Nihon Vibez

In the beginning of 2017, I had traveled to Tokyo for two weeks, and though it wasn't enough, I had an amazing time, with the culture, foods, fashion, etc. So what is this project about? Seeing Japan for myself has inspired me creatively, whether it be in my photos, aesthetic, and of course the way I dress! This photo series is a way to reminisce as well as represent a bit of Japan here in Jersey.

This series was brought to life by @paolodelcastillo!! All the shots, edits, and collage that was put together was done by him, so if you don't know him, now you know him! Go check him out cause he's on his way to doing big things. Also featured is Christine (@chrissh_) who traveled to Japan last summer, so we shared the same vision on this project!

Ever since visiting Japan, I just fell in love with their style and aesthetic.  Their minimalism, and way of bringing traditional wear into modern fashion was seriously inspiring.

Frank Sam In Japan

    The land of the rising sun. Where the future meets tradition. Japan. Over the break of Winter 2017, I had the great pleasure of traveling there solo. Right off the bat, I did not know a lick of Japanese. My only exposure of “Japanese culture” I had was of food, Japanese characters on hoodies, and typically anime. So what should I expect in Japan? Cool little trinkets? Sushi spots on every corner? In the end, I didn’t think too much of it. I was just excited to fly out to Japan, but I was also afraid. As an extrovert who’s quite shy, I knew that I would have some rough times being alone in a foreign country.

Graphic made by Sarah Barcelos

Graphic made by Sarah Barcelos

    Upon arrival in Tokyo, I was welcomed with a very complex map of the subway lines. I was always told by friends who have visited Japan, and netizens that commuting via subway was so easy an intuitive. I began to believe that they were wrong, and they're all liars. Luckily! I had internet access and google maps saved the day (and my trip)! Also had to FaceTime my friend Christine back at home to give me a rundown on the subway systems LOL. So if you're traveling to Japan for the first time, you'll need Google maps and Christine. Yes, Day 1 might’ve been difficult to navigate the subway lines, but as time went on, it really was not difficult at all.

    In the two weeks of my stay in Japan, I’ve only stayed within Tokyo. I visited the hotspots, such as Shibuya, Shinjuku, Akihabara, Harajuku, Asakusa… Everywhere I went, crowds of locals and foreigners flooded the streets. Everywhere I looked, there were fashionable people. From young teens, to a more seasoned age group, these people were decked out in designer clothes, brands, but kept their own individualistic style. It was inspiring. As a photographer, I had gone around the towns to take photographs of the interesting fashion trends I saw on the streets. 

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     In my first few days, the loneliness began to hit me. I had no one to talk to, and my friends back at home were all sleeping because of the totally different time zones. Like I mentioned before, I’m an extrovert. Without anyone to spend time with for a long while, I would wake up early morning, and head back to my hostel at sundown which would be around 5pm. I’d sleep early, and start over. Though I did have a great time exploring the cities by myself, I still longed to have someone to be with.

    I looked up language exchange meet ups on the web, and attended one for myself. And it was a great night! This would be my first real time interacting and getting to know some locals in Tokyo. With the quality conversations, I was able to get more of the feel and environment of this great city and its people. 

    Then my first weekend in Japan came along. My friend Emilia had also taken a visit to Tokyo from Osaka. She’s taking a gap year from school, and spending it with her family in Japan. With her around, it was so refreshing to see a familiar face in a foreign country! I got to experience Tokyo differently in which I had someone to explore with! Meeting new people came natural too. Being with someone so social and outgoing, breaking the ice with other strangers was so easy for me.

    Emilia was only in Tokyo for that weekend, but ever since then, her push for me to put myself out there, and to be less timid was my first step to opening so many doors, and creating friendships with strangers in Japan.

    Throughout my trip since that weekend, I went out of my way to be intentional and conversational with some new people. In doing so, I managed to make some new friends in my hostel, make new friends at a bar, and even just someone on the street. I managed to exchange contacts, and hangout with them later during my trip! In being upfront, I was also able to just approach some other photographer, and ask to collaborate sometime in the week. Through this, I got the opportunity to work with local talent and models to photograph. 

    Getting out of my comfort zone in a foreign country has taught me so much about culture and myself. Going into a country knowing no one, and coming out with friendships, bonds, and memories that will stay with me for a lifetime, I can say that even though two weeks didn’t feel long enough, I’m so glad and blessed that I was able to enjoy it to the fullest. I fully encourage anyone to take any opportunity to travel anywhere, even if it’s by themselves. When I stopped having the mentality of “I’ll wait until I have the time and money to travel,” I opened so many doors I’d never thought I would stumble across. I made a plan for myself. I told myself I would go during this time, and then I made it happen. I worked for it. And you can too.

 

 

Making New Connections: Kensho

Photos taken on January 11, 2017

Nao and the model he was photographing

Nao and the model he was photographing

So it all started when I was walking on Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo. I saw a photographer, probably around my age, directing his model for what seems to be a photoshoot. I mean like, I knew what they were doing cause I was like yooooo I do the same thing LOL. So I just approached him with my camera, and asked to take a photograph of him and the person he was shooting. We went to the formalities, and his name was Nao. After, we chatted for a bit, and he did not know much English. Also, I did not know a lick of Japanese. BUT. Google Translate was our friend. We ended up trading contacts after swapping those Instagram handles. And boom! Got a connect (and the start of a beautiful new international friendship hehe)! Which brings me to Kensho. I was able to meet with Kensho through Nao, as a few days after we met, we linked up again, and he introduced us.

Introducing, Kensho.

Introducing, Kensho.

So from the get go, Kensho was like, LITTTTTT. His style was on point, and definitely someone very interesting to photograph. The dude wore a padlock, and has his patches safety pinned onto his jean jacket.

Here I was, hanging out with two Tokyo locals, photographing such a character, and I was just blessed. I came to Japan knowing no one, and ended up befriending these guys who I know I'd link up with again once I visit.

With this photoshoot, I really tried to play with different color themes:

Being in Japan, I was not only inspired in style, but also on my photography. Through meeting with Nao, he showed me some of his photographer inspirations, and I was inspired too! Hanging out with locals in Japan, walking the streets of Harajuku, it's an experience I'll always keep in the back of my mind. We would just walk, and they'd be speaking and Japanese, and I'd just smile along with them LOL. But I'm real glad that photography has gotten me connected with strangers, now friends. This photoshoot really helped add another layer of photography that I felt I always lacked.

So if I wanted you to take something from this, I'd say to get out of your comfort zone, and go out there, and meet some people. And I mean anywhere! Even here back home. I think the greatest people you can meet, are just out there walking the same streets you do. Go for it!

Catching Up: Tiffany Chan

Photos taken on February 18, 2017

Okay so, trying to get on some kind of track with this blog, but let me just get right to it! For today's edition of Photoshoot Experience (ugh I really don't like that name but I'm not sure what to call it yet), here is Tiffany Chan! (@teachans)

Twas a beautiful Saturday afternoon, the location we shot at was Liberty State Park in Jersey City. Once Tiff and I met up, she got right into the conversation of "Should I wear this, or this?!" Immediately after, we got right to, "WELL HEY! IT'S BEEN A WHILE!" Hah!

Before actually shooting we just walked around the park, and scouted for some nice spots to shoot. I'm still in the process of trying to be more creative with my portraits, so I really really tried to look hard to see where these photographs can go, without being too typical.

But within walking and talking, it was such a pleasure to be able to catch up with Tiff! It's been sometime since we've last hung out and chatted for more than ten minutes, so honestly, very refreshing! 

Now let me get on with the experience.. IT WAS SO FUN OMG. LOL. I'm telling you, Tiff's a goof. Like a good goof of course LOLOL. But I'm a goof too, so naturally, our conversations and jokes were on point. Like freshly sharpened pencil point. All of the cheesy un funny jokes, I'm all about it! Every laugh in these photos are 100 percent genuine. The beauty in joy, am I right??

When I mentioned that the weather was beautiful earlier, I mean seriously.. Warm weather, minimal wind, clear blue skies, and the sun just shining its AWESOME RAYS. It all the more added to the experience.

After the photoshoot, we ended up hanging out and grabbing dinner at Miso Ramen in Jersey City. It was cool to show Tiff my hometown 😎😎😎. Jersey City's lit. 

I guess the most precious part of the day was really just catching up again. Last time we chilled, we were in totally different walks and seasons of our lives. Now it's cool to kind of reflect how our lives have changed over time, and look forward to how much more improvement and building we'll be doing. And the Ramen was amazing omgomgomg. Still got nothing on Japan though LOL.

So Ima just encourage you to think of someone you've been meaning to catch up with, and MAKE THOSE PLANS. Tiff and I had planned to meet and shoot like back in November and December but we never actually talked about a specific day to do so! SO DO IT. Cause catching up is always refreshing.

First Impressions: Kaila J. Lim

Photos taken on December 15, 2016

To start off my Photoshoot Experience or whatever I wanna call it later, I'd like to introduce Kaila! (@kailajlim

It was a super cold day, below freezing, and originally, we had planned to shoot in the city! We had planned to go to Roosevelt Park. But the day before that Thursday, it was already cold.. And I just wasn't feeling it LOL. So we decided to shoot indoors somewhere. Kaila suggested we go to Palisades Mall! Somewhere up north from me around Nyack. I don't know. It's not my neck of the woods 😅.

So back to photoshoot day: Getting to know Kaila, I found her to be a very strong, confident, empowered type of person. She projects, and she's quite formal.  From my first impression, she seemed to me like she had a very "go-getter" mindset. This is something that inspires me personally cause I really gotta work on that. To be assertive and all that! The beauty in her photos definitely match her personality. Just by her dreams and goals, it's clearly evident that she's ambitious. Which is great! Having big dreams is a quality I really appreciate in people.

One day, you'll have Kaila giving a commencement speech at her Alma Mater at Rutgers New Brunswick! I believe it.

Kaila is of Native American - Korean descent. Off the bat, she's had some unique experiences through her heritages growing up. In my own perspective, it was so enlightening to hear her story. Honestly one of a kind. If you ever get the chance, you should definitely ask her about it. You'll learn something new.


In getting to know each other and sharing our stories, we at at Johnny Rockets! We went over those lifestyle bloggers who get sponsored by companies to just do use their product, go to their place, etc. So we did our own version LOL. Gotta strategically place your meal and drinks in the frame riiiiiight on the sweet spot. So go get your burger fix at Johnny Rockets! Build your own burger, or simply get the original classic burger! Don't forget to get a shake with that too. Can't go wrong with that! - Okay end fake sponsorship 😜

But really though, how do you look this good eating a burger?! Well now we all know that it's possible LOL.

 

 


Photographing in the mall had its challenges. I'm not too great at finding locations indoors. But Kaila, shooting Kaila, it was much easier. She's just so natural in front of the camera, beautiful and straight up stylish. She actually bought that top and skirt that day! After scouting the mall for places to shoot in her first outfit, we also did a little bit of shopping too. Shoutout to HM ~ Changing to her second outfit, it was an optimal time to shoot where the golden sun shines right at the carousel. I think the highlight from that day's shoot was shooting on that carousel. It was only a 5 minute ride, so we got right to shooting a bunch of photos, and I also ended up shooting a video which will be right below at the end of this post! Be sure to check it out!  

I usually avoid spinny rides, but the photos and videos were worth it.


Do not wait until the conditions are perfect to begin. Just beginning will make the conditions perfect. After all, thinking too long about something something is often the reason it never gets done. - Kaila J. Lim

This photo is one that I'm proud to present. With a large Christmas tree behind Kaila, it was perfect with her red top. The woman you see in this photo has a story. She has big dreams and goals for herself. Like everyone I photograph, I'm very proud to share a little bit about her. 

Intro Post: My Blog

As 2016 is coming to a close, and with finals and closes finally over, I can get started on projects that I always left off. For 2017, I want to archive and blog about my photoshoots, and adventures. I want to talk about some of my selects and all that. Photos already tell a thousand words. But I want to accompany my photographs with a blog, sharing more of my experience! 

I have many projects in mind, but never really had the time this year. However, with my last semester coming up, and it being a relatively easygoing one, I'll be able to! So look out for more videos, more photos, and more sharing of stories!