Japan 2017 – Day 15 – April 1

The next day Mitsuru and Masataka picked us up again and took us to see a magnificent piece of engineering – a bridge in Sakaide. One strand of the cables that support the bridge could encircle the Earth 4 times! We were able to go up to a lookout point on a local hill and get a photo of the bridge.

Actors Headshot Photographer

Actors Headshot Photographer Actors Headshot Photographer

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The Hanafusa Family is our 2nd family! Thank you so much for taking good care of us always.

From there, they took us to Kurahiki, which is a adorable town with a river running through the middle of it. On each side of the river are shops and if you feel compelled, there is a gondola in the river you can ride. Actors Headshot Photographer It was interesting to me that the river going through the middle of town had no barriers along it’s edge and it’s about a 6 foot drop to the water. I wondered how many people had accidentally fallen in and also how different the Japanese culture is. In the USA, there would be barriers and people would STILL fall in and the sue the city. That doesn’t happen in Japan. I guess they have a concept of personal responsibility…what a great idea! We shopped and checked out yet another temple that was really lovely. Squi and Mitsuru enjoyed the koi ponds while we wandered the grounds.

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When Mitsuru dropped us off at our hotel, he presented us with a bunch of sake that I was told I had ordered the evening before. Well, in spite of not remembering much about that – I’m glad I did….it’s delicious. There is a Muscat sake that takes 3 bunches of grapes to make ONE bottle…it’s astonishingly delicious!

That evening we “white trashed it”. We went to a HUGE mall, Aeon, and we ate at a food court!
We discussed all the food we had eaten in Japan and decided the best was in Okayama. But to quote Carol,”I wanna just eat my way through Japan!”
Next time!

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Japan 2017 – Day 14 – March 31

We were sad to leave Kyoto. So much to see and do there and lots more restaurants to check out! It was raining and chilly so we left our luggage at the hotel to do one last touristy thing before we headed for Okayama.
We visited Sanju Sangendo, a huge Buddhist Temple that houses 1001 statues made of Japanese Cypress and clad in gold leaf. I think it’s the longest temple in Japan but don’t quote me on that. Another of it’s claims to fame is the archery contest that has been held here every year since the Edo period. Pretty impressive.

We snagged our luggage from the hotel and dragged it all off to catch a train to Okayama. Squi made the mistake, again, of going to sleep, so our tradition of stacking stuff on his forehead while he naps, continues.

A los angeles headshot photographer Michael Helms

A los angeles headshot photographer Michael Helms

Poor Squi fell asleep while we were checking in

At the hotel in Okayama we got picked up by the President of the Muromachi Sake Company, Mitsuru Hanafusa and his son, Masataka  . Kaz is almost like family to the owners, so we got the royal treatment. First thing on the list was to tour the Muromachi Sake factory, which of course, includes sampling just about everything!

A los angeles headshot photographer Michael Helms

Muromachi Shuzo continues to win awards all around the world.

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More sampling!!!

The Japanese government gave Muromachi a grant to come up with different kinds of sake, so we sampled Tomato, White Peach, Golden Peach, Red Pepper, Plum, Grape, Ginger, and Yuzu sake! All crazy good but the White Peach was my favorite.

So, of course, what better endeavor to embark on than to take a family portrait of your host after drinking about 87 gallons of sake!? This was an evening I was happy to have an autofocus camera. The last time I tried to pull this trick off in Japan, I tripped over my tripod and crashed my camera through my hosts’ brand new shoji screen! Somehow I pulled it off this time without embarrassing myself too much. It was, of course, tricky to put the camera on a timer, push the button, then stagger over to get in the photo with them!

A los angeles headshot photographer Michael Helms
They then took us to dinner which was nothing short of spectacular…course after course of crazy wonderful Japanese cuisine and beer and more sake!

A los angeles headshot photographer Michael Helms

A los angeles headshot photographer Michael HelmsWe slept well that night and because there are not preservatives in the sake – no hang over!!

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Japan 2017 – Day 10 – March 27

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I LOVE the bullet train! The Hyabusa is the fastest of all the bullet trains in Japan and we decided to take it for a quick day trip up to Sendai, 300 miles north of Tokyo. The 300 mile trip takes an hour and a half and that’s with a couple of stops! It was a beautiful smooth ride and there was one area we traveled through where they had snow.

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Snow in Fukushima

Russell, Carol and I explored a local temple near the train station in Matsushima and walked down to the ocean to see if we could find any signs of the tsunami’s destruction. At the temple there are limestone outcrops where the monks have carved “rooms” into the rock. The rooms were used as the final resting places for cremated remains and for occasional meditation areas.

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We found nothing to indicate the area had recently been through an assault by a 60 foot wall of water. One thing that helped protect this area was all the islands that dot the offshore area there. It’s amazing how quickly the area has returned to business as usual. As a side note, when you see construction sites in Japan, the barriers erected are often these cute anime characters…again in the spirit of “Kawai” (cute). It’s seen throughout Japanese culture…funny to see a very dignified business man in a suit carrying a cell phone with a cute little charm dangling from it.

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In Sendai, Date Masamune is everywhere.

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Squi and Mommy went to Anpanman Museum

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In the Sendai train station there were lots of places to eat and novelties to check out. One thing I admired greatly was a “dollar a shot” sake sampling vending machine! NOW we’re talking! Especially since I didn’t have to drive anywhere!Los Angeles Actors Headshot Photographer

Los Angeles Actors Headshot Photographer

We enjoyed a wonderful bullet train back to Asakusa where we checked out yet another temple. I never get tired of admiring these structures. They are all a bit different and all have a unique history.

Los Angeles Actors Headshot Photographer
Los Angeles Actors Headshot Photographer
We went to dinner with Seri, Kaz’s old friend and Kaz’s bother, Takashi. We ate at Gonpachi restaurant and the good news is we had the best oysters EVER in my entire life! The bad news is, it’ll be hard to have oysters here in the States since they can’t compare. We did an oyster tasting… sampling them from all parts of the Japanese coast. Of course, along with tons of other food, there was the requisite over indulgence of sake and beer.

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Great friends, great food, and a wonderful country make for a truly memorable experience!

 

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Squi loves his uncle, Takeshi!

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Japan 2017 – Day 8 – March 25

Los angeles Photographer Actors HeadshotFrom the comfort and solitude of our getaway in ryokan Kamata, we ventured back to the big city madness of Tokyo. Tokyo is currently the biggest city in the world, and wonderfully – the SAFEST city in the world! I could literally put my camera on a bench with my wallet next to it, go in a store and shop for an hour, and when I came back it would still be there. It’s one of the MANY things about Japanese culture that I love and admire.

In Tokyo we arrived at the train station in Shinagawa then took a cab to our hotel in Asakusa. One thing about the hotels in Japan…the rooms are small….very small. But we figured we were only going to be in there for sleeping and taking a shower, so no big deal but it’s worth noting if you are planning a trip there.

Our friends, Carol and Russell came in that night to hang out with us for a week. We were so happy to see them and excited to show Russell around since it was his first time in Japan. Carol had been there before with us, so this was a special treat for her also.
First stop, of course, was a local bar to get a taste of what the Japanese do and drink after work. We went to the locally famous Kamiya Bar and had tasty bar food treats.
https://www.timeout.com/tokyo/bars-and-pubs/kamiya-bar
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Kaz had to teach an acting class that evening, so she hopped a train and left us on our own to wander and explore. Our explorations started out with going to Akihabra, the electronics capitol of Tokyo. I forgot to bring our selfie stick from home, so it was an easy find in Akihabra.
We didn’t count on our GPS not working so well in the city. Seems the signal bounces all around in the tall buildings and makes finding each other pretty much impossible. Contrary to what Verizon said, my phone wasn’t working, so I was useless in helping find Kaz once her class was over. After a lot of false starts, we all were finally reunited and got our shopping mojo in gear.

We had a good laugh at the Asahi building and the ridiculous giant sculpture on top of the building adjacent to it. Supposedly the Asahi building is a beer glass with the foam of a beer on top and the “golden Flame” atop the other building represents the fire or flame inside the beer. It makes no sense and has come to be known as  “Kin no unko” which translates as “The golden Turd”. At least it is memorable!Los angeles Photographer Actors Headshot
Los angeles Photographer Actors Headshot
Even though it was chilly and drizzling rain, it was great to be here and with good friends.
We found a fabulous restaurant and had extraordinary miso dipping sauces and veggies. Even the veggies seem better in Japan.

We made it back to our hotel content with a good day of exploring, shopping, and eating amazing food. Carol’s famous quote of the trip was,”I wanna just eat my way through Japan!”

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Japan 2017 – Day 1 – March 18

Michael Helms Los Angeles Headshot Photographer Journey to Japan – Day 1

Boarding a plane bound for Japan is an exercise in mixed feelings. We’re SO HAPPY to be going but dreading being trapped in an aluminum tube at 37 thousand feet for 12 hours.
I’m jealous of those who can sleep on planes…I can’t. So, I have found the best way for me to pass time is to catch up on all the movies I haven’t seen. “LA LA LAND” was first on my list. What a horrid film…slow paced, predictable, schmaltzy, and I’m sorry but Emma and Ryan are neither singers or dancers. Watch Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire…listen to Julie Andrews or Judy Garland sing.
On the other hand, I LOVED “Moonlight” and feel it deserved to win. Well shot, directed, acted, and a wonderful story that walked a tough line concerning a sensitive and current topic. Sadly, the people who SHOULD see it, probably won’t.
I saw “Doctor Strange” – liked it a lot and recommend it. I’d watch Benedict Cumberbatch read a phone book.

We arrived at Narita Airport and on our way to pick up our baggage, Squi was running through the airport, tripped, fell, smacked his face on the floor and got a black eye. Great….we hoped this wasn’t a sign of things to come.

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We got to AirBnB rented house in Shinjuku around 3 in the afternoon and Kaz had to leave soon after to go teach an acting class. Squi and I decided to have a treasure hunt, so we went out on our own and wondered around. The “treasure hunt” consisted of taking photos as we went so we could find our way back home. I think it worked better than bread crumbs. But ultimately we were too tired to walk very far, so we found our way back home, put our feet up, and watched Sumo Wrestling!
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John Jack, the head honcho at The Stella Adler Acting Academy arrived that evening.
So when Kaz got back, we started our first food search.Los Angeles Headshot Photographer
We knew of a teeny hole in the wall restaurant in an alley in Shinjuku called Shinagawa Tei. The restaurant has room for about 8-10 guests and is owned and operated by a little old lady and her son. It’s a VERY popular local eatery and is practically impossible to get reservations but the last time we were there we just walked in at the right time and got seats! So we thought we’d go by and just say hello. As fate would have it, we got there just as they were opening and we got to eat there again!!! When we walked in the little old lady looked at Kaz and said, “OH….Matamura-san!!” We were stunned that she remembered us but so happy to get to have more of their wonderful food.Los Angeles Actors Headshot Photographer

We love Japan and I’m pretty sure living there part time will be in our future. Also – MANY of these blogs will mention food! Food you can’t get in the US, food that you can get in the US but is WAAAYYY better over there, and food served in a way (both in terms of service and presentation) that you can’t find here in the US.Los Angeles Actors Headshot Photographer Los Angeles Headshot Photographer

After our meal, we wondered around a bit in Shinjuku before we met up with Rick, an instructor  from Stella Adler, who was also coming in to join the teaching forces.
We’d been up for a LONG time, so after a snack and too many Asahi beers, we crashed  at our house, happy, full, and excited about the days to come!

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Photography Workshop – Weekend intensive – July 2016

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RESERVE YOUR SPOT – EventBrite   STUDIO vs. NATURAL LIGHT SPECIAL WEEKEND SEMINAR: Saturday 10 AM to 4 PM Sunday, 10 AM to 5 PM $375.00 – Two Day Intensive Saturday – Arts of Photography Basic of Photography – Natural Light vs. Studio Light How to work with Lighting equipments Glamour – Old Hollywood Look […]

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Tokyo – Fri. March 18 & March 19 – 2016

I will be shooting headshots and portraits for Japanese public figures and actors!

We still have several spots available.

Please contact Sayoko or myself directly.

 

headshot photography in Japan

headshot photography in Japan

PDF:

Tokyo Shoot 2016

 

 

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This year’s Labor Day weekend ….

Nope.  I didn’t got to the Burning Man.

I had four days off !   I laid one more row of cement block on my front retaining wall (125 feet long!) then stucco on the whole thing, then brick cap on top.
Too old for this shit!

I love doing projects like this.

Los_Angeles_Photographer_Michael_Helms

Los_Angeles_Photographer_Michael_Helms

Los_Angeles_Photographer_Michael_Helms

Los_Angeles_Photographer_Michael_Helms

Los_Angeles_Photographer_Michael_Helms

Los_Angeles_Photographer_Michael_Helms

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Summer 2015 – Headshot Workshop

Special Intensive Weekend Workshop:

Saturday,  July 11
Sunday, July 12
(10 AM to 4PM)

SIX students only

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 (Return Student Discount $175)

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

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