Return on The OEFF and The Kameraoke Party

The Osaka Euro Film Fest took place last week, and sorry for not posting any pictures. It was a busy weekend, and the little time I spent at home, I used for sleeping and playing with my son. But you can see some of my shots on the festival's public Facehook page.

As always, the festival was a great opportunity to see friends I don't see so often, as well as meet new and interesting people. Two of the guests I talked with the most were husband and wife György Pálfi and Zsófia Ruttkay, respectively director and screenwriter for the excellent Final Cut, a montage of over 400 movie scenes into a new movie, a real editing nightmare. But the result was outstanding, with Charlie Chaplin dancing on 'Staying on Alive' and Yoda as the lead's mother being some of the standouts that spring to mind.

The last night I went out to sushi with Sophie Heldman and Carina Wiese, director and actress of the somber, but thought-provoking Colors in the Dark. It tells the story of a man in his 70's who refuses treatment for his slow-growing prostate cancer, and the consequences his decision has on his family and entourage. Based on a true story, the ending is pretty surprising and leaves the viewer with many serious questions about growing old and one's parents. But Sophie and Carina were very amicable and the sushi dinner was very fun, if only to witness their excitement at the delicious food we ate.

Fast forward to tomorrow, it will be the Kameraoke 7 Party. The pictures from over 70 photographers will be displayed for one day only at Pinebrooklyn in Fukushima ward. A little contribution of a ¥1000 (to cover expenses like room rental and prints) will give you the opportunity to see and vote on what local photographers consider to be the 7 Wonders of Kansai. The atmosphere at the event is always quite jovial, and with so many pictures, it will be worth spending a bit of time exploring each of the 7 themes.  Doors open at 14:00, and I should be there with my little family sometime in the afternoon (probably after my son finishes his afternoon nap)! Come out and say Hi!

Lucky me (it depends on the point of view), I'm going there tonight Saturday to help with the first phase of the installation. Perhaps one of the picture I'll work with is this one, which I took at a little bazar held at the daycare center my son goes to, and that was the basis for the event's poster. Enjoy!


Minoh Quasi National Park

There are many quirky English translations in Japan, and I think that 'Quasi National Parks' are one of them. I wonder if those park feel inadequate in any way!

Anyways, today for the second time in 10 days I went to Minoh. The first time I had gone specifically to shoot pictures, some of which I used for Kameraoke 7 (speaking of which, one of my pictures was used for the poster). Today, though was family time. But you know me, while some never leave home without their credit card, for me, it's a camera that's always with me. I took some family shots, and especially when my son was sleeping, I also took some landscape ones. Here are three I like quite a bit, including the last that was spotted by my wife: thank you Tomo-chan!


Black Swan Marlon

Last Thursday I continued my Black Swan series with Marlon Rivera, a fantastic fabric printer. I met him through friends, and we got closer when he printed t-shirts for the KFMH3's 18th anniversary: great quality and price!

The shoot went real well, as he's pretty laid back. Contrary as with my first two models, we talked quite a bit throughout the day. I haven't looked at all the pictures yet, but I remembered taking this one and it hasn't disappointed me on the computer screen. I don't know if it's going to make the cut, though, as I think I got many keepers on the road to his studio.



Kansai Scene is Out

If you're living in or passing through Kansai this month, grab a free copy of Kansai Scene magazine. In addition to the cover shot, I have two articles in it: one about the Osaka European Film Festival and one about the Sanjurokumine Mountain race. Don't miss it!


Deutsche Bank SIBOS Gala Dinner

It was a crazy weekend. After battling a cold midweek, my family and I went to Shirahama hot springs last Sunday and Monday. I will likely write about our trip for Kansai Scene magazine. We had an hour-long thunderstorm in the evening, followed by a clear night under the full moon. In the morning, the skies were hazy, giving the surrounding mountains an ethereal feel.

As soon as I got back to Osaka, I had to enter another dimension, that of a gala dinner organised for bankers and financiers. They were being entertained by the Deutsche Bank during the SIBOS meeting being held in Osaka this week. I was mandated by the event's organisers, Luminous Asia, to document the evening. It went really well, in great part thanks to the friendly and well-organised staff of Luminous Asia. The guests were also accommodating, even if some (many?) of them probably make in an hour what I was paid for the work.

The food served was very appetizing (sadly no one offered me a bite, sob sob), the decor was beautiful, and the performances by KAGEMU and TAO were breathtaking. What I found very interesting was as I was walking around I kept hearing different accents and languages: it felt as if I were in Astoria, not Japan.

Here are some pics of the event. Enjoy!

Black Swan Naomi

On Sunday the 21st I had the privilege to get inside the bubble of Kansai artist Naomi Takaki. Most of her works are prints, and on the day of the Black Swan shoot, she etched a piece of copper (?), then applied a black tar-like ink on it, removed all excess ink, and then proceeded to make a print. It is a time-consuming, painstaking job, and when I saw the smile on her face when she 'discovered' her print, I knew all of her efforts were not in vain.

Meeting her was a grey swan for me (it didn't change the course of my life like Black Swans do), as we have have man friends in common, my capoeira teacher being one of them. We'll probably never best friends, but we got along from the first meeting, which compelled me to ask her to be part of the series. She readily agreed, although it did take some time before our schedules coincided. I'm very glad they did.

Here is a 'mysterious' shot from the shoot, I still haven't had the time to take a close look at the whole set. Enjoy!

Wedding Photo Shoot

I'm slowly catching up with all the shoots and stuff that happened recently. Actually, I wasn't supposed to be able to write this tonight, as originally, right now I would have been running with the Tokyo Ladies H3, but my son had a high fever this morning which forced me to cancel our boys' trip to the head of Japan (Osaka is the heart).

On Friday the 19th I was commissioned by Joia Weddings to document the Japanese wedding of Argutzane and Sergio, a beautiful couple from Spain. The young spanish people who decide to come all over Japan to get married are always interesting people with wide open minds. The shoot at Shimogamo Shrine in Kyoto, one of the city's important ones, went really well. The weather was radiant (which made my job a little bit more complicated!), the make up and gown staff really efficient, and the people at the shrine really cordial. The day before I had a good idea about how to use the stream going through the shrine, which the staff and couple really liked (thank you internet for free origami instructions)!

After the couple got back to the shop to get back in regular wear, we went to have a beer and continued chatting for some time. While talking with the new husband (their parents didn't know they were getting married, and originally it was supposed to be a surprise for the bride too!), the topic of yuzu came about, and before parting ways, we went to a supermarket to buy some products using the citrus.

Here's one of the last shot of the day (the umbrella was the gown shop director's idea: big Like for teamwork)!


Kansai Scene Photo Shoot

This morning I had a photo shoot for the cover of the upcoming Kansai Scene issue. It'll be their 150th one and the focus will be food. Godzilla made a surprise appearance during the shoot, featuring the art of Shahnaz Ahmed. To see the full image, probably without Godz, you'll have to wait until November. Enjoy and Itadakimasu!


Capoeira Demo @ Piyo Piyo

For last few years, my capoeira group makes a demonstration at the Piyo Piyo Center, a place that caters to children and young people with disabilities. It gives them the opportunity to experience something different, and they always seem to enjoy it. As for myself, it is a chance to help a little, having a soft spot for the underdogs. It was a beautiful day, and the people there were radiant.

Makoot Exhibition @ Ashitano Gallery

Last week Saturday (I know, I'm late), I attended the opening party for a Makoot exhibition at Gallery Ashitano. Most Corners members came out, as well as Kasatani-san and Daisuke from PR-y. In addition to the dolls, there were also pictures exhibited a some Makoot dolls that traveled around the world, in Canada and Sri Lanka amongst others. Sorry about the late notice, the exhibition ends next Tuesday.

The atmosphere was very good, and things livened up when a due played some music on the violin and cello. I leave with a picture of the show.


Quantum Suicide - Video

I have much more to write, but luckily for me this can easily be done quick and dirty. Check out the music video by Osaka's own Union Trouble. I shot the stills on this one (as well as providing the on-the-ice camera, but there isn't much merit in that since I wasn't holding it). Enjoy!


PR-y Atelier Corners: October 4, 2012

Along with Kasatani-san and Miyuki-san, I went to Atelier Corners for the first time in a few months, this time expressly to shoot pictures. The plan is to release another book next year, although the concept   is not decided and it will probably branch out a little.

It was great to see everyone again, and the atmosphere did not change much from last time. Although I have been there a number of times, I did notice a few dynamics between the people that I had not seen before; whether these are recent or I was blind to them before, I'm uncertain. The artists were pretty excited at first, and there was some hearty laughter from all in the first hour. With time, things calmed down a little, although Hiroki's enthusiasm did not diminish. He really enjoyed taking pictures with my camera, and you can see lower what his favorite subject was.

By the way, from tomorrow Oct. 6 until the 16th, there is a photo exhibition at the Ashitano Gallery by photographers and other people who took their Makoot dolls around the world and took pictures of them in different places. The opening party is on the 6th, from 3pm. Most Corners artists will be there and I'll try to swing by after my son's first Sports Festival.


Mami was happy as always
Makoto washes the cups as Hiroki plays
in the background 

New Corners keychains

The nicest smile I've ever seen on Koji

A little break (or dance?) for Koji
Good friends

Is this Makoot doll going to make it to an exhibition?

Humm, what score to use?

Photo by Makoto

Photo by Hiroki, my legs!



My friend Cindy from Austrade invited my family and some of her other friends to her cottage on Awaji Island last Sunday. When we boarded the bus in Sannomiya, we met some of the other guests, and everyone got a little worried when we got off the highway and some rain started falling. But in the end, we got sunshine the whole through, we some cloud cover while some of us were down at the beach. What a fantastic day. Thank you, Cindy.

Here's a shot from the beach, about the only time the sky looked half menacing. Enjoy!


Body Art: Capoeira - Suzuki-san

Last Thrusday I met with Suzuki-san from my capoeira group to continue my series Body Art: Capoeira. We took the shot in Utsubo park, one of Osaka's biggest downtown parks. The shot went relatively well, with him doing a macaco, and me using my SB-800 in Repeat Mode - Commander along with my two SB-600s. I often forget to bring small things on photo shoots, and this time the item was pretty unexpected (although maybe predictable): insect repellent! As we were setting up, and between pictures, allowing my strobes to cool down, they devoured his arms and my legs! Luckily the next day there were no signs. Here's the shot, I hope you like.


Whipped Clouds

Perhaps due to the heat, but cumuli in Japan are something to witness. They can get so big, enormous, gargantuan, they are dizzying at times. No wonder most Miyazaki movies, Laputa: Castle in the Sky to name this one only, features the puffy clouds in one scene or another. Actually, in Laputa, the aforementioned castle, a sort of flying Atlantis, is hidden in a such a cloud, and access is rendered almost impossible by the howling winds and distorted magnetic fields.

With the recent days' heats, those fluffy clouds are out in full force. To me, along with the cries of the cicadas and the refreshing feeling of kakigori, cumuli exemplify Japanese summers. Here are two shots of the giants, and a sunset scene. Enjoy.


Fotografika IV: Nostalgia

Soho's Fotografika IV is starting in two weeks, and I will once again participate. This time around the theme is 'Nostalgia'. If you have the time, come out and check the pictures. With a good mix of international photographers, it should prove pretty interesting, as always. The only hint that I'll give about the picture I will present is that it's from a photo shoot I did in recent months that was mentioned on the blog. In the meantime, here's the invitation.


DJ Shadow

Last week Monday I went to see a DJ set by DJ Shadow. Most of the music was brand new, by friends and acquaintances of his. Contrary to many gigs, photos were encouraged and we can upload some on his website. It's free publicity for him and me, and here some snaps I took: this wasn't a gig for me so I spent most of the enjoying the great musical trip instead of taking pictures.

Art Photo Shoot

The photo shoot last Thursday went well. With my umbrellas and external flashes, I was able to get the results needed by the customers. As predicted, the paintings with gold proved the toughest, but everyone was happy with the results. With my customer's approval, here are three shots from the 3 different artists. In order they are: Masafumi TanakaTakuru Miyamoto and Yusuku Umakawa (no website)


Not All Photo Shoots Are Created Equal

Tomorrow I'll replace my friend Christophe on a photo shoot. One of his friend is creating a web site to sell art and they need pictures of the said art. Most shots will be pretty straightforward, but there are two lacquered pieces with gold leaves which will present a challenge. If time allows, we'll do some environmentals; I especially look forward to those!

As a result, I'm bringing most of my arsenal. I don't know who'll complain the most: my back or the people on their morning commute!



Cleaning Time

With a day basically off today and with some important shoots coming, I decided to have three of my lenses cleaned, as well as some maintenance on my camera: they cleaned the sensor, replaced the rubber gripped that were coming undone, and unbent my hot shoe that made inserting and removing a flash difficult. All of this for less than ¥5000. And this was not done by some amateur shop or something, it was done by Nikon at their service counter in Osaka. It's fantastic to have one in the city, as their work is always guaranteed and usually pretty quick.

After dropping off my stuff, I met Tsuyoshi, a photographer friend who was coming in for basically the same reason. I then stopped by Yodobashi Camera to check light stands, but they didn't have anything interesting. I guess I'll need to order from the net, which is fine with me since it's cheaper. After lunch (excellent mabo-dofu) and getting IQ84, I picked up my stuff and went home. There, I repaired the net of a door, then picked up my son at the day-care center.

Once home, he played in the baby bath outside to cool off, while I took some snaps with my DC 135mm F/2. It truly is a wonderful portrait lens. After dinner, we went for a small ride, and couldn't resist getting this shot. Enjoy!


Body Art: Capoeira Opening Party @ L&L

Last Friday was the opening party of the second exhibition of my Body Art: Capoeira series. Sadly, due to some issues, I didn't get the chance to produce more shots in time for the exhibition. But along with the new space comes new faces.

The party was great thanks to the efforts of many people. First and foremost, David Byrne, organiser of the TGIF night, bringing together DJs, artists and punters. Second, the people at L&L for the great spot.  Third to the DJs, Young Bran, Sachi, Yannic and Byrne for providing some funky beats throughout the night. Next, Naomi Takaki & Charles-Éric Billard for the live drawing. And last but not least, all the people who braved the Osaka summer heats to come to the party.

I had a wonderful time, and I feel blessed to have shared it with so many wonderful people. Here a shot of Naomi and Toku (my capoeira teacher), who already knew each other (Osaka is a 'small' city, and we like it like that) and a smartphone time lapse video using King Camera app.


Body Art: Capoeira, 2nd Exhibition

My Body Art: Capoeira photo series will get a second showing starting next week Friday at L&L in Ame-Mura, Osaka. The exhibition is part of TGIF's 2nd anniversary, a monthly party organised by fellow Canuck David Byrne, featuring local DJs mixing some deep soulful funky beats. The party will also feature live painting by fellow Québécois Charles-Eric Billard & partner-in-crime Naomi Takaki. While my pictures will probably be the same as at Ands Tartines (although there could be some surprises), the opening party on July 27 will be nothing like. If you have the chance, come on by to try some of the excellent Mediterranean food, have a puff of three of sheesha, drink a refreshing glass of sangria, and listen to some cool beats, perfect to alleviate the summer heats!


It Was a Beautiful Day

Tasaka from Lagoa do Abaete organised a BBQ today, and it was great. The weather was pretty outstanding too, the mercury notwithstanding. Quite a number of people showed up, including Yuma, Kamei & Hinachan, Yasuchan, Kanakochan, Chika & Tommy (bottom shot), as well as Kazuo. On my way back, I took a minute or so to get this shot. My ND Grad filter would have been great, but oh well. Enjoy!


Pao's Pregnancy

Sorry if I don't update this more often. I do have shots that should get on here, but sometimes, I get lazy with the blog, and once laziness settles in, it's hard to throw off its shackles.

Luckily a recent photoshoot with a capoerista friend, Pao, helped me. We took the shots at her place, and there are many winners. But sometimes, simple is best. This is basically the last shot of the day, no artificial lighting, no gimmick except for textured background added in post. Sometimes we have to remember to K.I.S.S. it...



A capoerista friend of mine got married last Sunday and his lovely drummer friend and he asked me to take some snaps during the second party. This shot may not be the one they'll like most, but I like it quite a bit. I just wanted some shadow of the dress on the curtains, and the right timing gave this.

I wish you guys a happy life together, without too much drama!


Atelier Corners: Long Time No See

This morning I visited Atelier Corners for the first time in a few months. The main purposes were to bring back a bag and to give an experience to my son. Stepping into the place was like every other time. We felt welcomed and the vibe was positive all around. What a wonderful place!

I hadn't told them my son would be with us, and it was a nice surprise for all of them, especially Shirai-san, the owner: just like my own parents, she was delighted to see and hold my baby, the Internet being a pale imitation of the real thing. All the artists took a little notice at first, and Makoto seemed the most intrigued an interested in the little Spud walking around, banging on the xylophone and later coloring next to him. The staff took some pictures of us, and I'll put up the link as soon as the pictures are up.

In the mean time, here are some snaps I took today; nothing fancy, I just enjoyed the moment, and I hope you will too!
Ah, another train is coming!

Makoto, the big brother

Let's get physical

Everyone doing their thing, enjoying themselves.

New member, Hiro, who drew this in 10-15 minutes!

Woah, a fish mobile!


Annular Eclipse

Originally, I wasn't planning on taking pictures of the annular eclipse that darkened the Osaka skies this morning, but the shutter itch got the best of me.

With my 70-300 and ND400 filter I went out to Kaguhashi shrine and took the pictures below. The two most interesting things for me was the peculiar light the eclipse produced and seeing all the peeps in the street with their Batman glasses. Click to enlarge. Enjoy!