All posts filed under: Assignments

Commissioned travel articles and photo shoots

Yanbaru – Visit Okinawa

A month ago I spent a weekend up in the Yanbaru forests to write an article for the Visit Okinawa website. Okinawan photographer Nirai was there to take the photos and video of my adventures for the website, so it was a really interesting to be on the other side of the lens. I was also able to get a few snaps over the weekend, when I wasn’t mugging for his camera. I interviewed Kikuta-san many years ago for Okinawa Living magazine, you can read the article here. You can find out more about his birdwatching tours and his artwork here. I didn’t mention it in the article, but we came across this dead Japanese bush warbler, that looked to have been just hit by a vehicle. The beautiful winding roads of northern Okinawa may seem like the perfect place to stretch the legs of your car or motorbike, but the local people and wildlife would prefer it if you slow down and enjoy a more relaxed pace of life.

USO Okinawa 48th Annual Service Salute.

Thank you for having me as your photographer at the USO Okinawa 48th Annual Service Salute. The Service Salute celebrates those individuals who work as volunteers in their community from both the American and Japanese services. Congratulations to all those who received awards. Attendees can now download images from the event from Dropbox at the link below. This service is provided by the USO Okinawa. Attendees can share the images and make prints of their favorite photos for free.

Location Shoot with Brylee – Skylum Video

  The second video with model Brylee Williamson for Skylum Software is now on YouTube.   Things have been exceptionally busy recently so haven’t had much chance to put up blog posts even when the photos, and in this case video, are already shot and edited! Another team effort to produce the video. Thank you to model Brylee Williamson, makeup artist Jessica Ochoa, Gary Hughes for the BTS video clips, Keith Gordon for the intro music, Kaley Kinjo for the song, Yuki for Japanese subtitles, and Hiroshi Tsuji for proofreading. All images shot with the Pentax 645Z with the 90mm macro lens. Images shot with natural light and a reflector, and later with the Profoto B1 strobe with the OCF beauty dish. Images edited in Luminar by Skylum Software. If you like the video please give it a thumbs up, comment, subscribe, or even share. This helps spread the video and will encourage us (and our sponsors) to create more videos in the series!

Chris Willson Photography 2017 Highlights

2017 has been another busy year. So many things to mention…. Photography workshops have been a success, and it’s been great sharing my passion (and terrible jokes) with so many other people, whether its learning the fundamentals, or dressing up as rockstars in the studio. We had an amazing 1-week workshop in Kyoto with six lovely ladies, and a combination of planning and a little luck meant we got to photograph maiko, cherry blossom, shrines, temples, castles, bullet trains, and blue skies over the week. Yuki started taking kimono classes before the workshop so she could be our subject for staged shots, and there were plenty of opportunities for fortuitous street photographs.  (We’re planning the next Kyoto Workshop for April 2019.) A huge thank you to clients who have booked me for sessions. It has been a pleasure shooting commercial portraits, families, fairy tales, and senior portraits. We’ve shot several events including the USO Service Salute, the Warrior’s Ball, and karate seminars. We’ve also worked on assignment with international clients including NBC, Cinq Mondes, and Forbes. …

USO Okinawa Service Salute 2017

The United Service Organizations Inc., better known as the USO, is a nonprofit organization most famous for bringing entertainment to United States service members while overseas. Comedians such as Bob Hope and Robin Williams are well known for having visited troops on numerous occasions. Recently the USO brought Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band to Okinawa.  The USO Okinawa service salute is when the organization honors seven enlisted service members from the U.S. Armed Forces and Japan Self-Defense Forces. They also give awards to members of the local Okinawan community.  For the last few years I’ve photographed the event and taken pics of the attendees. If you attended the event and stopped for a portrait you can download your photos from Dropbox here:  

The Best of Kyoto

For more than a thousand years, Kyoto was the imperial capital of Japan. Tokyo may now be the center of business and government, but Kyoto remains as Japan’s spiritual and historic heart. Kyoto is a busy vibrant city with a population of over 1.4 million people. Like any other Japanese metropolis it has an eclectic mix of old and new, with ancient shrines dwarfed by skyscrapers and department stores. Kyoto, however, has managed to retain far more of its past than other, more modernized, Japanese cities. It was spared the ravages of aerial bombardment during World War II, and has survived-relatively unscathed-the tsunami of concrete and architectural monstrosities that followed the war. Hidden amongst the contemporary buildings are secret gardens, shrines and temples. Along the narrow alleyways of Gion, visitors can sip jasmine tea and wait for a fleeting look at Asia’s most iconic figure, the geisha. It would be impossible to see all that Kyoto has to offer in a single year, let alone a few days. There is not just one temple, but hundreds …

Snow Monkey Magic

Bathing naked in a hot spring is a common, if not daily, event for many Japanese. The warm mineral waters soothe aching muscles and relax tired minds. In a country renowned for its almost fanatical work ethic, traditional onsen pools provide a moment of much needed relief. The Japanese people, however, aren’t the only ones enjoying the thermal waters. When snow begins to fall, a new group of bathers comes down from the mountains, and soaks in the steam enshrouded pools. Lounging around, they scratch and watch the world go by, unconcerned by the presence of video cameras and photographers. They are the ultimate hot spring aficionados — Japanese snow monkeys. In a remote part of the Japanese Alps, near Shiga Koen Volcano, there is a quiet steep-sided valley called Jigokudani. A rough translation of the name would be Hell Valley, and every winter hell freezes over. A thick coating of snow and ice covers the valley sides, but plumes of steam continue to rise from the river below. There is also the faint, but …

Words of Warning and Wisdom – Interview with Dr. Andrew Weil

Dr. Andrew Weil is the director of the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona. He’s been on the cover of Time magazine, written several best selling books and was recently described as one of the twenty most influential people in America. During his visit to Okinawa I talked to him briefly about his thoughts and views on healthy living and the longevity of Okinawans. What do you think are the major problems with the western diet? “Too much meat and animal products in general. Too few vegetables and too few fruits, the wrong kind of fats especially too much refined vegetable oil, margarine and artificially hardened fats, and too few of the Omega-3 fats from fish. Also too much refined carbohydrates, highly processed wheat flour and in general too much processed food, not enough fresh natural food, I’d say they were the main problems.” What can we learn from the Okinawan diet? “Many more vegetables and a greater variety of vegetables, more legumes especially soy and other special Okinawan foods, goya and …