Wowsers! We're head over heels with Lex and Wein's spectacular pre-wedding photoshoot in Kyoto, Japan, which follows them on their day out amid a fabulous fusion of nature and culture. The glinting sunlight and cinematic colour grading – done in collaboration with thegaleria Labs – adds a magical sheen to this series, and they look especially fetching in their traditional kimonos. We asked their eagle-eyed photographer, Daniel Yeoh, a Singaporean who's been based in Japan for the past decade, to tell us more...
How did you get to meet Lex and Wein?
They actually found my work online and sent me an email telling me that they love it, and would like to know if I could do their pre-wedding shoot in Japan. They wanted to have their shoot done during the cherry blossom, at a place with authentic cultural flavour.
Being a Singaporean photographer based in Japan for the last 10 years, I can say that I know the land like a local rather than a foreigner, which gives me access to some of the most exotic locations.
Why did you choose this particular location?
While there are indeed a lot of very beautiful places to see cherry blossoms, many are crowded with both locals and foreigners. So I thought I might as well do the photoshoot in the best crowded area that represents Japan. Having corresponded with the client via email, we both agreed that Kyoto would be the best location.
How about the costumes?
Because I have access to some of the best vendors here in Japan, complete with kimono dressers, I can recommend my clients costumes according to their budget. As kimonos are traditional clothing that not many people have in-depth knowledge of, it's usually up to the skill of the kimono dresser to have it look spectacular, by adjusting fine details like tying the obi. The western gown and suit were brought over by the client.
How much behind-the-scenes planning did you need?
Even though I only handle the photography aspect, I have to liasie with vendors like kimono rental, make-up artists, transport, accommodation and so on, because most – if not all – of my non-Japanese clients don't speak Japanese.
Also, because I always want to do shoots in otherwise unknown locations, which can lend my clients a certain exclusiveness, the planning will always be tedious.
What are the challenges of an outdoor shoot?
Planning the sequence of locations while taking the weather into consideration, and the mode of transportation. Weather and seasonal changes will always be the biggest element of surprise, since planning takes place months before.
What were the highlights of the shoot?
We started out early in the morning to escape the dreaded crowd and to catch the soft morning rays.
During the photoshoot, we met another couple in western costume doing their pre-wedding shoot in the same area. Somehow, both my bride and groom dressed in kimonos drew more attention from tourists and locals than the other couple. The locals would occasionally pop by to take group photos with them.
Did you give much direction to the couple?
I don't really give much directions to my clients, as I don't practice commercialised styles. I avoid elaborate posing or fanciful retouching.
Instead, I prefer a more subtle, natural approach. I let my clients go on a date and simply document the journey, capturing unitiated, intimate moments that are real and have a deep story. These are memories for my clients to keep and perhaps pass down to their children or grandchildren, so the last thing I want is to have the pictures looking like a page from a fashion magazine. Occasionally, I'll give some directions or where to sit and what to do, but that's about it.
Do you have a favourite shot from this collection?
There are simply too many to choose from, but there's this particular one where I was trying to catch the bride along among the crowd. She grew uneasy without the groom beside her, and I wasn't giving much direction. In the end, she turned to find him somewhere in the crowd and, in that precise moment when his presence assured her, a smile broke through her uneasiness. That was really memorable and quite possibly my favourite.