Traditions || Tea Ceremony
Earlier in the year, in continuing with an ongoing series of portraits focused on the traditions and crafts of Japan, I spent a day with a few women who practice the art of Japanese tea ceremony and worked with them to create various photographs. I shared a few details on this in a previous post.
With the exception of a small number of outdoor shots, I took the majority of the photos for this shoot inside of a typical, mostly bare traditional Japanese room. As it was a room that is solely used for tea ceremony, it naturally made for a perfect place to do some simple tea ceremony photographs. However, as often can be the case when shooting indoors, there wasn't much to be found in terms of interesting light, or even sufficient light for that matter. All of the light that was there was flat and boring.
Light, being one of those all-important elements of a photograph, is something that I rarely ever accept as is. While there can certainly be instances when the light that is available at a location or in a scene is enough to adequately achieve my vision for a photograph, most of the time it's far less than ideal. This is why in situations such as these I embrace the challenge of crafting some of my own light through the use of various lighting techniques, the principle of these being off-camera flash.
Admittedly, this had not always been the case. There was a time early on along the path to learning photography where I didn't want to go to the trouble of using flash at all. It was an aspect that seemed unnecessarily complicated, not to mention expensive. Fortunately, this was a mistake that was short lived as I soon came to realize the benefits of adding my own light to a photo. I consequently made the effort to get over any reservations I had about flash by fully delving into learning about and experimenting with its use.
These efforts have brought me to where I have little doubt that an understanding of flash and a capacity to use it can significantly expanded a person's ability to create photos. Still, while I have personally reached a point where I am more than comfortable with the idea and use of off-camera lighting, I recognize that, as with all things, there is always room to develop and improve. For this reason, I see myself expanding and evolving my knowledge of this particular means of lighting for a long time to come.
A selection of photos from the shoot, all lit to varying degrees with off-camera flash, can be seen below.