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Meet Clair Fujioka of Clair Fujioka Studios in Pasadena

Today we’d like to introduce you to Clair Fujioka.

Clair, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I started at 12 when my mother got sick and tired of me annoying her and she thought giving me a Nikon Zoom Touch 400 would keep me busy. She told me to go outside to take photos in our acre property. I had no control of the settings on the camera but experimented with angles to get different lighting for my shot. The first tree I came up to caught my eye and would be the start of my profile on Deviant Art, which I created three years later. This tree would be nicknamed the Witches Tree, and my mother and I joked and came up with the caption, “This tree is said to cast its spell on those who gaze upon’s its barren branches.” From the moment my mother developed these first photos she recognized that I had a talent and got me a Canon PowerShot A410 for my birthday.

After I joined Deviant Art a whole new world opened my eyes to the world of photography in a way I never thought possible. I would find photographers like Lara Jade who would be my inspiration. Alfred Hitchcock also inspired me, which to this day still influences my photography. My childhood bedroom also helped me grow since it was connected to a sun-room. The light coming through the sun-room would give me perfect lighting and shading during different times of the day. Since I was home-schooled I would have more time to practice and my mother bought photoshop for me and I started learning how to edit my own photos. I would go online and research how to use photoshop and watched videos of other photographers on YouTube. During this time, I learned I was more of an artistic versus a technical photographer. My photography was eventually noticed by the administrator of the official forum for Supernatural. This is where I got my first gig as a press photographer for Comic-Con. This created a spark in me to pursue my photography further, become even better, and led to where I am now.

A few years ago, I did a self-portrait that caught the eye of my future husband. He became my biggest supporter after my mother died. I was given the opportunity to live in Japan because of him and this opportunity changed my perspective and helped influence how my photography is today. The culture and people are so different from here and this is where I learned how to manage my anxiety, overcome self-doubt, get out of my comfort zone, and not be afraid to change my style. Many people in Japan helped me, including Nobuki Miyachi, who was an ambassador for Fukuyama and a well-known photographer there. I took a break from photography when we moved back to America as I had to get a full-time job and work on the home we just purchased. It was wasn’t until the next year when I was at Nisei Festival in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles that I became re-inspired to pursue my passion. Taking photos from the festival gave me nostalgia from when I dated my husband and reminded me of a storyboard series I developed over the years. This would lead me to create my “Queens” photoshoots and introduced me to Alyssa Romano, who was one I chose to do the makeup for my series and helped me create ideas for it, and Catalina Yue, who modeled for me, both strong women who inspire me. I posted the photos from this series on Instagram which enabled me to get additional opportunities for work.

Has it been a smooth road?
Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 outbreak many of these jobs I had lined up had to be canceled. I also planned to do a new set of series with Alyssa, Catalina and wanted to expand my team. We had everything prepared and ready to go and having to postpone this led to some depression. My husband encouraged me to continue my photography, and he wanted to find ways to continue training his martial arts. This led to me to go back to taking nature photography, getting me back to my roots, and take action shots of his training. Some of my photography I’ve taken has also inspired others to recreate my photos in drawings and paintings. This is the first time in my life, my nature photography has garnered so much attention, and I realized how much people were craving to see images of nature. It’s funny how the quarantine allowed me to adapt myself to the current situation we are living in and has now influenced my perspective on the new series of photo-shoots and future work I will do.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Clair O’Toole story. Tell us more about the business.
I am currently re-branding my business and photography and am most known for my fairy/fantasy world style photography with a mixture of goth inspiration. One of my proudest moments was getting my first gig doing the shoot for Supernatural at Comic-Con and the behind-the-scenes photoshoot I did for a small newspaper in South Gate for the Pasadena Rose Parade.

Many of the people I work with notice that I am a quirky, funny, and down to earth photographer. My personality and photo style is what makes me different from others.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I think there is going to be a shift moving to photoshoots being done in more open spaces, rather than studio photos. I also see a trend as smartphones continue to improve with cameras that they will become more accepted to use for professional photography.

Image Credit:
Makeup Ꭺlyssa Romano, Colleen, And my self; Models Christyn Grahm, Christine Hager, Melanie Price, Tierney Allen Vegas Lady Gaga, Catalina Yue, Chris Fujioka; Style Clair Fujioka, Christine Hager

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