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Pictures of a Geisha

Updated on September 12, 2014
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) | Source
CC BY 2.0
CC BY 2.0 | Source

One style of photography which has gained in popularity in recent years has been to recreate certain customs, styles and otherwise art forms from different cultures depending on how popular the particular theme is in other parts of the world.

For many the name Geisha is a recognizable one, albeit it has been associated with other "forms" of entertainment but the original purpose of the Geisha remains the same as it was from their beginning. If you are going to conduct a photographic project that aims to recreate a Geisha style or any other style for that matter, your first step is to conduct a thorough research into all aspects that are associated with each style/custom.

This particular project takes to its core recreating the Geisha look , mannerisms, and traditions as closely as possible to the real thing. It does help if your models are real Geishas but this can be expensive and real Geishaa are probably not found in many places outside of the country of Japan.

"Geisha (or geiko in Kyoto dialect) are professional entertainers who attend guests during meals, banquets and other occasions. They are trained in various traditional Japanese arts, such as dance and music, as well as in the art of communication. Their role is to make guests feel at ease with conversation, drinking games and dance performances."

Once you are done researching the topic, then securing appropriate props, including costumes, is the next logical step. mind you, for this project you will probably need the help of a make up artist who has done Geisha makeup and hair before since they are very meticulous and very attentive to their personal appearance and demeanor.

Next you should look for a location that adds to the scene and complements the model's looks. For example you would not find a real Geisha in the beach but you would probably find her in a Japanese restaurant of luxury office setting. No matter how attractive the location is, if it doesn't blend with the theme then it only serves to add a distraction to it and should be avoided.

If you hire some models to portray Geisha who are not from an Oriental background then you must let your make up designer know to try to work the make up so that the models resemble the usual facial characteristics typically associated with an Oriental ethnicity. This is not crucial but having Oriental facial features lends an air of authenticity to the theme.

You are doing a professional shoot that features a legendary style from a legendary culture and you should make an effort to recreate all of the elements as close to reality and what would be expected at all times. If not then the project can take on a completely different "meaning" and your reputation may even suffer as a result.

Take shots that feature the detail in their costumes the hair, even the seemingly one piece perfect makeup. Do take some photos that feature the Geisha's full body so that your viewer can appreciate the exclusivity of their clothing as well as any of the customary props such as a hand held fan.

If possible, pose your models as if performing any of their customary tasks such as serving tea, playing a musical instrument of chatting with one another.

Although a Geisha set up offers an audience a lot of photographic information present in the details, you should still isolate single models and concentrate on capturing the essence of what it is to be a Geisha which is easier said than done unless your model happens to be a real Geisha, but do also take some shots of several Geisha grouped together.

Take the photographs like you would a portrait or fashion shoot. One main photo light and at least one reflector should be sufficient. Use a lens capable of zooming in and out so that you can crop on the spot and pay attention to elements within the scene that may cause a distraction such as overhanging tree branches, light posts, people walking by the scene and so on.

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) | Source

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© 2013 Luis E Gonzalez


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