Portrait photography with model Kao in Ebisu, Tokyo

The 30minute photoshoot: Kao in Ebisu

Take one great model, an interesting part of town, one camera, two lenses and give yourself 30minutes. A whole lot of magic can happen!

I first met Kao when she came to model for me at a Pro Foto lighting workshop in Kyoto, a couple or three years ago. So, I was really happy to hear she’d recently moved from Kansai up to Tokyo.

We caught up for a chat and a shoot in Ebisu. It’s not an area I shoot in a lot but Kao had another meeting near there afterwards. So it was convenient. And, for me, it doesn’t really matter where I am in Tokyo as I can always find some nice settings for portraits.

I wanted to keep things simple. The light was quite bright and contrasty, so black and white really suited that.

Obviously I always shoot RAW but if I’m in the mood for monochrome, I’m shooting in monochrome: I want to see the aesthetic I’m creating. I want the model to share it. It helps us both to get inspired whilst we’re on location. Getting inspired during the post-pro phase is great. But there’s no substitute for getting totally into one vibe or another when you’re actually on the shoot.

Ebisu has some cool spots. The kind of French-looking chateau in Garden City is cool. But it’s been shot to death. We did a few shots there, just using the Nikkor 135mm f/2 DC lens wide open: loads of nice bokeh, just using the lines and tones of the building rather than needing it to be the star of the show.

After that we just headed back down the hill and found a nice couple of spots on the way.

All pretty simple. All done within 30minutes.

You can find Kao on Instagram, here.

Here’s a selection of our shots: