Japanese buzzword for 2017: Insta-bae

NHK TV program about the Instagram boom.

At the end of each year, a major Japanese publisher of reference books gives an award to the year’s most popular buzzword. The Japanese press gives this wide coverage to reflect the current times. Thirty words have been nominated for this honor in 2017 and one of them is photography-related.

It is “Insta-bae” (インスタ映え) which basically means “taking photos to show-off on Instagram.”

On the morning of Sept. 16, 2017, NHK TV in Japan aired a very interesting program about the Instagram boom in Japan. It was a discussion among a few celebrities and social media experts. They talked about the major aspects and issues about Instagram use, especially by young women in Japan.

The keywords for popular Instagrammers were “Kawaii,” “Kolorful,” and “Kako” (digital filters/enhancement). That’s what you need to focus on to become an Instagram star. One example they showed was a girl named “Nano” who used a pink theme to show confections. (Her Instagram wall is pink.)

The motivation behind Instagram is to show something “Right now,” “Only here,” and “Only me.” It’s about instant, fleeting, and unique moments plus You, the star. Vis-a-vis other conventional social media which was more about “Anytime,” “Anywhere,” and “Anybody.”
They also mentioned that a whopping 40% of Instagrammers and social media users in Japan were going on trips and to restaurants mainly to post photos on social media. So it’s creating economic ripples as they buy train tickets, food, etc.

It’s a great way to publicize products and businesses and for marketers to see current consumer trends and preferences. Many amusement facilities have set-up picture-taking ops or backgrounds just for these Instagrammers. Like a water park providing mermaid costumes for girls to wear for Instagram photos.

The social media experts also cited major differences between Instagram and Twitter. On Instagram, at least in Japan, there is a culture of praising each other. Post on Instagram and people will give you compliments. While on Twitter, you can be subject to flaming or criticism. (“Your makeup/hair looks ugly today!” etc.) So Japanese users seem to favor Instagram over Twitter.

insta2

Renting fake friends for a fake party photo.

On the darker side, users can become obsessed with the numbers game of gaining more “Likes” and comments. Their lives may revolve around social media so much that it affects their work or mental health. They might also go as far as posting fake or staged photos. Like borrowing a friend’s Gucci bag and posting it as their own. Or renting fake friends (¥8,000/person for 2 hours) to pose with you at a fake party so you can post the photos (photo above). Then there are followers who get tired of keeping up with all these people leading “exciting and wonderful” lives. The drudgery of “liking” all these photos…

If you can read Japanese, you can see the complete list of 2017’s nominated buzzwords in Japan here: http://singo.jiyu.co.jp/

They will announce the winner of 2017’s buzzword award on Dec. 1 at 5:00 pm.

CP+ 2016 Yokohama Camera Show

The CP+ Camera & Photo Imaging Show 2016 was held on Feb.25-28, 2016 at PACIFICO YOKOHAMA. The new thing was the CP+ Used Camera Fair and Outlet Fair for camera accessories held on the 2nd floor above the camera show.

Canon booth had these fantastic rhythmic gymnasts doing their stuff for photographers trying out the new EOS 80D and EOS-1D X Mark II.

Canon booth had these fantastic rhythmic gymnasts doing their stuff for photographers trying out the new EOS 80D and EOS-1D X Mark II.

Sony booth was full of people to hear train fanatic/photographer Nakai Seiya give a slide show. Besides his passion, his ordinary and down-to-earth personality has made him very popular.

Sony booth was full of people to hear train fanatic/photographer Nakai Seiya give a slide show. Besides his passion, his ordinary and down-to-earth personality has made him very popular.

Nakai Seiya has become really popular and famous in Japan for shooting trains. He shoots at least one picture of a train every single day (since 2004).

Nakai Seiya has become really popular and famous in Japan for shooting trains. He shoots at least one picture of a train every single day (since 2004).

Nikon booth

Nikon booth

Flowery Olympus models.

Flowery Olympus models.

Epson

Epson

DJI had a netted booth to demo an impressive flyng drone. Supposedly crash proof from dead batteries. It can also lock on to a fixed position so if any wind or bird knocked it, it would return to its fixed position automatically.

DJI had a netted booth to demo an impressive flyng drone. Supposedly crash proof from dead batteries. It can also lock on to a fixed position so if any wind or bird knocked it, it would return to its fixed position automatically.

FujiFilm calls its exploded camera "Decomposition." Sounds rotten, but it wasn't.

FujiFilm calls its exploded camera “Decomposition.” Sounds rotten, but it wasn’t.

jcii

JCII Camera Museum displayed the earliest cameras in history. Camera obscura.

Wet plate camera complete with portable darkroom.

Wet plate camera complete with portable darkroom.

mav

Sony Mavica, basically the world’s first electronic still video camera in 1981 and harbinger of digital cameras.

CP+ Used Camera Fair is held for the 1st time together with CP+. They might do this every year from now on. On the 2nd floor (above the camera show).

CP+ Used Camera Fair is held for the 1st time together with CP+. They might do this every year from now on. On the 2nd floor (above the camera show).

acc

Together with the used cameras, they had an outlet area for discounted camera accessories like tripods, monopods, bags, and more by major brands like Manfrotto, Etsumi, and Velbon.

In Queen's Square is this Minato Mirai Gallery that you will pass by on the way to CP+. Very good (and graphic) exhibition of Hiroshima and Nagasaki bomb photos. Free admission.

In Queen’s Square is this Minato Mirai Gallery that you will pass by on the way to CP+. Very good (and graphic) exhibition of Hiroshima and Nagasaki bomb photos. Free admission.

Nikon Museum opens

20151107_0110

The new Nikon Museum has opened on the second floor of Nikon’s head office in Shinagawa, Tokyo. It is to mark the 100th anniversary of Nikon’s foundation in 2017.

The swank museum has 580 m2 of exhibition space to show all their products, including a showcase of 450 Nikon cameras dating back to 1948. Other exhibits show Nikon’s other products such as steppers, microscopes, and binoculars. Very comprehensive exhibits on Nikon’s history and technologies.

There is also a museum shop selling Nikon merchandise like postcards and tote bags.

For more details and a map, see the Nikon Museum web page:

http://www.nikon.com/news/2015/1001_museum_01.htm

Early Nikon cameras.

Early Nikon cameras.

Nikon's first camera.

Nikon’s first camera.

Nikon Museum's floor layout.

Nikon Museum’s floor layout.

Sayoko Yamaguchi exhibition at MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART TOKYO

sayoko_B3_banner

Excellent exhibition about super fashion model Sayoko Yamaguchi now at the MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART TOKYO in Kiba until June 28, 2015. Titled “Sayoko Yamaguchi,The Wearist Clothed in the Future.”

Sayoko was Japan’s first world famous fashion model active on catwalks from the early 1970s to the 1980s. There has never been a Japanese fashion model like her ever. Her makeup, her image, her aura, and Japaneseness were in a class all by herself. I’m sure that without all that makeup, she was just a plain Jane Japanese woman. But somehow her spirit made her super special.

She was a great advocate of Japanese culture, making even the chawan cut (bob or bowl cut) look cool and fashionable. Sadly, she died in 2007 at age 57. The exhibition is very interesting with displays of her possessions (dressmaking sketches, etc.) from the 1970s, exquisite fashion photos of her (mostly by Noriaki Yokosuka), video clips of her on the catwalk, short films, Shiseido posters of her, and very impressive lifesize Sayoko mannequins. If you like high fashion, Japanese culture, and/or 1970s pop culture, this is a must-see. Read more about Sayoko here (photobook review).

Hours: 10 am – 6 pm, closed Mon.
Near Kiba Station on the Tozai subway line and Kiyosumi-shirakawa Station on the Hanzomon Line.

Adult: ¥1,200
University & College Student, Over 65yrs old: ¥900
High School & Junior High School Students: ¥600
Free for Elementary School & Under

http://www.mot-art-museum.jp/eng/

CP+ 2015 Yokohama Camera Show

20150214_2584

Profoto/Hasselblad booth’s artificial leg fashion show on Feb. 14, 2015.

20150214_2636

Went to see Japan’s largest camera show that is CP+ 2015 in Yokohama on Feb. 14, 2015. Good weather, no snow, and lots of people.

First I attended a talk by special guest Martin Parr in a large conference room at 11 am. He showed slides of his collection of photos on plates and trays, photos of Margaret Thatcher (whom he hated) on various paraphernalia, and other things. Then he showed images from several of his photo books. He’s British and basically a street photographer (besides being the president of Magnum Photos). He is always pursuing different shooting themes. One favorite theme is the beach. Although he travels the world, much of his work focuses on his home country in the UK.
MartinParrCPplusAnother theme is boring and mundane scenes. He even went to a town called Boring, Oregon and made of photo book of it. Many names on signs were preceded by “Boring” so it made for some funny official signs like “Boring Town Office.”

He pointed out that photos of mundane scenes which nobody photographs (like one of a woman filling gas at a gas station) become interesting after time. I certainly agree with this, but you may have to reach certain age before you can realize and appreciate this.

He even made an “awful” photo book showing awful photos with awful book/graphic design printed on bad paper with printing mistakes. His photo book of “bad weather” photos was also opposite of what most people like to shoot (nice sunny days). He has a playful attitude and always pushing his own imagination as to what to pursue.

I really enjoyed his talk and slides, but was disappointed that he did not show his photos of Japan. He has about 100 photo books to his credit. However, compared to Araki Nobuyoshi and Moriyama Daido, he called himself an “amateur” since Araki has published several hundred photo books. Perhaps he didn’t want us to compare his “amateurish” street photos of Japan with Araki’s/Daido’s. Or perhaps he didn’t want to show clichéd photos we’ve already seen.

He admits that he takes lots of photos so he can chose the best ones. Most shots are not usable he said. Well, that goes for most of us.

Martin talked for an hour and the last 30 min. was a Q&A session. I was able to ask him what Japanese photographers should do to become more well-known outside Japan. His answer was, “Take great photographs.” He also advised that being able to speak English also helps. He cited Kawauchi Rinko as one of his favorite Japanese photographers. When he met her 10 years ago at Rencontres d’Arles festival, Arles, France in 2004, she didn’t know anyone in Europe and couldn’t speak English well. But now she has improved her English and has friends in Europe.

Another foreign person in the audience asked Martin about model releases for his street photos. Martin replied that he does not ask anyone for any model releases. “It’s not a problem in Europe or the US.” Martin was surprised to hear that it was stricter in Japan. However, I doubt that most street photographers in Japan actually obtain model releases. The chances of being sued for a street photo you publish in a book, etc., is so slim. As long it’s not for advertising or commercial purposes.

Martin also mentioned that they want more diversity in male-dominated Magnum Photos. So they are looking for young Japanese photographers (especially female). So apply if you think you qualify.

Ice sculpture of eagles at the Canon booth. It melts within a day so they built a new ice sculpture for each day of the show.

Ice sculpture of eagles at the Canon booth. It melts within a day so they built a new ice sculpture for each day of the show.

Low-end quadcopters from DJI.

Low-end quadcopters from DJI.

As for the camera show, all the major Japanese players were there as usual. GoPro was missing, but Chinese quadcopter drone maker had a booth strewn with their quadcopters including one that was flying tethered above a stage. Their cheapest model can fly for about 25 min. They also had a large, expensive model that can carry a Canon 5D D-SLR camera aloft.

NHK was demonstrating 8K video which looked nice, but can’t really tell it apart from 4K. They should have a side-by-screen with 4K for comparison.

What stole the show in my mind was the Profoto/Hasselblad booth’s fashion show featuring young female amputees in a fashion/cosplay show for artificial legs. Very impressive. Hats off to the girls and the people who staged the show that was held only on the 14th.

3D capture of your face for a 3D printout. From Mutoh.

3D capture of your face for a 3D printout. From Mutoh.

3D printing of your face fitted on a body of your choice. Costs about ¥6,000.

3D printing of your face fitted on a body of your choice. Costs about ¥6,000.

Realistic 3D printed sculptures from Mutoh. Created from a full-length photo booth. Cost is about ¥100,000.

Realistic 3D printed sculptures from Mutoh. Created from a full-length photo booth. Cost is about ¥100,000.

The amputee fashion show was held twice only on Feb. 14, 2015.

The amputee fashion show was held twice only on Feb. 14, 2015.

This company knows how to attract attention.

This company knows how to attract attention.

Shooting festivals in Japan

matsuri

Spring has many festivals (matsuri) all over Japan. I’ve always been a festival freak or matsuri maniac. So how do you shoot great pictures of matsuri? Here are 10 tips for shooting matsuri in Japan:

1. Do your homework. Study up on the matsuri and find out all the details: exact time, place, route (if it’s parade), etc. Unfortunately, most such information is in Japanese only. If there’s any English info, it’s usually only basic and not exact. (Producing detailed English information is laborious and most official tourist information sources don’t do it.) Online information and printed materials are often not enough for the serious photographer. I often end up calling the festival organizer to find out more details. Or I ask a knowledgeable person at the festival site. So Japanese ability can make a big difference in putting you at the right place at the right time during the matsuri (unless you’re a press photographer or with a knowledgeable guide).

2. Search for online images/videos of the matsuri. You can then get a good visual idea of the festival and identify key vantage points and the shots you want. Before the Internet, the first thing that stock/pro photographers would do when shooting something for the first time is to look at picture postcards at local tourist shops. That’s where they got ideas for shooting. Now it’s from online images. For obscure festivals, there are more matsuri images from Japanese sources. Search for the matsuri in Japanese in such cases.

3. Go early and case the place. Walk around and look for good spots for shooting. If necessary, claim your spot by placing a tripod, etc., where you want to shoot (especially at a parade). Note that there are many maniacal photographers in Japan and they will show up early at the best shooting spots.

4. Often times, you won’t get the best shots when you shoot a matsuri for the first time. But if you see it again, you will know what will happen and where. Armed with better knowledge and experience, you will be able to shoot better shots the second time around.

5. Most people in a festival would be happy to pose for you if you ask them. As long as they’re not busy at the moment.

6. Using a step ladder can be good or bad/dangerous, depending on how crowded it is. Don’t use a step ladder where there is a moving crowd of people. They can trip over the ladder and knock you down.

7. For crowded matsuri, best not to carry a large camera bag. People will bump into it, shaking you and your shot. People (especially kids) getting hit by your bag or camera may also get upset or hurt.

8. Besides bad weather, the festival photographer’s worst enemy is another photographer. And these days, almost everyone is another photographer with a camera phone in hand. Not to mention the hordes of amateur and elderly Japanese photographers. Expect some great shots to be ruined by a camera-wielding hand/arm/head/body in your shot.

9. When showing your matsuri photos to people and friends, you should explain what the matsuri is about. How it originated and the significance of the matsuri. Such basic details will increase the viewer’s interest in the photos much more. This might be hard if such information is in Japanese only and you cannot read Japanese.

10. JNTO has a good list of festivals in Tokyo and other parts of Japan, but the info is not that detailed. http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/pdf/newsletter.html

Good luck to you!

More matsuri photos here.

CP+ 2014

cpplus

Hasselblad model at CP+ 2014.

CP+ 2014 (Camera & Photo Imaging Show), Japan’s largest camera show, was held on Feb. 13-16, 2014 at Pacifico Yokohama.

We went on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014, the day after they canceled the show due to heavy snow. By  Sunday, most of the snow had melted and it was sunny.

It wasn’t crowded at all to get in at around noon on the last day. Last year on the first day, there was a long line to get in. Now I know which day to avoid.

Inside, the show was crowded enough. Hordes of men taking pictures of the pretty girls. But some booths like Olympus and Nikon restricted picture-taking to only people using their demo cameras. You couldn’t shoot with your own camera. Other booths like Ricoh/Pentax and Panasonic had models posing for anybody. Crowd control measures it seems.

It’s not a big show, no professional equipment. Mainly for general consumers and amateurs. Sometimes the staff can be amateur too when they cannot answer your technical questions.

Official site: http://www.cpplus.jp/en/

Inside CP+ 2014.

Inside CP+ 2014.

Muscle man with a tripod. For the ladies I guess.

Muscle man with a tripod. For the ladies I guess.

Panasonic/Lumix booth.

Panasonic/Lumix booth.

Available only in Japan. Mirrorless EOS M2 camera.

Available only in Japan. Mirrorless EOS M2 camera.

Canon booth had a free EF lens-cleaning service. Normally it costs 500 yen at a service center. About 10 people were waiting in line for this.

Canon booth had a free EF lens-cleaning service. Normally it costs 500 yen at a service center. About 10 people were waiting in line for this.

Nikon booth had this diorama of Tokyo.

Nikon booth had this diorama of Tokyo.

GoPro showed that their action cameras were smaller than a business card.

GoPro showed that their action cameras were smaller than a business card.

Epson booth had this weird label saying "Please do not take away." In Japanese it means "Do not take home the display model." Were they afraid that someone would walk away with a printer on display?

Epson booth had this weird label saying “Please do not take away.” In Japanese it means “Do not take home the display model.” Were they afraid that someone would walk away with a printer on display?

Pentax/Ricoh had a bunch of girls posing for anybody.

Pentax/Ricoh had a bunch of girls posing for anybody.

Chino Otsuka’s “Imagine Finding Me”

Another interesting photo theme with Chino Otsuka’s “Imagine Finding Me” series showing photos of her present self posed next to her child self in traditional scenes. Very skilled Photoshop work of compositing her adult and child images in one photo. Double self-portraits in a kind of time travel. Both girls in the photo are her.

It’s everyone’s fantasy to go back in time and see yourself when you were younger. See more of her photos and watch her interview at this link: http://www.ago.net/chino-otsuka

time-travel-double-self-portraits-chino-otsuka-1

1 2 3 19