Thursday, February 26, 2015

Talking about lately: photography, narration, and life

So tonight, I just came home from a late night narration job audition. Since the audition lasted longer than expected, I missed my last train home and caught a taxi home (the production staff kindly paid for this, otherwise I couldn't have afforded it). In the past, I've only taken a taxi a very few times: riding along with other photographers on a photo job, moving all my stuff from one apartment to another, airport to home after the flight got in too late to catch the train etc... Anyway, it was my first time to take the taxi after a recording, and it felt very exciting and grownup being in there all by myself, watching the glowing night scenery of Tokyo pass by. Rainbow Bridge, Odaiba, buildings made up of hundreds of little white and yellow lights way in the distance. The journey prompted me a bit to think about what's been going on in my life lately.

I feel like often, we get so caught up in the everyday rush and familiar steps that take us through the day, we get so used to thinking about the obstacles in the way and how to get past or around them, the heaviness and discouraging factors holding us down, that we occasionally forget to stop, pull back, look at the big picture. Take things into perspective. And most of all, be thankful.

If possible, I want to remember to be thankful every day. I would like to do that. I'm not religious, so I don't really pray per se, but I think that thankfulness would be the closest thing to something like praying. Being thankful gives you a certain mindset, a frame with which to see the world. It calms you, balances you. Readies you for more.

I'm very, very grateful to be doing photography and narration full time, and making a living off that. Being able to pay the rent and bills and all of that from the jobs I love. I remember wishing, hoping about one day, being afraid. And now I'm in the middle of what I wanted, and keeping afloat. Slowly improving and growing.

I love meeting new clients through my photography jobs. It's so much fun to talk with them, hear about their work, their perspectives on life, what they think of this city. With those who are just in Tokyo for a visit, just passing through, or just arrived here recently to make this place their new home, I experience the exhilaration all over again. View the country through fresh eyes once more, and it keeps me always excited about discovering and rediscovering parts of the city together. I also love sending the photos to the client afterward and hearing their reactions, hearing how happy they are with the result. I am so grateful that some clients find me through my websites and social media, while others hear recommendations from their friends, and they choose me. Thank you for liking my work. It means more to me than you know.

I love going to narration and voice over jobs, and meeting new people through those as well. I first came to Japan with the intention of diving into the music industry with a major company, and although that didn't pan out well in the end, I'm so happy that I can continue doing voice work these days. Since those high school days of secretly practicing and recording for hours in my room, I've loved singing for years. But to be honest, I've never felt 100% comfortable on the stage. Some singers, including some friends I know, are natural performers, feel most at home on the stage and singing to an audience. It's an extremely rewarding experience, a rush, a dreamy feeling, but not when I feel happiest. I always felt so nervous just before going on stage. And I'd feel so relieved upon finishing, when I'd get to go greet my listeners and talk to them one by one, face to face.

So in that sense, even if I had stuck it out and succeeded to become a major label artist for example, I think I would have always dreaded traditional concerts, doing the MC talk in between songs (gosh I was SO awkward at that), that kind of thing. The spotlight doesn't really suit me. I don't thrive in it. I sweat and awkwardly grin my way through it.

I've realized that I really like being in the studio, though. Whether it's singing or narration work, the creation process is exciting for me. Being behind the microphone, making the idea come alive, hearing the result and the satisfaction of the production staff on the other side of the glass. There are often challenges, sometimes unexpected or frustrating moments. But overall, I feel comfortable in the studio. I love being there. And I am so, so grateful that clients actually like my voice.

Over the last year and the first part of this year so far, I've been doing mostly small-scale voice jobs like corporate videos, company or school introductions, products, even shopping mall closing time announcements (I love it!). I appreciate every single job, no matter how small. My dream is to one day do character voices, like in an animation or video game. How cool would that be?! I know I have a long way to go, but I'm excited and can't wait to try more.

Earlier, I finally went to see the Disney film Big Hero 6, and it's just become one of my favorite movies ever. What a fantastic film it was. The voice actors did an amazing job, and I'm so happy to see such a diverse cast of characters. Furthermore, San Fransokyo is a perfect combination of two places I love most - Tokyo and San Francisco (and the Bay Area). Seeing this film truly inspired me, made me rethink my perspectives lately and what I want to do from here on out.

I want to create work that can make others happy and inspire them. I want to connect with others who are passionate about their art, whose goals are also to grow and work hard and keep dreaming now matter how old they are. I want to rise past the bits holding me down, whether external or internal factors, not waste excessive time and worry on those, but keep surging ahead and up. I don't ever want to be at a standstill and think as an excuse to myself, "That was the best I could do." No, I want to push the limits and try everything. It'll turn out okay. I'm sure I can find the strength for that.    

Monday, February 23, 2015

Tokyo Fashion Photography: Dusky Yellow

Shooting with Samantha, we came across a street in the park lined with some patches of bright yellow wildflowers, an unexpected vivid sight in this chilly winter weather. See more from this shoot at Samantha's blog!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Tokyo Newborn Photography: Nayomi

One of my favorite photoshoots of recent days: a newborn session with Jackie, Akihiro, and their adorable baby Nayomi! What a lovely family, and a gorgeous baby girl with the sweetest expressions :)

Friday, February 20, 2015

Steven Oo

I met up with fashion designer Steven Oo this afternoon for a quick chat and photoshoot. Steven is an amazing designer of knitwear, and we went to the same university (although he graduated a few years ahead of me). I've been following his work for years, and the pieces he creates are unique and gorgeous. I'm so glad we were able to meet during his business trip to Tokyo! It's truly an inspiration to see the well-deserved success that his passion and hard work are bringing about on his journey in design. Please check out his website:

Monday, February 16, 2015

Sumida Aquarium at Tokyo Sky Tree

I took a little trip to the Sumida Aquarium at Tokyo Sky Tree for the very first time. It felt nice to get lost in the colored lights and blue, wavering water tanks for a while. I caught a glimpse of the penguins' feeding time, where the aquarium staff fed little whole mackerel to the birds one by one, and the entire flock zoomed around at top speed, flying through the water in frenzied excitement. Outside again, the sun was beginning to set and the tower itself tinted orange-bronze against the cloudless sky. Fairy lights were still sprinkled over the low trees at the entrance, adding a bit of warmth to the chilly night.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Tokyo Model Photography: Darin and Bianca

 I had such a wonderful time today shooting these photos for Darin and Bianca! Even though the mid-February wind was quite icy this afternoon and we did a lot of walking around outside, these gorgeous and talented girls were so fun to work with. They didn't mind exploring and trying out a variety of backgrounds we discovered on the way. Darin is from Ukraine and Bianca is from South Africa, both places that seem like very mysterious and faraway lands to me, so I really enjoyed hearing about their home countries and also what they think about Japan. Although the weather outside became steadily colder, the light was unbelievably perfect and the sky a great cloudless blue. In the end, we even managed to find some vivid plum blossoms just beginning to bloom! Exciting to see the approach of spring in those flowers, and the promise of plenty more blossoms to come.

Thank you so much, Bianca and Darin! I loved working with you both and am looking forward to next time :)

Models: Darin and Bianca (axelle)