Last March, I had the opportunity to do a photo shoot that was different from anything I’ve done in the past. Arisa, a singer/songwriter based in Osaka, will be releasing a “Mini Album” of her original songs in August, and wanted some photos to use for the CD cover, posters etc. Usually, people who want a portrait shoot expect me choose the location and concept, but Arisa knew what she wanted from the beginning— a series of shots with her holding a guitar, standing in front of a stack of Marshall Amps in a wide open sunny area. Lately, I haven’t had much time for portrait shoots, but I liked Arisa’s concept and her enthusiasm was infectious, so I agreed to do the shoot.
We decided to meet at Shonai Ryokuchi Park on the outskirts of Nagoya because of its wide open areas. Arisa showed up in a van driven by her friend who runs a business that provides bands with amps and sound equipment, and helps them get set up for gigs. He had six large Marshall Amps in his van, plus guitar amps, so the first thing we did was to haul the amps up onto a hill overlooking the park on one side, and the river on the other. Once we had the amps set up, we caught our breaths, and then Arisa started posing with her guitar in front of the amps. I got some tightly framed shots that focused on Arisa, but also some wider shots that took in the spectacle of these amps in the middle of nowhere with a diminutive red-haired rocker standing in front of them.
After a number of shots with the nine amps, we removed a couple of the amps and inserted Arisa into their place. I liked how the one orange amp made a nice counterpoint to Arisa’s yellow shirt and red hair.
After an hour or so shooting with the amps, we hauled them back down the hill to load into the van. I suggested we bring just one guitar and take a walk around the park to look for locations. The first location we tried was next to a dam connecting the park to the river area. Again, I tried for a combination of wide and tight framing. Arisa tends to have a bubbly, cheerful personality, which comes through in many of the photos, but I also wanted to capture her intense, dramatic side.
After that, we hit the river. It was getting towards noon (when light is at its harshest), but there was enough cloud and haze in the air to soften the shadows. Arisa wanted a summery feel for the photos (as the CD would be released in August), and despite it being early spring, I think we achieved it..
In one area of the park, many flowers had been planted, so we tried it as a location. The day had warmed, and the grass had dried, so we both sat on the grass to relax. I like the, dreamy, nostalgic feeling that came across in this series.
Shonai Park is known for its giant trees, so we headed towards them for our final location. By that point, I was no longer really giving instruction, but just following Arisa around with my camera. Sometimes, these unposed shots turn out to be among my favorites.
All in all, it was a fun and satisfying shoot, and I was pleased with the results. Arisa is a charming and talented young singer/songwriter who is gaining popularity in Japan. She already performs regularly in Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo, and hopefully these photos will help her get even more exposure. Check out her homepage, Instagram and YouTube accounts and give her some love!