Most couples would jump at the chance to have a free professional portrait taken, but what if the price for the picture was being put in a vacuum-sealed bag by someone you just met in a bar?

Seems like that would be a hard sell, but apparently Haruhiko Kawaguchi, otherwise known as Photographer Hal, has a way with words, because he’s photographed hundreds of strangers sealed in plastic on his search to capture the greatest theme in human life: love.

Born and raised in Tokyo, Photographer Hal haunts the underground clubs and bars of the city to find likely couples for his work.

“I go to Kabukicho in Shinjuku, underground bars in Shibuya and many other places which are full of activity like luscious nighttime beehives. When I see a couple of interest, I will begin to negotiate. I’m sure that many people initially think of my proposal as unusual or even look through me like I am completely invisible, but I always push forward with my challenge to them,” he says.

And it is a challenge. The process can be very stressful: it requires quite a bit of arranging in the bag, and then after a vacuum is used to suck out all the air, the couple has to hold their breath for around 10 seconds while the photographer scrambles to get the shot.

Apparently, men are more likely than women to panic when sealed inside the bag, and one even peed himself.

▼ We can’t imagine why…


Hal is looking to present a new dimension of portrait photography that explores the idea of love. For him, the vacuum-sealed packaging conjures up images of freshness and preservation, like packaging in the supermarket’s meat aisle, but it also represents the closeness and fullness of love and its magnetic power to being people together.

“You who are standing on the earth, no matter where you are, love the person in front of you. From two people to a group, a town to a community, a city to a country, from border to border, the ring of love shall prevail,” he says.

Well said, Hal.

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▼ Here’s what the process looks like.

What do you say, guys and girls? Do you fancy being shrink-wrapped with your other half to declare your love for one another?

Images republished with the express permission of Photographer Hal