Faces of Tokyo Series: Kabukicho in the afternoon

November 20, 2008 · Print This Article

Those who know what Kabukicho is might expect to see only scantily clad, sad beauties in this photo gallery, along with effeminately suited hosts who herd in lost, lonely ladies.  Yet look through every photo.  You will see some of the false beauty of the working ladies of Kabukicho, but you will also see the faces of those that live and die on the streets.  The kind of people Mos Def raps about.  The kind of person I could still become.

I, myself, was surprised by the people I saw in my photographs once I got back home.  I thought that even on a weekday afternoon my shots would be populated by hosts and hostesses.  I was pleasantly surprised to get so many real faces.  

As always, as time went by I got bolder, less afraid to point my lens at people.  That allowed me to get several shots of people looking right into the frame.  I felt my biggest rush yet on a photoshoot when I got particularly bold to get a shot of someone passing very close to me.  I got totally busted by the person, but I got the shot and felt this surge of energy, just like you’d feel if you were on a roller coaster.  

I am developing shooting techniques to be less conspicuous, like immediately removing the camera from my eye and turning in another direction after I snap a shot.  I am able to see subjects I want to shoot sooner and anticipating where they will walk and pointing my lens at where they will be, rather than where they are.  

The “Faces of Tokyo Series” will continue soon.

Who is she daydreaming of kissing?? Not in focus, but liked the glasses All I can say is . . . jowls!
Dude, is this not the EXACT disguise Arnold wore in Total Recall?? An entrenched fashion victim Ecstasy or Agony?
The most real person I photographed all day. The best smile I've seen in months, a pure person. Dressed to a T but with a mess of cable up on her
To me this looks like a stillshot from a Verve Pipe video Yes, this dude was scary and people gave him a wide birth Soooo many people talk on their cell phones on the streets, I never do.
An almost BSG inspired outfit Colorful mixed with plain black Say who?  Me?
He saw me! Not just Japanese amble in Kabukicho Handkerchief in the front pocket = style
Hairstyle by finger in electric socket Dude, I cannot stand chicks in huge glasses, especially at night You wouldn't believe how many people walk with their eyes closed, seriously.
If she only knew the pain the cow suffered to give her that jacket Excellent color coordination I wonder if he ever forgets he can't run his fingers through his hair and gets them STUCK?
He has an interesting head. If Andy Warhol was a hitman . . . Not in focus, but totally feel his eyes and expression


18 Responses to “Faces of Tokyo Series: Kabukicho in the afternoon”

  1. on November 20th, 2008 2:44 AM

    Nice pictures! I like the colors.
    I didn’t have the guts to do the same thing when I did that in Tokyo. I just put my camera at my waist and pointed randomly. I still had cool shots though…


    Jason Collin Reply:

    Alex! Hey, how are you doing?

    Thanks for giving me my very first tips when I first got my D80.

    I guess it is a little bold taking such shots, but I am using a 200mm lens so most of the time people have no idea. And I figure it’s my best chance to get people shots because doing so in the U.S. might be a bit more challenging.

    I am usually shy at first too, but as I stay in the same spot more, I get bolder. Most of the shots above were taken from one spot I was leaning against for about 30 minutes!


  2. Scott
    on November 20th, 2008 8:20 AM

    Dude – one of those snaps is actually a colleague of mine and he’s none to happy! You better go and hide… 😉

    Kidding – nice shots…


    Jason Collin Reply:

    Ha, you had me for a second there Scott! Then I was wondering what would a colleague of yours be doing in Kabukicho in the middle of the afternoon!


  3. on November 20th, 2008 8:38 AM

    Great idea for a series and some great shots too Jason. Thanks for pulling this together and sharing it.

    I will have to pull out my long(er) lens and head out to try and do the same. I must admit to having more of a passion for landscape architecture though but capturing a candid rather than staged image of people is starting to intrigue me more and more.


    Jason Collin Reply:

    Thanks Shane!

    Yes, I’ve found that since getting my D80 and the 18-200mm VR lens, I’ve quickly been drawn to street photography and candid shots. As I wrote in the post, it can be quite a thrill. Also, I find people’s faces a very interesting subject matter.

    And I think Tokyo is a good place to develop one’s stealth techniques as I feel Japanese are more used to seeing photographers out on the streets. Two days ago in the course of 5 minutes I saw three guys walking around with huge DSLRs.

    Might get a new, faster 200mm lens very soon!

    I hope to see some candids of Hawaii soon! Where in Hawaii are you?


  4. on November 20th, 2008 2:04 PM

    There are a lot of strange head shapes and weird faces there.


    Jason Collin Reply:

    Yes, I only posted the weirdest I could find.


  5. on November 20th, 2008 2:43 PM

    Ha, I have to agree with Mark a bit, that is a good collection of some interesting looking people, and like you said, not all of them are pretty.

    Nice idea though, something I would definitely do if I had a D80 or 90…


    Jason Collin Reply:

    You should get a D90 soon! Or at least a D80!


  6. on November 20th, 2008 3:51 PM

    Great shots- very interesting subjects, seems like something I’d like to try too. Wouldn’t feel right doing it with my compact camera though- needs to be a big camera I feel.

    People-watching by proxy.


    Jason Collin Reply:

    Thanks! Yeah, it is great fun taking candid street shots of people.

    And yes, it does help with credibility and gumption to be holding a semi-real camera. Need one of those camera vests with all the pockets still.

    You too, get a D90 or at least D80 soon! D80s go for under ¥50k now.


  7. on November 20th, 2008 11:12 PM

    Great photos Jason. Such a wide variety of faces too.

    Getting over my inhibitions to get (fairly) up and close to people and get pictures of them is something I’m trying to work myself up to, but I’m not finding it easy it has to be said.

    There again, with results like these, it’s probably about time I started to try a bit harder.


    Jason Collin Reply:

    Thanks Lee.

    I thought I was just being chicken by hesitating to take candid street photographs, but it seems most people are as hesitant or more than I am to do so.

    I think to take these kinds of shots it’s key to stay in the exact same spot for awhile, preferably with your back right up against something. I was leaning against an entrance to the stairs to an underground mall for most of these. Then as you stay in that spot you’ll feel more comfortable and eventually bolder.

    It helps to use as a lot of zoom as well to put distance between you and the subject. I recommend at least a 200mm lens (on a crop format DSLR, so it’s effectively 300mm).


  8. Dy
    on November 23rd, 2008 12:52 AM

    As you may remember, I like to watch. I like this series. It’s a little bit creepy, but the authenticity of faces unaware of your photography evens it out. So good.


    Jason Collin Reply:

    I’ll try to make this a weekly series. I’m thinking of heading to the richest area of the city, Ginza, for the next series to get the most contrast.


  9. on November 26th, 2008 12:39 PM

    […] second installment of my FACES OF TOKYO photo series took me to Takadanobaba, an area of Tokyo known for its college town feel, or at least […]

  10. on December 31st, 2010 5:52 PM

    […] is a very grim movie, but it shows a world few would see, the Kabukicho area (photos) of Tokyo and what it is like for an illegal alien trying to survive there.  Recommended for […]

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