Fashion photography in Tokyo: Kat in Ikebukuro

Shooting fashion on location in Tokyo is one of my favourite things. This shoot ended up with some great shots, two broken (one destroyed) flashes and with me being battered and bruised after a tumble down some stairs.

Kat and I hadn’t shot with each other since a shoot a while back in Tokyo and Kyoto I did for a Qatari fashion label. We’ve been friends for quite some time now and when I noticed, from her Instagram, that Kat had cut her hair very short, I thought it was time we hooked up again for some camera fun.

I’d noticed some locations in Ikebukuro about a year ago, whilst I was in Sunshine City with my youngest son; we were visiting the aquarium there. There’s some great spots all around that area but the spots I’d noticed were all tiled with orangey-yellow tiles, had some great standing lamps and there was plenty of space. The area seemed quiet even at busy times for the shopping centre. There were a bunch of cosplayers shooting there when we found the place and no one seemed to be bothering them. Lack of security guard attention in Tokyo, especially on private land like a shopping centre, is pretty rare and something I always look out for.

Here’s a gallery of the scouting pics. Charlie standing in as the future model’s stunt double!

I shared the spot with Kat, via a Google Map link, and she turned up in an outfit that totally matched the colours in the location. The day we met it was nasty weather. Not raining all the time but on and off with some fairly heavy rain showers.

For gear, I took the Hasselblad H4D and the 80mm lens for it. Nikon-wise, I took the D800E, my 35mm Kerlee lens (the f/1.2) and an old kit lens, my 24-85mm ‘plastic fantastic’. I usually take this lens if I plan to do some flash work (as it’s great when you top it down past f/8) and I always have it in the bag if there’s a risk: a risk of bad weather, a risk of the lens getting damaged. Better to destroy a lens worth 3000¥ (used) than something expensive. I also had a monopod, two Yongnuo 560ii flashes and a bracket to mount two side-by-side.

We started out shooting with no flash, then set up the lights to get a few shots. Moving spot to somewhere nearby, I slipped and fell down some wet stairs. Having hands full of gear, I couldn’t break my fall anyhow. It was painful. I cut myself badly, two flashes were damaged (one terminally) and I was feeling rather stupid, old and clumsy.

But, the show goes on. It has to. Kat went to change outfit, I got a drink and soothed my wounds. Ten minutes later, with a towel wrapped around my badly cut arm, we carried on. Then the rain really hit us and, frankly, it was time to call it a day.

Still, we got some fun shots and quite a few that I’m really happy with. The flashes are cheap and I’ve had them years, so no massive problem with them being broken. They’ve paid for themselves 10 times over or more.

Here’s the gallery of shots we got. 

If you need some shots for your model portfolio, drop me a line. It’d be great to shoot with you. It doesn’t have to be on location as I now have a studio in central Tokyo. Prices are very fair and you’ll get some great shots, guaranteed.