Everyone loves taking photos when they travel, and Japan is also among many destinations that provide the best captivating photos in a single shot! However, it’s also great to observe Japanese people and landscapes in several different snapshots and in crystal clear detail.
This brings me to friend of mine, Shin, who is an international student from Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU) and is a photographer based in Kyushu, Japan. Therefore, he spends a lot of time taking picture perfect photos all over Japan and has been kind enough to share some of his knowledge with me. Here are 8 useful tips to help you capture some of your own picture perfect memories as you journey through Japan!
If you use your phone to take photos, and if it’s an iPhone, then you may want to turn “Grid” mode on, it will help you balance your frame and take a better picture with a clearer layout! To turn on “Grid”: Settings -> Photos & Camera -> Grid (on).
If you use a DSLR or digital camera, then be sure to read the manual carefully and take a few practice shots. It will not only help you get to know your device well but it will also assist you setting your device up correctly. Getting to know your camera well and ensuring it has been set up correctly will help you to avoid out of focus pictures or lack of light, where settings have been incorrectly set to “macro” or lack of light balance, and so on.
You can avoid worrying about shaky hands and blurry photos with a single tripod, regardless of whether you’re using a phone or digital camera. A tripod also helps when the lighting is less than optimal.
Divide your view-screen into thirds horizontally and vertically, if you use a DSLR or digital camera, you can see it easily on the screen or through the view-finder. The rule of thirds states that objects that lie on these lines are more visually appealing and tends to draw more attention to it. It is also considered a bonus if you line up any of the four intersecting points. The same rule can be applied if you use Grid mode on your iPhone, too!
Different angles will give you different perspectives on the object you are trying to capture. So the best advice here is to try capturing photos in different angles instead of being happy with only one photo. Take ten more photos and you may end up pleasantly surprised at what you’ve captured.
Sometimes focusing only on one single detail is much better than capturing the whole picture. As I mentioned previously about trying different angles, the same can apply here – after taking the focus close-up shot, take another to capture the entire object in your frame.
Sometimes, to focus means blurry photos but that’s why a tripod is perfect, and if you don’t have one of those, then find some stable hands to help!
As long as the place you’re in has enough light, it’s good. Also, like many tourists, if you are not a specialist photographer, here is a great tip to remember so that you can still take stunning photos as if you are one. Take photos at the best times of the day, which are: 15 minutes before the sun has risen, and 15 minutes before it sets.
Additionally, ensure you’re well prepared with all the equipment you need before venturing out because the sun rises and falls pretty quickly, so it can sometimes be hard work creating those perfect snapshots. However, they will definitely be worth it once you get it right!
Please note, it can be considered impolite to have faces of strangers captured within your snapshots without permission, so be sure to ask before pressing the button. The rules for posting photos that contain other faces without permission has become very strict, so be prepared!
There is no actual law against taking photos of other people in public places in Japan (with their faces in the frame). Usually, it’s the publishing or uploading of these photos to the internet that can bring these laws into existence.
shashin wo totte moraemaska? (写真を撮って貰えますか.)
Will you take a picture of me?
koko de shashin wo totte mo iidesu ka? (ここで写真を撮ってもいいですか.)
Is it OK to take photos here?
anata no sha-shin wo totte mo iidesu ka? (あなたの写真を撮ってもいいですか.)
May I take a photo of you?
At several famous sightseeing spots, be sure to pay attention to specific signs that mention whether photos can or cannot be taken and/or whether the flash can be used in these places too. Also, taking photos on subways or trains is not recommended, because if you’re caught pointing your camera directly to any person, or women, you could get arrested under the Anti-Nuisance Ordinance law.
Japanese culture is diverse, with many varying landscapes as well as daily events to take plenty of photos of. The best places to take photos in Japan are commonly around tourist attractions such as shrines and temples, famous hot spots, typical dishes or people in typical Japanese costumes, or even on Harajuku street or on the crowded streets of Shibuya. Also, picture perfect very much depends on how you see your own Japan. Now have fun shooting!
To check out more of Shin’s photos on his travels around Japan, check out his page here.