Photographs, quotes, thoughts and trees by Julie Walton Shaver, a lifestyle photographer based in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut


Still on Tokyo Time

City of Nouns: Julie Walton Shaver Lifestyle Photography 042409 krf blog 00 Still on Tokyo Time

The first time I met Kim, I felt like I’d known her all my life. Documenting their Tokyo home and lifestyle was such a distinct pleasure!

If you’d like to see the slide show from their session, shoot them an email. Or, if you missed the preview slide show from my trip to Japan, click here. The photo above was in the preview because I love it! One of my all-time favorite family unportraits!

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    This was the first picture I took of Rob and two of the kids. I was walking with Rich and his daughter to the bus stop when I glanced across the street and saw this shot about to happen. It’s a defining moment of living in Japan because of the people in the background wearing masks.

    People in Japan wear masks usually as a courtesy to others when they’ve got a cold. I think that’s pretty nice, though I still can’t figure out why so many people are wearing masks in order to keep people from getting sick and yet so many people are wearing masks. Ok, that sentence could go on for a year and never resolve itself.

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    The baby was born in Tokyo!

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    I love this picture. Being the 4th child of my family, I hope I don’t spend too much time photographing the youngest just to make sure she gets plenty of pictures for the family albums.

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    Isn’t she adorable? Love those eyes!

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    If you saw their slide show, this one was cropped to focus in on her feet. Sometimes I do that cropping thing in slide shows. Here’s the whole picture.

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    Kim asked me to try to get a picture of the whole family in front of the sign of the hospital where the baby was born. A few problems: busy sidewalk, narrow sidewalk, busy road just on the other side of that yellow line. Plus, I was losing daylight. The sun sets SO early in Tokyo! (They don’t change their clocks for Daylight Saving Time like we do.) Solution: wide angle lens. It kind of distorts the sign. Even so, it’s an interesting shot. I like it. Kim said, “I would have taken a shot myself when the baby was born, but I was busy that day.” Ha Ha! I love you, Kim!!

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    If you saw the preview slide show, you might remember this one. One of my all-time favorite “sisters” shots.

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    I love this picture because of that poster on the wall and the colors and my subject’s beautiful expression as in, “Check me out! I live in Tokyo!”

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    The oldest daughter was totally into the bed jumping thing too, but it seemed a little like she was just about to grow out of that stage of life. So, I kept thinking to myself, how do I shoot this so that she looks COOL? Don’t know how I managed it exactly, but the clean background and simple lines make this shot WORK!

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    In his case, I thought it was super cool that the view outside his window included tall city buildings of Tokyo.

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    I love the mood and lines of this one and the light is beautiful.

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    Is this a classic or what? I love that dog!

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    LOVE THAT DOG! Can you believe I got a picture of the DOG doing the bed-jumping thing? So cool!

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    There she is. What a sweet face.

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    I think that might be a baby toy. Oops.

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    I remember a few pictures of Brad and Greg when they were little enough to be in their walkers. The time that a child spends there seems like a lot when she’s at that age, but in the grand scheme, it’s a blink of an eye.

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    All three of the older children are taking piano lessons from a Japanese teacher. I love this picture because of the kanji letters on the front of the piano book. I’m always looking for opportunities to define the time.

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    I noticed that Kim likes to decorate her home with montages (see the frames above the piano). When I noticed these piano pictures in her gallery I thought it might make a nice montage, either in a coffeetable book or in some awesome matted frames like the ones they have hanging over the piano.

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    I love how the apartment is set up so that the kitchen flows seamlessly into the living area. Beautiful and functional. Since we know this family will be moving some time in the next few years, I think it’s really cool that we’re documenting this home for them. Still, I take pictures in such a way that not every detail is captured about a space. It’s almost as if I’m capturing the dream the children will remember into adulthood, finding one thing to focus on and giving blurry hints of the backgrounds.

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    He pops tomatoes like I pop m&m’s. He’s a good boy.

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    Check this out. The baby’s doing exactly the same thing that dad’s doing and yet neither of them is looking at the other. LOVE THE ECHO! I also love this picture because of the echo of graphic lines. How many echoes do you see? It’s an echo picture!

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    Wow, talk about taking a picture that defines the time for her! Love this one too!

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    This one is cool because in the States, this family would probably be living in a house, not a city apartment building. I love the elevator shot because of that. It would be a really boring and useless shot without her adorable face though.

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    The dog was checking out some guy in the background, but I whistled at my computer screen in post processing and she LOOKED! I’m kind of interested to see how many people read these captions I write, so if you’re interested to know how I fixed the dog, post a comment saying “dog shot” and I’ll send you an email with the before and after answer. Sneaky, huh?

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    Here’s another shot that has the sole purpose of defining the location. But I still love it because of his expression from running across the street.

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    That Japanese fan is so cool in this shot! I love that you can tell that she’s fanning the dog.

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    The kitchen has a big window that makes for a pretty cool background. See that little pottery thing? HA! I think I was with Kim when she bought that in Mashiko! That trip to Mashiko (coming in a blog post soon) was one of my most fun days ever. Thanks Kim and Beth! (If anybody reads these captions, I know you do, Beth! Love you both!)

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    Love this sister shot. The background in Arisagawa Park is awesome!

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    This one is so sweet!

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    We were so fortunate that the azaleas were blossoming while I was in Tokyo. I love this headshot.

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    All the kids got really nice headshots! Yay!

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    See?

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    This one of the baby was in the preview slide show. I just love her eyes!

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    I haven’t seen this kind of jungle gym in the States in many years. I love the composition of the three kids in this shot, all doing their own thing. I put a different jungle gym shot in the slide show though. I do that sometimes just for fun to see if anybody notices.

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    I love this one too — from the rip in his jeans to the shapes made by the bars and the girls’ legs, I think it’s a cool shot.

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    Whoa, majorly blurry motion shot. Very low light and I guess I didn’t have enough time to adjust my settings before she hopped off that thing to go do something else, but I like it anyway because of the pure joy of childhood playfulness in her face and body language. Sometimes a blurred shot tells the story better than a perfectly clear one. It’s got that dreamy quality that I love.

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    Love this one for the expressions on the girls’ faces. But I also love the background because of those braces that are holding up that tree. Japanese communities are very attentive to their trees.

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    Love it!

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    Parks in Japan don’t bother too much with grass.

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    The park is named for Prince Arisagawa. It’s a beautiful park teeming with wildlife. Once you’re inside the park, it’s easy to forget you’re in downtown Tokyo.

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    She’s got the look, don’t you think?

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    Love this one! I think people are probably a little embarrassed when I ask them to dance (with no music) in the middle of a public park. But who cares? They’ll have this picture forever. It’s worth a few minutes of embarrassing dancing, especially if you just get in the moment, you know?

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    I think this one is nice because it shows family members just doing stuff they’d normally be doing in the evening while waiting for dinner. (Rob’s giving the baby a bottle. I love that.)

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    I love that kitchen — and I love these shots of Kim cooking dinner. It’s making me hungry though.

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    The kids wanted bubble shots, but we forgot to bring the bubbles to the park. No problem. We blew bubbles in the house, just this once.

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    Cool shot of the bubbles blurred in the foreground. Check out Rob’s pacifier! Love it! Don’t all parents do that by the time the 4th kid comes around? (Or maybe the 2nd?)

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    She loves the bubble idea!

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    I’m actually so glad we forgot the bubbles at the park because these shots are so colorful and playful and fun! Love the evening sky in the background and the warm lights of the home in the evening.

    I have to add that after we’d done these bubble shots, and I was packing up to leave, my new friend gave me a huge high five and said, “I want to be a photographer like you when I grow up!” What an amazing compliment that was! But dude, think carefully about that career goal. It’s hard work! (But so worth it if you truly love it like I do!)

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    What a sweet hug.

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    FAVE!

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    Love this one for the dreamy quality that defines walking in their neighborhood.

    Hope you enjoy your slide show, Kim and Rob! I’m so excited that your family signed up for my 5-year plan! Yay! I get to watch the baby grow up and I get to hang out with your awesome older kids again too. I had so much fun with you all! Hugs and high fives all around!

    Peace, jules

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20 Responses to “Still on Tokyo Time”

  1. NOUSHAD says:

    PICTURES ARE VERY GREAT

  2. linda from edison says:

    “dog shot” = the magic of Photoshop??? But how did she hear your whistle via the computer; was she Skyping? : )

  3. Lee Ann Y says:

    Julie!
    You’re photography is astounding, REALLY! So many moments that will be cherished forever! It feels like you are one of the family members just hanging around capturing life’s little moments. Can’t wait to see the rest!

  4. Annie Warren says:

    These are just bloody fantastic!!! (I’m Australian…. so I’m allowed to say ‘bloody’) I honestly feel like I just met that family. I have so many favourites I don’t know where to start… but I’m SO impressed with your photography! I love your comment about the dog. So if I scream “open your eyes and stop talking” at my bridal parties on my monitor in LR… can I expect the same result? hee hee hee (I wish)

  5. Mary says:

    Did you ever see the book “The Commissar Vanishes”? I’d love to see the dog shots!

  6. Kara says:

    Slide show is awesome… I absolutely love how you pair the words in the song with the pictures. I know you explained to me you had a great program to do that, but it still amazes me how it just syncs so well! I cried for mine, and now for hers… i think capturing lil’ Robert in this “time in his life” was amazing… esp. the only boy with all these (beautiful) girls! Everything is captivating to me. Kim must be so happy!!!!

    • LOL, well, the program doesn’t do the pairing automatically. I work really hard on the storytelling idea behind the images and lyrics.

      • Kara says:

        Yes, I know! :) (Wouldn’t that be lovely if that could happen)…. No, I just remember talking to you about it, and whatever program you used, made it a little easier for you to manipulate so you could time the words and images more easily….Does that sound right??

        • Yeah, maybe we were talking about iPhoto and how hard it is to time stuff in iPhoto. With the program I use, you can change the image based on when you click the mouse. That’s a lot more reliable that the iPhoto way. Plus, you can tweak it further by moving a spacer bar back and forth until you get the image to change exactly where you want it. Plus, you can adjust the fade to be as long or as short as you like on each image, varying it throughout the show if you want, depending on the mood of the moment.

  7. Jenny says:

    You are so amazing!! I hope to reach your level one day…A-MAZING!!

  8. hikaru says:

    How do I get on a list for the next time you’re shooting in Japan? Would you consider adding a class to your itinerary? Would love to learn how you approach these lifestyle sessions. Nice work.

  9. Steve G. says:

    Favorites: piano montage, girl jumping on white background (nice light in that one and her expression is perfect and the flying hair is cool too), girl reading “Twilight,” family picture at the top, that echo thing, the dog holding the baby toy, oh nevermind — I like them all.

    Can you send me the dog before-and-after? I read it! I read it!

  10. Abbie says:

    Julie, these are beautiful! I really am growing attached to your interpretation of photography sessions… it’s so reflective of the day to day things that we love. And PS, I only have one child right now and I totally do the pacifier in the mouth thing. :)

  11. Nancy says:

    AWESOME! You are so talented Julie!

  12. Beth says:

    Okay, so this is a tear jerker in so many ways. First of all, you had the same “I’ve-known-you-all-my-life” feeling about Kim that I did, so that made me cry. And then the song, of course, instant tears, but then I think it was the way that you just know by looking at a picture that you’re seeing everything about life that is good and right. That’s pretty much Rob and Kim’s family. We are sooooooo happy to have had our paths cross like this. Good, good people. And somehow, you captured that intangible, maybe in the echo picture, or the piano montage, or the look Rob is sharing with the kids, or the precious dance in the park. It’s all just so charming. Beautiful, beautiful work Julie. Now I have to stop writing so I can watch it again! Love you! Beth

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