I recently came across the work of a married couple, Ippei from Japan, and Janine, who is originally from Australia. Ippei & Janine – @ippei.janine – have been working as a freelance duo for many years, mainly shooting lifestyle and travel photography.
They are big fans of Sony’s Alpha cameras but have been using Sony’s Xperia (@sonyxperia) extensively to create some stunning images as a second camera to the Alpha. The images they take have a beautiful tonal quality to them, and convey a real sense of tenderness about the people they meet and places they visit.
By making good use of composition techniques, layering foreground interest as well as using depth of field bokeh, Ippei & Janine are able to take the images they take with the Sony cameras to the next level.
I caught up with Ippei & Janine as I wanted to learn more about their work, their approach to the photos they take, and their experiences of shooting with the Sony Xperia camera.
Tell me a bit about yourselves, how you met and what your photographic journeys have been like.
We are an English-Japanese bilingual photographer duo based in Tokyo since 2006. Ippei is Japanese, originally from Tokyo; and Janine is Australian, originally from Melbourne. We found each other whilst we were both living in Amsterdam. We both have creative backgrounds, and we’ve both enjoyed photography together over the years, periodically taking some commercial jobs. It made sense for us to launch Ippei and Janine Photography and focus on lifestyle photography that we have a passion for.
How did you discover smartphone photography, in particular shooting with Sony’s Xperia?
We were approached by Sony as we are photographers using Sony Alpha products. They asked us if we would be interested in doing some promotional work with them for the Xperia.
Tell me a bit about your approach to photography and the kinds of photos you like to shoot. What is it that attracts you to travel and lifestyle photography?
We like to shoot images that tell unique stories. Candid and genuine expressions are the most important thing for us in a shot. It’s a beautiful thing to look back on photos that make you feel the emotion again, and travel is a great way to mark a time in life, particularly with a child.
Tell me more about the Xperia smartphone that you shoot with. What is it about the Xperia camera that sets it apart from other cameras or smartphones you have used?
Although we are often asked to shoot with prototypes of upcoming models, we have been using the Taken on Xperia PRO-I provided by Sony. The quality of the RAW files from the 1-inch sensor and the super fast and accurate autofocus makes this smartphone camera superior.
What features do you like best about the Xperia?
We love the RAW capability so that we are freely able to edit the images to our taste. The waterproof feature is also especially handy! This is particular to the Xperia PRO-I, but we also really like the quality of the RAW files coming from the 1-inch sensor, which rivals high-end compact cameras.
What apps do you use to take and edit your photos with the Xperia?
We use the Photography Pro, which is native to the Xperia, and has a similar UI as Alpha and can control shutter speed, ISO, exposure and so on. We import the photos and edit them using our original preset in Lightroom.
You mentioned that you also use Sony Alpha products. What are the major differences between the Sony Alpha and the Xperia, and do you prefer one over the other?
Our main workhorse is Sony A1. This camera has a full-frame sensor, while the Xperia PRO-I has a 1-inch sensor. Of course, there are many advantages of using the A1, such as the dynamic range, shallow depth of field, etc. However, there are also some advantages of using the Xperia, such as the compact size and the water resistant feature.
What is the secret to capturing a good portrait photo? And what would be your top tips for family photos and portraits?
Capturing the moment is essential, as the photos are simply more genuine. We like un-staged photos where the subjects are not necessarily grinning at the camera, but rather having real-life moments together. We always recommend getting down to eye level if shooting small children as the images end up much more personal.
How do you approach the use of light and composition in your images? What advice would you give other people to use better composition and light in their photography?
We avoid shooting in the middle of the day when the sun/daylight is the strongest, as it can be rather unflattering for the subject. We like to shoot later in the afternoon (or early in the morning) as the light creates much more interesting images and is much more flattering for skin tones. We try to make use of the rule of thirds and use leading lines in our compositions. We also often utilize foreground bokeh to add depth to images.
Do you have any incredible encounters or stories that are part of your photographic journey that you would like to tell us?
We have so many stories, which makes it difficult to know where to start, but we will stick to a Xperia photography story. We were being filmed for an Xperia promotional advertisement last year, with the pressure of being in front of the rolling camera while trying to take truly epic shots (with a smartphone no less!).
We were shooting on Daimonzaka in Kumanokodo, a spiritual pilgrimage trail in regional Japan when the stars aligned for the shot. Ippei was shooting Janine and our daughter using the 105mm lens on the Xperia 1 III. The idea was to create a compression effect with the line-up of ancient giant cypress trees against the ancient cobblestone stairway. It was pouring with rain, and just as we were starting to shoot, the fog rolled in, and we were able to create a beautiful image that even rivals some of our full-frame images. This shot would have been impossible if not for the Xperia being water resistant.