Tag Archives: commercial photographer

MVNCI Royal Court 2014 – Portrait Session

Mimicking the wonderful Dan Winters. I love the way he edits and brings out such character in every single portrait.

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MVNCI – Royal Court 2013 – Portrait Session

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/2012/07/hklt-royal-court-2012-editorial-preview. This year I decided that I wanted a Martin Schoeller inspired shoot. Here are the results.

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Much props to phlearn.com for providing an awesome tutorial on what type of lighting to use.

 

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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 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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Ashlee English – Portrait Session – Model Development

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.

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  • 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.
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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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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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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.

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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.

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Fashion Show – Lolita in Paris by KMABELLEMINA

Confession time: I am not really the most fashionable person in the world but I really enjoy going to fashion shows and I love meeting fashion designers.  Much like getting to know your clients before a headshot or portrait photoshoot, getting to know the designers before their fashion show makes a huge difference. I feel like I am able to really capture the artistic intentions of what the designer is trying to express.

I am lucky enough to attend a fashion show in which the two designers happen to be good friends of mine. KMABELLEMINA’s fashion line, whom I mentioned in a previous post, are simply awesome. They transform [vintage clothes] into modern and wearable pieces, while paying homage to the past decades. Mina and Kathy breathe life into  clothes, creating new styles and re-defining an aesthetic that would otherwise be lost. Their newest collection, entitled “Lolita in Paris”, while as a whole is a stunning collection, really shines in the attention to detail the designers have placed on each piece.

I’ve developed a certain style of photographing fashion shows and largely adopted Bill Cunningham‘s thoughts about fashion. I’ll expand on that after the pictures…

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Fashion shows in its very core are meant to emphasize… fashion. They exist to showcase the designer’s vision and to mark a pinnacle of the their work.  However, it seems like we’ve deviated from that way of thinking because we focus on the models that walk down the run way instead of the actual purpse; the clothes on their bodies. An example I can relate to would be having to sit in a media box. Photographers are huddled around the media box and the models are photographed straight on. Fashion never happens straight on in a static environment; fashion is dynamic, expressed when the subject is moving in infinite ways and combinations, so I wonder, ‘Why should we approach this from such a drasticly different intent from the designer?”

I personally feel that the best viewpoint is right in the front row with the other spectators; it allows one, as a photographer, to capture a much truer perspective of the clothing and the experience of the event. Don’t get me wrong, media boxes still have their place at runway fashion shows, but I think that both photographers and designers would be better served there there were several media boxes placed within the event.

On a lighter note, I met some pretty interesting people at this fashion show. A guy who worked at Facebook who was super proud of his girlfriend being one of the models and Dora Danh who writes a very interesting fashion blog.

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