Cherry Blossom Samurai Photoshoot

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Cherry Blossom Samurai Photoshoot

For this samurai-inspired cherry blossom photoshoot, we’re in Colorado to capture some stunning cherry blossoms!  These vibrant flowers are only in bloom for about two weeks out of the whole year, making them even more special to photograph.

Our model is the talented Ashley Fay — be sure to give here a follow on Instagram!  Ashley’s wardrobe is inspired by female samurai warriors of ancient Japan.  To be fully transparent, I didn’t even know there were female samurai in Japan’s Edo Period!  Well, in true run and gun photography fashion, we’re limiting ourselves to what we already have. Which means a white bathrobe, some ribbon and some prop katana swords. But for spending $0, I think we still came up with a pretty cool look…. you be the judge of the final photos!

The Story is Key to the Photo

My ultimate goal for this shoot is to capture a stoic, yet graceful female warrior, amidst soft and fleeting cherry blossoms. I like this juxtaposition of strength among fragility.

Our first location is a row of apple trees with fresh, white blossoms. I’m shooting on my Mirrorless Nikon Z6 with a Nikkor 70-200mm F/2.8 to turn single row of trees into an infinite forest. The telephoto lens and a wide-open aperture (f/2.8) allow me to isolate Ashley, and make her stand out among the blossoms. 

Apple Blossoms: Flash vs No Flash Comparison
No Flash vs. Flash

Adding Dynamic Fill Flash to the Apple Blossoms

Now I like the photos I’ve captured so far, but we can take it a step further by adding our own light. In this case, a SB-910 Speedlight with an Umbrella Modifier. You can see the huge difference by adding in a splash of our own light. I’m no longer  worrying about the sea of white flowers over-powering our model.

We’ve created some separation between Ashley’s white robes and the flowers, giving the image quite a bit more depth. Creating distinct layers within your scene creates interest for your viewer. The more layers and interest in your scene (within reason), the longer you can capture someone’s attention.

Apple Blossom Samurai Ashley Photoshoot 002
Adding Fill Flash to our scene creates layers.

Creating the Cherry Blossom Samurai

After getting a few shots of the white flower that we were happy with, we’re moving on to our second location. 

A sea of pink cherry blossoms as far as the eye can see … just kidding, as you can see in the video, there’s a busy road just on the other side of these trees, and again we’ll have to use some compositional magic to create the fairytale image we’re after.

Pink Cherry Blossom Samurai Ashley

A Little Compositional Magic

With Ashley on a step stool, and our awesome lighting assistant Danielle holding our speed light, we we’re back to creating some pretty stellar cherry blossom samurai portraits. 

I think this is my favorite portrait from the entire photoshoot (Below). The over-cast weather is giving us some beautiful soft ambient light. Paired with some off-camera flash, just to the left of the frame, and we added some depth and saturation to our scene.

Pink Cherry Blossom Samurai Photoshoot Ashley
The Cherry Blossom Samurai -- My Favorite Photo

Lessons Learned from this Portrait Photoshoot

I’ve truly learned a lot on this photoshoot, but my biggest take away is this: “don’t forget to use light to tell your story.” Surprisingly, all photographers forget to do this. The right natural light can do that on its own, but In this case, I’m glad I added a touch of my own key light, to really make the samurai stand out.

If you enjoyed this behind the scene look at my cherry blossom samurai photoshoot, be sure to like and subscribe to my Run N Gun Photography Channel and the blog! Before you leave, don’t forget to check out my Preset Shop to download some great LUTS, Presets and other assets!

Until next time, get out and go shoot!


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  1. JT

    Did you enjoy the Cherry Blossom Samurai photos? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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