I love night photography but they often follow a theme of neon lighting, especially when Japan is the setting. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but something unique always catches my eye and Junya Watanabe did that.
Watanabe (not to be confused with the fashion designer) is a Tokyo-based photographer and retoucher that captures the essence of the city that’s bright but unsaturated, giving a unique type of vibrancy you don’t see very often in night photography.
He was born in 1992 in Shiga, Japan and started photography in 2017. Already, he has amassed a spectacular portfolio working with the likes of Nikken, Gaku Ramen, and Orphe Shoes.
There’s something so appealing about the night. People unwind and live their second lives – for those who aren’t asleep. The darkness is brought alive by lights of varying types and colours. And Liam Wong knows how to bring that beauty out.
The photographer was born and raised in Scotland but moved to Canada after graduating from university. There, he became Ubisoft’s youngest director and taught himself photography at the same time. He bought his first DSLR (a Canon 5D III) in 2015 and released his first ever photo series entitled Tokyo Nights (TO:KY:OO). It was an acclaimed success and soon his work was being featured by the likes of BBC, Forbes, and Adobe.
“One night it rained and the city came to life. I got lost in the beauty of Tokyo at night. I was fascinated by how the city lit up and I just kept taking picture after picture. It was like being inside Gaspar Noé’s film Enter The Void, or living in the cyberpunk world that Syd Mead had created in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner.”
Anyone who loves the dystopian/mecha anime or cyberpunk aesthetics will be captivated by Liam Wong’s work. Purple neon lighting is a common feature as is the sight of rain. A quick glimpse at any of his photos would give the impression it came from a video game. That’s the Ubisoft influence mixed with Blade Runner no doubt. Tokyo is already a vibrant city, day or night, but Wong injects his own beams of magical fluorescence. He manages to tell a story in pictures without a word being uttered.