Women in Photography: Anita Lee | Tokyo

This is a guest blog post from Women in Photography. All images by Anita Lee and this post was done by Nicole Struppert.

MODEL   Marina
MAKEUP   Ryan Han

Hello Anita, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

I’m 100% made in China from the Guang Dong province. After studying at an art school, I prefered to stay in Japan. Now I am working as an assistant in a photography studio.

How and when did you get into photography?

I got my first digital compact camera at the first year of university. I started to use it to record daily moments. The time when I really started to take photography seriously was the first year at Tokyo Visual Art College. I studied photography and majored in fashion photography. Besides photography I’ve learned a lot about the photo industry from my mentor Zigen, who is an outstanding Japanese fashion photographer. He was the first person who guided me into fashion photography.


MODEL   Leňa Lolita Šeránková
MAKEUP   Annie Hsu

You submitted some of your incredible fashion/portrait work. What fascinates you so much about fashion photography?

Fashion photography is a special genre. It’s not only about beautiful dresses, makeup and models. For people, who like imagination, nothing is better than creating a whole new fantastic world through fashion photography!

How does a usual set up looks like when you shoot fashion portraits?

I shoot most of my work in natural light. Some are finished by just one simple lighting in the studio. I don’t specifically insist on natural lighting and one lighting set up, but I need to look for the budget ;). In the future I will test more different lighting setup by using what I’ve learned from my assisting work .

Do you prefer working alone or in a team? With Models or Strangers?

I prefer working with a team. It’s impossible to do everything by myself. I’m lucky that I have met some talented people during my school period.

I am still in touch with my makeup and model friends and when we are together we come up with new ideas. I think working with people who really know you and understand your style is very important, especially when you are a beginner in the industry. It’s very difficult to get a chance to work with big names, but you always can start from a small team and grow together!


MODEL   Miku Hashimoto
MAKEUP   Minori Kato

What is the hardest challenge as a fashion photographer?

Money! Ha! Of course having money doesn’t mean you’ll become a successful photographer. However, I have to say most of the time, money is the key that helps you to solve problems in your work. Especially for new photographers who just get into this industry. You need money to support your dreams.

You’re currently working as an assistant in a photography studio. How does a day as an assistant looks like?

As an assistant in the studio I don’t just assist photographers … Sometimes I also need to assist other staffs in the team including hair stylist and makeup artist. I need to do everything. Carrying luggages, cleaning up toilets (not just one toilet), helping clients to google the nearest cafe…. Especially in Japan, it has a very traditional and strict seniority system. A new assistant is the lowest position in the studio, and he/she has to do everything what the boss demands. It might be strange to many foreigners who are working here. But if you want to keep getting hired, you have to adjust to it, no matter you like it or not.



MODEL   Som Siriya
MAKEUP   Annie Hsu

What advice would you give photographers who would start to get into Fashion Photography?

Stay real. You have to face the tough truth: credit card debt, tax, rent……  Real life is not so glittery and glamourous what you see in magazines or fashion shows. A fashion photographer is also a commercial photographer – most of the time it’s about business. You need to know how to sell yourself and your work.

Love fashion and keep on learning. Don’t just treat it as a hobby – take it serious. If you want to make a career in this industry, you should know everything about the fashion industry including trends, history of clothing, hair/makeup and style, marketing etc…

Communication skills are important too. I’ve seen many “so called fashion photographers” who never communicated to their team. I think without good communication your teammates will never understand your point of view and what you will express with the picture.


MODELAya Tsunematsu

Can you tell us a little bit about the photography scene in Japan? Is there any work of a female photographer you admire?

Comparing to my country China, the photography scene in Japan is very vivid – especially in Tokyo. It has an incredible structure to support photographers who are passionate about their work, and who are not professionals yet. Japanese photographers have very special perspectives in photography which are quite different from westerner photographers.

I currently crushed into a very young talented photographer: izumi miyazaki. Her work is so creative. She is very successful in creating a trend which express her point of view about photography and the world.

What are your long time goals and wishes as a photographer?

Take more good photos, keep renewing my portfolio and built up my own photography studio.


MODEL: Som Soriy
MAKE UP: Hitomi Haga

More about Anita Lee:

Website: https://rikinada.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/anita_lee_kiko/   
Pinterest: https://jp.pinterest.com/anitaalee0780/homework/

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.