In Tatsuro Nishimura’s Studio, Shoes Dance and Fashion Flourishes

By: Tatsuro Nishimura, Photographer

“Sole Stoppers” was for Genlux Magazine’s 23 Spring issue about women’s luxury shoes. Although these luxury brands have different concepts and their own brand colors, we photographed them on the same set to create one visual story.

Genlux Magazine is about luxury, fashion, and beauty. In a fashion magazine, you usually see photos of beautiful models wearing gorgeous dresses with fabulous make-up and hair. All of those elements make a photograph appealing to a person viewing it. Here, we only worked with a pair of shoes. So we had to ask ourselves: “How can we make outstanding images along with these model shots and draw the reader’s attention? We don’t want ordinary product photos; it needs much more than that.”

First, we discussed the approach. Then, we came up with the idea of shoes dancing on the red carpet. Well, no celebrities really dance on the red carpet, but we were talking about the vibe and energy of it.

Second, Stephen Kamifuji, the creative director of Genlux, and Mimi Lombardo, a stylist, carefully selected the shoes that best fit the story. Every pair is different and has unique characteristics, making this story vivid and variable.

The talents arrived at my studio, and the red carpet was set for them to dance. The rest of my job was to let them shine!

Challenge may not be the word for it, but some shots required a lot of patience. There were fishing wires all over the set, and I had to keep adding fishing wire to rig them for where we wanted the shoe to be. My hand position got very awkward sometimes, and the bending around the set hurt my back. Just imagine the laser dance scene from the movie Oceans Twelve. If you accidentally touch the laser, it’s game over: the shoes fall, and you need to start from scratch. Oceans Twelve may be too exaggerated, but I felt like that.

For these shots, I used straightforward still life shooting techniques. I used a couple of lights and mirrors to light the shoes. I did focus stacking, removed the fishing wires, and tweaked the contrast/color and basic cleanup in post-production.

I presented Stephen with at least five options for each shot. Of course, I had a favorite image of each shot, but it was not about what I liked but how he utilized my pictures to make a visual story. It was up to him to choose which ones. I usually work this way for all of my assignments. First, I am never satisfied with the first shot because there is something to improve in most cases, so I keep exploring. Second, it is essential to be open-minded so that one image should not hold back my creativity. Third, it is simply nice to have options to choose from.

The client was happy, and this story won the Graphis Gold Award. So, I believe the outcome was great!

Graphis is a publication that I have enjoyed looking at since I was a teenager in Japan, so I am truly honored to see my work in it. I have been submitting my work to the Graphis photo competition since 2017. Not only do I want to win, but it’s an excellent opportunity to look back on the work I did during that year. It’s become my annual work event.

I am not in a position to advise fellow creatives because I believe there is no right or wrong in the creative process. Everyone has different backgrounds, workflow, and personality. Therefore, everyone’s creative process is different. My workflow has changed in these 15 years, my communication with clients has improved as I handle English better, and my personality has become more seasoned since my early days as a new photographer on the season. I don’t even think young Tatsuro would listen to any of my advice; it’s a transformative process any way that an individual has to figure out for themselves. I am still learning and evolving. So the only advice I can give is, “You do you.”

I am fortunate to have made a living out of photography. Myriads of people in the world can’t pursue their dreams because of their circumstances; some even struggle to meet their basic needs. I am so lucky, and I can’t thank my parents and the people around me enough. I also appreciate every opportunity and the people I work with on each shoot.

I’ve loved still life photography. However, I can’t really tell what direction I am going in. I may continue shooting still life, start photographing landscapes or portraits, or do something completely different, but I know I will be taking pictures no matter what. Photography has never bored me since I grabbed my first camera; it’s definitely in my life to stay.

Life is funny, and I enjoy going with the flow. I didn’t even plan to stay in the United States this long! Now I’m here, surrounded by good friends and clients with a beautiful wife and the two little humans we’re raising. I just take it day by day and remain excited to see where life leads me in the future. I most appreciate having family, friends, and good health; I would not be where I am today without them.

Tatsuro Nishimura is a native of Japan who loves American music and culture and works at his studio on a farm outside of New York City. His visual artistry enhances the pages of mainstream publications while his advertising work includes brands such as Hamilton Watches, Macy’s, Puma, Schott NY, Stetson, and more. He also offers his fine art photography work to both non-profit and commercial organizations such as Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Hilton Hotel, and Marriot International.

Tatsuro has been honored with multiple photography awards from the Graphis Photo Annual, the International Photography Awards, Communication Arts, Applied Arts, and the Black and White Photography Magazine Portfolio Awards.

Social: Instagram, LinkedIn

To see more Photography 2024 competition winners, click here.

Author: Graphis