Alfie Goodrich

Alfie Goodrich



Originally published on on February 2010

Photo by Alfie Goodrich

Where are you from, and how did you end up in Japan?
It’s the usual story of boy grows up in quaint cathedral city in England, moves to small Welsh town where he meets beautiful and exotic Japanese girl, and moves to Tokyo.

How long have you been working as a photographer?
I had my first picture published when I was 22 and have worked part of my time taking pictures ever since then. I’m now 40. I went 100 percent full-time when I came to Japan in 2007.

What projects are you working on at the moment?
The website, which I set up a couple of years ago, now forms the hub of everything I do. Right now we organize regular photography workshops every weekend, we’ve got some weekend trips coming up soon to photograph models in haikyo settings, and private photography lessons that are going on all the time. It’s pretty busy. We have a student mailing list of about 130 now. I shot a couple of interesting features for The Wall Street Journal recently and have been hanging around Japanese schools taking pictures of girls for an educational publisher—all aboveboard of course.

What are you shooting with, for that matter?
Until I rocked-up in Japan, it was pretty much all film: medium format and 35mm. I got my first DSLR—a Nikon D300—in November 2007 and have just given that a rest (after shooting about 250,000 frames) and upgraded to a Nikon D700. I still shoot film on an F4 and a Rollei, but not as often as I’d like.

Some photographers seem to take better to Tokyo than others—Magnum’s Bruce Gilden, for instance, admitted that he didn’t really dig it. How does it compare to the other places you’ve lived/worked in before?
I like Tokyo and it’s been working pretty well for me so far. There’s the whole “Gaijin eye” thing, and I think there’s some truth in the fact that us foreigners see the place differently, which is appealing and interesting to the locals. After that, Japan is a nation of camera-lovers, and between the Japanese camera-buffs and the foreigners who love taking photos, this has provided a rich seam of potential students for the classes and workshops. Plus, just personally, there’s a lot to see here and plenty to shoot. I don’t think I could ever get bored here.

Have you had any particularly memorable photo shoots here?
Taking photos of Yoko Ono ranks pretty much at the top, although the recent sushi shoot for The Wall Street Journal was memorable, for the different look I got of Tsukiji—through the eyes of one of Japan’s top sushi masters. One of the best and most recent ones was definitely shooting pics of one of our models down on the pier that juts out into the bay from the old fort in Odaiba. Amazing location, superb model and a bunch of excited students who all got some great photos.

What advice would you have for photographers who are just getting started?
Have fun, and set yourself regular challenges and projects to keep your work and your eye fresh. Visit exhibitions, read about the history of the medium, look at other people’s work on the web. Try film and the darkroom, if you haven’t already: it’ll feed your digital work, if that’s what you shoot. Shoot for the experience and credit for a while, but then make sure people know it’s your work and start charging…or you’ll be making a rod for your own back.

What are your favorite places to go shooting in Tokyo?
Shimbashi, Yurakucho, Kanda, Ginza, Yanaka, Shibuya, Asakusabashi… I could list a load more places. Nowhere is uninteresting.

Do you ever leave the camera at home?