Reminiscing the sublime moments of flaunting what I have, exposing what I love, and capturing a new crossroad in our journey thousands of miles from home.
Reminiscing the sublime moments of flaunting what I have, exposing what I love, and capturing a new crossroad in our journey thousands of miles from home.
Sabrina and I have been traveling around the world separately for a while, always tailing behind each other until this trip where for once we could go to the same destination on the same plane, at the same time. She loves fashion, and I love taking pictures, so it was easy for her to pick the outfits while I picked the locations and snapped away. There’s nothing like renting your own car and exploring a new country, finding secluded spots and making the world your studio.
I am proud to show off one of my pride and joys in life, my 2005 BMW 330xi that has just hit 200,000 miles this weekend. This was my first purchased car when I was 23, a proud moment in my life – a new premium luxury car with my own hard earned money only a year after graduating from college. It was a status symbol, but by no means the main reason why I have such passion and pleasure for driving, it’s just in my soul. I admit I wasn’t nearly as knowledgeable about cars back then as I am now, thanks to the fact that German performance cars are high maintenance, I almost feel like a mechanic.
Can you tell a man’s character by how he treats his cars or possessions? I will tell you about my relationship with my car and you can be the judge. I wanted my car to express my taste, be unique, and stand out from the many other 3-series out there. I started modifying the car before the payments were even halfway finished, from exterior and interior aesthetics to intake and suspension work. The style of my car gradually evolved from a sporty-aggressive-blacked-out-slammed back to a stock-comfort setup as I got older (and having a dedicated weekend car). Through out the years of modifying and upgrades, there were also a lot of time and money spent repairing and maintaining the car. I even keep a detailed spreadsheet on all the work done, and I would be embarrassed to reveal exactly how much extra I’ve thrown into the car. I’ve tried to do as much of the mechanical work by myself as possible with the tools available, from changing rear suspension, interior upgrades, electronics hard-wiring, to engine maintenance. While most people would suggest selling the car sooner and upgrading to a new car, I felt I was committed to mine and considered this my expensive project car. I’ve learned a great deal on the mechanics and electronics of cars and it gives me great pleasure to know I can fix something with my own hands, with the help of my friends and the internet. I also spent countless hours detailing the car, memorizing every curve and corner of the body inside and out. Perhaps I did grow a bond with my car affectionately named “Boba” (he’s black, round, and shiny). On another note, giving your car a good name helps your friends (especially females) grow a bond with your car as well.
There were times where I wish I had a new car, but I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of Boba. Like everything else I own, I stay pretty committed to using the most out of it until its lifespan is beyond the intended amount, i.e. a DSLR with shutter actuations well over its rated quantity, or using a smartphone or tablet for 2-3 generations. Perhaps that’s the Asian side of me showing through. As the years went by witnessing such a large population of E46 (2000-2005 3-series) enthusiasts made me want to keep the car even more. This was going to be a classic someday, regarded as one of the best bodies and engines BMW has ever produced, even though that applies specifically to the M version, the fact that my all-wheel-drive version is in the same family made it just as special. Even through the seemingly constant repairs and maintenance, through many of my own personal doubts, I told everyone I would try to hit 200,000 miles on this German performance car. I’ve had many fun road trips alone or with friends in Boba, and he’s been faithful and reliable on all of them. We’ve been racing together. We’ve smiled, vented, sung, and cried together, and yes, even made love in. We’ve traveled together enough distance to circle the earth eight times.
I have truly enjoyed most of my time spent inside Boba, and while most people only see their cars as a tool to get from point A to B, I argue that if you are going to spend a third of your life commuting in your car, why not make it an enjoyable time? You commute to work to make money to make your life better. I am not suggesting major performance or aesthetic upgrades for everyone, but a little customization to anything you own can instantly transform it to something uniquely yours or even easier to use. I really don’t mind the few times I get stuck in traffic because I have 6 sources of music available: iPod, Sirius-XM, radio, CD, Pandora, Spotify. I have a perfect console that is customized to my liking, such as custom docking stations for both satellite radio and phone. All electronics (iPod, radar, dashcam, satellite, phone charger) are hardwired for a clean wireless look. I never let any trash stay in the car, it is always ready for presentation, and people are always surprised my car is over 9 years old! Your car is one of the most expensive things you own, why treat it as just a tool when it can bring so much pleasure into your life? I can admit that sometimes I can’t help but smile when a good song is on, the weather is perfect, and it’s just me and the road.
This is my tribute to hitting a milestone in one of my greatest pleasures in life, driving. You don’t have to be a gearhead or engineer to appreciate the shear pleasure of driving. It is an internal feeling anyone can have, being on the road, being in control, cruising down engulfed in your own thoughts, or music so loud you can’t even think, enjoying company with friends in a small intimate space, or being your escape or hiding spot. I encourage more of you to treat your cars with love and care, as part of your family, and it will really repay with more joy and happiness in your life.
Below is just a Happy-200k photo shoot for my Boba. He’s far from perfect condition, he’s rough on the edges, but he brings joy to my life!
Sabrina and I walked around Fort Tryon park in Manhattan on a sunny day enjoying her cute summer dresses. As the photographer, we have just as much say in the wardrobe as the model. A photographer who has a vision must also know what kind of outfits he or she wants in the narrative. So many times the photographer might say “whatever you want,” when the model also replies, “I don’t know, what do you want?” Somebody needs to make a decision! When it comes to the outfits, the model needs to feel good in them, she needs to feel pretty or sexy. The photographer needs to create the story, the setting, observe the lighting, and tell the model the outfit is appropriate. My taste has always been soft, loose, flowy light summery fabrics that barely sits on the skin. It makes the model feel free and comfortable. I love the idea of cute clothes that can easily be on the verge of sexy. The inadvertent slip of the strap, revealing collar bone and cleavage or dangerously low back is such an incredible tease you just want to take the model inside so it can just be slipped off completely. So remember photographers, you have just as much of a responsibility and say to the wardrobe if you are organizing the photo shoot.
My recent purchase of a Canon 5D Mark III required some initial testing to see what improvements the camera has over the Mark II, and also how it compares to my Canon 1D Mark IV. I thought it would be best to pair up my newest body with my best lens, the Canon 85mm 1.2L Mark II. I brought my gear to a weekend getaway and shot in a real world environment, a hotel room with plenty of natural light just like any bride would be getting ready in. I shot at the widest at f/1.2 and had no problems focusing on fast moving bodies tossing and turning on the bed with the new 61 point AF points while making beautiful bokeh behind them. I never worried about missing the wrestling action with the faster 6 frames per second, every tug and pull, slap or grab was caught on camera. I was also impressed by the quieter shutter sound which was drowned out by the screaming, laughing and moaning, making it much less unobtrusive while being in photo journalistic mode. The subjects forgot that I was even there. While the layout of the Mark III has changed significantly from previous Canon bodies, getting started shooting didn’t take long at all. The body is bulkier than the previous version which helps my large hands get a fuller grip without getting tired. Now I can have a full frame body that matches the more professional features of the 1D series. If you are still reading this, I applaud you and I hope to have more opportunities to review equipment in the future. Enjoy the test shots!
I’ve had the extreme pleasure of photographing Kyla over the past four years, watching her transform from an innocent face to a seductive siren. The photo shoots have alternated between Miami and New York, from a hotel room to the beach, from my studio to a Brooklyn loft. No matter how she looks or where she is, her true playful and down to earth personality always shine behind the camera, and I love just hanging out with her. She will only blossom into a more confident and sexy woman with the coming years.
I get asked often whether or not my models are professionals or if I like to work with amateurs versus experienced models. There are obvious advantages and disadvantages to both, but if I would have to pick one, I am usually more excited to work with someone with little to no experience in modeling given that she has visible potential. Before I list my reasons why I would choose either one, it would be best to explain my type of work. I prefer my style of photography to be intimate and feel more personal, almost a boyfriend perspective rather than a studio session. I want the audience to feel as if they are actually there playing with a real woman. I want the chemistry and interaction to be palpable. I don’t want the model to feel distant as if she were above and beyond the reach of the audience. Simply put, I want the girl-next-door feel.
When working with an experienced model, it depends what field of modeling she fits into. My least favorite type are fashion models, they have memorized ten fashion poses that are usually unnatural, sometimes uncomfortable looking, or simply just trying too hard to look different. A fashion model’s job is to make clothing look good, not their own body. Granted, if a model has the ideal height, face, and body structure, she can make any pose look good, however it still won’t convey a sense of intimacy in the photos that I am looking for. No matter how hard I try to direct an experienced fashion model to be more natural and playful, the poses are so ingrained into their muscle memory that they fall back into them and I just shake my head! On the other hand, if the experienced model usually does glamour or any other sexy genres, then I’ll shut my mouth and let her take control of the session and I become a trigger-happy-puppy. She will know how to flirt with the camera, how to tease with her outfit, and enjoy being suggestive with her poses. An experienced model in the same genre as the photographer’s interest make the session go by incredibly fast and efficient with guaranteed results.
When working with beginners, it’s always a gamble whether or not this model will truly have potential in front of the camera. The true test is when the shutter starts clicking and the model is required to start moving fluidly and interacting with the photographer. All beginners need some warm up time, some women require only thirty minutes while some might need additional future sessions. My evaluation for every model on her potential varies greatly on what I think of their looks, attitude, and personality. I might give some women more chances than others. It does seem like a lot of investment is required in terms of time and energy to work with a new model, time spent coaching and directing her. Notice I used the term investment. Being a model’s first photographer leaves a huge impression on her and usually gives me priority for future work if I make her feel beautiful, sexy, and comfortable. This is true throughout the photography world. I’ve ran into models that will not shoot intimate portraits with anyone else other than their “personal photographer”, just as I have models that are exclusively mine. An experienced model might work with me only if I can trade her final edits or if payment is involved. A beginner who is looking to build her portfolio will be my muse for the time being and I can pursue my creative path without the pressure of delivering a final product. We are all possessive in some ways. To summarize, the best things about a new model is the exclusivity of their time and image, and being able to mold them to how I work as a photographer.
I believe both experienced models and inexperienced models both have something to put on the table, and both are a gamble sometimes, so I don’t restrict myself to one group. I really just want to find the next model that I can share amazing chemistry with and really blow the audience away with spectacularly intimate photos that other photographers haven’t captured of them. I’ve had plenty of bad experiences, but each one is a learning process to better filter out future potentials, and the amount of amazing women I’ve created incredible work with far surpasses the forgettable ones.
Cassie is a true testimony to my philosophy. Treat the women you work with respectfully and generously, and you will build a special relationship that will be rewarding in your career and personal life. I was Cassie’s first photographer many years ago, and even though she doesn’t look a day older or an ounce less stunning, she was a timid and shy model during the first session. She eventually jumped into the glamour modeling world and has built a great amount of experience with many photographers while sharing an occasional shoot with me during that time. Since then, she has been concentrating more on her career and less focused on modeling. I am the one she’ll call up whenever she’s in the mood, and I can proudly say I will always be her photographer and she will always enjoy the freedom of being in a state of undress and feeling beautiful in front of my lens. Every second I’ve invested in her from the first day to the end of the last session hasn’t made her more of a professional or less of an amateur, it has made us into the ideal artist and muse pair.
Here are some leaked images of what happens at a Vegas bachelorette party! Maybe that’s not what really happens when there are a bunch of girls in a hotel room, except when you add me into the mix, I will make it happen. So don’t let your next Vegas memories be a bunch of boring sorority-sister-hands-on-hip poses with a drink. Let’s do something you’d get in trouble if your boss finds out.
You might recognize this garden of wild weeds, hanging branches, bamboo trees, and angels prancing in the field. Angela is at home here dancing around in the sun in cute little summer dresses and a few intimate pieces, feeling one with nature. You can thank her for coming down from heaven to visit for a few moments.
In the morning you arrive, the glowing fire merges from you and I am warmed by you. You spend the few hours nourishing the forest with your light, planting your life deep in the roots. When you dissolve into the earth, darkness follows until the next morning when I wait for you to return.