. And here in Japan you can see those masks we talked about, or I talked about earlier. You see a lot of people wearing them. But really kind of complex composition, well the sculpture really is what does it but it really does talk about Tokyo. This is one that I made and you know it's something that of course in every city there's the haves and the have nots although in Tokyo it's a little more hidden, at least from my experience.
But it wasn't so much this gentleman, it was the fact that he was there but also the beautiful light that was hitting him and I think I was reacting to the beautiful light. I photographed and in these situations I'm more of a fly on the wall and I think when you're photographing people who are maybe a little off the grid or homeless people they're too easy a target often. I think if you really want to do this kind of photography you have to connect with the people. You have to talk to them, you have to participate with them in what you're doing photographically.
For this I just wanted to stand back and wait for some people to go by and maybe make some sort of a statement perhaps or maybe not but it really is beautiful light. At the end I'll put something in the bowl that he's asking for money. Tokyo is this great place of great chaos but it's also this place of great calm and there are many parks within Tokyo and you can really find a way to get away and just center yourself.
It's almost necessary in a city as phonetic as Tokyo. Pat LaPrairie made this really nice complex image at one of the gardens there. Yuko Mori, the thing about this picture that we notice and that I really liked and maybe not everyone's going to get it but it almost looks like the shadow is kind of pick pocketing the guy. He's got his hand in his wallet kind of thing. I hadn't really noticed that but when I did I thought that's cool, that's kind of a nice little element and maybe most people won't necessarily see that but some people will.
That's the beauty of creating something, creating a two dimensional photograph because everyone's going to react different. What's really important I think is for you to get your photographs out there because the more you hear how people are reacting to your images, the more you're going to learn from what's really communicating in them and maybe what's not because again, you see, you're there, all the data sticks with the digital file but the emotional metadata sticks with you when you see the image and it's hard to divorce yourself from that and it's hard to be objective sometimes.
Anne Dunford, security police guy. Very graphic image, little intimidating, but I think that's what helps make it work. I think it works really well in color and I think part of that is the blue stripes and the blue here and the blue there, the neutral colors in between. It's just a very simple and graphic portrait of this guy. And then Herb Brail made this image of a young couple kind of walking very unaware. I think it's just a nice isolation of two people in this crazy, big city and a very positive kind of image.
I can't get over in Tokyo just how well dressed everybody is. It's a very, very fashionable society, no question. Image and clothes ae very important. Allan Snow. Again, you see the potential for a situation like this. The mirroring of the image and the symmetry it creates. And then you just wait and you keep shooting and you hope to get something that works. In this instance, the moment and the gesture of the leg and just the symmetry makes for a very kind of interesting image.
And then this image by Herb Brail. Very kind of traditional looking in the old architecture, the beautiful costume, beautiful light. You don't see their faces so again, as I've often said it becomes a little more iconic because of that. I like the security guard there. It takes up a very small portion of the frame but I think it also helps in the communication of this image. It shows that sure we're in a public space but there is security and that's the reality of the world we live in, even though these women are very traditional and there's nothing really threatening in this image but it kind of updates it and shows that this is 20, what year is this? 2017.
Juan Carlos Ocana took this gentleman kind of stretching against this, I'm not sure what that says. Maybe our Japanese viewers can let me know. But it's just a very kind of quiet and nice moment. I think that throughout the coverage of photographing Tokyo, I think there's a real thirst for the people generally to find a place to just chill and relax because things are so busy and so crazy all the time there and you see a lot of this.
And there are a lot of getaway places for people to go. This one again by Allan Snow taken in a similar place to the other one that we saw of his. This one here in black and white. Again, using the reflections of the office buildings, again the Shinagawa, the corporate headquarters. And what makes this image work of course I think it's these two guys, business guys kind of walking in this panel. Are they being reflected? I think they're being reflected.
It's kind of an interesting complex composition that really works and I guess showcases Tokyo really well. Tom Wilson photographed, there was kind of an event going on, musicians, and I think he really captured the energy and spirit of this drummer. It's all about that. It's capturing that decisive moment. With musicians, the expression is really important. It's kind of like sports photography, you want to capture the peak reaction and with musicians you kind of want to show something.
The intensity, the speed, the spirit. You want to sort of capture the music. You want to be able to hear the drum when looking at the picture and I think this one's very successful in that regard. And this was maybe kind of the opposite picture. Really nicely seen through the mesh of this curtained restaurant. Even though the people at the table are kind of not in focus, it really is a very kind of beautiful voyeuristic image. Even the shape of the plant here feels kind of Japanese.
It almost looks like the bonsai but I know it isn't. The color really works. The warmth of the inside contrasting with the cool blue on the outside. Nicely composed too. I really like the way it's framed. You see a lot of these kind of gambling places in Tokyo. You're not really allowed to photograph there. If they see you taking pictures, they'll likely ask you to leave. But you can see the photographer right there. Maybe this is a self-portrait. Teresa Zafron. All roads lead to Teresa but really it's about just this kind of activity.
There's a lot of it going on, there's a lot of noise going on, there's a lot of bright lights and colors going on. I think for a lot of people it does take its toll a little bit. There's just so much higher and high energy mode all the time when you're in Tokyo so you really need to find the time to chill. But I like that she's sort of included herself in there. You may not notice it at first glace. Some pictures that have more subtle detail, they need to be seen bigger or else a lot of that subtlety gets lost and that's something to consider in your own work whether you're printing something.
Some images just need to be bigger. If you're making a book, some images deserve to be over that two page spread. They just need to be to be able to communicate best in terms of the content of that image. Capturing sort of the Shibuya area, one of the busiest, craziest crossroads. I think Tom Dolan did a really nice job. I think the fact that it rains is something that we get excited about. Maybe regular tourists want non-precipitation but I think for photographers, inclement weather opens up to new possibilities.
You can start to see the reflections in the wet roads and things get really interesting. I really like when I'm in Tokyo and it rains sometimes. Often that mood of the rain kind of will match the scenario and that's something else you're trying to communicate. This other one from the same crossing when the rain stopped, what I kind of liked about this it's a pretty sort of standard image but there's a very robotic-like quality to the pedestrians.
I know they're not zombies but there's just a very, very kind of slow and orderly feel to this. That probably stems from these main characters in the front here and there's a smiling guy but it just felt very orderly in this place where if you've ever been, people cross from all four corners and it's completely orderly in the sense you go on a green but it's very sort of fast-moving and things are going on. So I'll end with an image that I made in Harajuku.
Again, talking about reflections. There's a place there that has these crazy mirrors and it's really kind of fun to spend some time and see what you're going to get. I'll tend to photograph kind of a lot. It makes editing a little bit difficult but I want to choose an image that kind of maximizes the reflections in there. It's the kind of an image I think that you can look at for quite a long time. I think this poster is kind of a nice anchor for this image.
Depending on the traffic and the people, the reflections are changing constantly. Again, another place where you can spend a lot of time. Well, that's it. You can see why Tokyo is just such an incredible place to photograph and I always look forward to getting back there. I would suggest you put that on your photographic bucket list as well. Thanks very much for joining me this week. I hope to see you next week on a new edition of photo critique of the week. In the mean time, get out that camera and great shooting everybody.
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