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The Samurai Prince



This is one of the first photo shoots I did after going digital. It was part of a model’s portfolio, and since the model is half Japanese, I thought we could honor his Japanese heritage this way.

Finding a kimono to fit a 6’2″ young man was the biggest challenge, as most Japanese are shorter than that. After rummaging the whole of Honolulu in search of a suitable and accessible kimono, I had to give up and have it custom made just for this shoot.




The session was photographed early in the morning at Byodo-In Temple in Kane’ohe, on the island of O’ahu, Hawai’i. The temple, located within a fissure of the Pali (the distinctive tall cliffs of the island) is a smaller scale replica of the original one in Kyoto, and is surrounded by lushly landscaped gardens that include a pond, pretty little waterfalls and several meditation niches. If you are visiting O’ahu, you should really place Byodo-In Temple on your schedule.




The model is Adam Lundberg, a young man from the Big Island, who subsequently went on to sign up with several big name agencies and now travels around the world for his modeling work. Here you can see a little introductory video (YouTube) featuring an older Adam, which he conceptualized and co-directed.




In the image above is Bishop Fukusara, who came to light fresh incense at the altar and perform his morning rituals while we were shooting.

Bishop Fukusara is one of the sweetest, kindest, funniest men I have encountered in the islands. When I first met him on the day I went to scout the location and ask permission to shoot, I noticed ha had a black eye, so I asked him about it. He laughed out loud then told me the story of how he had been trying to prune some precarious looking branches off the tall mango tree in his garden, and one of said branches fell and hit his face. He was concerned that his wife, who was away for a few days visiting family, would be furious when she came home and saw the black eye because she had explicitly told him to leave the tree alone. And here I think that any woman with a husband, father or other male family member who likes to putz around the garden without really knowing what he is doing will roll her eyes and nod her head in complete understanding.

I jokingly suggested he tell his wife that he had been to a pub and got caught in a fight defending her honor. He laughed out loud, as did I because the mental image of this sweet man caught up in a bar brawl was… well, unimaginable.




Unless I am working on food or documentary type images which require a more straight forward kind of edit, I tend to let the images and the story they are telling dictate the final look. Once I have done the basic editing, I start getting creative and play around with tones, colors and feels. With this series, this antiqued, slightly grained, sepia look is what I felt suited the images best. It removes the distraction of the many colors and textures, and focuses both on the subject and the mood of the story.

Just so you know, none of this logical reasoning I have just expressed so eloquently in words occurs while I am doing it. The process is completely intuitive, with the left brain intervening only to operate the mouse and keyboard and know where the (Photoshop) actions are located.




As I was editing the images I also scoured the ethers for inspiration for a title. The Samurai Prince kept popping in my head. I realize it is possibly not historically or culturally correct, but it had a nice ring to it and it was also fun, so it stuck.


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  • Sonia (foodiesleuth)08/26/2015 - 12:15 pm

    Absolutely stunning photos! What a beautiful young man and how beautifully you portrayed him. I love how you go the extra mile when setting up a photo shoot…having a kimono made for him because you couldn’t find one to fit is just a part of it.
    Kudos, Monica!ReplyCancel

    • Monica Schwartz08/26/2015 - 2:40 pm

      Thank you, Sonia. I am really glad you enjoyed the images. I am actually the one who discovered Adam, so I did go the extra mile to get him noticed and to introduce him to the big time agencies in NY, LA and Milano. This is one of several shoots I did with him. Eventually I might share more of this group of work. 🙂ReplyCancel

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