Japanorama For lovers of photography and Japan: photography in japan, photo tours in japan, photo agency in japan, learn photography in japan 2016-06-24T01:02:47Z http://www.japanorama.co.uk/feed/atom/ http://i2.wp.com/www.japanorama.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/cropped-japanorama-www-icon-512x512.png?fit=32%2C32 Alfie http://alfie.photography <![CDATA[Sumo wrestling: shooting the morning practice]]> http://www.japanorama.co.uk/?p=1319 2016-06-24T01:02:47Z 2016-06-24T00:58:55Z

I’ve shot the sumo wrestling tournaments a few times but had never been to a morning practice session. Thanks to John Gunning, I got to go along this week.

Apparently someone much more famous than I had cancelled on going to the sumo practice with my friend John Gunning. So I got their seat. Nice.

Kiyosumi-shirakawa is a neighbourhood I go to fairly often, because it’s eclectic, interesting and not so far from where I live. I’d never really noticed that there were sumo stables there. So it was cool to find out there’s another reason to love the area.

Morning practice for the sumo is a superb thing to visit. For the uninitiated, there are a few rules to get your head around but anyone who is naturally polite, quiet and well-mannered will get on fine.

Sitting cross-legged for three hours and not going to the toilet requires some focus. I’d recommend not drinking to much coffee before you go. I’m glad I hadn’t.

We had a good spot to shoot from, right next to the ring. I took just a couple or three lenses: 50mm f/1.2, the 135mm f/2 DC and an old manual zoom; the 36-72mm f/3.5 E. Proved to be a good mix. The lighting wasn’t too bad so I was basically shooting at 1600ISO the whole time and with the larger aperture lenses keeping the shutter speed up around 1/640sec.

I shot with two of the Nikon Picture Controls I have: Monochrome 2 [higher contrast, sharpened, red filter] and the Kodak Ektachrome P [pushed saturation, crushed blacks].

All these shots are straight from the camera, simply converted to JPEG from the RAW files using Nikon Capture NX-D.

Looking forward, via John, to a long and productive relationship with a couple of sumo stables. It was a great intro. I like sumo anyway but seeing the practice has put a new spin on it for me and I gotta say…. much respect to these guys. They work hard.

ALF_8538_sumo-small ALF_8512_sumo-small ALF_8465_sumo-small ALF_8585_sumo-small ALF_8584_sumo-small ALF_8567_sumo-small ALF_8547_sumo-small ALF_8666_sumo-small ALF_8750_sumo-small ALF_8719_sumo-small ALF_8460_sumo-small ALF_8715_sumo-small ALF_8595_sumo-small ALF_8544_sumo-small ALF_8619_sumo-small ALF_8558_sumo-small ALF_8753_sumo-small ALF_8555_sumo-small ALF_8545_sumo-small ALF_8755_sumo-small ALF_8552_sumo-small ALF_8653_sumo-small ALF_8662_sumo-small ALF_8489_sumo-small ALF_8636_sumo-small ALF_8591_sumo-small ALF_8532_sumo-small ALF_8522_sumo-small ALF_8507_sumo-small ALF_8664_sumo-small ALF_8491_sumo-small ALF_8647_sumo-small ALF_8756_sumo-small ALF_8593_sumo-small ALF_8425_sumo-small ALF_8498_sumo-small ALF_8698_sumo-small ALF_8450_sumo-small ALF_8670_sumo-small ALF_8482_sumo-small ALF_8716_sumo-small ALF_8588_sumo-small ALF_8695_sumo-small ALF_8632_sumo-small ALF_8441_sumo-small ALF_8608_sumo-small ALF_8649_sumo-small ALF_8440_sumo-small ALF_8490_sumo-small ALF_8737_sumo-small ALF_8730_sumo-small ALF_8724_sumo-small ALF_8476_sumo-small ALF_8556_sumo-small ]]>
Alfie http://alfie.photography <![CDATA[Photowalks in Tokyo: the textures & colours of Moto-azabu]]> http://www.japanorama.co.uk/?p=1270 2016-05-07T14:38:36Z 2016-05-07T14:25:29Z

I went out with one of my photography students today, to have a wander around parts of Azabu with the intention of looking at texture and colour. Here’s some of my shots from the walk we had together.

Tokyo is a fascinating and multi-faceted city. Walk a few metres from any main road and you can suddenly find yourself in a quiet backstreet that has the feel of a small village. Tokyo is, perhaps, nothing more or less than thousands of villages strung together.

Meeting with one of my regular photo students today, we decided to focus on textures and to shoot in colour, Several of the first lessons we’d done together had been spent shooting only in monochrome.

The area around Azabu-juban is full of characterful backstreets. A few of the areas we explored today were ones I hadn’t walked around for maybe five or six years. It was nice to go back, to see how they’d changed. Some had changed a lot and may soon not have any resemblance to what they used to be like. That’s happening all the tie in Tokyo, more so recently it seems. Maybe I’m just getting more sensitive to the changes but they seem to be speeding up.

All of the shots in the gallery below were shot with either the Kodak Ektachrome P picture control I made for the Nikons [which resembles the crushed blacks and over-saturated colours of a kind of twist you could put on the E6 process, that I used to do in the darkroom]. Or, shot using the Vivid-02 picture control that I adapted from the ‘Vivid’ that comes supplied with every Nikon DSLR.

The files have simply been converted to JPEG from the RAWs that I shot today.

If you fancy taking a lesson with me, drop me a line. Thanks for reading.

Moto-azabu: May 7th, 2016

moto-azabu-textures__DSC0109 moto-azabu-textures__DSC0110 moto-azabu-textures__DSC0111 moto-azabu-textures__DSC0112 moto-azabu-textures__DSC0113 moto-azabu-textures__DSC0114 moto-azabu-textures__DSC0115 moto-azabu-textures__DSC0119 moto-azabu-textures__DSC0120 moto-azabu-textures__DSC0121 moto-azabu-textures__DSC0122 moto-azabu-textures__DSC0123 moto-azabu-textures__DSC0128 moto-azabu-textures__DSC0129 moto-azabu-textures__DSC0130 moto-azabu-textures__DSC0132 moto-azabu-textures__DSC0133 moto-azabu-textures__DSC0135 moto-azabu-textures__DSC0138 moto-azabu-textures__DSC0139 moto-azabu-textures__DSC0140 moto-azabu-textures__DSC0142 moto-azabu-textures__DSC0143 moto-azabu-textures__DSC0145 moto-azabu-textures__DSC0147 moto-azabu-textures__DSC0149 moto-azabu-textures__DSC0150 moto-azabu-textures__DSC0151 moto-azabu-textures__DSC0152 moto-azabu-textures__DSC0153 moto-azabu-textures__DSC0154 moto-azabu-textures__DSC0155 moto-azabu-textures__DSC0160 moto-azabu-textures__DSC0162 moto-azabu-textures__DSC0166 moto-azabu-textures__DSC0169 moto-azabu-textures__DSC0171 ]]>
Alfie http://alfie.photography <![CDATA[Assignment out-takes: Hyogo & Tottori for SAS Airlines]]> http://www.japanorama.co.uk/?p=1167 2016-05-03T14:22:11Z 2016-05-03T14:09:32Z

One of the things about shooting travel photography, especially for inflight magazines, is that there is a lot of material that doesn’t get used. This is the first in a series of articles about the out-takes that occur when on assignment.

In June of 2015, I travelled to Hyogo Prefecture to shoot a story on Kobe beef for SAS Airlines magazine. Some of the inflight magazines give me an idea of how many pages the article will be before I go away. This time that didn’t happen. I had a list of things to cover, people to visit and shoot. It would be a fairly busy trip, covering almost 1000kms of Hyogo and Tottori Prefectures in three days.

I’d been to a few parts of Hyogo before but never along all of the northern coastline and that was my favourite part of the trip.

Here’s what SAS Airlines’ magazine used from my shots taken on the trip:

SAS Airlines story on Kobe Beef shot by Alfie Goodrich

SAS Airlines story on Kobe Beef shot by Alfie Goodrich

The Takeno and Kasumi coastlines are part of a Geopark that stretches along the entire northern border of Hyogo and into Tottori. I’d been in Kinosaki Onsen to shoot the shop that sells the beef from the first farm I’d shot and from Kinosaki it was a fairly short drive up onto the coast.

The road is beautiful, winding and exciting to drive. Each curve brings a new vista into sight and there are some truly amazing places that I found. I hope, soon, to go back and to try and run a photo workshop in the area as there are many sights which would make excellent places to shoot landscape and fashion.

Tottori was somewhere I’d only ever quickly been through and it was my first time at the famous sand dunes. I’ll be aiming to go back there for a shoot of my own soon, too.

Takeda Castle was the highlight of the return trip to Kyoto back through Hyogo after my second farm shoot. It’s an amazing sight, quite a walk from the top car-park and rewarded me with some excellent views and a good workout!

As well as the stuff that got into the SAS magazine, I used a bunch of shots from the trip along with an interview with the chef of the Park Hyatt, Tokyo, in the magazine I recently designed and produced for Housing Japan. You can see that here. The Kobe Beef story starts on pp41.

A gallery of the out-takes from my trip to Hyogo and Tottori:

sas-www_8444326 sas-www_8444281 sas-hyogo_ALF_4610 sas-www_8444036 sas-www_8444320 sas-www_8443998 sas-www_8444411 sas-www_8444394 sas-www_8443968 sas-www_8444194 sas-www_8444015 sas-www_8444289 sas-www_8444279 sas-www_8443966 sas-www_8444040 sas-www_8444397 sas-www_8444193 sas-www_8444245 sas-www_8444085 sas-www_8444327 sas-www_8444177 sas-www_8444407 sas-www_8444241 sas-hyogo_ALF_4572 sas-www_8444301 sas-hyogo_ALF_5263 sas-www_8444400 sas-hyogo_ALF_5021 sas-www_8444282 sas-www_8443977 sas-www_8444055 sas-www_8444418 sas-www_8444014 sas-www_8444324 sas-www_8444403 sas-www_8444274 sas-www_8444420 sas-www_8444335 sas-www_8444267 sas-www_8444386 sas-hyogo_ALF_4888 sas-hyogo_ALF_4525 sas-hyogo_ALF_4589 sas-www_8444215 sas-www_8444252 sas-www_8444302 sas-www_8444243 sas-www_8444417 sas-www_8444248 sas-hyogo_ALF_4983 sas-www_8444121 sas-www_8444416 sas-www_8443955 sas-www_8444434 sas-www_8444273 sas-hyogo_ALF_5236 sas-www_8444158 sas-www_8443987 sas-www_8444162 sas-www_8444330 sas-www_8444035 sas-www_8443999 sas-www_8444317 sas-www_8444269 sas-www_8444197 sas-www_8444013 sas-www_8444098 sas-www_8443973 sas-hyogo_ALF_4513 sas-www_8444082 sas-hyogo_ALF_4908 sas-www_8444283 sas-www_8444000 sas-www_8444051 sas-www_8444276 sas-www_8444214 sas-www_8444321 sas-www_8444218 sas-hyogo_ALF_4569 sas-www_8444167 sas-www_8444242 sas-hyogo_ALF_4843 sas-www_8444235 sas-www_8444409 sas-www_8444027 sas-www_8443979 sas-www_8444387 ]]>
Alfie http://alfie.photography <![CDATA[Photo walks in Japan: off the beaten track in Kamakura]]> http://www.japanorama.co.uk/?p=1096 2016-05-03T14:23:09Z 2016-05-03T06:31:11Z

Kamakura makes a great day-trip from Tokyo but it’s good to get away from the main touristy areas. This walk is one I have been doing for years. It’s great in any season, takes you through some amazing but quiet and tranquil shrines and brings you out to the Kamakura’s north beach. 

Kamakura is rather small for a city but was first designated one in 1939. Historically it is best know for once being the de facto capital of Japan and one of the periods of Japanese history is named after it.

Kamakura today is popular for the giant buddha and for the countless shrines. It’s also a popular seaside resort but less so, perhaps, than the nearby island of Enoshima – to which it is joined by the charming ‘enoden’ train.

I first visited Kamakura in 2002 but it wasn’t until around 2009 that I discovered the route I’m going to map out for you below. Since finding this more tranquil side to the city, I rarely go back to the overcrowded areas which are popular with most visitors: the main shrines, the giant buddha etc. This is just my personal preference. There’s plenty to see on the main drag and also up in the charming satellite of Kita-kamakura. I just choose to stay away from the throng.

The route starts at the station and after wending your way a little out of the main part of town through a couple of curious shrines, you find yourself on a walk up into the forest which brings you to the first main stop on my route: Myohon-ji Temple.

I’ve spent hours at Myohon-ji. It’s a beautiful place in any season but autumn and spring are when you’ll see it at its best. In summer, though, the deep cover of green trees provides welcome respite from the heat.

The folks who tend to and run the temple are pretty laid-back. I’ve shot fashion and portraits there, some of which you can see in the galleries below. And as long as you’re not using stands or tripods up on the temple walkways, there’s really no problem with shooting there.

From Myohon-ji the route winds its way gradually towards the bottom of a large hill, where you’ll find the pretty temple of Chosho-ji.

Spend some time here as there are plenty of nooks and crannies to photograph, before heading up through the graveyard and over the hill.

At the top of the hill the route get a little complicated to follow, as the path narrows to what looks like an entrance into someone’s garden. But, shortly after that it widens out again and you’ll find yourself on the little road that heads all the way down the hill.

The residential areas at the bottom of the hill can be a little confusing to find your way out of but aim for Komyo-ji Temple, which is fairly easy to find.

Komyo-ji is quite a sprawling site and has a beautiful outer gate. Inside there are two quite distinct sections of the temple, both beautiful. At one side of the back of the temple is a large pond. On the other side, a stone garden.

It’s a place that, again, I’ve spent at least an hour photographing.

The map of my walk, with key waypoints marked:

Photowalk in Kamakura

Click here to visit the map on Google Maps.

From there it’s a five minute walk onto the North Beach which, in the summer, is covered with pop-up restaurants, bars and places you can rent a deck-chair and parasol.

I’ve generally started this the walk about 10am, taken it a relaxed pace, stopped at Myohon-ji for at least an hour, broken for a lunch bought from the Lawson convenience store in between Myohon-ji and Chosho-ji temples and it’s got me to the beach for sunset in the autumn and spring. Summer setting sun is a little later but in the summer there are plenty of ways to kill time on the beach until the sun drops…. with a drink or something to eat.

The sunset from the beach here is stunning if you get it on the right day, which I have been lucky enough to do a couple of times in my life. The view of Fuji across the bay is great, it’s a peaceful place [a little less so in the height of a summer weekend] and from the beach it’s an 40mins walk back to the station through some funky little backstreets.

Gallery of miscellaneous shots taken on the route:

kamakura-ir-DSC_4614bsm kamakura_ALF0062a kamakurawalk_1110_MMFC0011 kamakurawalk_1110_MMFC0023 kamakura_ALF0077 kamakurawalk_1110_MMFC0041 kamakurawalk_1110_MMFC0040 kamakurawalk_1110_MMFC0045 kamakura290410_MMFC0018 kamakurawalk_1110_MMFC0001 kamakurawalk_1110_MMFC0002 kamakura_august2012_002 kamakura_august2012_004 kamakura010510ALF_2624a kamakurawalk_1110_ALF_7631 kamakura_august2012_003 kamakura_august2012_001 kamakura_august2012_005 kamakurawalk_1110_MMFC0052 kamakura_MMFC0021a kamakura-ir-DSC_4586a kamakurawalk_1110_MMFC0050

Gallery of shots made with Mari at Myohon-ji, Chosho-ji, Komyo-ji and then at Hayama [about 20mins drive from Kamakura]:

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Alfie http://alfie.photography <![CDATA[Fashion photography in Tokyo: Mari, one speed-light and some gels]]> http://www.japanorama.co.uk/?p=1065 2016-04-29T06:52:46Z 2016-04-29T06:47:16Z

It’s been quite a while since I went out shooting with Mari. We put that right yesterday, with a quick trip to Yurakucho.

I used to hate flash. Part of that is because, after something like 13 years of shooting only music photography, I was fed up with being told not to use it. Pretty much every gig I ever shot would be preceded by someone from the band’s PR or the venue coming out and saying ‘first three, no flash’. So I learned to shoot everything without flash.

Learning lighting at college was first done with constant lights which is a great way of learning. The flash work came after you’d got used to seeing the light, seeing the shadows, getting the angles right.

College was mostly about using flash in the studio. I don’t mind the studio but I much prefer working on location. The buzz for me is walking into a location with a model, clothes, the camera, a light or two and quickly coming up with the best way to use all of it to create something cool. Approaching a location that millions of folk might walk through every day [on their way to work, to go to the shops] and to turn it into something completely different, that makes people go ‘eh? that’s that place? I’d never have guessed…..’.

Mari and I met primarily for me to give her a few copies of the Housing Japan magazine, which she features in twice. As we find it impossible to be together and NOT shoot some photos, we decided to do that to. I never have to worry about telling Mari ‘to wear something that’s good to shoot in’, as she is the consummate professional and will always turn up in exactly the right ‘something’ anyway.

I was feeling slightly lazy and knew  that by the time we met I’d have a stack of heavy magazines in my bag, so I packed light on the gear front: Nikon D800e, 28-80mm G series variable-aperture zoom [the ‘plastic fantastic’, I call it], one SB-800 speed-light, a monopod, a clamp to mount the flash onto things, some gels.

There’s nothing like limiting your gear choices in order to squeeze out the creativity.

There were a few spots in the Tokyo International Forum that I’d wanted to shoot in with Mari and I’d recently sent her a photo of one, that I’d shot with my phone.

She came along yesterday dressed in a nice white ensemble: trousers, jacket and t-shirt. It sort of looked a little ‘Jedi meets couture’. Turned out that the lighting we used really helped the ‘sci-fi’ feeling.

We shot in five spots around the Forum, inside and semi-outside. Mostly inside as it was raining all day yesterday,

I either used the SB800 mounted on the clamp or on the monopod. Stands aren’t allowed at the Forum. Nothing resting on the ground, in fact. So when the security guards were close by, I had the foot of the monopod rested on my leg or foot. You can see the placement of the strobe on the clamp in this shot below: clamped onto the glass partition between the escalators. These clamps are great. Cheap, light and with a ball-head on them. I also had a 15degree grid on the flash. Ideally it would have been nice to have a higher angle on the light, clamped on the wall where I was shooting from. The SB800 just doesn’t have the throw for that, though.


The monopod is fairly tall and makes for a great one-man-band rig. You can get it high above the model and lean it in to get a nice down-angle on the light, all with one hand whilst holding the camera in the other.

The gels are a set of Selens gels; about 25 colours in a wallet. I got them super cheap from Meking Studios’ store on ebay. Super easy to use, great variety of colours and colour-correction gels.

The whole set you see below took us just over an hour. Lots of fun.

How come the blue and red in some shots?

I work a lot with custom white-balance in the camera, usually beginning by using the Live View on the camera, setting the white-balance to the ‘Kelvin’ setting and then scrolling through the colour temperatures, whilst eyeballing the way the world in front of me changes colour on the screen of the camera.

Yesterday I was using colour temperatures of between 2500K and 3500K to get the ambient light a nice shade of blue, with a red gel on the flash. Red and blue are always good bed-fellows. The coour combo and Mari’s clothes really made for a nice sci-fi feel.

If you’re interested in booking me and a model for your own personal ‘use Tokyo as my studio’ session, drop me a line. I do lots of those sorts of lessons and ‘location shooting photo tours‘, exploring some cool spots across the city and using them all as locations for the model shots. It’s a lot of fun and usually teaches folk all sorts of things about how to see the potential in even the most ‘normal’ of locations. We usually shoot ambient and some flash.

Here’s the set of shots from yesterday’s outing with Mari:

mari-hirao-international-forum-ALF_8275a mari-hirao-international-forum-ALF_8337a mari-hirao-international-forum-ALF_8365a mari-hirao-international-forum-ALF_8355a mari-hirao-international-forum-ALF_8257a mari-hirao-international-forum-ALF_8247 mari-hirao-international-forum-ALF_8351 mari-hirao-internationa-forum-ALF_8308a mari-hirao-international-forum-ALF_8392a mari-hirao-international-forum-ALF_8336a mari-hirao-international-forum-ALF_8340a mari-hirao-international-forum-ALF_8349a mari-hirao-international-forum-ALF_8247a mari-hirao-international-forum-ALF_8384a mari-hirao-international-forum-ALF_8326a mari-hirao-international-forum-ALF_8270a mari-hirao-international-forum-ALF_8237a mari-hirao-international-forum-ALF_8377a mari-hirao-international-forum-ALF_8319a mari-hirao-international-forum-ALF_8398a mari-hirao-international-forum-ALF_8315a mari-hirao-international-forum-ALF_8380a


Alfie http://alfie.photography <![CDATA[Creating a magazine for print: art-directing, shooting & designing for Housing Japan]]> http://www.japanorama.co.uk/?p=1055 2016-04-26T02:21:45Z 2016-04-26T02:11:27Z

Towards the end of 2015, I was asked by a Tokyo real-estate company I was shooting for to get involved and design the next issue of their magazine. It’s been a journey of a few months, but at the beginning of April the magazine was released and everyone’s happy with it. Result!

Prior to taking on the job of re-designing Housing Japan’s magazine, I’d made dozens of e-magazines and worked on components of the print magazine design process. So I knew how everything worked but hadn’t ever done it all myself.

There were some fairly targeted goals for the new mag, foremost of which was making it look more ‘editorial’ and less like a promotional publication. There’d been one key distribution location for the previous magazine where they’d felt it looked ‘too much like a catalogue’ to want to have it on display. Having them accept the re-designed magazine into their establishment gave me a huge sense of satisfaction.

Incorporating Housing Japan’s corporate colours into the magazine in a new way was something I wanted to do first. The multi-coloured swatch of purple, two shades of both blue and green is a nice palette to work with and my first thought was back to the Realworld music label created by Peter Gabriel, with whom I’d worked a lot during my time in the music business. Realworld releases were always very easy to spot on the shelves of the music store, even if you only had every piece of product displayed spine-on. The Realworld ‘colour bar’ was something that had always struck me as a great piece of very simple branding.


So the spine of the HJ magazine has a colour bar just like it. Thanks, Peter Gabriel and Realworld for the inspiration.

Next I went through a few font auditions. I like fonts. I’m a bit of a type geek.

We ended up with Lato for body text and the rest of the family was Raleway, Montserrat, Minion Pro and Varela Rounded.

For the features inside the magazine we had a long list of possible topics, subjects and people in our sights. That got paired down and modified over time but we still ended up with a nice blend of lifestyle, food, fashion and travel. Over the past two years I have shot for a lot of inflight magazine clients. They tend to ask for a lot of pictures, to cover a massive swathe of subjects around their core focus. Those shoots had left me with a lot of awesome material that they’d never used. Some of that has finally, now, made it out into the light inside of the Housing Japan magazine. There’s lots more left to publish, too… which is great.

Feature on Kobe beef and the chef at the Park Hyatt The inside of the feature about Norie One of Ben Torode's fabulous aerial images

To keep the production process as streamlined as possible for the first issue, it transpired that most of the photography inside was mine.

As well as items from my back-catalgoue, we shot some new material too: the feature on Norie is one that incorporates new shots and some from before. The cover was a new one, the first shot of a shoot that we did across Zojoji and Roppongi in three hours one recent morning.

The cover shot was very simple: Nikon D800E, Nikkor 36-72mm E series manual lens, one SB-800 flash on a monopod and shot through a 20degree grid.

The red there at Zojoji’s front gate is awesome. The top that Norie wore was chosen especially for this shot, adding a nice swatch of complimentary colours.

So that’s it really. Less writing, more chance for you to see the magazine for yourself.

At the foot of this page there’s an embed of it at Issuu.com. You can flip through it here or click to go direct to the Housing Japan magazine on Issuu.com

I’d like to take this last section to thank some key people:

Hashimoto-san at Housing Japan for commissioning me to do the work.

Adam German at the company, for taking a quick conversation outside over coffee and turning it into a commitment, for his support throughout the production process and for writing some of the key articles.

Robin Sakai at Housing Japan was my partner for the whole process, including helping out on the shoots we did. Robin’s been tireless in assisting me turn this magazine around and keeping me focused on all the key points.

Thanks to Ben Torode for letting us use two or three of his awesome aerial shots of Tokyo.

Thanks to Norie for the shoot and for being our cover girl.

Thanks to all of our advertisers.

Thanks to all of you who have picked up the magazine and read it so far.

I’m looking forward to making the next one!

Click here to visit Housing Japan magazine on Issuu.com

Alfie http://alfie.photography <![CDATA[Photo walks in Tokyo: the Old Tokaido Road, Shinagawa.]]> http://www.japanorama.co.uk/?p=686 2016-04-26T00:15:05Z 2016-04-25T09:32:37Z

The Old Tokaido Road is the ancient route between Tokyo and Kyoto, which comprised of 53 stations [stages]. Stage 2 runs from Shinagawa to Suzugamori, where I live with my family. It’s an area I have explored a lot over the past 16 years and makes a wonderful photo walk.

There’s  a link at the bottom of this page, to a Google Map that I made, with the whole road and several of the key shrines marked,

The photos in the galleries below run from about 2002 all the way through to some I took a couple of days ago. The Tokaido Road from our house in Suzugamori is a superb route to walk, taking you through a lovely network of shrines, past small family-owned shops, a canal, over two rivers and into the glassy skyscraper district of Shinagawa Inter-City. It’s a route of visual diversity and contrast; peace and quiet and city bustle.

A mixed collection of photos from the Old Tokaido Road, from 2002 onwards:

that_coupe_001 keihin-cosmos-nov2010_MMFC0039a mita_ALF3537_01 keihincanal_tachiaigawa_002 aomonoyokocho_kagamimochi snow_kyutokkaido_iphone_IMG_3760 hosenji_statues_yakuzabenz keihincanal_tachiaigawa_003 kitashinagawa_ALF3728c aomonoyokocho_shopsign0001 shinagawa-matsuri2011_MMFC0016 _ALF3372_blog_620 keihincanal_ALF4387bsm_a kitashinagawa_EPS6803_blog hosenji_bhuddas002a kitashinagawa_EPS6809_blog chevycamaro_samezu aoyomonoyokocho_09100020-a 150113-snow__ALF1801-diptych honey-willy_MMFC0037 keihincanal_ALF7457a 150113-snow__ALF1843_620px keihincanal_tachiaigawa_001 kitashinagawa_ALF3716 keihincanal_tachiaigawa_005 keihincanal_09100025 honda_n600_tokyo_001 shinagawa_jinja002 aomonoyokocho_shrine004 kitashinagawa_EPS6806_blog

Up until fairly recently, in the early 1960s when land reclamation to the east took off apace, the road was right next to the sea. You can still find remnants of that seaside culture: a piece of the old sea wall, carvings on a shrine that mark where once there was a fishmarket. Before Tsukiji Market, the main vendors of fish on Tokyo Bay worked around the Tokaido Road area. It was where the emperor came to fish. Place names like Samezu and Omori-kaigan hark back to a coastal culture. Some of the best seaweed was farmed in the area, all the way up the late 1950s.

A few photos of the glass, steel and modern textures of Shinagawa Inter-City and the area around the Konan exit of Shinagawa Station:

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I love the walk and do it often. Along the way to Shinagawa are several of my favourite local spots to relax and chill-out: the Keihin Canal near Tachiaigawa and farther down the road, Ebara Shrine which sits on the Meguro River.

At New Year, my family and I walk the shrines of The Seven Gods of Good Fortune. Our new year’s eve is often spent, around the turn of midnight, at one or other of two special shrines which are both on the Tokaido Road.

A collection of fashion pictures made on the Keihin Canal & inside Shinagawa Inter-City:

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Fishmongers, vegetable shops, bicycle repairers and shops selling rice-crackers rub shoulders with a few new cafes, traditional guest-houses, dog-grooming salons and a host of characterful restaurants.

It’s a ‘down at home’ sort of place, quiet and peaceful but never more than two streets away from the main road to Yokohama: the Dai-Ichi Keihin.

A collection of photos I took a few days ago, whilst doing a photo tour with someone:

_DSC6203_blog _DSC6212_blog _DSC6213_blog _DSC6215_blog _DSC6224_blog _DSC6227_blog _DSC6229_blog _DSC6234_blog _DSC6235_blog _DSC6236_blog _DSC6241_blog _DSC6242_blog _DSC6244_blog _DSC6246_blog _DSC6248_blog _DSC6249_blog _DSC6253_blog _DSC6254_blog _DSC6257_blog _DSC6258_blog _DSC6259_blog _DSC6261_blog _DSC6262_blog _DSC6264_blog _DSC6267_blog _DSC6268_blog _DSC6269_blog _DSC6271_blog _DSC6277_blog IMG_0944_blog IMG_0953_blog IMG_0956_blog IMG_0958_blog IMG_0959_blog IMG_0969_blog IMG_0976_blog

Here’s the Google Map I made, which shows the route of the road all the way from Shinagawa to Suzugamori. Click the pic below to reach the map on Google.

Photo tours of Tokyo: The Old Tokaido Road

If you are interested in doing a photo tour of the area, drop me a line.

Alfie http://alfie.photography <![CDATA[Tokyo Is My Studio: feature in InTokyo magazine]]> http://www.japanorama.co.uk/?p=426 2016-04-26T00:15:38Z 2016-04-18T05:46:08Z

New magazine from the creators of GaijinPot showcases work by Alfie Goodrich in its second issue.

“InTokyo is the new magazine from the creators of the GaijinPot website and they asked me to put together a feature about using Tokyo as a location for fashion shooting,’ comments photographer Alfie Goodrich.

“Since moving to Tokyo from the UK, I’ve been shooting a variety of material here but portraits and fashion using the city as a backdrop is definitely one of my favourite things to do.

“The cover photo is from a shoot I did with Akiko DuPont back in 2011, commissioned by a client in the USA who wanted a large mural for his sushi bar in Nashville, Tennessee. The final piece, shown below, used several photos we did during a shoot on a busy Tokyo station at rush-hour.

“We did the shoot with a mixture of Nikon and Mamiya digital cameras. No tripod or flash were used.”


“The rest of this new magazine feature is put together from various shoots I’ve done together with Shinyong Lee, a singer, model and performer with whom I’ve worked a lot over the last few years.”

From the magazine:

Tokyo is a city I have known for 16 years and lived in for almost nine. My photography work here is varied, from events to fashion, cars to editorial, portraits to news. The one thing that is a constant is the city. For me Tokyo is like a movie lot, full of sets of various types and moods, styles and colours. All waiting for the actors to be ushered in. 

intokyo_02_akiko Tokyo oas my studio: InTokyo magazine featuring Shinyong Lee

Tips for shooting cinematic: think of all of your shots as telling a story. If you are using a model or shooting a friend, put a storyline in their head for them to imagine. Think about the background as much as the person. Shoot in the morning or in the 90mins around sunset, as the light is more dramatic. Look for patches of sunlight reflected from buildings. Shoot in contrasty monochrome or experiment with different colour spaces; a lot of cameras have film presets or allow you to load picture controls to do this. Long lenses compress perspective. Large apertures create shallow depth of field: both can look cinematic.”

You can pick up InTokyo, free, at various locations around Tokyo.

InTokyo Magazine: link includes a PDF download of the entire publication.

Alfie http://alfie.photography <![CDATA[Photographing Tsukiji Fish Market]]> http://www.japanorama.co.uk/?p=231 2016-04-26T00:15:55Z 2016-04-16T13:19:25Z


Tsukiji is somewhere I’ve been visiting for about sixteen years, ever since first coming to Japan. Later this year it will move to a new site in Toyosu. Whilst there are many advantages of the market moving, the charm of the streets in the neighbourhood that surround the market itself will be lost forever when the traders take to their new home.

Part of the reason for the move is to provide a new, up to date home for the stallholders. On top of that, a new section of the Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway will cut through the area. The absence of the market will also clear a huge area of land for new development. Construction is a massive business in Japan. Even at the time of the Bubble bursting in Japan’s economy, back in the 1990s, the country still spent more on concrete than America.

New development opportunities, the Olympics, progress… all publicly, officially cited reasons for the market moving. But one can’t deny that it’s a shame. And whilst Toyosu provides a shiny new home for Tsukiji and a chance for the neighbourhood there to flourish, the old streets of Tsukiji will change and die.

If you come to Tokyo this year then visit the market. Observe the rules, please, and remember that it’s a busy workplace for many.. not a theme-park for tourists. Be polite, considerate, enjoy the place in its last burst of life.

Here’s a small magazine I made some years ago, from some of my early shots at Tsukiji.

The gallery below contains a selection of shots I’ve made at the market over the years. Some go way back to the first trip, shot on film and here in the gallery as tiny scans.

A lot of the recent ones have just come straight out of the camera. I’ll probably get around to editing a lot more of the Tsukiji shots this year, as I’m trying to put together a few articles commissioned by various magazines.

A large chunk of the shots in the gallery were shot for The Wall Street Journal some years back, when I followed a leading sushi master around on his morning shopping trip and then back to his restaurant to shoot his team preparing lunch.

If you fancy experiencing Tsukiji with me, then drop me a line and we can make a tour there together.

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Alfie http://alfie.photography <![CDATA[Photographing Sensoji & Asakusa]]> http://www.japanorama.co.uk/?p=212 2016-04-26T00:20:45Z 2016-04-16T08:40:50Z

Sensoji Temple in the Asakusa district of Tokyo might be one of the most touristy places in the city but it’s always a good place to go and shoot.

Asakusa is a place I typically only go when I am working, whether it is doing a tour for someone or shooting there for a commercial client.

Late afternoon light is the best, as it streams through the back of the incense burner and renders the area where the people wash their hands superbly, flooding it with great backlight with which to increase focus on the water especially.

It’s a very touristy part of Tokyo but it has its charm and it’s a place where there are some iconic shots to get. Re-visiting the spots I like best there, to try and get something different or just to improve on what I already have, is a constant pleasure.

The smoke of the burner is always a challenge and typically I am shooting with as wide a lens as I have in the bag, often putting the camera down into the ash pit to get the best angle.

The hand-washing area is somewhere I’d always usually shoot with the 50mm; the f/1.2 version if I have it on me.

Inside the temple you can always get some great shots of people throwing their money in and praying. The backdrop is superb and although the dynamic range is tricky, you can get some great shots using the backlight and still getting the shrine roofs of outside.

A couple of shots in the gallery below go back 16 years, when I was shooting on film. Most, though, are very recent.

In the article about photowalks and tours in Tokyo, you’ll find a magazine I made with Shelly Han, who was in Tokyo last year when she took a tour with me. We concentrated on Sensoji and the areas between Asakusa and Ueno. Check her magazine out. Very nice work.

A Gallery of Shots From Sensoji & Asakusa

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