The club scene in Tokyo very unique and allows for a lot of jobs for club photographers not available in other cities. While some clubs are popular in their own right, club events themselves have large followings. Depending on what event is coming into the club on a given night, it can be crazy busy or a very slow night.
The concepts of "uchi" and "soto" are essential to All Japan newsese culture, often translated into English as simply "a group mentality." Of course, it is a bit more complex than that, but club event are a great example of the result. Events create identities that the regular participants can be a part of. If you go to a House Nation event, you are part of their tribe or uchi-group. Events move around from club to club, but the members that go are often the same, as is the scene.
The good news for photographers looking for jobs is that these events need a brand image. One of the important ways for an event’s image to be defined, solidified, and promoted to new customers is through photography of their events. There is a shortage of great club photographers, so when you prove yourself jobs will come to you. While club photography can be challenging, here are some free tips for photographers looking to get into this field that will greatly improve your images without spending any money on equipment or headaches looking through instruction manuals.
Be part of the scene and your photos will drastically improve. Your camera is secondary to your presence at the event. Lead first with a smile and conversation, shoot later and you will get the best shots of the night. Club photography is supposed to be fun, so have a drink and go dance. The more you are enjoying the event, the more your photos will reflect that vibe.
After you shoot a great photo, show it to the subject. I learned this trick on one of my first fashion shoots for FTV. After shooting a shot or two I would show the model. After she saw her images and that she looked good, she really relaxed and got into the shoot. In the club, when you show people great images they want you to shoot more and shoot their friends too. It gives you instant authority and people always love to see themselves.
If every shot you shoot looks okay, you are doing something wrong. Take chances and shoot on the edge of light. There will be some bad shots, but that is the nature of club photography. The lights and subjects are moving around and constantly changing. If you are so conservative all your images look okay, you will get no really great images. Constantly be in a state of experimentation and playing with light. Taking risks is essential to success in life and photography.
Technical settings are important, but once you are shooting forget about them. At that point you already have all your settings chosen and need to concentrate on the people, light, and scene in front of you. When I am shooting clubs, I do not even look behind the camera as I feel it separates me from the image. Be part of your image and be present at all times. What is reflected in your photographs is a reflection of you. I once heard a salesman give a speech in which he defined "charisma" as the ability to always be present in the moment. Photos can have charisma as well and it is created by a photographer who is in the moment when he is shooting.
Photographs are collections of light in a moment. While shooting in a club, keep in mind the lights that are around you and how you want the ambient light to affect your image. The lights will always be changing, which is what makes shooting in these environments so challenging, fun, and full of surprises. Great club photographs play with the ambient light, while also using light from a flash to fill in areas that would otherwise be too dark or blurry. It is a balancing act between motion, time, ambient light, and artificial light. Hit the sweet spot and you can create an image that has a sense of motion, brilliant color, and a crisp focal point for the photograph.
That is it, so go out and enjoy practicing at club events around Tokyo.
For those ready to take the next step and either start making money from shooting club events or want to begin a career as a professional photographer in Tokyo, check out my insider photography workshop that is happening September 23rd. Space is limited, so sign-up before it is too late.
The workshop will be interactive and we will go over everything you need to know to shoot stunning images in Tokyo or clubs around the world. CLICK HERE for info on event page. Space is limited so e-mail me asap for more information and reservations: [email protected]