Coming of Age: On-Location Shooting
Typically, photos taken in celebration of becoming an adult in Japan, known as seijinshiki-maedori (成人式前撮り), are shot in a very, let's say, traditional manner. They are regularly done in studio, in front of a mottled background, use non-directional lighting, have poses that appear to have been gleaned from a long-outdated posing manual, and they can frequently include less than genuine expressions.
While this is a look that may work for some people, I will admit it is not to my particular taste. I personally liken these photos to old 19th century portraits where the subjects are very stiffly posed and have sullen or expressionless looks on their faces. These are the kind of photos that offer little else than a simple record of appearance and give no impression or, worse, a false impression of the actual person.
A photo should be something greater. This is why I constantly aim to capture a little more when I shoot for seijinshiki. I want there to be that hint of personality, thought, or emotion that reveals a bit of a person's genuine character. I want to create a photo that when viewed years or decades later elicits real memories and impressions of the person, not something that merely triggers a memory of a one time photo shoot in a kimono.
This is where I find it to be helpful to get outdoors and into a natural setting. In my view, it is far easier to see the subject as a person in a outdoor environment, rather than in a studio where takes a little more to look past the artificial nature of the photo.
Of course, working on-location in situations where the light and conditions are constantly changing can be a challenge, but for me, it's a welcome one. While Shooting in studio can certainly be creatively challenging as well and regularly yield unique work with the proper preparations, but it is in shooting outdoors in constantly changing conditions that I find I am continuously forced to creatively overcome challenges and produce distinctive images.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy studio work. I find however that shooting exclusively in studio can lead a photographer into set patterns and predictable formulas for creating images. Although it allows for a simple and easily repeatable method of shooting, it also has the potential to become repetitive and creatively unfulfilling for the photographer—a condition I'd like to avoid in my course of growth and development.
Below you can find a set of images from a few different springtime location shoots.
Thanks for reading!