IT was a great honour to win ‘Best in Show’ at the Florence International Photography Awards with my iPhone photograph of Shibuya Night. Here is a little background piece I wrote about getting that shot on iPhone image.
It was still lashing rain when I got out of the taxi in Shibuya. The driver left me in front of the entrance to my hotel. A little up ahead from me, people were heading for the last late-night trains home in a procession of umbrellas crossing that famous zebra-striped pedestrian crossing. The neon lights were rushing colourful reflections on the black and white street. A countdown had begun. In a short few hours, four to be exact, I would be leaving Tokyo. What to do: Head to the hotel room or stay out in the rain looking for that one last photo? I looked at the hotel entrance and saw the dimmed lights of the lobby and then looked at the scramble crossing – resplendent in the rain – and without hesitation headed there.
With my transparent, plastic umbrella held over me in one hand, my iPhone in the other and my Nikon swinging from my neck, I waited at the crossing for the green man t0 appear. At this late hour there were many fewer than the average 2000 people who cross at peak time during the day. I had been shooting through the plastic of the wet umbrella with the iPhone all day. I liked the bokeh it created and the somewhat surreal gloss it gave to the images, but as I waited for the green man to signal I had been looking at that man opposite me, that man who had been peering down at me for the past few days. That man with his hand open at his face and his fingers curved over his eye staring at me, and below him was this cackle of late-night hawkers handing out flyers for bars and clubs. I knew my frame.
The green man popped up and I moved with the others as we began to cross. I stopped about halfway to get some shots. There is about a two minute window to get across when the green man is up. A long time in photography. The green man began to flash and in an instant I was the last man standing in the centre of the crossing. Still, I stayed there in the centre. I did a slow pirouette, taking in the vast scape of all that is the Shibuya Scramble Crossing. The air was fresh. The only sound I heard was the rain water as it splished and splashed under my shoes and I was saying to myself: All of this will just be a memory tomorrow, but I am here now; here now.
The squelch of tyres on the wet of the street alerted me to the oncoming traffic. Eyeballing the taxis I weaved my way to the safety of the other side of the crossing.
There in front of me, sheltering under plastic white umbrellas, were the late-night hawkers, shuffling about and handing out their flyers to those they perceived were the demographic the bars or clubs were trying to attract. Glances were thrown at me and clearly I did not fit that demographic.
Left alone, I began to frame the shot. There, among all the guys was this one girl, dressed in high heels and a mini skirt; her head bowed, engrossed in her phone. And above her, to the left this man overseeing it all. Click! I got it.
The countdown clock still tick-tocked my time away in Tokyo. The rain would not stop and I was getting tired. Things run their course and time in Tokyo was coming to an end. I waited for the green man to replace the red man and I crossed the Shibuya Scramble Crossing for the last time, leaving the neon of Shibuya for the low-lit lamps of the hotel.
The next day, sat on a plane heading home, I reviewed my images on my phone. This one I stopped on. Using the new version of Snapseed, I did a little editing. A few days later, I posted it to Instagram and then later to Flickr. It hit Explore, got more than a thousand faves. Then I entered it in the Florence International Photography Awards and to my great surprise it won ‘Best in Show’.
So glad the dimmed lobby lights of the hotel were no match to the rain-drenched Shibuya Scramble Crossing at night.
The adventure of photography.