large group of people crossing the road in tokyo

Calm in a Bustling City

Matija Vincek

“The first time I visited Tokyo, I was in shock,” street specialist Matija Vincek says. To be fair, it’s a common reaction for anyone new to Japan’s metropolis. The capital is a whirlwind of vibrant sights, sounds and smells that can take any visitor by storm.

“It's a place that feels very nearly out of this world,” he agrees, “and it's like nothing you can see in the rest of the world. It’s a bustling city with so much going on around you, all within this incredible mix of modern technology and ancient tradition. There is this frenetic pace of life, but also a strong sense of order and politeness. It had long been my dream to visit because I’m fascinated by both.”

car driving under a bridge in tokyo

© Matija Vincek | Sony α7R V + FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II | 1/10s @ f/2.8, ISO 200

Using a Sony Alpha 7R V on his trip was somewhat cyclical for Matija, as his love of Japan and its technological culture influenced his choice of brand long ago. “Part of being interested in Japan was a fascination with technology,” he explains, “and the choice I made to use Sony cameras 20 years ago was strongly influenced by that. The feeling of using something that’s at the cutting edge of development has never left me, and the Alpha 7R V and FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II that I took to Tokyo are both great examples of that.”

Whether at home or abroad, Matija’s style is to highlight the individual stories that make up a culture, whether it’s in Sri Lanka or here in Tokyo. “Wherever I am, I cherish life and culture,” he says, “but I want to show that under it all – we’re all the same.”

Touching on capturing the hectic pace of city life, Matija notes that “It can be a problem for travelling photographers to really focus and hone in on individual stories and faces,” Matija continues, “You don’t necessarily want to get swept along by the chaos,” he explains, “and you want some clarity to what you’re doing. So you need to focus, which is what I try to convey in my street photography”

man in red trousers crossing the road

© Matija Vincek | Sony α7R V + FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II | 1/1250s @ f/2.8, ISO 100

Indeed, “I take time to observe,” he continues, “with the mission of picking out these little moments that have some reality, some deeper connection. I want people to stop and look at the person in the picture, and for them to ask, what’s this person’s story? What are they thinking and where are they going? In that way, street photos can hopefully be an antidote to the pace of modern life.”

“The Alpha 7R V,” he continues, “is a very powerful, but extremely practical camera. The Real Time AF is amazing for picking out faces and eyes on the street and means I can just concentrate on the people and the composition around them. The screen on the camera has also been beneficial for my photography style, as I like to wait and compose on the monitor, because it lets me hold the camera at a variety of angles.”

fast food restaurant worker behind a counter

© Matija Vincek | Sony α7R V + FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II | 1/250s @ f/2.8, ISO 500

Matija’s photographs from Tokyo show individuals, carefully isolated in the city streets, sometimes with eye contact and sometimes without. How does he decide on that? “It depends,” he answers, “occasionally I want the truth and the connection of that stare, because it can link you straight to the soul of the person in the picture. So, I’ll frame up and wait for them to notice me. Other times, when they are looking elsewhere, it’s more subtle and creative, and up to the viewer to guess that mood.”

Touching on his choice of lens for his trip, the FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II, Matija explained that “a lot of people use a 35mm or 50mm lens, and I have the latter when I want to be close to my subjects, but I’ve often used a 135mm lens on the street, too, and the compression from those longer focal lengths really help to put the emphasis on the subject. With the 70-200mm there is incredible sharpness, with beautiful bokeh, but also versatility. The longer focal length also lets me remain unseen when I want to and capture a more sincere moment.”

lady in a shop looking at the camera

© Matija Vincek | Sony α7R V + FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II | 1/125s @ f/2.8, ISO 125

“With a lens of this quality,” he continues, “it’s like using a series of primes, all in one. And obviously that keeps the weight down. So combined with a small, light body like the Alpha 7R V, it’s only a little over a kilogram to carry around. When I walk the streets, it’s for 10 or 12 hours a day, so that portability is really important. This Sony kit has quality and small size. And when you combine that with the best AF on the market you really cannot go wrong.”

“Most importantly,” he concludes, “it’s a combination which can allow a photographer to cut through the chaos of a new location and concentrate on the pure creativity of photography. That’s all I really want. A tool which helps me to connect with my passion, and the Alpha 7R V is certainly that. Get the right gear and you’ll not have a reason not to follow your heart.”

Featured products

Related stories

Sign up to get your α Universe newsletter

Congratulations! You've successfully subscribed to the α Universe newsletter

Please enter a valid email address

Sorry! Something went wrong

Congratulations! You've successfully subscribed