Posts in Category: Engagements

Tingting + Elmar

What can I say about this awesome couple? I met Tingting years ago when she was a bridesmaid since she recommended me as the photographer. I soon reached out to her for modeling shoots since she has a lot of experience in it, and we’ve had many amazing sessions since then. We built a great professional relationship and she didn’t want anyone else but me to be her photographer, and I was excited to hear that she wanted photos in Germany! I had the pleasure of meeting Elmar who is simply chill, smart and funny. We booked our trip to Munich during Oktoberfest to celebrate with the entire city, and boy was it an experience. We were also able to get out of town and see some beautiful scenery including the Nymphenburg Palace. When you have a good looking couple, your job doesn’t feel like a job – and when you’re flown to a beautiful location, now you’re just enjoying your hobby on a expense paid trip!


Jeanne + Vincent

Jeanne is another close friend of mine who moved to SF area after getting married. It seems like a trend for technology based companies. I shot her engagement in San Francisco, and her destination wedding at Tensing Pen in Negril, Jamaica. A photo shoot from a cold climate to a hot one. I normally wouldn’t plan an evening session due to difficulty of lighting, but I really enjoyed the results of the evening city session with a full moon.


Gerrine + Homam

I adore this couple, whom I’ve had the pleasure to become good friends with over the years. They’re silly, hammy, incredibly down to earth, and they just enjoy life. Their engagement shoot was in Coney Island just a year before Sandy hit, and their wedding was out in Forest House Lodge just outside of San Francisco. The wedding was assisted by friend Fern Lee, not only do I adore her, but the couple did too!


Diana + Anthony

Diana and Anthony booked an amazing house on top of the hill in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. It was great location to have the bridal party stay for the duration of the trip, and to have the wedding over looking the ocean.


Taylor + Quoc

I loved workng with Taylor and Quoc, two of the most child-like and playful personalities that makes everyone else around them happy. They are truly kids at heart and you can tell from their photos alone. They got access to shoot at Fenway Park for their engagement session, and their wedding was at The Liberty Hotel, which used to be a jail.


Juanita + Hung

Juanita and Hung are a playful and cute couple, and completely laid back, which is my perfect kind of client. Their engagement and wedding took place in Philadelphia.


Correct Print Sizes

Dear clients, please read your contracts and packages carefully, especially when you’ve paid a few thousand dollars for the professional to deliver products to you. So far, my most common complaint (even if only 3 times so far), is the apparent incorrect sized prints I provide the clients. Apparent, because the clients seem to read 8×10 inch prints, when it is written 8×12 inch on my package. I have clients demanding that I send them new images in the correct size. While I understand it seems to be a common consumer print size and most picture frames sold are 8×10, it is not the correct print size directly out of professional cameras. So here is a brief lesson on proper image ratios and why 8×12 is better for you.

I offer two print sizes in one package, 8×12 and 4×6. You can do the math, it’s the same ratio of 2:3. That means when you get the prints in either size, nothing is cropped and nothing is missing. You are getting everything you see. If you decide to get 8×10 photo, you have to crop 2 inches off, that’s 16.66% of the image you are losing, and it becomes a 4:5 ratio.

I will apologize in advance for all photographers who do not mentally think about a 4:5 ratio in their viewfinder while busy shooting a hectic wedding day. In the worst case scenario where you happen to buy an expensive custom frame that is in the incorrect ratio, I can always do some Photoshop magic and shrink the photo to fit a 4:5 ratio and reconstruct the missing edges with the clone tool. That is if you don’t start the message with an angry and demanding tone of voice telling me I owe you a completely new set of photos.

Annie + Xin

Annie and Xin wanted to capture an old China feel, and what better place than Chinatown in New York City. The poses required for this theme is different from your typical affection-filled engaegment shoots. There is a mood of conservative coyness, a silence, and a hidden emotional story that doesn’t need words or public affection to express. It was a fun experiment and I encourage more couples to engage in themed sessions.


Barbara + Jason

I was fortunate to visit Chicago for the first time to photograph the engagement of Barbara and Jason back in 2011. We visited different locations between parks and the city, including the famous Cloud Gate.


Marie + Dan

Here’s a look back at Marie and Dan’s engagement and wedding portraits. One look at Marie’s eyes and you’ll never wonder why Dan fell in love with her. Due to my schedule I couldn’t capture her wedding day, so we scheduled a portrait session after. It’s not everyday you find out a bride can drive stick shift, so why not let her do some drifting action?


Consumerism Destroying Art

Before the days where everyone could afford a professional DSLR and have access to cookie cutter portfolio websites, finding a wedding photographer was a local search, usually through word of mouth. It’s easy to see how saturated the internet is with aspiring wedding photographers, anyone with spare change can start up their own business and practice at friends’ weddings. The competition is fierce, the selection is overwhelming. We are in the age of smart digital shopping, the days of Fat Wallet turned to Groupons, getting the best value for your money, seeking discounts while expecting highest quality. This is good practice for mass produced products where it drives costs of products down due to demand, however, this is killing the art of photography, specifically wedding photography.

Back in the days when digital was only slowly taking over film, and internet portfolios were rare, wedding clients did not complain about not getting their money’s worth. Considering you get married once with one set of photos, how could you really know if someone could have done a better job, or even shot it differently? You accepted what you got. This is not to say you should accept low quality work even if you have nothing to compare it with, but also not to expect the entire wall found on your Pinterest to be in your album.

There was Google, and now there are massive wedding forums and Pinterest that showcase the world’s most beautiful wedding photos all in one convenient collection. As brides continue their research and soak in all these images contributed from thousands of photographers, they get more excited at the fantasy of what their wedding can and will look like if they just hire that “perfect” wedding photographer for the lowest possible cost. Brides will even go as far as sending a photographer images shot by someone else they would like said photographer to emulate. Offensive? Probably just a little.

In the bride’s defense, most of my clients are not like this. They have followed my work for years or have a personal connection with me just by looking at my work. They have not been saturated with fantasies. They accept reality and respect an artist’s personal vision. I am talking about the brides that try to be a smart shopper and think too logically. They want the photographers to be robots and artists at the same time. They want high quality portraits, artistic vision, unlimited group photos, a documentation of every face, and a customer-is-always-right mentality. You should see the typical photo-list that clients used to show me, it’s a joke how long it is. I personally don’t believe you can have it all.

If you want an artistic vision, an artist needs space and room to breathe, relaxed, and not feel the pressure to also include cookie cutter portraits. If you want full documentation of every guest, then hire a studio with 5 photographers and you’ll get 250 great passport photos. Do not expect a photographer to have the ability to switch on and off the artistic side to match your hectic wedding schedule. Your entire day will set the tone for a specific mood, and a photographer will inherently feed off of that mood. These brides do not treat photographers as artists, they have no feelings for people they paid to serve them on the most important day of the entire world. They are never “satisfied customers.” There is always something to complain about, and when they do, it’s a poopstorm. As a smart consumer, there is no excuse for a photographer who tried his or her best. Disregard the fact that this person was willing to spend 10 hours documenting your silly little day, and that he or she took some amazing photos, but maybe had difficulty with certain situations. Mind you, weddings are not an assembly line of the same product, it is a day of unlimited combinations of lighting, environmental, and personal factors that change how a photographer works. For a bride to nitpick what she sees as faults in her wedding photos and have the audacity to say her memories of the entire day is forever lost or ruined because one or two photos cannot be cropped to her liking, really says something about her character and how she treats her friends and others.

Finally to my point, brides, be realistic about the unique circumstances every wedding photographer has to approach on a weekly basis, and are trying their best to produce something they would be proud of. You cannot expect a 100% success rate on all of the images, and you have to accept each artist for their strengths and weaknesses. This is the human element. If you research a photographer, really get to know his or her work instead of congesting your mind with the “best images” from the internet. Art requires you to have an emotional attachment or a personal connection with the artist, not a checklist of requirements. In the end, you are only doing yourself a disservice to yourself if you love to find the faults in everything. If you appreciate the positive things in life, then you will cherish the moments captured by even the simple photographs.

Nancy + Steve

Nancy and Steve are my very close friends, and it was a pleasure to photography their 10-year “together” celebration. Who says you can’t take couple photos anytime during your relationship just for the sake of photos? Nancy also happens to be one of the best makeup artists that I work with.


Irene + Justin

Irene and Justin’s wedding is hands down one of the most unique weddings I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. I was flattered that another skilled photographer would be so willing to fly me out from New York all the way to Edmonton, Alberta Canada, home to the largest mall in North America, the West Edmonton Mall. My favorite photographer friend Fern Lee was my partner in crime while we covered the wedding at the Art Gallery of Alberta, a beautiful contemporary building. Fern and I spent the next day exploring the mall and taking goofy photos, eating crepes, and riding roller coasters.


Grace + Cefaan

It’s always a treat to work with a small bridal party who alots ample amount of time for formal portraits, especially in a private location where no friends and family can bother us. More time and less people allows a more relaxed and enjoyable session that really shows in the result. I especially enjoyed photographing the couple on the second floor of the Bowery Hotel. The whole floor was closed off for us to run around and shoot. The ceremony and reception was at Astra, a small venue with a high floor balcony to enjoy the view.


LA & SF!

Mark your calendars for August 17-26

El Bob is coming back to grace the West Coast to crash your weddings and steal the cute Asian girls! Book your meet with El Bob today, either for a couple’s session or intime session. Available on weekdays only!

Fairy Tale in Maui

Queenie and Michael live in Taiwan but found me through a mutual friend. They were looking for a photographer who can capture their interactions with each other in the most natural way, and not the same poses from all the Asian photo studios. You can see the children still trapped inside the couple wanting to come out to play, and this trip out to Maui, their summer home, was a perfect opportunity. The wedding photos to follow on the next post.

 

Ham it up. Tips for Engagement Photography.

I don’t need experienced subjects to make great photographs, I need individuals who like to have fun and not be shy in front of a camera. I’ve had couples who don’t like public displays of affection, some who don’t like to smile, or some who don’t even seem to like each other. I ask myself “why did they hire me?” When the subjects and the photographer share chemistry and just try to have fun, it no longer feels like work.

Here are some tips for couples:

  • The photographer can only give as much as you put in. Either do some research beforehand, practice, or give ideas and suggestions during the shoot. The photographer can’t read your mind or know your past history of your personality. You need to show him why you’re attracted to each other so he can capture it.
  • There needs to be a little bit of acting when taking photos, or rather exaggeration of gestures and movements. Sometimes the camera is 20 feet away and you need to express yourself for an audience far away. Pretend you are both little kids on a play date, show some puppy love, flirt with each other, make love.
  • The last thing on your mind should be how the photos look in the camera. That’s not your job. A good photographer will not waste time taking photos of a bad pose, and will never release an unflattering photo – that would only make him look bad.
  • Try your hardest not to be shy! You don’t always need to look “cool” for a photo, the sillier you are, the more personal the photos become, and the more people will love it. You want people to love your photos don’t you? Some photographers rely on advanced lighting, crazy angles to make the photo look interesting, but it doesn’t tell your story. I say run away with your loved one hand in hand and play in some secret hideout, and have the photographer run after you.
  • Don’t just wait for the photographer’s exact directions. The photographer will direct your general movements, but it’s up to you to fill in the gaps. That’s where the “natural” comes in. Your movements should feel like a movie, not a stiff photo.
  • When you talk to each other in a photo, talk about cute puppies, not your mortgage payment. If your partner is making a dirty face when talking to you, change the subject.
  • Do things in public as if nobody else were there. No photographer, no pedestrians.
  • The guys have the easier role, they can usually be the prop and the girls have to work around them. The girls should always get the attention right?
  • Get your nails did, bring lots of breath mints.

 

 


Aerio + Richard

Every photographer loves a fun and goofy couple. If you don’t know what to do in front of a camera, just be silly and the photos will create itself, the personalities will reveal naturally. As Samuel L. Jackson said in Pulp Fiction, “personality goes a long way.”

 

2009 Recap

I just realized I haven’t blogged any engagement sessions for the entire 2009 year. Here are some old photos. I never had the motive to quit wedding photography, I just took down my website to relieve some stress. You don’t just give up something you have a passion for, it’s in your blood.


Another DUMBO couple.

If you’re not from the New York area, you might think I was making fun of the couple. DUMBO is an extremely popular location for engagement photos, a few spots are instantly recognizable by other photographers or locals. Though the locations are similar, I think each couple can bring a new taste to the photos based on their style and personality. My next lens will most likely be a tilt-shift lens.