One of the most fun projects I've ever worked on was a book project for Weldon-Owen Publishers in New Zealand. They were putting together a series of books for schoolchildren on different festivals around the world. I was contracted to do the Japan book and to organise to photograph a suitable festival and arrange people to appear in it.
The subjects of the book needed to be young children around 11 years old and my two nieces fit the bill perfectly. All I needed was a festival and it was fast approaching May, when you have both the cherry blossom festival and children's day.
The theme of the book was to show them enjoying the festival, but also to show them enjoying a modern life after the festivities. We wanted to compare the traditional with the contemporary and show the way that modern Japanese children interact with both their past and their future in an urban environment.
And I thought it would just be some pretty pics! As with most professional travel photography assignments the hard work starts before you go, although in this case the girls (including Mum!) did most of the work for me.
The first part of the shoot started in the morning in the apartment of my sister-in-law's family. Here are Shiori, Haruna and their mum Terumi. They had cooked up this incredibly delicious (and photogenic) feast of traditional foods for the lunch.
Most of the hard work was done by the time I got there so I posed the family around the bento box and had the girls put the last finishing touches to it. Being such a small apartment meant that a wide-angle lens of about 20mm was needed.
Photographing the food under such soft lighting meant that I could do it all pretty much by natural light. I bounced a bit of flash off the roof but that's about it. It was a beautiful sunny day outside (the photo Gods were smiling on me!) and I knew the light would be too harsh outside to photograph the food so decided to do those shots inside.
The most important part of telling a visual story is to show the lead-up to the main event. Even though the most 'important' part is the festival itself, showing how people prepare to take part in the event is an important part of the visuals.
Tomorrow we head to the park to lunch under the cherry blossoms!