Shooting Stars: How four photographers and directors juggle art and the need to pay their bills


Tokyo-based Singaporean photographer ND Chow has gone from 15 flights a year for photoshoots to a ground stop over the past two years.

Chow, 46, who has lived in Japan since 2000, said: “I could take this opportunity to go to different places I always wanted to go.”

“Japan has so many beautiful places for photography,” he said, adding that it was “inspiring to reexamine its beauty”.

The father of two young children visited Okinawa, Yakushima, Kyushu and Koichi during the pandemic, taking advantage of rare downtime from work.

One of Japan’s top commercial photographers, he has carried out beauty campaigns for Japanese skincare giants Shiseido, SK-II, Kose and Kanebo as well as for major brands such as Coca-Cola, Softbank and Seiko. .

His portfolio also includes portraits of Japanese celebrities, including actor-director Takeshi Kitano, actor-singer Takuya Kimura and singer Ayumi Hamasaki; American singers Cyndi Lauper and Pharrell Williams; and Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic.

Most recently, he led a project for sunscreen brand Anessa, from Shiseido, not only supporting stills, but also acting as a director of photography for TV commercials.

Among the challenges of working during a pandemic were sudden disruption of plans as well as having all Covid-19 safety measures in place.

Chow, who speaks fluent Japanese, said that a week before a shoot in Okinawa this summer, a state of emergency was declared in the prefecture. He had to scramble to find another place.


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