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Challenge Your Eye Vol. 3

How to photograph elegant kimono-clad women 2 simple and effective tips
When travelling around Japan you will notice that in Kyoto, the likelihood of seeing kimono clad ladies is much higher than in other cities. Of course, you want to bring back home a few photos of them, don't you? Let me share with you the two most important tips I find myself repeating over and over during our photo workshops at EYExplore.

1. Choose the right model

At first glance, and for the untrained eye, all kimono look alike. However, just like the difference between cheap booze and a renowned chateau wine, not all kimono are equal. Unfortunately, with the recent abundance of cheap kimono rental shops you are more likely to run into a graceless first-timer than a kimono goddess.

You'll soon notice that the garments are too often gaudy, of poor design and that the fabric is just not in tune with the season. Wearing a pink yukata (summer cotton dress) during a freezing February simply doesn’t make any sense. Avoiding this pitfall, we at EYExplore chose Junko Sophie Okimoto to pose for our workshops.

Junko runs a blog for connoisseurs of Japanese art called ''Kimono, L'Art de Vivre - A Journey into the Realms of Japanese Elegance.'' With such a title we knew we were in good hands. The priceless kimono she owns are from her collection that she inherited from her two grandmothers. Most importantly she knows how to wear a kimono and pose elegantly. The image speaks for itself.

2. Choose the right backdrop

The most common mistake I see during our workshops is a lack of care with what is in front, around and behind the model. Too often, people focus their attention solely on the subject and forget completely the surrounding environment. The edges of the frame are cluttered with unwanted junk or passersby. The choice of angle does not offer any depth, resulting in flat images.

Alright, you have yourself a stunningly beautiful lady wearing a kimono to pose for you. Now don't take her photo from an unflattering angle around ugly stuff. So, instead of cluttered streets, we chose a private temple with a pristine garden called Geshin-ji Temple. Also, take your time; give yourself - and your model - a break to reflect on what looks best. Peel your eye off the viewfinder because the answer is not to be found in there. This kind of photography is like a conversation, so don't make a monologue out of it.

Text and photos by EYExplore: EYExplore are friendly photo trainers providing fun and educational photo adventures. All levels welcome! www.eyexplore.com