Tokyo Photo Walk: Tokyo Midtown

Photo Walk at Tokyo Midtown, Roppongi

Tokyo Midtown


Roppongi Hills ain’t the only premiere  multiplex in town, or even in Roppongi: Tokyo Midtown, located on the “good” side of the Overpass, has its share of cultural/commercial/residential/entertainment/etc. facilities, including no less than five art and design galleries – two of which I visit on a regular basis: Fujifilm Square and 21_21 Design Sight (sic). In fact, I checked out the newest 21_21 Design Sight exhibition, “Imagemakers”, on a recent — and rainy — Thursday. Along with some interesting and eclectic exhibitions, 21_21 has two things going for it: the Tadao Ando designed concrete exhibition space, and a camera-friendly policy. I’d post some pictures from the Imagemakers exhibition here, but I don’t wanna ruin it for others: the exhibition, or the policy…


(What follows will be of most interest to photo buffs, who have an active interest in the arcana of the craft: distinctions between “photo walk” and “street photography”, and explanations of equipment, techniques, post-processing and the like… Feel free to skip to the pictures… now.)

I’ve struggled for some time to figure out how to describe my interests in photography to other photographers and to the laity. Most recently, I’d kinda settled on “street photography” to describe my style, since I spend a good deal of time walking around cities such as Tokyo and Toronto with a compact digital camera body and usually a couple of prime lenses (Olympus e-p5 paired with, at the moment, my new 18mm 1.8). Thing is, according to this definition of street photography I found on Google,

“Street photography is photography that features the human condition within public places and does not necessitate the presence of a street or even the urban environment.”

A quick scan through my pictures here and elsewhere will quickly reveal that, despite the amount of time I spend photographing on city streets, I’m far more interested in objects and points of view that normally get passed by than I am in my fellow pedestrians. I used to call my style omoshiroi mono, Japanese for “interesting things”. And I may still use the term from time to time… But cool as it is, that term doesn’t really cover the scope of buildings and urban landscapes that I often stumble upon — and shoot.

Then I happened on this explanation of “photowalking” from Wikipedia:

Photowalking is the act of walking with a camera for the main purpose of taking pictures of things that the photographer may find interesting….

While related to street photography, photowalking is differentiated by its impetus to photograph things of interest rather than people specifically.

Aha! Things, not people. A style of photography after my own heart. Not that there’s anything wrong with taking pictures of people: I’m a big fan of street and travel photography. It’s just not how I see the world, or how I want to record what I see.

So there you go: a photo walker. Not the social kind, mind, who sees photography as a social act. Actually, I go out of my way to shun crowds: avoiding locales and festivals… at least until after the people have dispersed. Same with travel: I’ve been to Japan’s semi-tropical islands many times, but always in the off season, when there’s space and quiet and the freedom to see what gets lost in the crowd.

Photo walker. That works. For now…




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