The Nagoya City Archives Building originally housed the Nagoya Court of Appeals. Built in 1922, at a time when western architectural trends could be seen in many public buildings across Japan, it is a neo-baroque style brick building, with a grand central staircase, internal and external columns, and stained glass windows. It has been designated as a national cultural asset, and is now open to the public. Though I have lived in Nagoya for almost 20 years, I had never even known of this building until Aino suggested we do a portrait shoot there. This was my second portrait shoot with Aino (the first being in Heiwa Park) and after looking at photos of the building on the internet, I agreed it would make a great location.
The problem is, it is dark inside, and tripods and light stands are not allowed, so if I wanted to use a flash, I would have to either keep it on the camera (which makes for unflattering light) or hand-hold it off to one side using a flash cord (which gets tiring). Also, I wanted to take wide shots that took in the building, meaning a flash would have lit the whole scene, rather than just isolating Aino from the background. So, I decided to just go with the ambient light and try to find areas of greater relative brightness for Aino to occupy. She had prepared two dresses for the occasion, one black, and one white. She wore the black dress first, and I decided to start with some wide, establishing shots that showcased the impressive architectural features of the building.
Next, I moved in closer for some portrait shots at different locations in the main room. Probably it is hard to tell from the photos, but the building was not heated. I was wearing warm clothes, so I was OK, but Aino had to brave the cold in only her thin dress.
At one point, we left the main room and found some windows facing an interior courtyard. Windows are a great source of soft, directional light.
After Aino changed into her white dress, we decided to take some more photos in the impressive main hall. By now, we had been shooting in the cold building for over an hour. Aino must have been freezing, but she somehow managed to look relaxed and elegant.
For the close-up portrait shots, it was easier to separate Aino from the background in her white dress, as it contrasted with the background more than her black dress did.
When doing a location portrait shoot, I try for as many variations as possible by shooting from different angles, changing my proximity to the model, and selecting different backgrounds. Combined with Aino's change of clothes and hairstyle, we were able to get a number of different looks. Again, I used window light to highlight Aino in her white dress.
Finally, we went outside to get some photos with the archives building in the background. It was just a few degrees above freezing, so I looked for a sunny location, and went with some over-exposed back-lit shots. Back-lighting is one of my favorite natural light situations, and in this case it illuminated her white dress and gave her an ethereal look.
Aino is a popular model who has been photographed by many photographers in central Japan. You can see more photos of her on her Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/aino__s2/?hl=ja