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Harajuku Girl

The Story Behind the Image: Harajuku Girl

Location: Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan
Date: July, 2004
Camera: Canon EOS 630
Film: Fuji Superia 100
Lens: 50mm f1.8

I was so nervous when I took this shot.

I was brand spanking new to photography. I was at Harajuku in Japan with the camera I had bought at the local flea market and a fresh roll of film.

I was surrounded by many other local and abroad photographers, all congregating at the famous bridge that leads to Yoyogi park from Harajuku Station. On every Sunday, cosplay fans gather there to hang out.

On one side of the spectrum was a travelling Val Kilmer working the crowd of cosplayers with his entourage taking selfies with everyone.

On the other side were the local photographers armed with only the best camera gear. It was almost like a sideshow to the cosplay with a camera competition – who has the best equipment almost.

I felt like an outsider (well, I was). An Aussie analogy would be – I had turned up to a drag race with a Datsun 120Y-Bother, and everyone else had super-charged V8s. I felt intimidated.

It took me a while to blend in and find the courage to ask this lady for a shot. It would be the very first portrait I would take.

When I got the Fuji Superia 100 film developed a few weeks later, I was super stoked with the shot.

I think a lot of photographers get anxious when shooting street photography portraits.

But in the end, I think it’s about being yourself, being comfortable in your skin and enjoying photography for what it is – an art form.

I learnt something important that day – respecting others and being true to yourself will always reflect in the photos you take.

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