Japan Portrait Shoots - Kyoto was Breathtakingly Sublime

We spent 5 really awesome days in Kyoto and it was even more fun because we had planned out bridal shoots on 3 of those days! Kyoto has some of the most amazing and unreal photography spots we have ever seen, from the serene Arashiyama bamboo forest where the bamboo stands tall and majestic to the stunning bright red arches of Fushimi Inari shrine. We were also impressed with all the traditional Japanese architecture in Higashiyama district (old town Kyoto) and Gion district (where you can actually see geishas!), and we just had to shoot there too!

Huge thanks goes out to Tiara Bridal, who sponsored these shoots and provided us with some truly amazing wedding gowns! Ling, the owner, was so awesome to work with and we are so grateful to her for all her help. Secondly we'd like to thank our shoot coordinator Elizabeth Soo of EjLighted, our favorite wedding planning team! Also, much appreciated Kevin and Naoya for making this shoot happen, not to mention our amazing models Jade, Rumiko and Mariko!

Hair and makeup: Jade Yau Makeup

And now, we'd love to share our favorite frames and some travel / shooting tips for each location!

1) Jade - Arashiyama Bamboo Forest / Tenryu-Ji Zen Temple

You’ll want to arrive as early as you can to Arashiyama to get a clean shot, as it gets crowded really early even by 9am and the lanes between the bamboo are really narrow! After that, it’s a matter of just waiting for all the tourists to pass and shooting from a low angle to block out all the passerby. Time of day doesn’t matter too much as the bamboo blocks out most of the ambient light anyways!

Gown: Jade is rocking a Vera Wang Pleated Ball Gown with lace bodice and peplum detail - it's easy to move around, feels very light and airy, and the lovely lace bodice adds a great contrast to the delicate soft pleated skirt.

2) Rumiko - Fushimi-Inari Shrine / Higashiyama & Gion districts

Fushimi-Inari Shrine is another extremely popular location so best to start early - we found it easier to start shooting at the exit as there are less people exiting than entering! Also, like the bamboo forest, you just need to wait for people to pass through so they don’t get in your shot. Time of day isn’t so important as the arches block out a lot of ambient light but once sunrise happens, it gets dim super fast so you’ll need some low light gear to be able to shoot here. With that, you can even shoot at night and use the lamps to light your shot like we did!

Higashiyama and Gion are the best places to find traditional Japanese architecture and are busiest in afternoon / evenings but not too difficult to get clean shots throughout the day as they aren’t crowded like the bamboo forest or Fushimi-Inari. There are also a ton of shops and cafes in the area which makes it an awesome place to walk around too.

Gown: Rumiko is wearing a Monique Lhuillier Angelique gown with a stunningly beautiful chantilly lace fabric and key hole back. The neckline is elegant and classy with tiny lace buttons cascading down the back of the dress, that is light and comfortable to move around or dance in.

3) Mariko / Fushimi-Inari Shrine & surrounds

If you just step outside of the red arches where everyone is walking through, there is a lot of lush surrounding greenery to explore, and it really felt so quiet and surreal. We were able to find this incredible stack of logs that made for one of our favorite shots from our trip, not far from the entrance.

Gown: Mariko wore an Annasul Y. wedding dress, inspired by a historical town in northern UK. The gown imparts an air of vintage demureness with modern sensuality.