May 1, 2011

My first studio shoot - and it's in kimono!

All along it's my wish.. a teeny tiny wish to wear the kimono at least once. I wouldn't buy a set, since it is too expensive, and there won't be any other opportunities for me to wear it in Singapore. Nor do I know where I can borrow a set from. So, the only way is probably to rent it, and maybe from a photo studio :)

And the research began, I searched on the internet for a few photo studios and their packages. I missed the peak period of kimono shots though. The peak period for the Japanese is during the 成人式, which is in January. The new adults will rent/ wear kimonos for this ceremony, and usually they would go for a photoshoot as well, and rent the set out to attend the ceremony, etc.

Do you know?
Instead of studio shots for graduation, which is very common in Singapore, the Japanese will go for studio shoots for their 成人式 instead. 成人式 is a ceremony for all new 20-year-olds. 20th birthday signify the transition to adulthood.

So, which studio did I pick in the end?

AMU Photo Studio. As I have missed the peak period when 成人式 packages are offered, so now the studio have another promotion instead. Currently, rental of kimono and the ornaments are at no cost. Yeah! 0 Yen! But then, there will not be any bundled package, so everything will be at ala carte prices.

I went to the one at Sunstreet. :)

What is the process like?

There are altogether 3 sessions:

1st session
1. Choose kimono (outermost layer)
2. Book schedules

I tried on 4 different kimono, and finally picked the white one. :) The staff was very nice, she helped to put them on for me to try, compare and select.

The studio really had a lot of choices! Spoilt for choices...

2nd session
1. Choose kimono ornaments.
Including shoes, bags, hair ornament, the inner layers, obi, other sashes etc.

My hair ornament. 超綺麗!

2. Meet the hairdo artist and makeup artist to discuss on the look I would like to achieve.

They were very patient with me as well, as most of you would know, I am pretty much a dummy when it comes to makeup haha... so while Candy & I discussed and pre-selected a few, we also asked for their professional recommendations.

3rd session - the real shoot begins!
1. Hairdo & Makeup

Umm.. the hairdo artist and the makeup artist worked on me simultaneously, and yet it still took 1 hour. :P It didn't feel long for me though, probably because of the whirlwind of actions around me. :P Perming my hair, makeup...

Fake eyelashes are not provided though, so I bought my own. :) Btw.. a little secret...this is my first time using fake eyelashes! :P

2. Wearing the kimono

Mmm.. this is difficult. First we changed into a set of white undergarments and my socks, then lots of padding, as they had to create a straight line from the chest point to the tummy area (where the obi will be). So I had padding above my tummy, on my back and my shoulders.

Then we wore an inner layer of kimono-look alike. And then tie a inner sash.

Next we wore the outermost layer, and the tying of the obi, etc. There are a few more tying of other sashes/ ropes under the actual obi, so it's is kinda of stiff. I can't imagine wearing it for long hours...

Tying the obi

Finally the shoes.

The whole process probably took 30-40 minutes.

What I like
Besides the ornaments picked by the staff:

The lady who helped me to change into my kimono, also tried to value-add by creating her own handicraft, like transforming the smaller purple sash into a flower at the end, and also adding a rose for my obi :D

Can you find the purple flowers?

My beautiful obi with a rose :P

I love the Japanese and how they add details to make everything perfect!

How was the shoot?

We took many shoots, and altogether 3 basic poses- standing (prim and proper look), standing showing the elaborate prints on my kimono sleeves, and the last one is sitting pose.

I found it really hard to smile/ laugh naturally for the camera. The photographer even spontaneously grabbed a Winnie the Pooh soft toy to catch me unaware and snap my natural smile :P He also asked Candy to care-fare as the photographer for a few shots, just to catch my natural laughs.

:P So much for his effort... Mm...

In the end, I still stick to my original plan, and only selected one picture, to develop and to buy in softcopy form.

Somehow my smiles and laughs in the photo studio were still unnatural.

Besides the professional shot which I picked, my most favorite shot is actually this one... my very natural smile:

And then my next favourite.. this side view :)

How much time did you have for some private shots?

Mmm... maybe less than 30 minutes, as we waited for the photographer to preselect the shots for my selection and for them to settle other administrative work.

:P Well... we really tried to take as many pictures as we can, milking this experience to the max.

Altogether from the start (first session to last session) we took about 120+ pictures. :P Thank u, Candy for being the camerman for the last 2 days :)

Those 14 shots posted on my facebook album are the best amongst the best :P

How much did it cost?

As it is ala carte, I can choose the number of pictures I want to take. I picked... only 1. Yah. Just one. It's is super expensive to take professional photographs in Japan. Taking of 1 picture (includes developing and a cardboard frame & cover) cost about 16,000yen. Add another picture, it is about twice the amount, and it goes on.

And if you want the softcopy it is 2100 per piece. If you do not want it to be developed, but just the softcopy, it is about 6000yen per piece.

I also pay 10,000yen for the service of helping me to wear my kimono, which is at first thought, waaa... so expensive, but really, it's an art and a skill to wear a kimono. It's irreplaceable. I really wonder how the lady managed to transform the long thick obi into an elaborate bow.

And for hairdo and makeup, it is at a hair/beauty salon, which costs about 10,000yen in total. I think this is comparable to Singapore's prices though, or maybe cheaper.

Hence, altogether, the shoot costs me 36,000yen. Very expensive, I know. Many people think I am mad. With 36,000yen, I can go for a weekend trip to another prefecture, stay in a nice onsen ryokan, take shinkansen, etc.

Tangibly... yes.. I will only get one picture and one softcopy of the image.

But the entire experience... I can only say it is money well-spent. Let me be 我がまま aka 任性 once. In my weird reasoning, I think that this is really once-a-lifetime. The next time I come to Japan, it will be for vacations. You can't do such shots again on vacations. The album takes a month to complete. It is impossible for me to collect the completed shots. And I think even if I do request for kimono shots in my wedding shoots (if I have one :P), they won't be as authentic as the one I have now.

So... for the experience, for my memories... I think it is worthwhile for me to sacrifice other stuff, another travel trip/ some eat-outs/ shopping etc, for this.


Updates! My official studio picture is ready! Tada....