Tag Archives: Jodie Truong

Johnny La – Portrait Session – Actor Headshots

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.

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Friendly Guy Next Door.

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High Powered Finance Professional.

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The lighting was inspired by one of my favorite headshot photographer, Peter Hurley. http://peterhurley.com/

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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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Ulorin Vex – Portrait Session – Model Development

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

I’ve never really shot an alternative / punk rock model in the past so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I checked out her website prior to the shoot 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 prior to 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.

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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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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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Floral Headdress – Beauty Portraits

I do my fair share of wedding photograhy under a different company name (Nocturnalz Photography),  and I’ve been blessed to befriend several talented florists whose constant creativity has pushed my photography to the next level. One florist approached me after a wedding session with an idea to do a “chiquita banana” inspired photoshoot but instead of using fruits as the headdress, she wanted to use flowers! She linked me to a slideshow from an America’s Next Top Model episode as a reference for our shoot.

I didn’t exactly have the budget ANTM has so I suggested inviting a few makeup artists (Audrey and Mimi) and doing more of a beauty portrait shoot with the flower headdresses she had in mind. Stobist information below.

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Strobist Info:

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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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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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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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