Event photography in Tokyo: shooting Advertising Week Asia, 2016-18

For three years, I’ve had the pleasure of being chief photographer at Advertising Week’s Asia event in Tokyo. A busy four days, but always great fun.

Since being in Japan, I’ve shot a lot of big events across Japan for a variety of clients: UNESCO, Otsuka Pharmaceuticals, Shell Oil, The Singapore Land Transit Authority, The Asian Development Bank, the EU Commission, Microsoft, TED, Tommy Hilfiger, Christian Dior, the British Embassy to name a few.

Event photography is hard work but its always interesting (I can listen to the speeches whilst I shoot) and it’s a lot of fun. To some people, photographing countless speeches can get a bit mundane. I prefer to see it as treating each person’s ten minutes on stage as the only ten minutes they may ever get on a stage. I have to capture them, the essence of their performance, the audience reaction…. all the while thinking about making stimulating compositions and capturing the event branding.

Each event has its challenges. Advertising Week Asia is a very busy four days, spread across two floors of a massive venue. In 2016, I photographed the event solo. That was tough. Speeches starting at the same time as each other, with a long walk in between venues. It all got done but each day I was averaging about 25,000 steps in distance.

In 2017 year I had a second shooter, french photojournalist Nicolas Datiche. As usual, I also had an on-site editor who was editing, post-processing and uploading finished shots to the event website. Last year it was Sean Brecht, this year Max Wohllraab.

In 2018, Max, Nicolas and myself teamed up again and were joined by freelance photojournalist, Pierre-Emmanuel Delétrée.

The main challenge is to get into each event, soak it up quickly but thoroughly, get back to the editor, drop cards off and then get shooting again. Rinse, repeat… for four days.

Getting a system in place for coping with and organising the data from multiple shooters, shooting 30 events a day each is a trick in itself. Max and I got that sorted ahead of the event and it worked flawlessly throughout.

The shots in this gallery are just mine. It wasn’t about excluding Nico’s or Pierre’s work from publication, his are featured on the AWAsia website. This page, though, is about showing clients that I can shoot, organise and produce event photography for them. Nico, Pierre ad Max are part of that team. Take it from me his work is well up to par.

The highlight of the 2017 event for me was getting to hang with, shoot and bounce on stage with Rev Run from legendary rap outfit, Run DMC. I was a huge fan as a teenager. I still am. Meeting Run was awesome. Great end to a very cool week.

If you have an event you’d like us to shoot for you, please get in touch.

Advertising Week Asia (pictures mainly from 2017 & 2018 events)