Decotora by Tatsuki Masaru

In the summer of 1988 Tatsuki Masaru spent time with Japanese truckers who take part in the unique culture of decorating their trucks – DECOTORA. Masaru explores how they used decorating to turn a job that was perhaps an ends to a means into a hobby and passion they loved. Like all subcultures the dedication and devotion these truckers have is mind blowing and fascinating.

THE BEST OF: Madoka Kaname

Want a character that combines cute and badassMadoka Kaname is your girl, from the series Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Her pink colours and cute outfits mean she is cosplayed  A LOT! So here are the best of the best – people who have payed close attention to detail and transformed into this magical girl


“Can I ask one more thing? Don’t let… me turn into a witch. There’s awful, horrible things in this world, I know that now. But there’s a lot of things worth protecting too.” – Madoka Kaname

This Game We Play by Franck Bohbot

Franck Bohbot is a French photographer who recently moved to New York (April 2013), after moving to the big apple he created the series ‘This Game We Play‘.

Franck doesn’t give us much information on the project other than the title – leaving it to us to read what we like. As a UK resident where basketball is something you play at school for one term and little more, this series is reminiscent of American youth culture of the past. Whilst I assume (maybe wrongly) the courts are still used a lot, Francks desolate representations seem to be making a comment on the uncanny atmosphere of a “playing” area with no one on it, could this be a comment on today’s electronic youth culture? Kids not playing outside or a simple attempt at making beautiful imagery? Either way it is a thought provoking and visually stimulating project with a stillness and juxtaposition of busy cityscapes and desolate playing fields.

See the whole series here.

The Wild Places

Anna Fischer is a talented fashion photographer whose work has been published in The New York Times and The Wallstreet Journal just to name a few. However Anna’s Cosplay photography is probably what she is best known for, particularly her project ‘The Wild Places‘.

The Wild Places is a photo project taking top-tier cosplay talents on  a photo-odyssey across the untamed landscape of America.  I want to expand the scope of what cosplay photography can be. I think it’s time to go big. It’s time to break cosplay out of the photobooth, the pool deck, the hotel lobby. I want to take it to the desert, to the ocean, to the mountains. I want to take cosplay away from the tame spaces, and to the wild places.

– Anna Fischer

I LOVE this project, America provides great landscapes from deserts to dense forests. The only issue is money, cosplay photography isn’t that lucurative in the West. Anna Fischer tackled this problem with her Kickstarter project – The Wild Places. When Anna posted ‘The Wild Places‘ on Kickstarter she aimed to get $3,000 in donations, to date she has received over $26,000, and here’s why people want to fund this project:

I think this is a really strong project and set of images that give a breath of fresh air to the world of cosplay photography which is often repetitive and never leaves the convention grounds. I love seeing when new images are published and the next locations. It’s one to keep your eye on if you love cosplay or photography in general, you could always donate and get involved! See the project website here.

Daria Cosplay

So often cosplay photography is overdone, saturated with colour, photoshop and an excessive amount of flesh. That’s why I think this series is a breath of fresh air. The simplistic approach may have been influenced by the show itself, unlike most cosplay characters Daria and her friends have a subdue almost deadpan energy.

Props to photographer Annet Voronaya who knows when to tone it down and how to compliment the characters and their show through cosplay photography. A skill that is often forgotten about in and replaced with cleavage and crotch shots.

Credits:
Fandom: Daria (MTV)
Jane Lane by *FaultyFrame Proj.
Daria by *DuertenSchreiber
Photo by ~AnnetVoronaya
Make by ~Int0XiKate
© Copyright by FaultyFrame Proj.

See the full series here.

PHOTOGRAPHER: Jee Young Lee (Korea)

Korean photographer Jee Young Lee is the ultimate artisan – using her small studio space she spends weeks at a time coming up with concepts, creating props, putting the scenery together and making photos. Her inspiration comes from Korean Fables and events in her own life.

The outcome are these beautifully haunting images which are not just aesthetically pleasing on the surface – they must be very special to Jee Young Lee who spends weeks on end spent immersed in/ creating one idea within a small intricate space which must then be taken down to make room for the next concept. The process of creating and replacing adds a depth and respect to the artist and her images.

Jee Young Lee fulfills my ultimate ideal – locking myself away in a room creating and experimenting.
Read more about her work here: www.opiomgallery.com

Commercial products vs. Still Life Project

Having not done a project in a while I thought it’s time to get my butt in gear and do one. I’ve been looking at a lot of product photography jobs in the last few weeks, all of which want a product style portfolio. Whilst it’s not in my nature to produce a series of “consumerism” images, I can’t think of a better job than spending all day in a studio with objects and playing around with lighting.

This made me think about a project in which I can both fulfil my desire to create and build a series of images for product photography jobs. I looked around my room, thinking “What objects can I photograph?” I thought about this past year and decided things I brought back from Japan would be great.

Not having access to Cov uni’s studio anymore I had to improvise and googled it. To my delight I found this great tutorial article “How to Create an Inexpensive Photography Lightbox” – so I did. It’s a great temporary solution if you are tight on money and rich in time.

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I started with the conventional white background set up, and then moved onto a more meaningful idea – using posters-maps and documents that coincide with the object. I know neither of these ideas were great or original, but I just had to start somewhere.

I took my Blue Rose figure down from my shelf and began shooting, I used a map of Tokyo’s Akihabara district synonymous with anime/manga and Otaku culture.

testest2 testtest

As I said before this is just a kick off point, my plan is to research still life projects. However, I’m aware that what constitutes as good commercial product photography is not what I would consider a thought provoking series, I may have to run two series at the same time using the same objects.

Let the research begin… Yay!

Draft posters, sizing and positioning

Using a very helpful piece of software called posterazor I created life size versions of my final pieces, I’ve been really stuck on size and layout. So using my photoshop play around layouts form yesterday I made the real life thing.

(Posterazor takes your chosen image at any size and then creates an A4 PDF of the image which you have to assemble like a puzzle.)

Option 1: Square
Magical Girl= A1
Product Placement = A3
Geisha = A3

On photoshop this was my favourite layout but in real life I don’t particularly like it. The layout makes it look like one giant image rather than 3 separate pieces. There isn’t enough space for each image, they are all quite colourful and once backlit by the electroluminescent sheets they well be quite intense, therefor need more spacing. The A3 print were also tiny, the full detail couldn’t be appreciated.

Option 2: Rectangle
Magical Girl= A1
Product Placement = A3
Geisha = A3

I rearranged the images to see if it was just the formality of the square I didn’t like. It wasn’t. The images are just to different in size and still to compact.

Option 3: A2 Vertical
Magical Girl: A2
Product Placement: A2
Geisha: A2

My original plan was to print all the images the same size in order to play on the similar angles and positioning within each image. Which was completely intentional but didn’t come across in the first 2 options of layout. So I printed all in A2 thinking they would be large enough. However I still don’t think they are, I am also not too keen on the vertical layout, but depending on space allowance it might have to be adopted to save wall area.

Option 4: A2 Horiontal
Magical Girl: A2
Product Placement: A2
Geisha: A2

I tried the same images but horizontally across the wall, my original plan for the images.It looked a lot better but I was still feeling the images were too small. I have to bear in mind however that once backlit they might appear bigger due to the bright light spread.

Option 5: A1 Horizontal
Magical Girl: A1
Product Placement: A1
Geisha: A1

I hadn’t planned to go over A2 size however I did have one A1 print of the magical girl photo from the first and second option. So I put that up and made similar sizes pieces out of the remaining prints I had. I feel more comfortable with this layout, however I will have to talk to Amber and Maria before making any plans because there might not be enough wall space to do this. I also worry about how having the backlighting will change this, will it become too much?

With this layout I imagine a podium around hip height underneath the middle of the magical girl image, with the figurine and trading cards on it.

Magical Girl – Image Selection

I’ve been back from Japan for 4 days now, and have spent that time going through my images, choosing the final ones and attempting to edit them. I had a very clear image of what I wanted each photo to look like in my mind before I left so the images I came back with didn’t vary much, but thats a good thing, I knew what I wanted and I planned it so much that I didn’t need to shoot any other options. However the poses and slight angles make all the difference so I need to select my finals and start printing them.

All images have had a quick edit to hint more towards the colours desired.

Magical Girl

I had high hopes for the magical girl shoot, the location and outfit were my favourites out of all the shoots. Positioning was something I struggled with, finding a pose, I found that the best ones were faceless from behind, the magical girl over looking the city empowered almost ready to fly.

The 3 poses I like the most are…

This pose is quite reflective, it may not be as openly empowering as the two below but it appears as if she is overlooking Tokyo, protecting it.

The two poses above are nearly identical, it’s just a change in position of the arm. I am so used to staring at them both I have no idea which one work better, I will have to spread them around and get some opinions.

Another issue is wether I wanted other people in the shoot too? So I did both. Generally people stayed away if we were shooting so I stood back for a while and let people sit down and then went in their whilst they were sitting. I think the images with the public in add a greater sense of reality, it almost adds a weirdness to the images, asking questions about why the character is doing this in public. Taking the setting from a secluded platform to a tourist attraction.

There is an in between as well, in some images you can see reflections of people, so without being in your face it is obvious that this is a public space. Some of which you can see above.

Any of your thoughts would be very helpful, I have seen the images so much they have lost their initial impact.

An out take form the shoot, just love the colours
And a big thanks as well to my assistant AKA Mum who spend half her holiday in Japan shopping with me and on shoots 🙂

 

Tokyo : 8

Today we approached the 2nd to last day in our Tokyo adventure. All the finals are now complete and we had 2 sightseeing days in Kyoto. All that was left on my project to do list was Purikura or Photo Club. I’ve done some research on the machines prior to coming with the intent to use the images on trading cards that will accompany my images and figurine. So we headed to the back of a Sega arcade in Shibuya, Tokyo and chose our booth.

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Nothing could prepare me for the photo booths. They were fast paced, intense and in Japanese only.

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As soon as I it my money in I was on a timer to make my decisions, do I want to elongate my legs? Do I want anime eyes? So I want spots or stars in the background? On the first attempt I didn’t choose fast enough and the machine chose for me. It then proceeded to take the images while I was getting ready which resulted in these images.

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In the neighbouring editing booth I tried to add as much glitter as possible to rectify my mistakes but it didn’t work out too well.

Now I knew what to expect I hit the booth again. Trying to be as cheesy as possible these are the images I created of Icitha’s 3 looks.

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Magical Girl
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Product placement
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21st Century Geisha
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After this ordeal myself and my mum decided to get some of our own too as a reminder of the trip.

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I attempted to email myself the images too. But so far only 2 have come through so I may have to scan the printed stickers for my trading cards. First I have to get them back to the UK safe and flat.

Tokyo: 3

Today we revisited Harajuku in order to shop for my final piece outfits. We were more successful than our first attempt, resulting in a completed shopping list. The majority of the clothes came from 2 stores, one who’s name escapes me but it is one of lady gaga’s costume shops.

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Which is where we found this beauty. Perfect for the Sakura look.

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The second shop we had never been in before, in Japan you have to remember to look up as the shops are layered on top of each other. Today we remembered to look up and found the gold mine of all Cosplay/ Lolita shops.

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Here I found the majority of my magical girl look as well as some beautiful red shoes for my product placement look.

After that we ventured to a Harajuku shopping centre. What I love about Japanese shopping centres are they are tall and thin, there are no corridors, the box shaped floor has open shops on all 4 sides of the wall. In Topshop I was given a face mask whilst trying in clothes, the changing room assistant told me it was to ensure my makeup didn’t go on the clothes.

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On our way out we saw the beautiful architecture of the shopping centre.

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After a few more shops we returned home, I decided to bring all my looks together to make sure nothing was missing.

Here is 3 days worth of Tokyo shopping in 3 photos…

Magical Girl
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Product Placement
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Sakura
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I am very happy with the results and can’t wait to get shooting.

Phantastic420 on Instagram

Phantastic420 is an Instagramer based in Shizuoka Pref, Japan. With images focused on Japanese scenery around the Mount Fuji area. A lot of the shots are taken at night and I am particularly interested in the reent uploads of the Sakura in Japan which I will be around soon. I love the lighting and colours in the images, it’s making me second guess my time of shooting. In Coventry the images were coming out too dark even at twilight but i think there are so many City lights in Tokyo I might be better off shooting at night and choosing well lit areas. This is something I will have to experiment with on my digital camera whilst i’m there.

You can see Phantastic420’s instagram feed here.

All images ©Phantastic420

One taken at nightღ
27.Mar.2013 20:04:20
N35°14′15.600 E138°52′37.799
One taken at nightღ
24.Mar.2013 20:54:20
N35°07′19.799 E138°55′08.400
One taken at nightღ 24.Mar.2013 20:44:20 N35°07′19.799 E138°55′08.400
One taken at nightღ 24.Mar.2013 20:34:20 N35°07′19.799 E138°55′08.400
One taken at midnightღ 24.Mar.2013 00:04:20 N35°07′19.799 E138°55′08.400

 

One taken at midnightღ 24.Mar.2013 00:04:20 N35°07′19.799 E138°55′08.400
One taken at midnightღ 24.Mar.2013 01:42:00 N35°07′10.800 E138°49′33.599
One taken at midnightღ 23.Mar.2013 23:04:20 N35°11′84.025 E138°91′85.126

 

Praktica at Twilight

I have been shooting with my Ilford sportsman recently with the intention to use it in Tokyo to shoot my final pieces, however I thought it would be best to take a back up camera just in case one gets stolen lost or breaks. So I opted for my second favoured film camera, My Praktica, it used to belong to my mum but she gave it to me when I gained an interest in photography. I used it a few times in first year but have rarely used it since.

However to my surprise I found it a lot better to work with, and more realiable that the ilford. Using my iPhone light meter app, I learned from the last 3 shoots I have done and took the reading so the vibrant lights were at level 5. The images and colours are a lot better than the ilford ones, the camera and myself just work better, it is less clunky and has more option for adapting. I also love the light glare it creates, something which the ilford does not.

I will now be using the Praktica as my primary camera and the ilford as my back up. I am also very impressed with the accuracy of the light meter app on my phone but will take a normal light meter to Tokyo as backup.

iPhone twilight

I have been using a light meter app on my iPhone to take readings for the film camera. It has really helped, one thing it has taught me today is at twilight to make the primary light level 5, that means you won’t get any over bright lights and the rest will fall into place. I also shot a lot of these images on my film camera, so once I print them tomorrow it would be interesting to see if the light meter on my phone is accurate. I really hope so as it is so handy to see the exposure as a basic starter. The iPhone wouldn’t be anything but a way of measuring light for this project as iPhones cannot pick up details within light at all.

Twilight with Ilford Sportsman round 2

Round 2 with the 1960’s Ilford Sportsman, I think using a tripod made so much difference, I had to consider the positioning more, at first I was weary of the cameras shutter being so stiff that the images would still be shaky but they turned out nice and still. I love the colours this camera gives off, light doesn’t bleed to much into another surface, it remains quite contrasted which will work really well with the city lights in Tokyo. The images are a little under exposed. if I want to maintain this contrast between darkness and coloured lights I will need to make sure my subject in the photographs is lit well, maybe standing near a window or using a torch on my phone to make them stand out. The images have a blue quality to them, this is probably the cameras white balance default, as it is unchangeable but I think it works really well especially against the contrasting colours like yellow, orange and red, I need to be selective in the areas I choose to shoot and make sure the lighting is orange toned rather than blue. The images are better than last time, but still need to get a better control over the light, and pre-visualise the images before I take it.

The left side of this images is really nice, but I need to balance it out with the right, a simple street flood light would balance the image well and make it less underexposed.

 

Interchangeable Icons

TOKYO, 2013

21st Century Geisha, Magical Girl and Product Placement. These are all “looks” of our protagonist. Female pop cult icons change their visual identity in order to comply with whichever product or theme is in demand.  They become like dolls boundlessly changing whilst simultaneously being branded as unique and liberating. Consumers are led into a false sense of empowerment, told we are free to choose how these icons look, when really we are being drip fed options. Our so called freedom is choosing from a series of pre-selected branded looks which demand we pay before getting access. This transcends into all aspects of consumerism surrounding these transmedia icons, figures, photos and trading cards all offer different variations, we buy into choices in order to show we don’t conform. When the act of needing them suggests the opposite.

Digital Rest

UK, 2012

We live in a society in which we passively communicate, and whilst many people see this as a negative thing, I don’t. I made this series to portray the emotion and comfort technology can bring us in relationships, long distance ones in particular. Each Image is named after the singular light source used in the image.