Dave's Photo & Travelblogue

Photo shoots. World travel advice. Tips on Munich & environs.

Learning the Streets of Tokyo

Street Photography.

This discipline is not about perfect focus, optimal exposure, or straight-vertical buildings.

It’s about taking the pulse of a living city, by showing its inhabitants going about their daily lives on the streets. Of course, if the subjects know they’re being photographed, it ruins the scene. Anonymity and unawareness bring these fleeting moments to life, in a way no funny pose can.

Old woman crossing the street near Asakusa

Alfie Goodrich offers photography courses on various topics in Tokyo. I highly recommend to try out one of his offerings via Japanorama, or ask for a private class, as I did on July 2nd. You can’t imagine how much I learned in just a couple of hours!

Japanese woman in a decorated street near Asakusa

One note: this kind of photography probably isn’t possible everywhere. In a lot of western countries, someone might punch you if they realize you’re taking their photo without asking first. And you’d better not take any photos of kids in the west, either. But after exploring street photography, I have a lot more respect for the results.

Sky Tree with Umbrella

Done right, street photography is not meant to expose anyone’s flaws or look up their skirt. It is a means of bringing a city to life. I’d be honored if a random photograph of me in Munich helped to color the city for lovers of photography who might come across it on Flickr. So, if you see me partying at Oktoberfest or wandering on Neuhauser Strasse, snap away!

Tourists near Shinjuku

Thanks again to Alfie for the amazing lesson. I look forward to another session the next time I visit Tokyo! I’ll end with a few photos that really show what Tokyo is about.

I’d seen these “levitating chopsticks” a few times, and apparently this girl was as mesmerized by them as I was!

Levitating chopsticks and admirer

Style. Fashion. And, everyone is constantly playing with their mobile phone, mp3’s, or both.

MP3s on the mobile near Shinjuku

Finally: this older woman has it all. Sun-umbrella, matching outfit, and (of course) a germ mask.

Woman crossing the street near Shinjuku

More than any of my other photos so far, I feel that the ones I’ve shown today capture Tokyo in a nutshell. Is there any particular photo that you really like? If so, why?

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Posted in Around the World 11 years, 11 months ago at 3:42 pm.


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2 Replies

  1. Granny Smith Jul 12th 2010

    Love the picture of the older woman with the streamers. I love the way the streamers are in focus near her, and fade into infinity in the background. I also really like the ambiguity of her face. Does she see the photographer, or not? What is she thinking about?

  2. G. S., I think that’s one of my favorites too. I can tell you that *after* the shutter click she did realize we were there… despite that this was taken with a 135mm from about 20′ away. :-)

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