The things I saw (Tokyo) #5


An interesting fact about Japan – you can’t disable your cell phone camera shutter sound – even when you have the device on silent, it makes an audible ‘shutter sound’. Although it isn’t required by law, it was taken up voluntarily by all Japanese cellphone vendors. It is also rumoured that within the next year camera manufactures will introduce the same feature and disable silent modes with firmware updates and in new models. Even so, there are still plenty of smart phone apps that can help disable the shutter sound – this worries the Japanese police as it may encourage voyeurism…

…I took a lot of shots with my silent iPhone.

All the images here were made using my not totally silent Olympus MjuII 35mm compact and various film (Fuji Superia 400/800 and Kodak Gold 400, mainly). Processed and scanned at UK Film Lab.

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16


  1. Interesting personal spacing in that top photo. Social calipers of some kind are in play there to be so precise. Really enjoying this series, lots to be inspired by.


  2. What an amazing life you have, Phil, thank you for sharing your adventures with us. I’m not in a position at the moment where I can travel, I made a lot of personal mistakes and now I’m kind of trapped, emotionally and financially. But your blog gives me some respite from that.


  3. That MjuII really is a sweet little camera, the lens looks incredibly sharp. Inspired by your work I went on to eBay to find the same camera – OMG! They are selling for as much as £400! I blame you, Phil 😉

    Also, UK Film Lab – tell me more about them, I might give them a try.


    1. Yeah, they are superb. I was lucky enough to buy 3 before the prices really shot up.

      UKFL – it’s the only lab I’ll use. I think the quality of their work speaks for itself really – I am the worlds sloppiest film shooter, but they always manage to tease the most beautiful scans out of my negatives. After they’ve done a couple of orders, they intuitively know exactly how you shoot, and develop and scan accordingly.


  4. I love your photography, and I too would love to see these images published in a book. I know you’ve taken a bit of flack from people who see them merely as ‘snapshots’, the word being used as a derogatory term, but they aren’t – every image is a unique slice of life in Tokyo on that particular day, that moment. Please keep-up the good work.


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