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Explore Japan through the eyes of a photographer

A Japanese company shows visitors where to take a great picture and how to get the best shots.

TOKYO, Japan — From the hustle in Tokyo to the charm of Kyoto and everywhere in between, Japan is ready for her closeup.

She is a willing camera subject.

You could try to capture it all by yourself. Or you could learn the best photo locations from photographers who see this country from a different angle.

"When I'm in Tokyo, I never run out of things to shoot," said Lukasz Palka.

Credit: WTHR

He is one of the co-founders of EyExplore, a company that shows you where to take a great picture and how to get the best shots.

"We wanted to introduce photography but also introduce Japan the way we see it through photography," said co-founder Axel Deroubaix.

"The fundamental most important thing that we teach is how to develop your eye. So, our slogan is challenge your eye," said Palka.

They want visitors to think differently when taking pictures.

"They take that first shot and they're like 'oh, that's pretty good. And then they leave. And that's the biggest mistake," said Palka. "The most important thing to do is stay in that scene. Go deeper. Try some other ideas. Try not to be too satisfied with that first shot. Because if you force yourself to work hard on that thing and go deeper and deeper, you'll be surprised what you can come up with."

EyExplore guides want you to stay at a location and try new ways of capturing photos.

"Move around. Don't just take that obvious shot. Get low. Get high," said Palka.

Palka wants us to think out of the box. Treat the photo experience as if you are peeling back layers of an onion.

"The onion idea is when you get to a location, you're shooting that outer layer," said Palka. "Start with that immediate impression that you have of the place. But then you have to peel that back and see if you can find one layer deeper and then one layer deeper."

Palka enjoys wandering around Japan beyond the popular tourist areas.

"That's when I might discover a place that I truly feel like something unique. I'm going to get some shots here. Maybe no one has shot this before. Or no one has shot the way I'm shooting it. I'm looking for those off-the-beaten path places," said Palka.

"Use the environment to your advantage. For example, reflections work really well with phones because they have that little lens. So, you can get really close to surfaces," said Palka.

Palka had advice for people using camera phones.

"When in doubt, get closer. Cameras have zoom lenses and all. Phones can zoom a bit. But it's kind of limited. So, instead of that, you have to get close to stuff. And that's where you're playing to the strength of any phone or any camera that has a small lens - it tends to be able to get closer. You can get macro photos of a flower or something like that or food, whatever it might be. Even people. If you get really close like an up-close portrait, it might be more interesting than just far away or the standard thing," said Palka.

The Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto is wildly popular for photography during the day. But, EyExplore leads photo workshops at night when few people are around.

"You can have more of an intimate experience here in the dark," said Paul Crouse.

Crouse shows photographers how to do light painting using long exposure.

"You can write your name. Once you learn the principal of this, you can play with these lights a lot. You can set up your camera and do double exposure," said Crouse.

EyExplore designs "photo adventures" that take you off the beaten track.

"That's when I might discover a place that I truly feel like something unique," said Palka. "I'm going to get some shots here. Maybe no one has shot this before. Or no one has shot the way I'm shooting it. I'm looking for those off-the-beaten path places," said Palka.

EyExplore helps visitors take photos in Japan's narrow alleys, capture the country's unique architecture or conduct portrait shoots in a traditional Japanese home.

"We knew people with our company would want to photograph beautiful women, dressed in kimono. She was the right person for that. So, we set up a workshop. We teach people how to take beautiful images of Geisha but also Junko in this case," said Deroubaix.

Whether you are exploring Japan or on vacation with your family don't settle for that chiche' photo. Challenge your eye.

"We want to give people the tools that you can use, not only in Japan, but anywhere else in the world, to bring their photography level up," said Deroubaix.

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