Japan Photos FAQ

by Philbert Ono

What’s Japan Photos at PHOTOGUIDE.JP/pix ?
It’s an ever-growing collection of tens of thousands of online photos and videos of Japan, organized mainly according to prefecture and city/town/village. It is to help promote travel to Japan and pique your interest in the places, things, events, and people the photos show. Be great if the pictures help you better understand Japan and see that it is much more than just Mt. Fuji, geisha, and cherry blossoms.

How are the photos organized?
Basically, there are top-tier categories such as the prefecture (all 47 prefectures of Japan), then secondary categories such as the city, town, and village. The secondary categories contain photo collections called albums (called “photo sets” at Flickr). Each album can contain up to 250 pictures of a certain subject or theme. Toward the top of the page, there are breadcrumb links (ex.: Home > Tokyo > Shinjuku > Album name) showing you exactly where you are within Japan Photos.

I also have theme-based categories such as festivals, people, sumo, and vintage postcards.

What kind of Japan photos are there?
They are mainly travel photos from all 47 prefectures. They intend to show what a place looks like or what happens at an event such as a festival. The photos are selected from among many and presented in a logical sequence. If it’s a festival, the photos are in chronological sequence. It’s more like a photo essay, and I avoid showing random, unrelated images.

Most of the photos were taken within the Tokyo-to-Osaka corridor since I live in Tokyo and most of my travels are done within this area. I always seek to visit other parts of Japan every year, especially places I’ve never been to.

Did you take all these photos/videos?
I took almost all of them. Those labeled with “Philbert Ono.” Photos not taken by me are labeled with the respective photographer’s name.

How can I post my photos on your Japan Photos site?
I welcome photo submissions if you have photos of Japan I don’t have or don’t plan to shoot. You should have at least eight photos of a subject in an understandable sequence. File names should be in numeric order. Images should be at least 500 pixels wide or tall for vertical shots. You send me the images and I’ll post them on the site. Contact me for more info.

How many photos are there in Japan Photos?
As of late 2018, there are over 61,000 photos and videos. This number constantly increases. Almost every month, I see a place or festival (matsuri) I’ve never seen before and shoot. It may take a while longer for me to upload the images though.

Do you sell your photos?
Yes, most photos are available for licensing if you want to use it for editorial purposes in a book, magazine, etc. Give me the URL of the photo(s) you want and make an offer. Contact me for more info.

Can I use your photo in my blog?
Yes, you can use the image as is for free, as long as the copyright notice is clearly visible. Keep a copy of the image on your own site and do not hotlink images from my site.

What does “Album viewed xx times” mean?
Indicates the number of times the album (thumbnail page) has been viewed since June 6, 2010 when the system started to count the album views. The number of album views is not accurate for albums uploaded before this date.

Any advice on how to take nice pictures?
I really don’t have any advice because the definition of a “nice picture” can be different to different people. Everyone has different preferences, objectives, and tastes. Other than the technical aspects, there are really no rules or formula for taking a nice picture. A blurry or grainy photo considered to be bad to one person might look artistic to another.

If the photo looks good to you, then that’s really all that matters. It doesn’t really matter what other people think unless you’re entering a photo contest. As long as you like the picture, then it’s a nice picture.

If you’re a beginner, take many photos of your favorite subject or theme. Then go home and pick out your favorite shots. Sooner or later, you will understand or recognize what makes a picture look nice or what types of shots you like. Studying common rules and theories about composition might help, but it really depends on your objectives and preferences.

The thing about photography is that, not every photo you take will be a masterpiece. Out of 200 shots, you may find only a few that you really like. So the trick is to shoot a lot, then you can yield a higher number of great shots. That’s the great thing about digital. You can afford to take a lot of photos and just delete the bad shots.

Also think of ways to increase your chances of taking nice pictures. In my case, I like to shoot on sunny days because it brings out vivid colors, so I try to shoot on sunny days when possible. If it’s a festival, I check the exact route, location, time, and what the highlights will be. Such detailed information is usually only in Japanese. My shooting location is also important. I may need to go early to secure a prime spot for shooting. In Shiga though, this is rarely necessary. Festivals are not terribly crowded except for major fireworks events. When I’m shooting, my greatest enemy (besides foul weather) is another photographer. Photography is such a popular hobby that there will always be photographers who get in my way or spoil my clear shot. Once upon a time, amateur photographers in Japan were mostly old, retired men. Now we also often see little old women carrying one or two big D-SLR cameras at festivals. They can get quite aggressive and ill-mannered at times. And of course, most everyone has a smartphone or iPad to take pictures with while holding it above their heads.

Most of the photos I put online are presented in a series, usually in an online album (photo set). They are arranged in a logical sequence to tell a story or to document a place or event. This sequence is often chronological, especially for festivals.

Photography has been a pivotal part of my websites ever since I went online. I love photography because it’s so universal like music, sports, and art. Everybody loves photos. The Internet was made for photographers and writers. And it’s so easy and accessible. For public consumption, I’m inclined to take pictures that serve a practical purpose. My travel photos help people understand a place or event and make travel decisions. I also believe in captioning my photos to promote better understanding of the subject or scene depicted. Many photographers think that the picture speaks for itself and don’t need captions. I disagree. A caption enhances the picture’s impact and the viewer’s understanding.

How do you organize and store your digital photos?
When you take as many photos as I do, having an easy and efficient way to organize, store, and find photos and videos becomes absolutely essential. My images are basically organized by date. First of all, the image file names contain the date with the year, month, and day (YYYYMMDD) it was taken. Then there’s a hyphen or underbar followed by a sequential number. For example, “20181011-1234.jpg”. I may also include keywords in the file name. For each event (festival, etc.), I create a separate folder for the images I shoot. The folder is also named with the date and a descriptive title. For example, “20181011-SportsDay”. These folders are then stored in a folder organized by month, named like “201810-PHOTOS” for photos taken in Oct. 2018. These month folders are then stored in a folder for the year named like “2018PHOTOS”. When I need to find a particular image, I search for the date or key words with my computer’s search function. The Japanese date format (YYYYMMDD) is much more efficient than any other date format.

I don’t use photo organizer applications like Apple’s Photos app (for amateurs and the worst there is), Adobe Lightroom, etc. They lock you into their system and make it difficult or impossible to switch to another system. Such applications can also be discontinued at the maker’s whim (like iPhotos and Aperture). After organizing my photos as above, I use Adobe Bridge for browsing through the photos and rating them or renaming them.

My images are stored locally on external hard drives. All my files are stored redundantly in different locations in Japan. So even if a disaster destroys my home, I still have the files stored elsewhere. I don’t use cloud services to store images because I have too many images to store and it takes too long to upload/download. I also don’t trust cloud services.

Are you on social media?
Yes. If you like to see travel photos of Japan, you can also follow my public posts at https://www.facebook.com/philbertono and Twitter (@philbertono).

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