I got a shock when I opened up the paper a few days ago and saw this ad from Uniqlo UT . I’m in it.
I’d completely forgotten that a model “scoutman” grabbed me on Omotesando about a month ago. He took a snap, took my number and called later to tell me to show up at a photo studio in Meguro.
I went just to see if he was for real, and maybe get a bento and some cab fare back. It turned out he was, and the shoot was a huge deal. There was loud music and studio staffers and stylists running everywhere, all there to produce these tiny photos of people off the street wearing 1500 yen T-shirts.
It was way out of scale, but then again, Japanese photographers and ad people never do anything small. Even a newly minted photographer shooting an 1/8 page advertorial for Pia or Tokyo Walker will arrive in a bus called a “location van.” Meanwhile, at minor press conferences, photographers will show with enough cameras and kit for a month-long trek through the Congo. Those strange guys in Akihabara snapping photos of self-styled maids too come loaded for bear, and with top-of-the-line equipment. I remember when I used to work at a magazine publisher a few years back: A “famous photographer” walked in with a stylist (herself with a cart) in tow. They came to show his portfolio, so he couldn’t have been that famous.
A lot of it is necessity. Media types in a big, image-saturated city like Tokyo need to feel that what they are doing is important, or at least stands out. Hiring over-the-top professional photographers helps maintain that illusion.
Interestingly, the UT photographer didn’t even look through the viewfinder for these shots, which fed directly into a Mac manned by three assistants. I was there over five hours before I was allowed to leave, and they weren’t half-finished when I stepped out of the studio. I did get a bento out of the deal, but couldn’t eat it there. I stuffed it in my bag it as I rushed off to work.
Actually this isn’t bad, but I prefer the old dancing cow from a few years back.