Mood and Light: Tokyo Test Shoot

Tokyo is one, giant, ever-changing mood board. The stark contrast between manic and structure, tradition and progress, process and product. It’s a breeding ground for inspiration,  which is why so many creative professionals come here to see what’s next.

I did a test with Flanegan Bainon, a Malaysian-born shooter who’s lived in Tokyo the past two years. What started as a student gig for him became a signed contract, which is sadly, about to end. I was lucky enough to shoot with him and makeup mistress Mayfu Oshai last week. No bookings, no deadlines, no lofty expectations. Just a study in light and mood.

ready to get ready

ready to get ready

His objective: to create balance with harsh lighting.

My objective: to practice subtlety in a range of expression.

photo (52)

Models have to be able to act. And it has to be convincing, so it has to be real emotion in imaginary circumstances. This in many ways is tougher than actual acting because if you’re shooting solo, you have to create this space on your own. There’s no one to bounce off of.

The lighting is amazing mood is only meh.

The lighting is amazing here…my mood? I’m not buying it.


Ah ha! Much better. This one makes sense. Light and mood match.

Ah ha! Much better. This one makes sense. Light and mood match.

Sometimes photographers will help you along the way, asking you to think of something or pretend something is happening to you. It’s a good tactic, but for this shoot Flanegan and I just chatted. He’s a calm dude, so I couldn’t help but feel present and mellow. What a great test.

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