Izumi Ookawara @ Shibuya 0-West
I’ve posted about Izumi previously, so she needs no introduction. On June 23rd Izumi was appearing alongside her Qypthone band-mate Takeshi Nakatsuka during his 10-year Anniversary show with Iga-Bang BB at Shibuya’s O-West and she asked me to come along and shoot. It was the shortest shoot I’ve ever done – just one song.
The gig itself was a marathon event at over 6 hours from doors opening and Izumi was on somewhere in the midst of it all. I turned up about an hour before her set, thinking I could set up a good spot to shoot from the back of the venue, or on the 2nd floor balcony. When I asked the venue staff about it though they told me the back of the venue was taken up with video cameras and then looked slightly uncomfortable when I told them I’d shoot from upstairs instead. They took me to the backstage elevator, pressed the 2nd floor button and waved goodbye to me as the doors closed with an expression of pity and amusement. I realized why when I opened the door to the 2nd floor.
In the past, this space has always been a place for press and guests (and thus is half-empty), so imagine my surprise when I found that the whole of the second floor is taken up with ticketed seating and the entire venue is rammed to the roof with people. I watch the acts from above for a bit and then decide that there’s nothing for it but to head into the melee of photographers in the pit below the stage.
Shooting from O-West’s pit is back-(and knee) breaking work – you’re on equal height with the audience and pretty cosyily squeezed between barrier and stage so you spend a lot of time keeping yourself out of the video camera and crowd’s way. It’s the kind of place you end up getting far too friendly with other photographers in. So, I hung around avoiding the crush until Nakatsuka-san started talking about Qypthone and then scuttled my way in to join the four other photographers vying for position in the pit as Izumi sang “On the Palette”.
Izumi looked gorgeous in a Kate Spade dress and was sporting a florist-full of flowers on her head, which I coveted the whole time After her set, I snuck backstage and caught up with her to take a couple of head shots and help detach the flowers from her head. The shot above is my favourite – I wanted a nice black and white portrait but didn’t want to lose the colour of the flowers so I opted to paint them back in using Photoshop.
Check out more pictures below.