20.12.11

Photography workshop in Tokyo with Alfie Goodrich - A bit of park, a bit of street

The first thing I did after I booked my flight to Japan was jump on bookdepository and order myself a copy of the Rough Guide to Japan. As I flicked through the section on Tokyo, they mentioned a fellow called Alfie Goodrich (his website is Japanorama) who does photowalks and photography lessons throughout Tokyo. I thought that sounded pretty cool, especially as I knew I was getting a new camera for my birthday before my holiday, but he had no photowalks scheduled for the dates I was there, so noted his address in the spreadsheet I was using to collate my trip research and plans, but kind of forgot about it. Fast forward to about a week into my trip when I was in Fukuoka, I got a newsletter from him advertising a photowalk. In Tokyo. On the last Sunday of my trip. The day I arrive back in Tokyo. Don't you just love it when things just fall into place like that? Fortunately he squeezed me into the course and I booked the 6am shinkansen (bullet train) from Kyoto to Tokyo for that day.

And what a day I had. It was seriously the best time I had on my entire trip. I was so nervous in the lead up, and while I didn't really have any need to be as everyone was super friendly, I was definitely the most inexperienced photographer there... but I guess that means I had the most to learn!

The morning was spent wandering around Ueno Park. I already posted a few photos in my last post from the morning, and there's a few others below. The colours of the trees in the park are spectacular, pastel yellows, fiery oranges, deep reds, and even some sparse patches of green left. So much material to shoot, it was a bit overwhelming trying to focus my thoughts. I got a few pictures, but definitely a lot of room for improvement.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

After the park, we went for some lunch. I think it was somewhere between Ueno and Akihabara, I'm not exactly sure. What I am sure of though is that it was the. best. ramen. I have ever eaten. It was a tonkotsu (pork based broth) ramen and the broth was so thick and rich, it was amazing.
Then we hit the streets. We were around the backstreets of Akihabara (known as "Electric Town") which is quite a busy hectic area of town - but the backstreets had a bit more of a mellow vibe. Our directive was to shoot B&W, and try to get a different viewpoint, which involved shooting from up high or down low or some other way to try and see the scene from a different perspective. We were quite lucky as we looked up and saw a tiny little buddhist temple in the middle of these backstreets, one storey up. We went up there and the monks kindly let us shoot the street from the fantastic vantage point.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

After exploring the streets, we got to shoot with a model, Shinyong who (if I remember correctly) is from Korea. She was so beautiful, and had such a great personality which really showed through in the photos. By this point, the pathetic battery in my camera had died, and Alfie kindly lent me his spare body, an awesome Nikon D700. He put a lens on it which would provide a similar focal length to mine, I think it was a 50mm. It was older than me and had a manual focus, so it was quite interesting to work with something so different to my camera (Fuji X100) which relies heavily on it's autofocus. Alfie did a write up of the workshop here and posted up some of my photos, and the best of my shots of Shinyong are in there.

It was such a fantastic day and was great to meet such an amazing and diverse group of people, who were so friendly and passionate about photography. The group were mostly expats from all over the world, plus a few foreigners who had settled in Japan for the long term. I was the only traveller, and it was really interesting to meet people from such diverse backgrounds and see the range of options there are to getting to live in Japan (something I think I might be interested in) even if one's Japanese language skills are very poor!

If anyone is travelling in Japan and is interested in photography, I highly HIGHLY recommend looking Alfie up and organising to go along to one of his photowalks or get a lesson. When (definitely not IF) I go back to Japan I would love to get some private lessons with him. He is so passionate about photography, overflowing with knowledge yet very patient with a complete amateur like me. 

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