The Sleeping City

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Images © Stewart Weir 2002

Tokyo June 2002. Covering the Football World Cup finals for Olympus CamerasEsquire and the now closed Katz Pictures. I was continuing my long term photo story about English football fans but had plenty of spare time during my 3 week stay in Japan. I found a cheap hostel mostly used by back packers and commuting workers but was quite a few miles outside the center of Tokyo. I had agreed a good fee with Olympus and Esquire but it included all my expenses so whilst I could have stayed in a hotel I chose to opt for the cheapest place I could find. Took me a few nights to get used to sleeping on a mat on the floor in a very tiny single room that I could touch both sides of the wall comfortably with both hands and feet. Shooting assignments isn’t necessarily the luxury most people think. Cutting the costs is essential to maximize profit. Accommodation is usually going to be the single biggest expense unless you fancy couch surfing.

Tokyo is one of my favorite cities to photograph. Between World Cup shoots I walked the streets in Tokyo and quickly realized how tired people were. They slept on the Metro to and from work but also during the day anywhere they could find. Shooting abroad requires initiative to shoot additional stock and where possible a story. I had time to spare so shot an on spec story. No guarantee of getting paid for it I spoke to Katz Pictures who liked the idea and offered to pay for the film, processing and contact sheets. The Sleeping City story was syndicated and published in several magazines.

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