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An Interview with photographer Kyo Morishima

An interview by Georgianne, owner of Monday Morning Flowers, with the incredible photographer Kyo Morishima

Kyo, tell us a bit about your back ground and how you got into photography?
I was born and raised in Japan. After I graduated from high school, I was looking for something fun and meaningful to do. So I came to the U.S., even though I wasn’t sure what I would find and I didn’t speak any English. I took English classes at a community college and also happened to take a Photo 101 class. I enjoyed it a lot (and I failed it because my English was so bad that I didn’t understand I had to be present for the final critique). I decided to go to art school in Washington D.C. After I graduated with my B.F.A. in photography, I moved to New York City.

How long have you been doing wedding photography and what made you specialize in this area?
I started off shooting street and documentary photography. The reason why I love that kind of photography is because I love to capture moments in time and people’s emotions. As it turns out, that works really well for wedding photography. By now it’s been 13 years since I started shooting weddings.

What's your favorite thing about being a wedding photographer? The least favorite thing?
My favorite part of the job is meeting new people and learning about their families and backgrounds and culture. And again, capturing moments and emotion. 
My least favorite part of the job is that there is never enough time to take all the pictures I want to take. There’s almost always a tight schedule.

Just for fun, what has been the most outrageous setting you've used for a wedding photo shoot?
When I photographed a wedding in Switzerland, the bride wanted a “trash the dress” session the day after her wedding. She really wanted to take pictures with cows, and she mentioned maybe even stepping in a big cow pie. We took a hike in the mountains above St. Moritz and found a lot of cows at a local dairy farm. We did take that picture of her stepping in a cow pie!

When I meet with brides, I try to get them to understand that because flowers are a natural, organic medium, that colors and textures can vary slightly and that is part of their beauty. I also try to explain that colors will change with the setting such as in full sunlight etc. Can you educate us on how a bride should expect to perceive her wedding day colors with regards to photography?
The most important factor affecting wedding day colors with regard to photography is light. Some aspects of light are somewhat predictable; for instance, an evening indoor wedding in the wintertime will be on the darker and warmer side, with light cast by incandescents and candles, whereas a daytime outdoor wedding in the summer will be bright and cool. This has to do with color “temperature.” You can see this in fire: a very hot flame will be blue, while cooling embers will be red. The temperature and brightness of light affects the way colors appear.

For the most part, though, light is somewhat unpredictable. You can never know in advance whether your wedding day will be bright and sunny or rainy and overcast. But that is what makes the day so exciting and interesting. I always tell our clients, don’t worry about the weather. You will get beautiful photographs no matter what happens, whether the sun shines or it rains or snows. (In fact, some of my favorite photographs are from rainy days.)

Do you have any tips on flower color usage to share with brides with regards to how they photograph?
I personally prefer relatively simple designs that reference nature and the season. One of my favorite wedding designs ever was the autumn-themed centerpieces and flowers that you designed for a Scottish couple who flew to Princeton for a destination wedding. I absolutely loved how you brought the feel of fall and woods and nature into the design.


   What advise or tips do you most often give to the couple that hire you to be their wedding photographer?

I always go over the schedule as carefully as possible with our clients in advance. I don’t want to have to bug people on the wedding day. One thing I discuss is that, if possible, I like to have a few minutes of quiet time alone with the couple soon after the ceremony. They have so little time to be alone together during the whirlwind of the day, just to reflect and enjoy each other for a peaceful moment. I let them talk together while I stand back and photograph from a distance, and I always get absolutely beautiful pictures of them.

Another thing we always discuss is whether the couple will be seeing each other before the ceremony, or not until the bride walks down the aisle. Both options have their advantages. If they see each other before the ceremony, they will have a more flexible schedule and will usually have more time for portraits and more time to relax and enjoy the cocktail hour with their friends and family. On the other hand, if they wait to see each other until the ceremony, the family’s emotion will have built up and when the groom sees the bride for the first time as she walks down the aisle in her wedding dress, it will be a really powerful emotional moment. I sincerely tell all couples that it really comes down to their own personal preference.

Ok, we want your true feelings on this one; do you like flowers the blend with the brides maids dresses or pop out with a contrasting color - inquiring minds really want to know!!
I like colors that pop a little bit. Good designers like you are skilled in using color to evoke mood and that is just really fun to photograph.

A big part of what we do is provide lovely elements that are just for the day to help the bride and groom express themselves, who they are and who they want to be as a couple. When you think about it, your job is to record these special touches for years to come. What are some of your favorite floral elements that you have taken photos of that you thought were so awesome but perhaps we rarely think about?
Well, I really loved the Scottish wedding floral arrangements that I mentioned above. I also love simple and natural-looking wildflower arrangements. I like seasonal flowers that reference what is happening in nature at the particular time of year when the wedding is taking place. And I like the flowers that happen to be “on location” naturally -- flowers that are just blooming in the ground or on shrubs or trees at the church or venue or park or wherever I am photographing. I always try to incorporate nature as much as possible in my photography.

When guests walk into the room of a reception, that's when I love to be able create that "wow" factor that not only makes the reception personal to the bride and groom but also lets the guests know what to expect the rest of the evening. With all the weddings you do, what are some of your favorite styles of floral centerpieces?
I prefer arrangements that are not too high or too big so I have a little more control of the lighting. To me, “subtle but elegant” is the most stylish and effective way to go.

  Now we want you to dish the dirt. As in our industry, working with bridal couples can be both rewarding and challenging. What are some of your challenges right now for you or your industry in particular. 
Luckily we have always had nice clients and often wish we could hang out even after the wedding is over. Unfortunately, because of the hectic nature of life these days, we don’t often get to spend more time with them after the wedding, continuing to get to know each other. That’s one thing Janna and I have talked about improving -- we’d like to do a better job of keeping in touch with all our wonderful clients.

If you were planning your wedding all over again and Janna wanted asked you to choose the color of her bridal bouquet, what color would you choose?
I would choose a colorful arrangement with orange accents, because that’s what Janna likes. She loves bright and happy colors, and orange is her favorite color. And I would choose flowers grown in New Jersey, if possible, because Janna likes to support local farmers.

 Speaking about bridal bouquet color; my brides sometimes have a hard time deciding between whites and creams, popping it out with some rich tones or somewhere in between. With all the brides you have photographed over the years, what advise would you give them if they were having trouble deciding?
I would say, ask Georgianne for her advice, and maybe ask your maid of honor for her opinion. In the end, though, follow your gut instinct.

Last question but it's a fun one. If your phone was going to ring right now with a potential wedding couple that wanted to hire you (from past or present) who would you want it to be and why?
We would want another couple like our friends Sam and Adam, whose wedding I photographed in Switzerland. It would be another laid-back, friendly, warm, and lovely couple with a fun-loving sense of adventure and a wedding in an interesting place. They had their wedding in an old, mountaintop church with ancient frescoes, framed by a glacier in the background. After the ceremony, they rode a horse-drawn carriage through miles of beautiful countryside to have their reception in a restaurant overlooking Lake St. Moritz. And the extra bonus was that I got to go mountain-biking in the Alps!

If you’d like to see more of our work, we made a 3-minute slideshow of highlights from 2013 that gives a sense of our style -- it’s at the top of our Facebook page, Please visit us there. :)

Thank you, Georgianne, for these great questions. Janna and I worked on them while we were on a long drive to a photography conference in Connecticut, and it make the trip enjoyable!

All of the flower arrangements we’ve pictured in this blog are by you. We can’t wait to work with you again.

To visit the website of Kyo Morishima Photography, go to
To see more wedding work by Monday Morning Flowers, visit

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