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Category Archives: Portraits
I’ve always admired people who can devote their time and energy to keeping your body fit. As a photographer, it’s hard to carve out time to go the gym and work out. The motivation is just not there… until of course you do a fitness shoot! I had the pleasure of shooting this sweet couple a few weeks ago. As soon as I finished the shoot, I went to the gym for about 4hrs! I’ve been running at least 6 miles a week now and eating healthy. Long story short – headshots, fashion and portraits are awesome but photographers should really do more fitness photoshoots… it’s good for their health.
Strobist info: black muslin background, 2 gridded strip boxes at AB800s and one flash behind the camera for a bit of fill.
For the past 4 years, I’ve had the honor of photographing the Miss Vietnam Northern California Intercollegiate Court and every year I’ve picked a photographer I admire to inspire me when planning for the shoot. Last year, it was a tone down version of Terry Richardson’s ring flash white background portraits. http://mosessison.com/
Much props to phlearn.com for providing an awesome tutorial on what type of lighting to use.
I had the pleasure of taking corporate headshots for the San Francisco based start up company UberConference. What is UberConference you ask.
“UberConference brings a whole new visual dimension to audio conference calls. From any computer, anyone in the call can see the names, photos, and other information of the others in the call. The display shows the current speaker, and the organizer has a number of helpful tools to keep the conference running smoothly.” – Copied and pasted from their website.
I use the product quite frequently when I need to have a meeting with remote clients. It’s great and the best part is that it’s free! The team at UC are super nice and extremely cooperative. I was actually a bit intimidated because with their Creative Director, Alex Cornell, leading the design team, UberConference has produced some ridiculously awesome promotional videos. Here are few shots from the photoshoot.
I LOVE doing headshots for aspiring actors and actresses. Why you ask? Well let me count the ways:
1. They can take direction. Look up, look down, look straight into the camera, slight smile, no smile, are just some of the directions I give when shooting a headshot. Folks who have studied acting responds to these admirably.
2. On top of taking straight forward directions well, they can also understand “meta” directions. Directions such as look flirtatious, look villainous, look innocent and so on are never followed with, “What do you mean?” They know what I meant and they execute it flawlessly.
3. They show up on time… or even early. Actors and actresses tend to be very punctual or even early for the shoot. They don’t arrive 30min late then start acting like a diva demanding make-up and hair done ASAP! They are super humble because they understand how hard it is to work with someone who is a pain in the arse.
4. They are in The Zone with me! This is important because they know that it takes two to make a great headshot, the photographer and the subject. They live in the moment and match each other’s energy right from the get go. The Zone can be lonely sometimes so it’s always nice to have someone there with you from time to time.
With that said, I truly enjoyed my photoshoot with Mr. Johnny La several months ago. He’s a great guy who exhibited the 4 things I listed above. Here’s a preview of our shoot. Check out his website at www.johnnyla.com.
Edgy Bad Guy.
Friendly Guy Next Door.
High Powered Finance Professional.
The lighting was inspired by one of my favorite headshot photographer, Peter Hurley. http://peterhurley.com/
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.
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.
The stereotypical “model” stands at about 5’9″ at around 145-150lbs. A study done in 2002 showed that among top editorial fashion agencies in Los Angeles and New York, 81% of their “editorial fashion” models were 5’9” and above; 15% were between 5’8” and 5’9”, and only 4% were below 5’8” tall. With these statistics in mind, some women are often discouraged to pursue modeling as a profession due to their not meeting that height ‘requirement’.
Then you have the rare case of a girl so damn driven to pursue a modeling career that even if you threw a book of statistics at her, it would never deter her ambition to pursue this career track, and Victoria Barajas is an excellent example of such a lady. Proudly standing less than five feet tall, I met her on set at the Candy Factory in Fremont during a photography meet up. Victoria’s attitude and professionalism were top notch, and I was genuinely excited to work with her. Vincent Gotti, as always, had assembled a great group of sytlist; Roy from Hair by Roy got Victoria’s hair “did”, Prince Kaleo dressed and styled her and Carla Tersini did an amazing job with her make up.
Victoria is a very talented model and I would not be surprise to see her in print soon.
Photographing a model who has extensive dance background is very different that photographing a model who grew up modeling. I had recently had the opportunity of photographing Eva Luna in my favorite studio The Candy Factory in Fremont, CA. Vince Gotti, the Director of Photography at GEV Magazine set the shoot up and contacted the amazing hair stylist Roy from Hairby Roy along with the always fabulous Prince Kaleo from The Armoire Closet to create a fantastic photography set.
Eva was so interesting to work with. Unlike most models who moves from pose to pose, Eva fluidly moved throughout the entire shoot. It was up to the photographer to guide the movement and capture an instance where the movement is at it’s most beautiful state. Now I would never give this posing advice when I am doing corporate headshots or portrait photography here in San Jose / San Francisco area but for some reason, she was able to make it work. Maybe it was because she was a dancer maybe she was just really good at what she does; no matter what the reason on how she made “fluid posing” work, I am looking forward to working with her again in the future.
There have been talks on releasing an editorial spread for the 2012 HKLT Court for close to a year now. Well it’s almost near completion and I wanted to give a quick preview. The girls were asked several questions and one the intrigued me most is about the topic of “Beauty”. Being a photographer, I certainly have an opinion about beauty but this post is not about me, it’s about the the girls. So read on because what they have to say is very interesting.
What are your impressions when you hear somebody talk about beauty, or mention that something or somebody is beautiful? What does “being beautiful” mean to you?
Janet Pham – Beauty means so many different things to each person. When I hear someone use the term “beauty,” I find it so subjective. As cliche as it is, I believe that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. Beauty could be a reference to one’s outward appearance, but this represents a preference and not a universal truth. There is no single, objective standard for physical beauty (even though there are social constructs of beauty in different societies, but particularly in ours with the media and hollywood). To me, being beautiful means to first and foremost love and accept yourself. To be completely comfortable with who you are-your looks, your style, your character, your convictions. Without confidence, physical beauty is easily forgotten. The characteristics that define my personality enables my confidence, and to me, this is what being beautiful means. These things highlight and bring out physical beauty.
Kim Huynh – I love beauty. I don’t mean to become abstract, but there’s truth in beauty. The rare moments when you come across something so beautiful and perfect, so powerfully transcending it makes you gasp, like you’ve witnessed something that can never be replicated quite the same way. It’s why I believe in the arts, why I belly dance and why I’m an English major. These are moments worth living for, because they’re moments I feel alive. When beauty is applied to a person, it’s much harder to define. I try to quantify it, break it down into analytically – “Yes, I agree she is beautiful because of the placement of her eyes, or the prominence of her cheekbones.” But have you ever noticed that people become worse-looking or better-looking depending on how you like them? In the battle between beauty and personality, you can’t discount the latter.
Theresa Ngo – The world and the media places great emphasis on “beauty” and the belief that beauty is everything can often be ingrained into our minds. This is also the root of the problem for women’s insecurities and internal conflict to always remain “beautiful” in the public’s eye. What defines beauty is truly subjective and it is up to the eye of the beholder. There is a Vietnamese proverb, one of my favorites, that states “Cai net danh chet cai dep”. The rough translation means that personality and charm overcomes outward beauty. Beauty should encompass more than just a woman’s outward features and genetic gifts-her talents and tribulations; her code of conduct, her values and beliefs, and her wisdom and intelligence should all be considered.
Kimmy Huynh – When I hear people talk about beauty, the first thing that comes to mind would be how beautiful the person looks. Of course outer beauty is nothing if the inner beauty is not there to support what’s on the outside. What is considered beautiful varies from individuals to individuals. From the cultures that I have experience, beauty have many forms, but the basis seems to be standard overall, and that is the ability to carry oneself gracefully, be proud of oneself, and have aspirational dreams for the future.
Visit the Miss Vietnam of Northern California on their own blog here.
I rarely shoot professional models because most of my clientele are corporate folks here in the Bay Area who are looking for professional headshots. I needed to mix things up and I was lucky enough to be invited to one of CandyFactory’s meet ups in Fremont CA. The model for this meet up was Ashlee and she was amazing. She was so professional and needed very little direction. I usually tend to talk a lot during a photoshoot so that my subject would loosen up and show their personality. Ashlee showed her personality right from the start and literally shut me up. Aside from the occasional “chin up”, “move your hands” and “fix your hair”, I didn’t really have to say anything. Her make up was flawless, courtesy of Krytal Garza and lighting was fine tuned by Mr. Vincent G. If you’re interested in the camera settings and technical stuff, I’ve listed the specs after the pictures.
- Camera: 5d M2 ISO 100, f/8, 1/160
- Lens: 70mm – 200mm 2.8L (most of my shots were around 135mm)
- First picture was a beauty dish with a grid.
- Second picture was a big soft box on top camera right with another soft box on camera left for fill.
- Third picture was two huge softboxes on both side metered to be exactly the same.
- Fourth picture was in a white cove with just one Profoto light.
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.