What’s the Story?
We settle in a traditional house tucked in the cramped alleyways of Kyoto where we await our precious guest—one of the few remaining geisha. With the help of a translator, you’ll get to know who she really is and chronicle her life before and after she dons her mask. Experience a photo shoot workshop with a hint of documentary photography.
What We’ll Shoot
This workshop is a full-on photo shoot with an authentic geisha for a model. We will provide lighting gear such as LED lights and reflectors and instruct you on its usage while also making the most of available natural light. You will your learn how to set your camera and compose the photographs, but importantly you will be coached on how to work with your subject to tell a story through your photographs.
Where We’ll Explore
Our shoot takes place in a historical house in the heart of Kyoto, known as Chionsha. The house has been in the hands of the same family for over 100 years, and its heritage shows in the elegant and weathered structure. The house makes for an excellent setting for our subject, who herself is a bridge between the traditional past and our modern present. We will a find a stimulating variety of shot concepts throughout Chionsha and use them to convey the beauty and elegance of our geisha.
How Does it Work?
- 10:00 Pickup at your hotel
- 10:15 – 11:15 Prepare the shooting location and get prepared for the shoot
- 11:15 – 11:30 Meet the geisha and get to know her with casual chat
- 11:30 – 12:30 First shoot without make-up
- 12:45 – 15:00 Lunch break
- 15:00 – 15:50 Second shoot with make-up
- 16:00 Finish
My experience photographing a lovely Maiko of Gion Higashi in a 150-year-old Kyoto farmhouse was absolutely the most inspiring and exciting photography experience I’ve had. Eyexplore’s guide, Paul Crouse, was superb as a photography guide, expertly preparing the scene, briefing me on what to expect and helping with camera settings, lighting and model posing, all the while allowing me to realize my own creativity and have a truly great photographic experience. This was my first time working with true Geiko (Maikos or Geishas) in a studio-type setting. Our Maiko, Masano, was breathtakingly stunning in her beauty, poise, style, charm and overall manner. She was a joy to work with. Though pricey, I would do a Behind the Mask experience again for the rush of creative energy this authentic Japanese aesthetic experience offers. Eyexplore does it right. I cannot recommend this tour highly enough.
I had the best time doing photo tours in Japan with EYExplore- it started with Tokyo and Charles and the two tours with Paul from EYExplore in Kyoto- the first one was a bespoke tour in Kyoto (6 hours) where Paul weaved magic and found places where virtually no other people attended- we had many places on our own or with a few other intrepid tourists. I had the very best times -Paul found great gardens dressed in autumn foliage and Paul helped me work my way through a myriad of camera settings and I ended up with more brilliant memories of Kyoto in Autumn.
But the best was kept for last as I had booked a three hour workshop meeting a Maiko- in a gorgeous secluded quiet teahouse- no one except the Maiko, Paul, myself and the Maiko’s support person- this was truly just the very best and the garden to the teahouse was dressed in autumn leaves and the day was perfect with sun peeping through the leaves and the light was sublime. Paul helped with lighting and suggesting options and all of us seemed to have the very best time- my Maiko was just the most serene, lovely person who was so demure and graceful in everything she did- I am truly blessed to have had this wonderful interaction!! Paul was just the very best at helping me through the workshop- I had never done a photoshoot before but after Paul’s initial discussion with me- he encouraged me and it was just so much fun. I shall add some photos but as I have not had approval from my Maiko I have chosen not to show her face.
This team was incredible. Before I left Los Angeles, the communication was very fast, they always responded to my emails right away. They were able to pick me up from my hotel and take me to the photo session location. The location was fantastic and so were the Geishas I photographed. I highly recommend this company. I would work with them again for sure. Especial thanks to Paul who assisted me and made sure all went well.
I attended the “Behind the Mask” workshop in November and was delighted by the intimate access afforded us in working with a maiko in both a behind-the-scenes environment and then in full regalia on the streets of Gion in Kyoto. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and should not be missed.
I joined the Behind the Mask workshop in November 2017. Both Lukasz and Axel, the key men of EYExplore, are friendly, patience and professional. The workshop was well organised. I could really learn the cultural and working life of the geisha. Excellent experience in Kyoto!
I had the privilege of doing 6 different EYExplore courses while I was in Japan, from Tokyo to Osaka and Kyoto all of the courses were an amazing learning experience. Both Lukas and Axel provided tips and tricks to capture images I would not have been able to create on my own. The absolute highlight was the Behind The Mask Geisha experience, sure you could try your luck at spotting a Geisha walking to a job or catching a taxi on the dark streets of Gion and maybe come away with a couple of blurred pictures but for me that was never going to be enough so I knew I had to book Behind The Mask. A half day small group experience of shooting with a Geisha, firstly without her makeup and then later with the familiar makeup, kimono, obi, umbrella and okobo. Not only to photograph a Geisha but to ask questions and communicate with her was such a special experience. Something I will definitely try to do again next time I am in Japan, which will be soon.