Saturday, November 30, 2013

Tokyo Portrait Photography: Nico

A lovely morning stroll on this shoot with Nico (Bellona). Autumn/winter light is so beautiful. I'm still as afraid of the cold as ever, but on photoshoots like this, I sometimes forget that it's so chilly outside.
Thank you, Nico!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Tokyo Fashion Photography: Roppongi Lights

The streets were packed with people, milling toward the illumination displays. Trees lined with white lights, blue glowing in the background. It was as if a huge festival was going on in Roppongi - shoppers and passerby even lined the higher floors of buildings nearby and across the street, just to get a view and snap photos of the lights.

It was in this festive, almost magical atmosphere that I shot these photos with Samantha. Please see more photos at her blog here!

Samantha, thank you so much :) I had a wonderful time! Ahh, I just love holiday lights!



Wednesday, November 27, 2013





Ever since I moved to Tokyo, Thanksgivings have been turkey-less. The holiday isn't really celebrated here in a special way. However, I do still give thanks. This year especially, I feel like I have a great deal to be thankful for.


I don't think it's necessary to put them into words here, because I know well enough exactly what they are to me. People and experiences that have helped me grow, that have encouraged me all along.


Life is so short, and I am so grateful for the opportunities to go after what I want, even though it may not be easy. And I'm happy to know what it is I love, so that I can go after them. It's definitely taken a long journey, with lots of detours, to admit them to myself. To give myself permission to pursue them.


 More than anything else, more than what anybody else may try to tell you - your happiness is first.
If you can't make yourself a priority, then who will?


Just about a month left until the end of this year. I hope I can make the best out of it, and can't wait to see what next year will bring. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tokyo Portrait Photography: Fiona

A warm, sunny weekend afternoon filled with the fall colors of Tokyo - that was the setting for this photoshoot with Fiona. It was so much fun to take these photos, surrounded by beautiful trees and scenery. Fiona, it was wonderful working with you! Thank you so much!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Tokyo Photography: Chinzanso (椿山荘)

The other day, I visited the beautiful gardens at Hotel Chinzanso, near Edogawabashi station in Tokyo. Arriving in late afternoon, we found that the sunset lighting bathed the grounds with a serene glow. The hotel itself was very elegant, and once we stepped out toward the back, a tranquil forest opened up to greet us.

I just love coming across unexpectedly beautiful places like this in Tokyo. It's not very far from the center of the city, yet the atmosphere there transported me to something I might feel in Kyoto or Yamanashi. I especially loved the small stone statues scattered across the grounds...


These ones are even outfitted with lights, for an interesting view at night as well!

This jolly guy seems to be holding a fishing pole.

There was a comfortable breeze flowing that afternoon.

Near a restroom deep inside the gardens, I spotted this lovely reflection.

The architecture is just beautiful as well. I would love to come back here again for a photoshoot!

On the way out, I took a few photos of the Christmas decorations in the hotel's main entrance area. I love holiday decorations and lights so much! Seeing them in the hotel filled me with memories of Christmas vacations with my family back in middle school and high school.

Thank you to Hotel Chinzanso for allowing me to take these photos! It was a wonderful little trip, and I'm sure this would be a great place for travelers to stay in Tokyo. Out in the gardens, there were even little paths leading to traditional Japanese-style restaurants. Although I didn't enter them, I could tell that they would provide the same kind of serene and peaceful experience that I had just walking through the forest.

Also, this was my first time trying out the Sigma 35mm F1.4 lens, and I absolutely loved it! I've always been shooting on 50mm or 85mm and was looking for a wider focal length, so I spent a long time wavering between the Canon or Sigma version of the 35mm. So far, I am very happy with the Sigma! I'm thinking of doing a lens review series a little later on, so for those who are interested, please stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Fall Colors in Tokyo

Finally, leaves in Tokyo are starting to turn gorgeous shades of orange and golden yellow.

Back to the season of sweaters, coats, and scarves! It is cozy, and I don't mind the cold as long as the air is fresh and the warm sun is shining. The feeling is all the more comfortable once you go back indoors for a nice warm cup of tea or a meal. The other day, on a walk through the Harajuku/Omotesando area in Tokyo, we came upon a California-themed cafe-restaurant! For a long time, I have been craving a good American-style breakfast food meal - it brings me back to some great memories. Behold: bacon, eggs, and pancakes! A bit of a luxury that day, as I've been trying to eat at home as much as possible to save money - but it is nice to treat yourself once in a while!

Walking through some of the quiet back streets which I've never been through before, there was a lovely red brick building with this pretty holiday wreath, and a brightly costumed mannequin on a street filled with clothing shops.

The other day, I found myself musing over the topic of being reserved or socially awkward. Having taught English in Japan for several years, I wouldn't say that I'm shy exactly, and I've found I do have the ability to talk in almost any situation. However, the difference between me and a more socially outgoing person is that (depending on the situation and whom I'm talking to) I tend to hold back and find a lot less reason to put streams of words out there, especially when meeting new people or those I don't know well. That has been the case since I was a child, the one always buried in a book or drawing :) But now with my photography work and other freelance activities, I discovered that I need to put myself out there a lot more. The past me would have hated it, because the past me was so scared of rejection and mistakes and not being good enough. But one of the best things that my photography work has taught me so far, is that fear of failure won't get me anywhere. I have to break down walls and build ladders out of air, keep pushing forward even when it means facing my weaknesses. And actually, I found that I love the feeling of challenging myself, of being able to do something that I thought I couldn't.

Autumn leaves in Omotesando.

I am grateful, and I'll continue to embrace each new opportunity.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Tokyo Newborn Photography: Tauna, Erik, and Baby Nozomi

Recently, I had the absolute joy of taking some photos for Tauna and Erik's beautiful new baby, Nozomi. When I arrived at their home, Nozomi was still sleeping, but she gradually woke up and let me capture some images of her interaction with her parents. For me, it is such a breathtaking experience to photograph newborns - every little expression and gesture, every detail seems to deserve a frame of its own.

She might be saying, "Nooo let me sleep!" :)

Tiny hands and fingers.


Gorgeous eyes.

Smiling at Daddy!

Feeling safe in Mommy's arms.

One of my favorites - what an amazingly cute face!!


Tauna, Erik, and Nozomi - thank you so much for the sweet moments! :) I absolutely loved taking these photos for you, and I truly wish all the best for your family.

Speaking of kids and newborns in Tokyo, I'd like to give another shout-out to the Tokyo Kids website! It is a wonderful resource filled with information and tips for families in the Tokyo area. Recently, they even have some recipes for Christmas treats to make together with the kids! Do check it out :)