Tokyo Portrait Photographer | Katsurada Family

I am just in love with the moments behind these photos.  I could tell as soon as I started shooting that they have had experience doing lifestyle photography before. They were comfortable just playing with and loving on their kids while I snapped away. Their photographer Kate Chapman, who is PCSing and thus referred them to me, taught them well.

Excluding the families that I photographed during Project Hohoemi, the Katsuradas are my first local clients. I have to admit that I was very excited to have client’s who are not associate with Yokota Air Base. Please don’t hear me wrong, I love my Yokota clients and could not do this job without you guys! But I would love to expand and be able to photograph the local community as well. Not sure if that dream can become a reality since I don’t speak Japanese. A minor setback:) Thankfully this sweet couple speaks both English and Japanese beautifully.  And they were a pleasure to work with.

Project Hohoemi | The Straker Family

This family!!!! They are amazing!!! I am so so so so so glad I was able to meet them. I feel like Michiko and I were destined to be friends. One of my beautiful clients connected me with her through Facebook over a year and a half ago.  The Straker family lived in Abilene, Texas  during the same time frame that my family lived there. We never met in Abilene. Actually we weren’t even connected via the internet until after they moved to Japan.  So when I heard about Project Hohoemi and learned that she was the awesome lady heading it up I knew I had to be apart of it! This beautiful family live in Ishinomaki. What was a weekend mission trip for me is their entire life. I just think that is so beautiful and inspiring. I sincerely hope that I get the chance to spend more time with this couple and their adorable children. Ok ok. I can’t write any more about these people because it will seriously make me cry. Meeting them meant that much to me. So on to their photos. Enjoy!

Project Hohoemi | A Survivor’s Story

While Megan Lacy (http://meganelacy NULL.com/photo NULL.html)photographed these beautiful kids…

I got to hear first hand a tsunami survivor’s story.

Tears were streaming down this grandmother’s face as she watched her grand-babies have their photos taken. She expressed that she was just so very grateful that they were both alive and healthy and here on this earth to even have their photos taken. Her grandson was three and in her carel when the tsunami hit. Thankfully they were able to evacuate to safety. Her daughter was eight months pregnant and working at the school when the alarms sounded. She too was able to avoid the storm. To this women, that day is still very very real. Even though I don’t speak Japanese I could understand the emotions that she was sharing with us as she told her story. And I was also blessed by the thankfulness she was expressing. Thankful for life. Thankful for protection. And thankful for the gift of her grandchildren. It was an honor to be able to listen to her and give her a hug. And even though taking family photos for survivors does not seem very impacting and life altering, after talking to this women I could tell that what we were doing during Project Hohoemi was touching their hearts.

Project Hohoemi | Just Say “No” To Public Displays of Affection

I learned a great deal about the Japanese culture during this photo mission trip to Ishinomaki. I knew before going that you never really see couples showing affection to one another in public. But for some reason it did not dawn on me that the same would hold true while taking photos. I ask my clients to hug or put their arms around each other every time I shoot. So I just naturally did the same thing while photographing the people of Ishinomaki. You should have seen the reactions I got. Couples would laugh and actually back away from each other. Totally the opposite of what I was asking them to do. I was actually able to capture this women’s reaction when we asked her husband to put his arm around her. He was totally for it, but she however was not. She refused his arm and humored us by holding his hand. I must say that I love learning about other cultures by immersion and this was definitely a learning experience.

This sweet women wanted us to stay and visit once the photos were done, but we had to go next door to take more pictures.  However, she waited for us and once she saw us leaving her neighbors home she met us in the street and insisted we come back in for pears,oranges, and ENERGY DRINKS. Yes. That is correct. Apparently Japanese people love energy drinks. So we knelt on her heated rug and enjoyed her hospitality. Since I don’t speak Japanese I spent most of this time just in awe of the fact that I was sitting in their home as a welcomed guest enjoying the gift of food that she insisted I eat every bite of. Such an amazing experience. One I will never forget.  The hospitality and gift giving of this culture just blows me away.

Project Hohoemi | Portraits and Raw Squid

The third day of shooting in Ishinomaki for Project Hohoemi was by far my favorite day. I had the privilege of shooting in people’s homes.  Due to rain or mobility issues some people were not able to come to us to get photos taken. So we went to them. I was welcomed in to their homes and treated as an honored guest. The  first family featured in this post were so unbelievably kind. After I took their photos they invited me to sit with them and began feeding me. And I ate everything they set in front of me. I was so humbled by their kindness that even raw squid was not going to deter me from being grateful for this experience and their hospitality.

Below: My sweet translator Jade being snuggled in the middle. She is spending a year in Ishinomaki to help the people in need.

The next family did not know we were coming. The mom of the family above insisted we go to a few more homes to take photos. Even though they were not expecting me they kindly accepted me into their home. My time with them was very brief so I did not get to hear their story or even learn how they are all related. But I snapped photos just the same.

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