Tag Archives: Bay area event photographer

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 adorable, super fun, and semi-crazy Mary and Kim, Sacramento doesn’t seem all the bad anymore.

It was the 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 to the house right before the sunset, and I started debriefing them about the shoot. We chose to shoot during “Golden Hour” because I 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 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 we actually had enough energy to do a completely different shoot when we got home. 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 overexposed. Using only 1 ring flash as my light source, I put both Mary and Kim in this small white box 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 the details were kept intact.

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Eva Luna – Portrait Session – Model Development

Photographing a model with extensive dance background is very different from 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 Hair by 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 move 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 of its 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.

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HKLT Royal Court 2012 – Editorial Preview

There have been talks on releasing an editorial spread for the 2012 HKLT Court for almost 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 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 refer 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, particularly 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 enable 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 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.

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 has many forms. Still, 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.

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 overcome 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.

Visit the Miss Vietnam of Northern California on their own blog here.

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Ulorin Vex – Portrait Session – Model Development

Did you know that your whole body needs to be fully lubricated to wear latex? No? Well, neither did I until my last photoshoot with British Alternative Super Model Ulorin Vex!

I’ve never shot an alternative/punk rock model in the past, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Before the shoot, I checked out her website, and it was filled with some of the most creatively beautiful / crazy-looking images I’ve ever seen. From doing mostly corporate headshot around Silicon Valley to shooting a latex-wearing, red-haired British model with nipple patches… the transition wasn’t easy. The most risque shoot I’ve done before this was when Adam Pisoni, the CTO of Yammer Inc, decided to take off his tie and shoot outside! *gasp*

After the initial awkwardness of me introducing myself, “Hello Ummm I am Moses… I’ll be taking your pictures today.” and her replying with (in an English accent) “Good to meet you.” Pip pip, cheerio, carry on.” – I added that last part; the shoot went great. We took some full-body pictures, several headshots, and a couple of portraits. Below are some of my favorite images from the shoot.

Ohh, and one last thing… huge thanks to the super sexy and talented Jodie Truong of JodieStudio for creating my new logo.

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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.

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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-

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-Inspired by Joan Harris-

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– Joan Harris and Betty Draper –

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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.

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Corporate Headshots – Yammer Inc Part 2 – San Francisco

“Yammer brings the power of social networking inside the enterprise in a private and secure environment. Yammer has the same level of usability as great consumer software like Facebook and Twitter, but its applications have been designed for business collaboration. Why waste time and money trying to mandate tools that your employees resist adopting? Yammer is productivity software that employees love to use.” – I couldn’t have started this blog entry any better than how Yammer describes their awesome product. I personally use Yammer at work, so I was super stoked when they contacted me to shoot their corporate headshots. Like most companies, Yammer had a vague idea of what their headshot should look but also asked me for recommendations. I gave them two options. One was a very professional looking style, similar to what you would see in the website of a Fortune 100 company and the other was an environment shot using natural light. Instead of choosing one or the other they decided to do both.

My first Yammer post featured members of the organization in a Jill Greenberg lighting set up. I didn’t do as much post processing work as Jill would have done to her subject and I also toned the accent lights just a wee bit. The second set of picture (shown below) is more modern and “hip”. I shot them right outside the company using natural light and I used some pretty gnarly graffiti art we found in the alley. I could not have been happier of how the pictures turned out.

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Check out my work on their webpage: https://www.yammer.com/about/management

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Phuong – Tattoos, Piercings and a Mohawk – Bad Ass Portrait

I’ve always admired the works of Keith Selle and other photographers who create a lot of images with models who are, for lack of a better word, “bad assess”. These photographers are able to capture the intensity of the tattoos as well as the beauty of model. Being mostly a corporate and headshot photographer, I rarely get the chance to photograph models with badass tattoos and piercings. Unless Mike Tyson wants a headshot, my chances of photographing someone with an awesome tattoo is very slim.

As I troll Facebook one day, I came across a set of pictures from my news feed and what do you know, it’s a set of pictures of some tatted up girl that I just happen to know. Her tats and piercings were so unique that I went ahead and contacted her to do a shoot. Long story short, we met up in Fremont at my friend’s awesome studio, The Candy Factory Studio, and due to some time constraints, we literally only had about 15min to actually shoot. My awesome MUA/Hairstylist friend, Jessica Do, did her hair and some of her make up. The shoot was, in my opinion, a success. I cannot wait to work with her again in future projects.

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Strobist Info:

  • F/6, 1/160, 5d mk2
  • Alien Bee 86′ PLM on camera right
  • Softbox on far camera left
  • Both had Ab800 on it at 1/4 power

 

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Corporate Headshots – Yammer Inc – San Francisco

I’ve recently had the pleasure of doing Yammer Inc’s headshots in San Francisco, CA. Lighting set up and details about the shoot will be on my next entry.

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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”.

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

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