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Tokyo blues

Mon Oct 21, 2013, 1:16 AM
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Are there places were street photography is impossible? Are there countries easier than others, or harder than others? How is it street shooting like in exotic places, or places you never visited, places that are completely different from what you are used to? I asked a few street photographers around the world to share with us their experiences.

This article was written for us by Lukasz Kazimierz aka :iconburningmonk:

Japan is a fascinating country with an unusual mix of the traditional and modern. It's a magical place filled with anime, cosplayers, samurai, sushi, and all the strangest things imaginable. Wrong! Well, not really, but this is just the cliché, outer covering. When newcomers just scratch the surface of this country, this cliché is all they find. But, in reality, Japan is a place like any other: full of human beings who have normal lives with all their little dramas and idiosyncrasies. To capture the real people of this country, in all of their diversity, it's necessary to keep your eyes and your mind open.

First, the cliché

Since I have spent most of my 5 years in Japan living in the Tokyo metropolis, I will focus on this city. Tokyo is filled with all of the things you expect of Japan, and more! In Shinjuku: go to Kabukicho and see 'cabaret' girls, the robot bar, get wrangled into strip clubs and hostess bars. In Shibuya: explore the cozy red light district, shoot school girls while they buy goofy goods at Don Quixote, cross the busiest intersection in the world. In Harajuku: see the cosplayers posing on the bridge on your way to pay your respects at the Meiji shrine centered in an evergreen forest—the quietest place in the city. These things should all be experienced! But remember that there is more to the city than the cliché.

Bring your good walking shoes!

And the best way to get a great mix of cliché and substance is to walk everywhere! The trains in Japan come with their own charm, and they are the best way to quickly get around the city. But for street shooting, it's a great idea to get to ground level and walk between the central hubs of the city. For example, it's easy connect Shibuya, Harajuku, Omotesando, and Roppongi in a walk filled with greasers, cosplayers, skaters, posh old ladies, hot college chicks and dudes, and every other kind of person imaginable. From a logistic point of view, each of these areas is served by a major train or metro station, and as a result they are all filled with throngs of pedestrians. This can pose difficulties for street shooting, so walking between major stations can provide the shooter with less crowded conditions, as well as an opportunity to find something or someone off the beaten path.

Regarding street photography etiquette

Shooting in Japan comes with some interesting quirks. I can only speak from my experience as an ex-pat, but the main advantage is the camouflage we gain from being a stranger in a strange land. With a camera and a backpack it's easy to look like a tourist, and that renders the street shooter nearly invisible. The Japanese people have a certain respect for travel snapshots, often being seen snapping away on their own vacations to distant lands. This results in a general tolerance of street shooting in this country. People generally don't mind being photographed as long as it's not too invasive. If they do mind, they will simply look away or hide their face. In my time shooting in this city I have never been confronted by an angry subject. But of course, if spotted, it's always good to smile, nod, and say 'thank you' in your most polite Japanese.

Light and discovery are key

Regarding Tokyo, besides the obvious golden hour, the prime time for shooting is the evening. The lights of the city are the source of its charm and unique character. The rich colors and varied light sources can also be enhanced with creative use of white balance. Whether you're hanging out in the smoke-filled tunnels under Shinbashi and Yurakucho stations, snapping photos of drunk business men, or exploring the straight avenues of Ginza 8-chome photographing kimono-clad hostesses, or spying on shisha-smoking college students in Shimo-kitazawa, the night is always your friend in Tokyo!

But the most important thing to keep in mind is that Tokyo is vast, with countless hiding spots and opportunities for incredible shots. Exploration and discovery are key. Good shooting!

L O S T by burningmonk

S H A D Y D E A L I N G S by burningmonk

D R U N K by burningmonk

Ramen by burningmonk

S E I J I N S H I K I by burningmonk

Straw Man by burningmonk

Commes des fuckdown by burningmonk

B U B B L E by burningmonk

Add a Comment:
lightdrafter Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2013
Lukasz is a great talent. Always good to see his vivid evening shots. In my opinion he should contact the guys at, see what happens...
wchild Featured By Owner Oct 26, 2013  Student Photographer
Interesting reading. Great photographer. Nice selections. =)
JACAC Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2013
g r e a t
PEN-at-Work Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2013

One of the reasons dA is a place to be at.






I am talking about the author of course

harequil Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2013
This is absolutely brilliant!!! I really wish I could also try street photography in Tokyo.
IrynaFedorovska Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
great article and amazing images! :)
JonnyGoodboy Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Great article & always enjoy your street work there? :clap:
mazoneko Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I hate when people write Tokyo with i ...

In the journal you write Tokyo, in the title Tokio.
That's weird ...
myraincheck Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2013
there, fixed
mazoneko Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
It just was the first thing I noticed ...
But now it looks better :P
NunoFigueira Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2013
:clap: :clap: 
noperson Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2013
Płonący Mnich delivers - good job bro.
Minato-Kushina Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013
I have recently visited this wonderful city and I cannot wait to go back there! :heart: It's true that there is something mysteriously fascinating there when the sun goes down. <3

Thank you for sharing these great photos! :hug:
lone-jedi33 Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Wonderful article!!!!
DanekaBR Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I like how each picture seems to tell a story.
pavboq Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013
Brilliant article! Thank you both!!!
Jer-daBear Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013
haha commes des fuckdown .
calm the fuck down, written in french pronounced with african accent,  worn in tokyo.

ThaliaxxxRamos Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013  Student General Artist
I want to go back  to Japan !
uchuubranko Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013  Student General Artist
Tokyo is a magical place with tons of diversity. You just won't get tired from watching the street, it was like you could squish out 100 stories at a time. :) :heart:

Superb pieces! :clap:  :love:
cskadoz Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013   General Artist
:clap: great pics
Tokyo, Edo
PatrickMonnier Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013
Love it, thank you!

What impresses me the most about Lukasz is his keen sense of composition and of course his colors. I would love to know how he gets these creamy yet bright colors....

An amazing photographer for sure!

Toyona Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
great~ Enjoyed reading and seeing this (:
mariomencacci Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013
Interesting selection! :)
Vermontster Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Great read, and fab shots! :clap:
arslanalp Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
thank you
Batsceba Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013   Photographer
great photographer! :clap:
Canankk Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2013
Thanks for sharing, very good choices :clap:
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