Irwin Wong is a renamed photographer based in Tokyo. His dedicated work, his eye for details, the continuous search for authentic emotions are the secrets to his excellence.
Take a walk with us to discover a little bit of his past, his challenges, and what moves him to create outstanding signature artwork.
Production Paradise: Do you remember when was the first time you knew that you wanted to become a photographer?
Irwin Wong: I’ve had a camera in my hand since high school, but I remember wanting to become a photographer after becoming inspired by a friend who was also interested in photography, whom I met in Japan. I thought that it was a journey that we could take together.
Production Paradise: How was your transformation journey from a beginner to a successful, well-known photographer?
Irwin Wong: It was a tough journey because I was trying to become a photographer in a country that I’m not a citizen of. There were visa issues along the way, I didn’t have any industry contacts starting out, and although I am fluent in Japanese, there were some learning curves for understanding the correct way to email clients in a business setting.
Production Paradise: You have worked with big brands such as Amazon, Nike, The Washington Post, Carl Zeiss, Forbes, Shiseido, Mitsubishi Motors. When do you feel your work catapulted to what it is today?
Irwin Wong: It wasn’t a sudden thing – I think that gradually the hard work and attention to each job led to bigger clients. Being authentic to my own personal style may have helped as well, although true authenticity is a concept I still struggle with every time I pick up a camera.
Production Paradise: How is a typical photoshoot day with you?
Irwin Wong: A lot of my clients are from outside of Japan and often cannot send a representative to be with me there on a photoshoot, and luckily they trust me with a lot of autonomy to get the job done in my own fashion. I typically work by myself – I don’t use an assistant unless I absolutely need to (such as for larger commercial jobs). When I was first starting out in Tokyo and hustling hard to get work and recognition I learned how to do everything myself and I feel comfortable like that still.
Production Paradise: What gives you the urge to pick up the camera? What inspires you?
Irwin Wong: Real people doing amazing or interesting things inspire me. I like to photograph reminders that humans are wonderful beings that take joy in doing things well.
Production Paradise: What was the most challenging campaign you shot?
Irwin Wong: Each campaign or assignment has been challenging in its own way, which is very fun. Perhaps the most challenging one so far was in terms of logistics. I had a job photographing the interiors of 150 buildings spread across Japan. Organizing transport and scheduling to stay under budget and deliver on time was far more challenging than the actual shoot.
Production Paradise: Congratulations on your book “Handmade in Japan”! How did you come up with the idea for it?
Irwin Wong: The idea for Handmade in Japan came about very organically. I was photographing artisans as a personal project, due to my fascination with their skill and dedication. After a while, I had amassed a good collection of photos that did not have a home, so I decided to package them up into a proposal and send it off to book publishers which I admired. Thankfully Gestalten were very keen on the idea and here we are.
Production Paradise: Please tell us more. How long have you been working on it and what are your thoughts and expectations?
Irwin Wong: I started photographing artisans in 2015 after I developed an interest in them contributing to a book about kimono. I hope people enjoy the photos and text (which I also wrote), and also take away some inspiration from the dedication and skill displayed in this book.
Production Paradise: And finally, we are very glad that you chose Production Paradise to promote your work. How important do you think it is for artists to share their portfolio on a platform like ours?
Irwin Wong: I think it is important to be known – you’ll never consider using a product that you haven’t even discovered yet, so it’s the same for photographers. I’m no marketing expert by any means but even if a Production Paradise listing lands me 2 or 3 campaigns in a year, then the cost outlay will have been worth it, I think.