A day out in Tokyo shooting some of Vacheron’s latest watches on location for D’Marge magazine.

I’d first come across D’Marge magazine via Flipboard, as it was part of a newsfeed on ‘mens fashion and lifestyle’ that I subscribe to. I’m no clothes-horse but I keep an eye on the mens fashion and lifestyle news for ideas and cues on what the latest styles of photography are in that world.

D’Marge magazine’s strap-line is ‘For Magnificent Bastards’, so I figured that any job for them would probably be fairly interesting. The blog’s founder, Luc Weisman, would be my model for the day and we had a few of Vacheron’s latest watches to use as props. We also had one of Vacheron’s senior folks tagging along with us for the day. Vacheron’s watches are not cheap. I dread to think what the ones we used that day are worth but I did overhear a figure of $300,000 as the total value of what we were carrying.

Luc named his style blog after a term he used to describe ‘damage’.

“A mate of mine, an American, used to call me up on a Friday and say, “Hey man, let’s go out and do some ‘d’marge’ this weekend,” says Wiesman. “So, when I started the blog I didn’t really know what I was starting or what I was doing… I called it D’Marge and it just stuck.”

Luc’s a cool guy. Some folks in Luc’s position and having the lifestyle he has can be overbearing and over the top. Luc wasn’t like that at all and from the moment we met, at Tokyo’s Andaz Hotel [where Vacheron had been hosting an event], I was happy that we were going to have a good shoot and a good time.

I’d taken along a student for the day, to assist. Dualta Daly had spent a few days with me on his travels, learning some more about travel photography. We’d also done a day of shooting with a model, just previous to my shoot with D’Marge. Dualta was free for the day and glady came along to help. The whole experience turned out to be very useful for him. A kind of ‘on the job master-class’ to finish off the two days of teaching I’d just done with him. Very capable second pair of hands and good company, too.

At the hotel, Luc showed me a few samples of the kinds of things he’d shot before and we headed off to do the first cut. The watches were the major component of the shoot but the pictures were not all going to be close-ups of them. The idea was to shoot Luc in different outfits, different locations around Tokyo that tied in with the idea of a ‘travelling man of sartorial elegance’.

We shot around Toranomon first, did some closeups of the first watch back int he hotel lobby and then headed for Tokyo Station, shooting a few more shots on the subway as we went.

We hit the elegant domed entrance of Tokyo Station, shot on the bullet-train platforms and in the busy concourses below the platforms.

After that a little more shooting around the station, on the roof of the nearby Kitte building, before we headed back to the hotel for the ‘evening wear’ shots, in Luc’s room, the hotel corridors and lastly out in the streets nearby.

A Behind The Scenes Video from the Day…..

All in all we shot in about seven or eight locations, across about only five hours and on a day that was hot and very humid. That’s always a unique challenge, especially when you are shooting with people who don’t live here and who are used to the weather.

Shoots like this are about knowing the city well, knowing what you can do in which location, getting around quickly and working with a minimum of gear but squeezing the most from it.

I used a Nikon D800E, Nikon D3S and Hasselblad H4D bodies. Lense-wise it was mainly 50mm f/1.2, 80mm for the Hasselblad, 135mm f/2 DC, 28mm f/2.8 AF-D and the Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8. One strobe got used, with and without grid.

Pretty much everything was styled in-camera on the Nikons, using the ‘Ektachrome 2’ Picture Control that I have made, for crushed blacks and punchy colours. I tend to play with the White Balance a lot on location and remember one moment, down underneath Tokyo Station, where I used the Live View to show Luc how we could get a lovely colour grading at 3030K. It’s nice when a client looks at what is on the screen and says ‘wow, that looks like a finished, graded shot’.

Everything was shot hand-held.

The gallery below is a mix of shots that were used by D’Marge for their article and shots that got rejected. On the rejects, it was mainly that we had enough shots already in the piece that said ‘lifestyle’, where the watch was a bit less the main event. The shots outside at night, with the taxi and waiting by the side of the road, were particular favourites of mine.

Great day. Lovely people to work with. Nice results. As we used to say in Wales: tidy!

See the finished article here.

A gallery of photos that were used and some of the out-takes….