Category Archives: Lifestyle

Kim and Mary – Portrait Session – Outdoor Sun

For the longest time, I’ve always thought of Sacramento as boring, stuffy and old smelling. I envisioned that people who live there talk about the Senate, House and the “State of State.” Sacramento’nians to me are all politics and no fun. But after meeting and hanging out with the very cute, super fun and semi crazy Mary and Kim, Sacramento doesn’t seem all the bad anymore.

It was fall of last year when we decided to do a “Sun Kiss” photoshoot inspired by the photography of John Agcaoili. Both of the ladies came over the house right before sun set and I started debriefing them about the shoot. We chose to shoot during “Golden Hour” because I just love the diffuse warm light the sun provides during that time.  I’ve been scouting for locations to shoot this concept for weeks now and we actually ended up near my house in a deserted horse ranch. It was a relatively fast and very efficient shoot because I’ve worked with both Mary and Kim before so I barely had to direct them and we transitioned from one shot to the next seamlessly.

Move.jpgKimSun2.jpgKimSun1.jpgMaryKimSun1.jpg

The shoot went so fast that when we got home, we actually had enough energy to do a completely different shoot. I was going for the whole Terry Richardson (NSFW) look where the background is about 2 stops hotter and the model is about 1 stop over exposed. Using only 1 ring flash as my light source, I put both Mary and Kim in this small white box that’s meant to be a “computer” area in one of the rooms. It worked like a charm. The light bounce around everywhere giving me a nice even background and much of details were kept intact.

Mary Compilation2.jpgKim Compilation.jpg

 

Kimmy – Portrait Session – Campbell

My friend Kimmy and I have been planning a portrait session at her place in Cupertino for about a year now but life keeps interfering. After rescheduling about 7 times, the planets finally aligned and we were able to meet up and do the shoot. It was awesome but what’s even more awesome is where we went before the shoot… The Church of Scientology! I told several of my co-workers that I was visiting the Church of Scientology and they told me about Operation Snow White as well as several other crazy stories relating to Scientology. I am not gonna lie, I was somewhat scared and paranoid when we arrived in front of the building. Long story short, we went in and they gave us a nice little tour. It didn’t seem too crazy and I actually think that Kimmy will be taking one of their classes soon.

Kimmy Ma.jpg

 

Fashion Concept – Mad Men Inspired

“Set in 1960s New York, the sexy, stylized and provocative AMC drama Mad Men follows the lives of the ruthlessly competitive men and women of Madison Avenue advertising, an ego-driven world where key players make an art of the sell.” – Official Mad Men Site

I have always wanted to emulate the style that Don Draper epitomizes on this show, but, simply put, I don’t look good in a hat. Since I can’t dress like Don, I decided that taking inspriation from two of the primary female characters for this photo shoot would be more than satisfactory; the always discontent housewife Betty Francis (nee Draper), and everybody’s favorite office manager Joan Harris. I couldn’t have posted this with more perfect timing, as Mad Men starts the long awaited season 5 at the end of the month.

Special thanks to the impeccable Jessica Do  for her hair styling and make-up skills that so expertly captured the ‘new-retro’ feel I was going for in this shoot. Thanks to Jamie  for being my Betty Francis and to Cassie  for capturing Joan Harris so well. This set was shot at the always awesome Candy Factory Studio  in Fremont, California.

-Inspired by Betty Draper-

Betty Draper MadMen.jpgBetty Draper Composite1.jpgBetty Draper Composite2.jpg

-Inspired by Joan Harris-

Joan Harris MadMen.jpgJoan Harris Composite1.jpgJoan Harris Composite2.jpg

– Joan Harris and Betty Draper –

Joan Harris Betty Draper.jpg

Special thanks to the ever so talented Jessica Do for her crazy hair styling and make up skills. Thanks to Jamie for being my Betty Draper and Cassie for capturing Joan Harris so well. This set was shot at the awesome Candy Factory Studio in Fremont, California.

Camille – San Jose Headshot/Portrait Session

After watching a multiple personality disorder episode of Law and Order: SVU, I got this idea of using the same model in 3 different distinct looks while staying under two hours. I contacted my friend Camille and we started planning this multiple personality disorder photoshoot. :)

The “looks” couldn’t be that dramatically different from each other because of the two hour constraints. I’ve been in some photoshoots where the make up and hair alone took two hours so I had to keep this one simple. I perused the websites of my 4 favorite portrait and headshot photographers (Vaney Poyey, Peter Hurley, David Muller and Alan Weissman) for inspiration and after several hours of looking through hundreds of picture, I finally picked 3 looks that are different but simple enough to do. Intense athlete, girl next door and seductive villain are the three looks we choose and I am pretty happy with the result. The strobist info can be seen after the pictures.

CamLifestyleEdited-2.jpgCamLifestyleEdited-6.jpgCamLifestyleEdited-11.jpg

Intense Athlete:

  • Minus 2 Neutral Density Filter on my 85mm 1.2L
  • AB 800 @ 1/2 power with a Vagabond Mini on camera left
  • The sun @ full power camera right!
  • 5d MK2 1/160 F11
  • Black and white conversion done in PS

Girl Next Door:

  • Natural lighting
  • Mk2 1/80 at 1.8
  • 85mm 1.2L
  • Warmed up a little bit in PS

Seductive Villain:

  • AB800 @ 1/4 power with a Vagamond Mini on camera right
  • The sun @ “golden hour” power on camera left
  • 5d MK2 1/160 F8
  • 85mm 1.2L

The order in which the pictures where shot also needed to be taken in consideration. It’s easier to poof up someone’s hair after straightening it or add more make up rather than wiping it off. The 3 shots are shown in the order they were taken.

Ao Dai – Vietnamese Traditional Long Dress

I’ve always thought that the Ao Dai, the Vietnamese traditional dress, is one of the most conservative traditional dresses out of all the traditional dresses in Asia. It’s clean, simple and covers a woman from neck to toe. However, the Ao Dai is also extremely sexy. The almost see through material plays with one’s imagination and the fluidity of the fabric moves with just the slightest wind. It’s also often worn as the official uniform for students in Vietnam. I’ve read somewhere that the design of the dress is a “way of teaching students feminine behavior such as modesty, caution, and a refined manner”.

I am lucky enough to do several portraits of Vietnamese women in their Ao Dais for the past 3 years. This is due to my involvement with the Miss Vietnam of Northern California Intercollegiate pageant (HKLT for short… don’t ask) here in the Bay Area. I provided them with headshots and sponsored a photoshoot for whoever wins the title “Ms. Photogenic”.

Christine (1 of 1).jpgTien copy.jpg

Many thanks to Jodie Truong for the art direction and post processing skills.

Lynn – San Francisco Baker Beach

Nature vs. Nurture… do people learn how to pose in-front of the camera or are they just born knowing how to pose? I am no anthropologist but a recent portrait session has me leaning towards “born with it”.

Accountant during the weekday and awesome lifestyle model during the weekend. Lynn was very professional and easy to work with. She had suggestions on location, clothing and poses. The portrait session went smoothly and we would have kept going but it started to rain in Baker Beach.

c66-Horizontal.jpgLynn Composite 01.jpgLynn Composite 02.jpg

Nerdy Photography note… I actually had problems uploading this in WordPress because the color profile I initially used was ProFoto RGB. Apparently ProFoto RGB isn’t supported by WordPress and it completely messed it up. It darkened and desaturated the pictures making her look like a corpse. I ended up changing my work flow because of this and I’ll be using sRGB as my color profile from now on.