Japan 2017 – Day 16 – April 2 (B’bye!)

We checked out at 7:30 am in order to catch our train. It was chilly and wet and our mood was a bit somber because it was our last day in Japan.

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In the station we bought our last bento box and took a bullet train to Shinagawa (Tokyo) then the Narita Express to the airport. We had reserved our seats on the train so we were in the “Green Car”. We overheard some idiot Americans complaining about there not being seats available when the truth was, they hadn’t reserved any. They were politely (and I mean VERY politely – almost apologetically – as is customary in Japan) to go to another car that was not reserved seating. Whenever I travel, I am often embarrassed by Americans. The entitlement, rudeness, and lack of respect for other cultures is such a shame.

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I LOVE THESE BLUE ROOFS!

I LOVE how clean Japan is. We traveled many many miles and I never saw as much as a tissue on the railroad tracks.
And while I am at it, the Japanese have a lot of tile roof houses. My favorite are these beautiful blue, almost iridescent, tiles. I want one!

Carol and Russell were on a different plane for the trip back, so we said our goodbyes and waved as they hauled luggage, some of it ours that we had dumped on them – thank you Carol and Russell.

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At the Narita airport we made our final purchase…Royce Chocolate. There are some things the Japanese do better than anyone else. Sushi (obviously), sake (Obviously), beef (Matsusaka not Kobe), and chocolate. If you ever have Royce Chocolate, it will make the best chocolate you have ever had, on a scale of 1 to 10, a 6 or 7. If you ever have it, you will immediately go out and buy a ticket to Japan so you can go get some more.

In the Narita Airport we had our last meal in Japan.
Squi, with his eternally positive nature, had Cherry Blossom Cake!
Kaz had Japanese meatloaf and tempura shrimp.

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I am embarrassed to say, I had a McDonald’s Cheeseburger. I think it was a “I’m unhappy to be leaving, guess I’ll go eat worms and pout” kind of thing.
Kaz just rolled her eyes and told our son, “You can’t take the white trash out of your Daddo!”
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We were lucky and caught a great tailwind, so the flight only took 8 1/2 hours instead of the usual 10. We arrived at LAX and although it felt good to be home, we dreaded coming back to a society that doesn’t have a lot of the things we enjoyed so much in Japan…cleanliness, politeness, and the best food in the world.

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Japan 2017 – Day 6 – March 23

We were headed to Yugawara for my birthday present which was a getaway at a ryokan (an old style Japanese hotel) but first, I had to shoot the CEO of some company. I wanted to pick up a reflector on the way but between the traffic and the stop at the camera store, we ended up getting there late. The Japanese are ever so gracious and I got the shoot done very quickly. Funny how, even a late as I was to get there, the CEOs and his assistant sat us down for a cup of tea before the photo shoot began.Actors Headshot Los AngelesActors Headshot Los Angeles

After the work was done, it was time for vacation to begin in earnest. We went to Shinagawa and waited for our train at the station. Kaz disappeared for a while as Squi and I enjoyed all the trains coming and going. Every time Kaz disappeared in Japan, she always came back with food and this time was no different except for one exception. She got Squi a very special surprise – a fruit sandwich! I had seen most of the other stuff she had in bento boxes but never a fruit sandwich. It is now Squi’s favorite.

The train ride took us down the East coast of Japan to Yugawara.
https://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/regional/kanagawa/yugawara.htm

From there a short taxi ride to Kamata, our ryokan.
http://www.kamata-oku.com/

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We arrived in the early evening and were able to walk around the grounds and take a few photos. I have this thing for bamboo forests – why or where it comes from I have no idea, but I enjoy them. So I was happy to see a small stand of bamboo near the ryokan. Hakone2522webLos Angeles Photographer
There were a couple of waterfalls and a koi pond and unlike Tokyo, it was peaceful and quiet. I can’t think of a better place to spend a birthday with my family.

We were shown to our room but Squi ran ahead and down the hall to what he thought was our room. Unfortunately, he went in the wrong room and we went into OUR room knowing he would be along soon. Sure enough, after a minute, he strolled into our room to join us….but not before he announced,”You do NOT wanna go in THAT room….(the room he had mistakenly gone in)…there’s a NAKED MAN in there!” I suspect somewhere in Japan, there is a man still wondering who the heck the little boy was that disturbed his privacy.

After settling in we had an amazing meal of lobster and sushi (Squi had a burger).Los Angeles Photographer Actors Headshot Los Angeles Photographer Actors Headshot Los Angeles Photographer Actors Headshot Los Angeles Photographer Actors Headshot
We decided to try the outdoor private onsen but that proved to be a mistake. In our bathrobes, it was cold walking to the onsen and when we got there, I couldn’t even hold my foot in the water. It was waaaayyy too hot. So we took a shivering walk back to our room and drew a tolerably hot bath there.
Subsiding goose bumps and another beer put me in a true happy birthday mood as I soaked in the tub.

As we were checking our emails, catching up on the days events in the news, and having another laugh over Squi’s misadventure, the ryokan staff showed up to make up our futon beds and we were all ready to snuggle in for a comfy night.

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Photoshop ­ – to retouch or NOT to retouch

One of the things I hear a lot these days is “I want my photo to look natural”. Yet, when I sit down in front of a computer monitor after a photo session to view their head shots, I hear ”can you fix this, and that, and that, and….”

In this age of digital manipulation, the general rule is: It is a GOOD thing to Photoshop your photos, it is a BAD thing to OVER­Photoshop your photos”

If you are in the public eye ­ an actor, model, CEO, or celebrity ­ you need to be aware of your image. The first thing to know is that you are not in the business of reality.

You are in a business of fantasy or at the very least idealism. No one who views your photos wants to know you had a zit the day of your photo shoot. No one is interested in seeing your blobby mascara, nose hairs hanging out, or blood shot eyes, even though that’s the “way it really looked” or the way it was “naturally”. When we view photos of George Clooney, we want him to look as perfect as our fantasies imagine him. We want Angelina Jolie to have flawless skin, perfect hair, and a trim lovely figure.

Dove has been running a campaign the last few years showing makeovers and accentuating all the stuff done in Photoshop afterwards. The idea is to show the “real” faces of models and therefore make them more “human” and accessible and thereby draw attention to their products. In my opinion, this is a huge marketing mistake. These videos will draw a lot of attention and get a lot of nods of approval but in the end will not increase sales of their products as much as an ad NOT showing the before images. People need a goal to strive for not someone who they look at and ”Oh well…with THAT MUCH photoshop, I can look good too!” It’s like telling people there is no Easter Bunny!

I had an agent here in LA tell one of my clients to “just shoot a selfie” for her head shots!! While I understand the agents frustration with actors bringing her head shots that don’t look like them, I also think a selfie is a horrid misrepresentation of oneself. The distortion of camera phone lenses, awful lighting, and unplanned images makes selfies fun but useless as a business tool.

So where is the magic line? When is an image “over Photoshopped”?

If you have a mole, leave in it because to will be there when you go on an audition. If you have a blemish, retouch it out.

It’s OK to soften laugh lines a bit but to remove them is a mistake. Taking the red out of your bloodshot eyes is fine because HOPEFULLY you won’t always have that, unless you live in Colorado.
If you plan on losing a little weight, then it’s OK to take some off in Photoshop but rarely do people actually go ahead and lose that weight and so you’d do better to look like your photo.

If you are taking a photo for your wall at home or for a gift, then you can Photoshop to your hearts content, but if it is for work, then less is more.

While on this topic, I should add that there is a lot of BAD Photoshop out there, so buyer beware. A photographer should either do it himself or have someone on staff who is proficient and will sit down with you to do the Photoshop Head shots in LA are going through a “natural” phase right now, which is a good thing, but beware of anyone who tells you not to do any Photoshop at all.

Remember ­ it is a GOOD thing to Photoshop your photos,

it’s a BAD thing to over­Photoshop them.

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Headshot Photography Workshop 2016

Special Intensive Weekend Workshop:

Saturday, April 23 & Sunday, April 24 – 10 AM to 6 PM

Two Days for $375 (Repeat Student $150)

Individual Workshop:
Introduction $120
Basic: $150
Intermediate: $200
Seminar: “Starting up your photography business”: $120

Question? email

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Headshot Photography Workshop –

Special Intensive Weekend Workshop:

Saturday, September 14 –
Sunday, September 15 –
(9 AM to 5 PM)

Saturday, 9 AM to 12 noon – Introduction
Saturday, 1 PM to 5 PM – Basic 

Sunday, 9 AM to 12 noon – Intermediate
Sunday, 1 PM to 5 PM – “Starting up as a business” / Special Guests

Two Days for $350

Individual Workshop:
Introduction $120
Basic: $150
Intermediate: $200
Seminar: “Starting up your photography business”: $120

Question?  email

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Photography Workshop – Saturday, January 26, 2013

Los Angeles actors headshot photography workshop by michael helms

For one day only – Sign Up today – CLICK HERE

 

Frequently Asked Questions:

 

1) What are the hours of the workshop?

The hours of the workshop will be 9:00 A.M Till Sunset Saturday January 26, 2013 

2) What kind of photography experience should I have before attending?

Intermediate level photographers with a basic understanding of Adobe Lightroom and brief knowledge of Adobe Photoshop

3) What equipment do i need for the workshop?

A digital SLR, wide to medium focal range lenses, shoe mount flash unit i.e Nikon SB-24-Sb-900 or Canon 580ex speedlight, laptop (preferable) with Adobe Lightroom installed, and a willingness to change the way you shoot forever.

4) What clothing should i wear?

Casual

5) Who will benefit most from this workshop?

Persons interested in improving their off camera lighting, composition, and post production skills for Wedding and Portrait Photography

6) How much does the workshop cost?

The Workshop is 475.00 U.S.D, a 150.00 non-refundable deposit will be collected at the time of reserving your spot. The day of the Workshop the rest will be due the morning of.

 7) Where is the Workshop being held?

Michael Helms Photography Studio 10349 Siesta Drive  Shadow Hills, CA 91040

8) How many persons will be attending the Workshop?

We are taking up to 20 students

9) What is planned in the Workshop curriculum?

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