Aki Matsuri 2018 Japanese Fall Festival

Aki Matsuri 2018 Japanese Fall Festival

Shin Shin Shin, Shinjuku-ski

The annual Aki Matsuri Japanese Fall Festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico gives me a chance to remember my 6 years living in Japan. You might think a festival cannot recall anything specific since it covers a spectrum of cultural displays from music, to dance to karate demonstrations. However, my neighborhood in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo had its very own annual festival complete with its own song with lyrics about how much we all like Shinjuku! Even though this was my second year in a row attending this festival, it still surprises me to be able to get a glimpse of live, Japanese culture here in the desert, in Albuquerque.

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Published in 2011 Metropolis Japan Calendar

I became more serious about photography in August 2008.  I already had plans to leave Japan in February 2009.  In that six month period I had a goal of getting a photograph published in the "Photo of the Week" section of Metropolis, the #1 English magazine in Japan.  To my great surprise I reached that goal on October the 24th.  Though no money was involved, for a few minutes it felt like I had won the lottery.  

Then almost two years out of Japan, Metropolis contacted me for permission to have one of my photographs considered for their 2011 calendar.  I had originally submitted it in January 2009.  I said, "sure."  I was then told it was selected for the month of January and the copies they mailed to me across the sea arrived this afternoon.  I was also happy to find out I was sharing space with two other old Japan photographer friends, Vladimir and Alfie.  I was with Vladimir when I made the above photograph, and really only went out shooting that day because of his invitation.  So I guess I have him to thank most!  The photograph is in fact, one of my own top five all-time personal favorites, and a shot I am rather proud of.

Getting a photograph published in Metropolis I feel is still a sort of right of passage for a photographer in Japan, and perhaps Tokyo especially.  It results in a sort of Who's Who of photographers.  A small, but nice honor.

This got me to thinking this afternoon about where my photographer career would be if I had stayed in Japan.  Alfie is a true professional photographer with many connections and he was starting to appreciate my work.  Could I have gone on to be more of a photojournalist like he is?  Would I still have pursued lifestyle photography in Tokyo as well?  I can imagine wedding shots with Mt. Fuji as the background, or family portraits taken under the cherry blossom trees in full bloom.  Who knows . . .

Favorite Five Photographs from 2009

2009 was the year I really got into HDR photography -- Colt Creek State Park in summer

5 - Colt Creek State Park - category: HDR

Not too long ago I did not like HDR photography at all.  Today, I love it and will have an HDR image in a collective retrospective exhibition of historical photographs of Saint Petersburg.  This HDR image of wetlands in Colt Creek State Park is one of my top five favorites of 2009 because I felt this park was an overlooked if not ignored state park.  It is a fairly new state park, only a couple years old.  I could almost feel the lack of photographs taken at this park, which is a shame as the wetlands were expansive and white ibis and other water birds flew in and out of them in flocks.  Someday I will return to this park and camp there in order to photograph it at sunrise.


I photographed my first wedding in 2009 and learned it is not all stuffy formal photos.

4 - The Ring Bearer Makes a Point - category: Wedding

2009 marked my debut as a wedding photographer.  Wedding photography could not be more different than I imagined.  Maybe I have just been lucky, but all the weddings I have photographed have been fun, tension free experiences.  This candid image made in between the formal shots made this list because of the moment it froze and the smiles on their faces.  This is the epitome of my candid style of photography and the types of things I am constantly searching for when photographing a wedding, event or any other gathering of people.


I still feel bad about running over this alligator in my kayak, sorry again dude!

3 - Eye to Eye with an Alligator  - category: Wildlife

This alligator photograph makes this list for a variety of reasons:  the long story behind the shot, my first time to really photograph an alligator, my first time to make any photograph from a kayak, and my first real foray into true wildlife photography.  The long story behind this shot can be read here.  After literally driving by the exit for Myakka River State Park on I-75 160 times, 2009 was the year I finally turned off the highway and got out of my car and into a kayak!  Floating added to the technical challenge of making this photograph, as was having to steady my hands on the camera knowing I was only a few feet away from this sizable alligator in his (her?) natural element, i.e. water.  However, being in the kayak allowed me to get to eye level with this alligator and having the sun to my back allowed me to get this exposure in the harsh Florida sun.  The experience of making this photograph was the only one that has ever made my heart race.  I cannot wait to shoot from a kayak again!


Six years living in Japan allowed me some unique photography opportunities.

2 - Four Come of Age in Vivid Kimonos  - category: Culture/Japan

A friend still living in Japan recently remarked how it is almost cliche to photograph young Japanese girls on Coming of Age Day in their kimonos.  This was not really in my mind last January when I was still living in Japan and fighting the crowds to enter Meiji Jingu Shrine.  However, upon seeing the dozens and dozens of photographers (at least guys with very expensive photo gear) shooting like it was the red carpet at the Oscars, I started to think I am really going to have to dig deep to produce a standout shot, and not just standout from what others are shooting, but to be a shot that standouts to me personally, as ultimately I really only shoot for pleasing myself in these situations.  By not including the girls' heads in the shot, I thought I could put the focus on their kimono, and make an image that years later will make me think, "who were these girls?"  


A true candid portrait, made at pretty much my favorite spot on Earth.

1 - On Treasure Island You Can Meet Your Other Self*  - category: Candid Portrait

I differentiate myself from other photographers in the Tampa Bay area by promoting my candid style.  I do not think I will ever be able to make a photograph that illustrates what a candid portrait means to me more than the one above.  This portrait of a boy placing his palms on the shore, closing his eyes, thinking/imagining, and unknowingly making a reflection of himself is a true candid.  He was off playing by himself while I was a distance away, when I noticed he was making a reflection in the wet sand.  I bent my knees to get near his eye level, steadying my 80-200mm lens in my hands, and that's when he went into this symmetrical stance.  I pushed the shutter and made my favorite photograph of 2009.

*This photograph was critiqued by Scott Bourne himself.

Free iPhone Wallpaper Monday: Kimonos

I have decided to make Mondays the day I regularly release a free iPhone ( or iPod touch ) wallpaper. So please check back here next week for the next free iPhone wallpaper!

This photo was made on Coming of Age Day in Tokyo, Japan at Meijijingu Shrine. Girls 21-years of age don kimono and head to a shrine to make a wish or prayer for their future. The full size version of this photograph is one of my personal favorites from my time in Japan.

My full (and growing) collection of iPhone wallpapers can be viewed HERE and are available for just $1 each.

 To Install the wallpaper onto your iPhone:

1. Right-click or control-click on the image.

2. Select “Save as…”

* Mac users:  save the image to a folder or add it to your iPhoto library.

* PC users:   save the image in your “My Pictures” folder.

Connect the iPhone/iPod Touch to your computer and do the following:

1. Launch iTunes, click your iPhone icon on iTunes, choose the Photos tab, and select “Sync photos from:”

2. From the pop-up menu, do one of the following:

* If your using a Mac, choose iPhoto or your Pictures folder.
* If you’re using a PC, choose My Pictures folder.

3. Choose Folder, then choose any folder on your computer that has images.

4. Choose “All photos,” or choose “Selected folders” or “Selected albums” and choose the folders or albums you want to sync.

On your iPhone:

5. Launch the Photos app. Browse through the albums or Camera Roll until you find the picture you wish to use.

6. Select the picture so it is displayed full screen.

7. Tap the icon in the lower left corner of the screen. If you don’t see the icon, single tap the picture to display the menus.

8. A menu pops up with three options: Email Photo, Use as Wallpaper, or Assign to Contact.

9. Choose “Use as Wallpaper"

Thanks to Photo Focus and Scott Bourne for the directions above.

All iPhone/iPod Touch Wallpapers are provided without any technical support. Each image is a 320×480 jpg file. All images are Copyright Jason Collin Photography, All Rights Reserved. You are granted a single use, non-exclusive, perpetual license to install this wallpaper on any iPhone or iPod Touch personally owned by you. This license grants you the right to use the wallpaper for non-commercial/personal use only. You may not re-sell, distribute, print or otherwise publish the image without the express written consent of the Copyright owner: Jason Collin Photography