Creating memories

The past couple of weeks I've been enjoying my maternity leave. I'm not due until the end of next month, but I found both the outdoor sessions and the newborn sessions in my studio to energy-consuming to continue. Maybe the 2 little ones I have running around already had something to with it.. 

As I never had any maternity shots done before, I was very excited to be asked to step in to model when I was attending a maternity & newborn workshop by Ana Brandt here in Tokyo last month. It was sakura time and the images have come out beautifully. I've been a huge fan of Ana since I started newborn photography and one day I hope to be as successful as she is as both a photographer & business woman! For more of her work, see here: http://anabrandt.com

One of my favourite photos, by one of the very talented photographers who joined the workshop too, Anna Mae Isobe.

One of my favourite photos, by one of the very talented photographers who joined the workshop too, Anna Mae Isobe.

As I came into my 8th month of pregnancy, I was thinking to have a photo session done that included my two children, to show the bond with their unborn sibling and me. I found a great photographer (actually, husband & wife work together as a team) through my Photographer's network, who was willing to find a great location for our shoot, as well as custom made tutu's for me and my daughter and a time that was convenient for all of us! I am so happy with the outcome and I know that my family will treasure these images. I have already printed them and hung them on our photo wall so we can enjoy them daily and be reminded of this special time in our lives. 

Photos by: Chepolinko Photography, http://chepolinko-photography.com

Looking back (and here is the moral of the story...) I regret not having professional pictures taken of my first pregnancy or my second, and of my children when they were newborn or in their first year. Of course I took photos myself, not only on my iphone but also on my DSLR and I did print them into photo books, but back then I was not into photography as I am now (I was still working on my diploma) and therefore looking back, the images are not as beautiful as I wish they were. Plus - I myself am not in a lot of them, and the ones I am in, I think I could have looked a lot better than I did! 

So my advice is; invest in family photos as keepsakes & quality prints to display them in your home. It does cost money, yes, but in return you will have beautiful memories for years to come. And especially when you're living abroad, these photos will have a return on investment when you don't have to buy additional birthday gifts for the grandparents, but can just give them a framed picture!

Ps; I will be taking bookings again from the Fall season, October onwards! In the meantime, feel free to contact me for pricing information or recommendations for other photographers if you're looking for a session right now! 

 

 

Shichi-Go-San

I was lucky enough to be asked to capture a Shichi-Go-San ceremony of a three year old girl last week. Wikipedia explains: 

Shichi-Go-San (七五三?, lit. "Seven-Five-Three") is a traditional rite of passage and festival day in Japan for three- and seven-year-old girls and three- and five-year-old boys, held annually on November 15 to celebrate the growth and well-being of young children. As it is not a national holiday, it is generally observed on the nearest weekend.

I really appreciated the opportunity to do this & the family's trust in me, even though I'd never done it before and know very little about Japanese customs and traditions.. Before the day itself I met with the mother, who explained the ceremony to me and the timeline of the morning. The kimono that her daughter would wear, has been in their family for many generations, making it even more special.

Apart from the official family portraits, including grandparents, I captured the ceremony itself and candid photos around the shrine. The sun was shining for us, the leaves were turning color and the vivid colours of the kimono's made for beautiful vibrant photos. I've just sent off the gallery, and am keeping my fingers crossed, hoping the family will be happy with the images! 

Please contact me directly for a personalised quote if you have a special event you would like me to capture for you.


Dutch summer - back to my roots

Staying with our friends in Paris.

We spend a long, endless summer in Holland, seeing family & friends and travelling to some other fabulous European destinations. It was fabulous.

I visited Paris for the first time in many many years and am glad to report it has not lost it's enchanting charm. We stayed with friends from the other side of the world, that we met while on another expat assignment. The conversation just flowed as if we'd had coffee (/champagne) the day before!

I went to Jersey to see one of my lovely friends get married in a posh English garden wedding with a touch of African, Arabic and Swedish culture. All the best wishes to this gorgeous couple; catching up with them was so long awaited - especially as I had fled my country of residence due to a military coup last time they tried to visit!

Wedding.

I spent 5 days in Tuscany, bella Italia and drank some of the best wines in the world with my husband while the kids had fun at Grandma's and Grandpa's, pottering around in the garden all day in their underwear. We met some amazing passionate winemakers and truly enjoyed the Italian hospitality. 

Tuscany.

Image by Mons Photography

We reconnected as a family in a typical beach town, where, ironically, we tried to find our cottage in the biggest storm in 100 years and were blocked by several trees that had fallen on the road. We still had fun that week though riding around in the dunes and forest in a borrowed 'bakfiets', making multiple trips to the beach that thankfully became sunnier and sunnier (but not really warmer) while the week progressed. We had an extended family photo shoot too, with a photographer that I've admired on social media for a while now. 

Even the flight back was great, after we managed to get my husband on the plane with us too. 

All in all, it was a fabulous summer. Thank you to our family & friends who welcomed us, fed us and gave us beds to sleep in. We miss you already! 

Now we're back in Tokyo, dealing with the hot & humid summer here, listening to the crickets, enjoying yakitori and sake and reminiscing the great times we had. Slowly all our friends are flocking back into Tokyo, bronzed and relaxed after their home leaves.  

I really think that once you've left the place you're from, you can return and really see the value of it. We have been an 'expat couple' and 'expat family' for quite a while now, almost my whole adult life I've lived away from my home country. But I LOVE the Netherlands. This small, quirky, wild country is where I'm from and I'm proud! Maybe one day we will even return there (for a while) and get our own bakfiets. (In case you've never heard of such a bike; http://bakfiets.nl/eng/)

Brand new niece, who prefers to stay anonymous ;-) 

In between all the fun, I also did some work - which was fun too to be honest. I got to capture my brand-new niece and some beautiful families that I'm blessed to call friends.

It was a great challenge finding good backdrops and also a good exercise shooting in the bright sunlight (as the Golden Hour is around 5am..no thank you!) I love the diversity of the landscapes and the emptiness - in one of the most crowded countries on Earth. 

Who's in for summer sessions next year?

Sunny Summer Sessions



Location, location.. - the first of a series of location scouting sessions!

One of the requests I come across quite bit is to have a photo session representing Japan; the Japanse culture, typical backgrounds or famous spots, like the super busy Shibuya crossing. As we go about our lives here in Tokyo (or anywhere in the world, really, where you're far away from your home country), there are so many truly unique encounters we have on a daily bases that we would never have back home, and these should not be forgotten. Especially for kids, who may not remember everything after moving on to another country, a photo session like this will keep the memories fresh.  

The famous Shibuya crossing

The famous Shibuya crossing

Every time I'm roaming around in Tokyo, I spot unique locations and I thought now is the time to map these locations so I will be able to easily navigate my clients to hotspots for their photo session. Last week my dear friend who lives in Hong Kong came to stay with us and she was a very willing model for my first location scout - a local temple here in Shinjuku that I passed many times but never investigated. 

Main temple building

I absolutely loved this place - it was quiet, peaceful and full of green leafy trees. The location next to a park and some high rise as well as the busy Shinjuku pachinko & restaurant area also makes it a fabulous place to do a 2/3-location shoot with only a 5 minute walk in between. Below you can see a variety of the shots of the session. 

In & around the temple grounds

As a bonus we got to take a picture with some serious looking men in traditional dress :-)

Serious men dressed in traditional clothes.

Sakura time is about to begin!

Spring in Japan, and then especially the Sakura time, is so special here in Japan. You can feel it in the air - the air is warming up, the sun is climbing higher and early trees are blooming in the midst of stark winter parks. 

I was surprised to see so many people waiting for the park to open - at 9 AM on a Sunday morning. A group of 20 Japanese ladies dressed formally in beautiful kimono's going to the teahouse, a group of kids waiting to start a treasure hunt of some sort, a group of bird watchers with binoculars & guides and of course the always present photographers. Not waiting for clients, like me, but standing there with their impressive gear & tripods to get the best spot to capture the blooming of the Sakura trees. To be honest, I was a bit jealous of all the great camera's and lenses these people were holding. The dad of the family I was photographing even joked that I must feel sad that I only brought my small, compact gear. No way these people were going to let me into their club :-) 

And so it begins, after some weekends exploring how and where exactly the trees are blooming or will be blooming and making my own family and my parents pose and re-pose, I am now ready for the weeks ahead with client sessions every weekend. Yesterday morning this lovely family modelled for me so I could use the photos to show you the beauty that is Sakura. And the beauty of this family! They all have a different color eyes; amazingly bright, and they are one happy bunch.