Photography is not something you do just for fun, but also for a purpose. It is a serious thing, so it’s important to act appropriately.
What is the best way to get photos in Japan?
Wait for permission
When photographing Japanese people, it is important to obtain their consent. For example, if you want to photograph people on a train, ask for permission before you approach them. Some people will automatically allow you to take photos, but others may not want you to use their picture or ask for a fee.
Ask first if you can photograph people, whether this is inside a restaurant or at a shop. Most of the time, people will say yes if you explain that you are taking pictures for school. If someone says no, it does not mean that they are against having their photo taken; they may not want to be photographed in public.
When taking photos of family or close friends, it’s best to ask permission first. And if they say “yes,” it’s best to ask permission again, because it’s a big honor. A lot of Japanese have strong feelings towards photography. If you ask and they say “no,” just accept it. It’s a normal way of thinking in Japan.
Don’t take photos of children without permission
Children in Japan are taught from a very young age that strangers may want to take their photos. If a child is approached by a stranger who wants to take their photograph, they’re taught to say “No!” or “Don’t!” This is because Japan has been the victim of a number of kidnappings in recent years and taking photos of children is seen as potentially dangerous.
Avoid using flash
Many Japanese people find the bright light of a flash annoying, so you should try to avoid using one. Also, take your camera with you when you are visiting places where people eat. The waiters will likely give you a menu and you can take photos of the food with your camera. Don’t use flash when taking photos of monks or other religious figures; this is also considered disrespectful.
Don’t look straight into the eyes
Try not to look at people’s eyes during a photo shoot. It can be uncomfortable for them if you make them feel stared at. It is also best to avoid looking down at people, as it can be considered disrespectful.
Be aware of your environment
If you are photographing people in an enclosed space, such as a train carriage, it is not appropriate to block their view. Also, you should not take photos in a crowded shopping mall or a busy street.
Keep your distance
It is inappropriate to point your camera directly at someone’s face. It is also not polite to lean over someone’s shoulder or to stand too close to them.
Know your rights
Photographing someone’s house, workplace or other private property requires permission. If you are taking photos of people at a public event, such as a festival or parade, you can often take photos freely.
Avoid overuse of filters
Filters can make your photos look artificial and are not needed for most situations. Try to stick to natural light whenever possible, and avoid shooting outside in the middle of the day.
Know your subjects
Know the purpose of your project and understand your subjects’ feelings. For example, if you are photographing a family reunion, it is important to ask permission beforehand.
Do not use a selfie stick while walking
Do not use a selfie stick while walking along crowded streets or near train stations. Selfie sticks can cause accidents, especially when they’re used near train stations where there are lots of people walking through crowds with bags in their hands and children running around by themselves. The last thing anyone wants is for someone else’s child to get hit by a selfie stick while trying to get home from school!
Do not take naked images
Never photograph a person without clothes on, even if you are taking a candid portrait. It is not polite to take such photos without asking permission.
Understand Japanese culture
Learn to interpret Japanese customs. Some people may be shocked by your behavior, and it can be embarrassing if you behave inappropriately.
Ask permission before posting photos online
Don’t post photos on social networking websites without first asking permission. It is a breach of privacy.
Japanese people have strong feelings about how photos are used, too. It’s okay to share photos with your friends on the Internet. But you should ask your subjects if you can use it for different purposes or not.
Avoid breaking the law
Japanese laws regarding photography are strict. Always check with your embassy or consulate before you go to a country, and remember that it is illegal to photograph a person without their consent.
To help Japanese people feel more comfortable about having their photos taken, follow these guidelines:
- Do not take photos of a person’s face or body.
- Try not to point the camera at people’s faces.
- Keep your distance from people.
- Don’t use your flash in public places.
- Keep your camera in its case.
- If you are shooting in a private home, ask permission before you take the photo.
- Do not take naked images.
- Do not take photographs of a person’s house, workplace, or any other private property.
- Make sure that you have the rights to the images you are taking.
- Learn to interpret the language of the country you are visiting.
- Learn to take good photos of a specific subject.
Take photos from a respectful distance
When you take photos at temples and shrines, don’t get too close to people praying or just generally standing around enjoying themselves (they’re probably not going to appreciate having their photo taken). Also, avoid taking selfies with monks at temples.
In Japan, it’s considered rude to take photos of people without their permission. But in many other countries, taking photos is a normal part of everyday life.
So, when you travel to another country, you might have questions about photography etiquette. Luckily, this article has a few tips to keep in mind. We hope that you have learned something new and you can use these tips to take great photos of Japan, a beautiful country.