Monday, July 28, 2014

Sea of Green

The midsummer heat sears down on my head and shoulders, painting my skin another shade of tan with every outing. Tall grasses surround me and wave with the river wind, all long tendrils and blurs of yellow-green. If I close my eyes, there is first silence - then the buzz of insects, the flutter of wings, the shouts of children playing in a nearby field.

Summer stretches on, hot and lazy, as though it will never end. Even at night, the air is humid, but the taste of warmth always brings with it a sense of nostalgia, days of summer break and sprawling on the grass. Even if we can never return to the past, it remains part of us, traveling around and around in our blood. The air, the smells, the feelings of summers before; the sounds and tastes of the present. They overlap and melt into each other.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tokyo Fashion Blogger: Letters Impromptu x Daniel Wellington Part II

Did some shooting the other day with Samantha for Daniel Wellington, on an overcast late afternoon in Daikanyama. Please check out Samantha's blog to see the rest of the photos! :)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Tokyo Portrait Photography: Sunflower Afternoon

Nao has only been in Tokyo for a few months so far, but she seems to already fit in well while getting into her modeling work. I asked her what aspects of Tokyo she doesn't really like, and she replied: 1. how crowded it can get, and 2. how expensive it is to live here. Both characteristics of the big city, I can understand on both points. Despite moving to a completely new place and facing new obstacles, it's fantastic that young talents like Nao are continuing to work hard and chase after their dreams. Thank you Nao for the fun photoshoot amidst surprise sunflowers!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Tokyo Fashion Blogger: Junko in Aquamarine

In this quick photoshoot with Junko of Kawaiilabo, we took a stroll through some quiet back streets during mid-afternoon. Junko showed up with gorgeous ocean-colored eyes to match her hair! It's always exciting to see the unique and colorful styles she puts together, and she always works any location with ease. Thank you Junko, and I'm looking forward to shooting together again!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Tokyo Portrait Photography: Chiaki

The afternoon light was turning a baked golden caramel color as I met up with Chiaki for a quick walk in the park and nearby streets. Although it was my first time to shoot with Chiaki, she had such a sweet and easygoing personality that the photos we created all turned out very natural. After the park, we accidentally found that a festival was being set up not far away, and the preparations were well under way with many colorful booths and banners. It was a mysterious feeling, wandering the row of empty food stands lining the path on both sides, as though I could nearly smell the delicious food scents and hear echoes of the crowd to come. I hope I can go to a festival in Tokyo this year!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Tokyo Fashion Photography: Rainy Shinjuku

Dark gray clouds and a somewhat gloomy atmosphere crept over the city as I met up with Samantha for this photoshoot. The weather changes so much in one day during Tokyo's rainy season, I almost wasn't surprised anymore. But it had been a dazzling sunny day just a little earlier in the day, and as our shoot progressed, the rain started coming down more and more. Samantha was so nice and let me use her umbrella to shoot under while she got drizzled in the rain. We quickly finished off the shoot just as the skies darkened and lights blinked on all over Shinjuku.

Please check out Samantha's blog post at Letters Impromptu for the rest of the photos!

Tokyo Portrait Photography: Mayumi

The afternoon air was glimmering with heat when I met up with model and dancer Mayumi for this photoshoot. One of my biggest challenges as a photographer is to find out the best way to photograph someone after just meeting them for the first time. Each person has a different way of showing themselves or expressing to the camera. In this case, Mayumi made the job quite easy by simply being herself, a quiet and contemplative soul.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Inside Out

A typhoon has passed through Japan recently, but all I felt of it in Tokyo was some wind and rain last night. This morning, the sky was a dazzling blue and the sunlight was almost blindingly bright. The air is becoming increasingly humid, reminding me of the thick heat I felt when I first landed in Japan five years ago. In the midst of this kind of weather, I made some self portraits with this blue floral dress from Sheinside. A big thank you to Sheinside for the lovely summer dress!

Personally, I feel much more comfortable behind the camera and clicking away than in front of the camera. I tend to feel a bit awkward and self conscious, depending on the situation and who is taking the photo. I was talking about this with a friend, but before coming to Tokyo, I already had in mind what a fashionable and appearance-focused place it would be. I was scared, really, because I had never seriously been interested in fashion as a student, and I had no idea what it was all about. Back at UC Berkeley, the standard fashion for me (and maybe many other students) consisted of jeans, sweatshirts, sandals, sneakers.. I almost never wore makeup, and I was almost against it. I kept telling myself that the inside was what mattered, and kept saying that after arriving in Tokyo.

Along the way, I suddenly battered against so many experiences that emphasized the opposite of what I had believed - that appearance *did* matter, and that I should do something about it. Among those included an episode with a boss who took me aside and mentioned makeup for working ladies is like a manner in Japan, staff who told me I should change and dress specially for my music live because guests would expect something special rather than everyday clothes, etc.. I can't deny that I was shaken, from the roots of my belief that I could always get by just fine with jeans and without a touch of makeup. I had never thought of myself as particularly pretty, but my self confidence definitely began teetering downhill after I arrived in the land of amazingly cute, perfectly made-up and impeccably dressed ladies walking by all around. My world had turned, if not upside down, at least at a strange angle that I wasn't used to seeing.

After much angst, arguing, and denial, I gradually decided to dip my toe into dressing up - perhaps not what you could call fashionably, but at least in a way that I would feel confident enough when I went out. And there is the key to all of this - confidence. It's easy to lose sight sometimes, but I think this fashion thing is about building confidence and expressing yourself. That's what I've come to realize. The clothes, accessories, makeup - they're all just extensions of the you inside, selected and placed by you to show what kind of person you are without words. Without it all, we're just naked creatures, humans, still beautiful in our own ways. The inside still counts the most, to me. But I'm learning to see the outside as a part of that inside as well, like a form of communication, or perhaps self-love.

Let's face it - after all, fashion and preening of appearance is basically a luxury. But if you think of it that way, I guess you could say the same for art, music, writing...

I'm learning this late in the game, but fashion is sort of fun.
Let's see what adventures I get into with it next.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Tokyo Night

Summer is warm in the air, thicker with each passing day. It swamps in through the nose, fills the mouth like cotton candy, sweet and melting, light and heavy. A slight breeze in the evening streets is a relief, and for some reason, it reminds me of you.

The sidewalks are milling with workers on their way home, clutching black business bags and wearing white shirts. Everyone has a story, has hardships, works toward something or works for something. So many people, countless faces that are only blanks until you happen to bump into each other and start jotting notes onto the slate. So many pass by again with just a few quick notes. Only a few end up with the slate filled and words spilling off the edges like water. And of those, sometimes time itself can wipe them all away.

How do we keep hold of the things we really want? How do we reach out with tentative hands to even define the solid edges of what it is we want? How fragile these moments, these colors and these words. They easily escape us in the ongoing torrent of everyday life.

Close your eyes... let everything go out of focus for a second, and everything fade into the background of the composition.

We are here, living and breathing, for a reason. And the reason is whatever you choose to make of it.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Red Light, Green Light

My hair is now streaked with grassy green, and I sort of like it. Of course, I was aiming for blue and purple streaks, but when the hair salon finished, I could barely see any color over the golden-bleached hair... so I went home and Manic Panic-ed the heck out of it. I was going for "Atomic Turquoise", but as a result, I somehow ended up with a kind of blue green. It's fading fast, and the yellow is starting to show through! Well, it's a lot of fun experimenting :)

This floral-patterned cardigan from Sheinside is the perfect outer addition to a casual summer outfit with jean shorts or a skirt. When picking out this piece, I was drawn to the tassels and the bright, cheerful pattern. With how hot and humid it's becoming in Tokyo these days, this light cardigan lent just the right amount of cover against the slight evening breeze and train air conditioning chill. Thanks so much to Sheinside for the lovely kimono cardigan! There's one more piece that will be coming up in a separate post soon.