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I'm a Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia professional photographer specialising in travel, editorial and environmental portraiture.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Cherry Blossom book project 4

Once I had a few shots of them all eating and drinking I gave them some breathing space and we all sat down and enjoyed the fabulous meal Terumi had prepared.

The festival part of the coverage was pretty much over and now we had to concentrate on the 'modern' things young Japanese girls do.

This is where Haruna and Shiori really helped by coming up with suggestions for things they liked to do in their free time.

The one thing that they could both agree on was game centres - or video arcades as we call them. And their favourite thing to do was the print club. They have these all over the world now but Japan invented them and they have the most elaborate ones you've ever seen.

Print club is a major fad amongst the Japanese and is a machine that creates stickers with your photo on it. You can print different borders and backgrounds on the pictures, write on them using a touch screen. Pretty much manipulate the pictures any way you like before you print them out. Then you give them to all your friends and share them round. Kind of like facebook for your folders.

The only problem is that photographically they're not actually very interesting. Two girls inside a tiny little booth drawing on a screen with pens. Not much to do here except bounce some flash off the roof and hope for the best. This shot ended up running in the book. Go figure.

Next it was on to the video games themselves. For this part I directed things a little bit. There were lots of games to choose from and I wanted something that was visually interesting.

What could be better than a giant drum that you had to bang in time to the music and the little characters on the screen. Little girls, big sticks and even bigger Taiko drums - photographic heaven!

I started off photographing the side of the game so that I could show the surroundings. I had to use a very wide-angle lens to get both Haruna and the screen in view.

Then when I'd done that I moved around to the back of the girls and photographed looking down on them so that I could show both drums and how it was a competitive game between two people.

Again it's a very wide-angle lens so things look a little distorted. There's no flash here and a slight green cast from the fluorescent lighting, which again you can neutralise in the computer but I kept to give that electronic, artificial look.

And once I'd photographed the girls doing their thing I decided to show them how it was really done!

And that was pretty much the modern part done. The girls were pretty much photographed out so I decided to leave the remaining shots for another day.

When you're photographing strangers the last thing you want to do is put people out, when it's your family that's even more the case. I was happy we'd managed to photograph something natural that the girls would do in their free time without having to make something up.

It was a challenging shooting environment being indoors underneath fluro lights. Modern digital cameras help solve the problem with the white balance but this job was shot on all slide film so it made it quite difficult.

Tomorrow on the final day I'll show you how I went local to grab a few shots that I felt were missing and complete our visual story.

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