Photographing on the move in foreign countries requires a combination of technical expertise, culture competence, intuitive awareness, curiosity, and a dash of panache.
This special trip to Japan with acclaimed travel photographer Nevada Wier tackles the challenges of photographing with creative intent while on the move with a digital camera. Our emphasis is on elevating your creative vision and expanding your photographic technique, all while remaining fleet-footed and agile as we discover the richness that is Japan today.
Japan is strangely familiar and utterly strange. Mythical traditions, futuristic cityscapes, Zen gardens, bullet trains, holy mountains, public hot springs, sake and sushi, bamboo forests, geisha dancers, tranquil temples and shrines, tea ceremonies, Buddhist monasteries and a land of respectful and polite people await you.
Join Nevada and our local guide to experience and photograph iconic as well as hidden Japan in beautiful winter light. Our itinerary gradually reveals the rich variety of Japan as you visit the well known and the little seen parts of Tokyo, Koyasan, and Kyoto.
We begin our adventure in the endless city of Tokyo. The electrifying energy, the skyscraping architectural marvels, the neon frenzy and vibrant colors of the city lights at night are all interpreted with our cameras. From our hotel, we explore the city with carefully timed morning visits at first light and nighttime excursions to visit Shibuya Crossing, Ginza, Shindome, and Mori Tower. Street photography becomes our focus as we navigate Takeshita Street. Hie Shrine offers iconic red shinto gates, purification fountains, and other traditional elements. A short train ride away lies Yushima Seido, a Confucian temple. In stark contrast to Hie Shrine, this temple is painted black and imposes a bold presence on visitors.
After two full days in the pulsating megalopolis we are transported to a different world by train and cable car. Atop sacred Mount Koya, surrounded by a thick forest of towering cedars, is the ancient village of Koyasan. Settled 1,200 years ago as the center of Shingon Buddhism, small and secluded Koyasan remains a spiritual center today. Here we experience a taste of a monk’s simple lifestyle— swapping our shoes for slippers, eating vegetarian cuisine, sleeping on futons over tatami mats and attending morning prayers. We have the time make new photographs as well as edit our images from Tokyo and share them with Nevada and the group in an image review.
Recharged and ready for new adventures after our two nights in Koyasan, we travel to Kyoto—City of Peace and Tranquility. Considered by many to be the spiritual center of Japan and one of the world's most culturally rich cities, Kyoto is home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites, more than 1,600 Buddhist Temples and over 400 Shinto shrines.
A highlight of our time in the imperial city is an afternoon and early evening spent in a geisha’s life. The geisha in Kyoto do not refer to themselves as geisha; instead, they use the local term geiko. While the term geisha means "artist" or "person of the arts", the more direct term geiko means essentially "a woman of art." We slip behind the mask and step into a geiko’s private world. We meet, share tea, and discuss her training and present day life. We make portraits of her in this informal setting, then meet again as night falls to photograph her in full splendor as she moves through the lantern-lite back streets of Gion.
During our time in Kyoto, Nevada continues her photo lessons by discussing how to combine technical, practical, and creative aspects of travel photography in order to get an image that elevates itself above the usual travel clichés. We discuss equipment and digital concerns in different travel and outdoor environments, ways to approach and photograph people, sensitivity to cross-cultural issues in foreign countries, and tips (both theoretical and practical) on using natural light as well as fill-flash.
As our time in Japan nears its close, we edit our photographs for a final image review. For our final evening together we celebrate our many experiences in Japan with a special group dinner.
Japan is at once modern and ancient, sacred and profane, resounding and silent, transparent and circuitous. To travel to exotic Japan for the first time is a once in a lifetime trip. Join Nevada for the journey.