Concert Photography Experience - AKB48 @ Japan Expo Malaysia 2019
So it’s no secret I love shooting music performances. And it’s also no secret that I love Japanese music. So when the opportunity came up recently for a bunch of free Japanese concerts up in Kuala Lumpur I decided to make my way up. Now, normally for any run of the mill artist I wouldn’t have bothered, that overnight bus really takes its toll later on in the day. However, with this big guest coming it’s impossible for me to pass up this chance.
Yup, AKB48, arguably the biggest idol group Japan has ever seen, was the special guest gracing the occasion. Of course there are a bunch of other acts too, but they’re mostly a bunch of idol acts which I’m not too much into (special mention to The Sixth Lie though, a rock band with some pretty awesome music),
So if I’m not too hot on idol music, why the heck am I there though? To be fair even if I'm not interested in AKB48 I would still have made my way there anyway, no way am I going to pass up on a chance to shoot one of the biggest acts ever in Japan, But recently I’ve been following them for a year or so after watching Korean music survival show Produce 48, starting to watch their variety series AKBingo and giving their music a chance. To be honest I think their music has gotten more varied in recent years compared to their earlier releases, which makes them much more enjoyable now than I used to remember, and even some of their older releases have grown on me as well.
Anyway, on to the show. The group is probably famous for having an impossibly large number of members who split into teams for their performances, but obviously they were not going to send their whole entourage down; instead 6 of their most prominent members were sent down as representatives
From left: Okabe RIn, Okada Nana, Mukaichi Mion, Oguri Yui, Taniguchi Megu and Sakaguchi Nagisa. A pretty good lineup I must say.
This event was held at the Pavilion Mall, where I got a huge benefit photography wise; a flight of stairs overlooking the open area where the stage is. Standing on the stairs, I got a perfect unrestricted view of the entire stage with no hands blocking me. Granted, my shots kinda turned out less dynamic as compared to if I decided to squeeze with the fans at the front of the stage, and I had to do a lot of extensive cropping to zoom in on individual members, but looking at the crowd that day I think I preferred my spot Plus, the stairs also gave me an unexpected perk as well…
The group started their performance from the stairs!! I knew the red carpet through the middle of the stairs had to have a purpose. So with me at the very side of their walkway, for about 30 seconds or so I managed to get some real close up shots of the group, and to top it off Nana and Nagisa actually bothered to look straight into my camera as they were walking down. Some awesome stuff happening right off the bat!
From then the group launched into a repertoire of pretty much their greatest hits; Heavy Rotation, Kibouteki Refrain, #SukiNanda, Iiwake Maybe and Koisuru Fortune Cookie. Tbh I was hoping for more considering their appearance was scheduled for 45 minutes; much of the time was spent on a lucky draw to win presents from the group.
Rin was one of 2 members I was planning to pay more attention to, having started noticing her while watching their variety shows, plus she’s one of the prettier members in attendance. Sadly I didn’t manage to capture too many photos of her with her at the corner most of the time, though she did have a single song to shine as center though for me to get some good shots of.
I’ll be honest to say I’m not a huge fan of Yui, but it’s kinda easy to see why she’s so popular with the fans with her undoubtedly cute mannerisms. Got a bunch of cute photos of her which I’m pretty happy with.
Tbh I was a little disappointed with the photos I have of Nagisa. She didn’t get a lot of chance to stand out and a lot of times was either at the back or towards the sides, so there weren’t many chances for solo shots of her. Still, I got that photo of her on the stairs so that made up for it a whole bunch.
General Manager Mion was pretty prominent throughout the performance, being one of the most popular members on show that day. I don’t like her recent hair style though; I much preferred her with bangs rather than the side parting she’s sporting here.
Megu was the other member I was planning to pay attention to, and she definitely did not disappoint; she was on top of her fan service game that day, constantly posing for the cameras when they’re not performing, and even during performances she definitely seemed like she was having the most fun out of all of them
Biggest cheers of the day was reserved for Nana, who received a huge pop during her introduction. Badass looking when she needs to, cute looking when the song demands, definitely on top of her game as always and showed why she is one of the top members of the group.
Of course, apart from solo shots there were plenty of chances for group shots, and I do think that a lot of these group shots do look a lot better than the solo shots; with how all the photos are shot straight towards the stage I find a lot of photos lacking the dynamism I use to have while shooting other shows where I usually try to shoot as close to the stage as possible. All in all a very productive 45 minute session with one of Japan’s top groups, well worth the overnight bus ride to KL, even if it was tiring from a lack of proper sleep, and also props to the wotas I had some interactions with during the live that made it pretty fun to experience. 100% will do it again if an opportunity like this arises again.
More photos can be found on my Facebook album.