Osamu Yokonami brings his unique style to a field outside of Tokyo with the Profoto B10 and the Profoto A1 to add to his personal portfolio of work entitled; Assembly.
Based in Tokyo, the breadth of Osamu’s work spans commercial, editorial and fashion photography having worked with many household names in Japan such as Milk, Figaro Japon, United Arrows, Albion and Actus to name but a few.
However, it's in his personal work where Osamu's unique eye comes to life. He's produced several photographic books such as Assembly, Sassayama, and most notably 1000 Children.
Uniqueness from uniformity
1000 Children, widely exhibited in Japan, featured 1000 minimal, half-length portraits of Japanese schoolgirls with a piece of fruit held precariously between their left ear and shoulder. At first glance, the images seem repetitive with the only real change being the colors of the different fruit. But, upon closer examination, we see slight differences creep in from a smile, a wince as the child awkwardly balances the fruit, to subtle shifts in posture and confidence in front of camera.
This feeling of uniformity was something Osamu wanted to bring to his shoot with the Profoto B10, but this would be as a part of one of his other personal projects; Assembly. He wanted to shoot children between the ages of 2-3 wearing the same white shirts and pants so they would be seen not as individuals but as a group - an assembly.
Children usually mean chaos
However, at that age children will invariably be uncontrollable children; and that lack of control would reveal their true nature - their uniqueness.
The location was a large green field on the banks of the Tamagawa river. Osamu's first impression of the B10 was that it was light and portable which allowed him to be mobile in his approach to the shoot, perfectly matching his instinctive style - and essential for chasing after energetic children.
"This is going to be very chaotic," Osamu added. "Ten children and their parents moving randomly around a field, I'm going to need to move fast."
Blue sky shooting
For the first images, Osamu wanted to capture the children bouncing up and down with the blue sky behind them. He used a B10 high and slightly to the right of his shooting position, low on the ground lying in the grass.
Osamu also decided to use an OCF Magnum Reflector because he felt that the hard light the modifier creates would match well with the energy of the children.
"I was pleased that the stark purity of the images, with the blue sky featuring just the slightest flecks of cloud, and the simplicity of the clothing the kids are wearing - that really helped me to emphasize the expressions of innocent joy on their faces."
Concentration and focus
For the next image, Osamu chose twin girls again dressed in the matching white shirt and pants. Very much as he did in 1000 children, he had them hold apples beneath their chin while he captured them; their desire to keep the fruit held successfully beneath their chin revealing a childlike determination in their faces.
The final image had a slightly surreal quality. In a large tree, Osamu and his team placed a giant balloon in amongst all the branches and leaves; then he had the children stand in line in front of the tree. Osamu lit the children with a single B10 inside an OCF Softbox 2x3 and gave the balloon a glowing orb sort of feeling with the Profoto A1.
Osamu took a lot of positives from his day with the Profoto B10. From the fast recycling time to the long battery life – he didn’t need to change the battery once on the entire shoot. But for him, portability and power were key.
"Because I don't strictly stage the scenes I shoot, flexibility is essential, and that's where the mobile and lightweight nature of the B10 really helps me achieve the images I like to capture." Osamu continued, "The balance between power and portability is pretty much perfect."