When Nicolas Wauters was five years old, his father gave him a video game console. This triggered an interest for technology in general, and Nicolas never stopped playing since. Having completed more than 3000 games, Tokyo was the ‘go to’ place for Nicolas to explore some serious gaming culture, but soon he realised that the city had more to offer.
“Quickly, I changed my mind. I got really interested in the city itself, the people, and the culture. It made me stop playing video games.”
The freelance photographer started his career when he moved to Tokyo in 2013. Through a lot of practice and plenty of hours spent watching tutorials, Wauters has learnt everything he needs to know about photography all by himself. It was his father who once again triggered a passion within his son by letting Wauters use his Nikon D3100. “I used my dad’s camera for a year and then decided to buy the Nikon DSLR D810 as I wanted a camera for landscape and interior shooting.”
A view of Asakusa Station: Old neighbourhood but a really modern station - Nikon D610, ISO100, f/10, 15 seconds, AF-S NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED at 18mm
Architecture in Tokyo can look pretty interesting - Nikon D810, ISO64, f/16, 0.8 seconds, PC-E NIKKOR 24mm f/3.5D ED at 24mm
Theatre of Kabuki with modern building on the back - Nikon D610, ISO100, f/11, 10 seconds, AF-S NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED at 20mm
With his photos, Wauters wants to share the beauty of Tokyo city. He looks for the contrasts in the cityscape, drawn to elements like a 30 floor high-rise building with a dainty traditional shrine sitting in front of it. Another characteristic of Wauters’ photos is that he prefers his photos without people in them. “Looking at pictures of Tokyo on the Internet, in my opinion, they were all the same; the cherry blossom, the people and the most famous tourist attractions. There is more to the city than that so I decided to focus on the stunning cityscape.”
Wauters describes himself as a very passionate person. Once, he used to be 100% dedicated to gaming. Now, he is 100% dedicated to photography. His previous experience with video and computer games helps him to be imaginative during shoots.
Wauters tries to use natural light as much as possible – especially for the urban landscapes. With help from Google Earth, PhotoPills (an app assisting in all photography matters) and Sol (an app that helps to pinpoint golden hour), he knows when and where to be to guarantee the best shots. When it comes to editing, Wauters likes to use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom for 80 % of the tweaking, and for the remaining 20 % he uses Adobe Photoshop. “I always try to have the right raw file and spent a lot of time on shooting with graduate filter and ND filter. Patience is key here.”
The Hiroshima Dome - Nikon D610, ISO100, f/11, 10 seconds, AF-S NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED at 24mm
Wake up very early and have a beautiful sunrise over the Kawaguchi Station with Fuji on the back - Nikon D610, ISO400, f/6.3, 1/80 seconds, AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR at 29mm
A view of Tokyo from the top of the Roppongi Mori Tower - Nikon D810, ISO640, f/7.1, 30 seconds, AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR at 85mm
Sometimes Wauters plans his shoots, other times he does not. “It can be a quick decision and I head out to an area in the search for an interesting place.” In his backpack, he always carries his Nikon D810, a tripod and four different lenses: the PC-E NIKKOR 24mm f/3.5D ED tilt-shift Lens, the AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR, the AF-S NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED and the AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G.
Wauters’ top tip for shooting urban landscapes is to always carry a camera around no matter where you go. “We live in an era so evolved that we can take more than thousands of photos on the same day, and it will not cost anything. Thirty years ago, that would have been a very expensive thing to do. Today, we can try and try and try!”
One might think that gaming and photography have nothing in common, but Wauters believe that his first passion has a great influence his work. “I still spend a lot of time working on my computer. I look for places, choose my photos and retouch them. I have created my two websites, etc. Also, if I had never played, I might not have been so open-minded towards new technologies and photography.”
People eating soba and noodles in the small streets of Shinjuku - Nikon D810, ISO1600, f/7.1, 1/30 seconds, AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR at 28mm
Tokyo has some very funny old or new houses - Nikon D610, ISO100, f/6.3, 1/250 seconds, AF-S NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED at 24mm
A view of Tokyo with river, trains and buildings - Nikon D610, ISO 100, f/7.1, 30 seconds, AF-S NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED at 27mm
A library in Tokyo with a particular design. - Nikon D610, ISO100, f/13, 1/8 seconds, AF-S NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED at 18mm
Wauters’ favourite photo of Tokyo is a photo of the city with Mount Fuji in the background. “I know it is a ‘classic one’, but thanks to this photo I will be featured in a book about Japan by the end of 2017 with a portfolio of more than 20 pictures.” The photo is a panorama made of eight raw files and is shot with his Nikon D610 and the AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED VR lens at 300mm.
In Wauters’ opinion, too many perceive Tokyo as a stressful city with crowds of people and excessive noise everywhere. He wants to change this perception, which is why he aims to show the viewers a different side of Tokyo too.
“You can find some very noisy corners, but you can also find some very quiet areas. Japanese people are so kind and the culture and traditions are so present everywhere. As a foreigner living in Tokyo with a big love for the city, I see and focus on different views than the locals do.”
Having discovered a passion for cityscapes, Wauters has a long list of big cities he would love to capture. On the top of the list are Chicago and his hometown Brussels. However, for now the photographer’s focus is on Tokyo, where he hopes to open a photography exhibition so he can share his perspective on the city.
Nicolas Wauters is a half Belgian and half French photographer. He was born in 1979, and today he lives in Tokyo with his Japanese wife.