Orlando Japan Fest 2011


I didn’t know Orlando held a “Japan Festival” every year. Actually, this is the fourth year that it was celebrated, so it’s relatively new. My intent was to get some “artsy” photos and donate them to the festival’s organizers which they can, in turn, sell prints in support of various organizations that they sponsor.

It was an overcast day. I met Matt Gore earlier that day. We spent a few hours at EPCOT and we talked a bit about taking pictures at the festival. Matt observed that the flat light would devoid the images of contrast, depth, etc. So I wasn’t looking forward to a lot of post work. What made matters worse was the fact that I didn’t have time to rent a nice zoom to get tight shots so I had to use what I had. I carried the Canon 5D with the Canon 85mm f/1.2L lens attached and the Canon 7D with the Canon 24-105mm f/4L lens attached.

Besides having an overload of cosplay, lolita goth, Hello Kitty ™, and Pikachu ™, the festival exemplified the culture of “traditional Japanese”. The majority of the cosplay, etc costuming were by Americans. I found that quite interesting. Of course, these have become commonplace in Japan and it is associated with modern Japanese culture, but the festical exemplified and more stereotipical, though important aspect of the Japanse culture.

Since my intent was not to document the festival, I needed to choose a place where I can take my pictures without revealing too much about what I was taking pictures of. That prove to be a bit difficult. Amist the countless visitors telling me to move out of there field of view and taiko drummers walking past me with their drums and festival staff carting things around, I was lucky to get a few shot which are “descent”. Then the rain started.

The rain gave me a chance to test something that I’ve been waiting to test: the weather sealing on the cameras and lenses. I was the only fool standing in the rain taking pictures. There was hardly a sheltering place. The performers where in a covered stage, so that provided protection from the rain. What it also provided was bounced light, so I did get my shadows on the subjects.

I decided to to go all “photojournalist” on the festival and just take pictures of intereing people. I would have liked to work with the performers on a one on one basis and take some “controlled shots” rather than waiting for a decisive moment to press the shutter.