What a year! Many of us are sitting down to soba and tempura to welcoming the new year. Take a look a some of our memorable event, branding, headshot, and portrait sessions during our difficult yet hopeful 2020 year.
TOPTIA’s Memorable 2020 Moments Kicked off the new year In Nagano with Mirai no Mori for their annual Winter Camp I finally found this Instagram gem and got to photograph their colorful space A closer look at the colorful doors My goal for 2020 was to really put myself out there in the photography and creatives space. Right after I captured the colorful doors in Odaiba, I ventured to Shibuya and met this intriguing up and coming model and her mother at a models x photographers’ meet and greet party. Later the next month, the Asian University for Women asked if I could photograph a screening of the Oscar-winning documentary, Period. End of Sentence, directed by Rayka Zehtabchi who was there to discuss it with the audience in Azabujuban. The up and coming model from the photographer x model’s meet and greet wasn’t the only model I met. We spend the early evening shooting in Roppongi Hills in February. Something that really made me feel proud of what my profession offers were being a part of an international team of women photographers photographing executive women at each branch of Western Digital in preparation for their International Women’s Day feature. Here is Emi Hatano, one of the female executives featured for WD Japan. Before my trip to the US, I was able to do a fun and a bit artistic session for two corporate gentlemen. I couldn’t believe how amazing their stories were and couldn’t wait to catch up with both of them to hear more. Finally in the US for the first time in 4 years, I got to visit Las Vegas for the annual WPPI convention and photographed this nice woman among the many passersby and models at the hotel. I still can not believe Payton is shy about posing! We had a simple session with some fun music in the background ready to enjoy the shoot. I don’t think I’ve ever met a MEXT scholar before. But low and behold, Patrick from the Congo was my first! He’s also phenomenal in PR as well as acting. I had this idea that would not leave my head and he graciously (among the COVID precautions) came to the studio to bring my idea to life! I captured this headshot of him as a thank you for coming! And one for a long-time friend who was helping out as well. Angela was so phenomenal when she came for her headshot session with her daughter. It was bittersweet knowing it would be the last session done at the Ginza Hub Co-working space For it would be closed due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rose of condolences and remembrance for my mother who passed away too soon. My mother gave me so much and I thank her for the person I have become this year. One thing I felt in my heart I must capture was the 3600 people who marched in Shibuya in protest of the George Floyd killings in Minnesota. It amazed me how many non-black marchers there were. I had been to the previous Black Lives Matter march 4 years ago and it paled in comparison to the support that braved the weather, COVID and anti-protesters in June. Though few, there were some black marchers among the thousands of BLM supporters. Later in the month, I felt honored to photograph the president of FEW, For Empowering Women. I’ve always been in awe of the women who keep this organization thriving and communal for global-minded women living in Japan. It was also great to see a familiar face for the first time since the lockdown had lifted. Covering an event for another familiar face, pre-lockdown, I met a guest and his mother who was very shy. I thought he would make a great model and asked to take his picture. Needless to say, mom approved! For the first time since the lockdown ended, I got to reconnect with my friend and assistant, Nathalie. We were doing a branding session for a friend of mine with two businesses, Tracey. This session was such a fun and hilarious shoot! I can’t wait to see how both her businesses are doing. Founder of Black Lives Matter Tokyo, Sierra Todd. She and an art student and I teamed up for a fashion project Jamie Smith is also an activist and model just like Sierra Todd. She helped me with a final project I was working on for the New York Institute. One of the things that affected many this year with the pandemic was couples who were planning on marrying this year. This international couple wanted to invite their friends from Japan to their wedding in New Zealand. Sadly with the international travel ban, they could only have a small reception celebration with their Japanese family and friends. Yet to be deterred by the pandemic, this dynamic consulting duo wanted to brand their business and website with new profile and headshot images in Roppongi. This young kid had a big goal. To grow his hair as long as he could so he could donate it on his birthday a week later. His motivation came from his favorite professional wrestler who had battled an illness months before. Remi has been a friend that always messages me to check-in and see how I’m doing but to also invite me to his performances. Oftentimes, I can’t make them but this time, I was able to come and see him perform in Azabujuban. I have a secret, Shichi-go-san during the autumn season is my favorite time of the year. Kids in kimono do some of the darndest things that are so fun to watch and see. Rain and a curious son won’t stop our Shichi-go-san session here. Fun-loving yet perceptive children. These headshot sessions are very significant to me because they were done in the new studio spaces TopTia now uses after Ginza Hub went away. The worry and stress I felt about moving to a new studio plagued me constantly. But seeing how both the clients and I connected with each other during our sessions in the new Shinjuku and Aoyama studios, I think it’s safe to say TopTia has found a new home. It was so relaxing spending the day in Hayama for a relaxing pre-wedding session. Getting a chance to look at the ocean for hours before -and after- the session really helped me get over a lot of the stressors that 2020 brought. It was so fun reconnecting with an old friend and his fiance, I think we all enjoyed putting 2020 out of our minds for a couple of hours on the beach. Closing out the year on a higher note than when we entered it. This couple’s wedding day was the day before Japan locked down its borders. They hurried back to Japan from the US just in time however without a wedding ceremony. Still, their happiness with each other was infectious to me and my assistant, Annette. Yet here I am. Like many others, we carry a lot of baggage from 2020 yet hoping to let off a few weights one bag at a time. I’m cautious yet, hopeful. I’ll see you on the other side everyone!