Portraits in Tokyo: Shinji Yoshiyama
Last month, I traveled into Tokyo to do a portrait shoot with a young aspiring actor named Shinji Yoshiyama. We were basically shooting for the purpose of creating a new set of photos that could be added to our respective portfolios.
We began our day and the shoot inside the architectural marvel that is the Tokyo International Forum. Located in the Chiyoda Ward of Tokyo, the Forum is an impressive building with a large atrium enclosed by multi-story glass walls and an expansive glass ceiling. And, as might be imagined, it also comes with no shortage of natural light.
Of course, I knew the lighting situation prior to arriving and knew that the abundant amount of natural light was going to prove useful. I had no intention to walk in there and set up light stands, pop off flashes, or wave around large reflectors. I was going to keep my footprint small and work with the light that was on hand.
The only issue with the Forum was that even though light was coming into the atrium through large windows, the light lacked the key quality that makes good window light what it is -- direction. Basically, this means that the light was not limited to a single isolated direction. And direction, well, that's an important part of what makes light interesting.
So instead of focusing on the excessive abundance of light, I began focusing on the slivers of shadow that were created by the various window frames, pillars, and other structural supports. I then used those small areas of shadow to help create interest and a semblance of directional light in many of my shots.
From the bright and clean to the dark and dingy
In a city like Tokyo, you're never too far away from a sweeping change of scenery. A minute walk from the front entrance of the modern glass and steel halls of the International Forum are the timeworn concrete and brick alleys of Yurakucho.
In Yurakucho, a place seeming forgotten by progress --and soap--, small pubs and restaurants are crammed beneath the concrete supports of elevated railways. Trains rattle along the rails every couple of minutes. Narrow alleys become dark corridors as the tracks overhead shift and blot out the light from above. It's the kind of place in any other city you wouldn't give a second thought to avoiding. In Tokyo, it's one of my favorite areas to take photos.
After the Forum, Shinji and I wandered into one of Yurakucho's back alleys to add a little more variety to the day's shots. We didn't spend long in the area, but we did manage to work out a few images that were in keeping with the feel of the dark and dirty location.
With Yurakucho, unlike the Forum, there is typically much more shadow than light. I however still worked with the same basic premise as in the Forum, only inverted. Meaning, I was focusing on the small slivers of sunlight that were filtering in through the various overhead structures, not the shadows.
A few shots from the day: