Posts in Category: Photography

More Hair!

The direction of Internet modeling photography is a hipster, vintage, Polaroid, spontaneous flash-caught-in-the-moment mood that conveys a unique style of sexy. With the introduction of quick and crushed image filters on mobile devices, the labor intensive skills of airbrushing and lighting correction are only preserved by print media which your parents once had to physically flip pages. Nowadays, just find a skinny white girl, put her in a bodysuit, sneakers, fake glasses, messy hair, and harsh lighting conditions, and you’ve got yourself the recipe for an Instagram or Tumblr hit.

Photographers usually start out trying to produce work that follows the rules and conforms to the societal definition of beautiful and aesthetically pleasing imagery. After the photographer learns the basics, they can pursue a personal style of their own. My portrait style photography quickly evolved to evoke a personal experience of emotion. Nothing is perfect, everything in the moment, all sentimental. Real life isn’t perfect, so I wanted the images to feel as if it could happen right in front of your eyes. I wanted the image to be a moment I experienced, happening as I took the photo, not a static pose, always in motion. The lighting is never perfect too, not following the correct ratio of key light versus rim light, but a mess of over and under exposed lights that set a mood. I’ve always described myself as a sentimental photographer. Beyond the objective physical attractiveness of a subject, the sentimental value can greatly add beauty in the eye of the photographer. This is her hair, her lips, her eyes, her legs, and her breasts, so I cherish it and I will photograph it as beautiful works of art. I believe when an artist sees beauty in his or her subject, the art will tell the story.

All these factors considered, I want the audience to feel what I felt, engage with the subject, pretend that the viewer is the one in the photo. One of my most used phrases during a photo shoot is “more hair!” and any model can attest to that. Most women on a daily basis wear their hair back, or tucked behind the ears for a formal and clean look while in school or work, since it’s inappropriate to leave the house with your morning bed hair. I don’t want photos of a well prepared model posing for a headshot. I want to capture that moment after she’s all flush from a wild night or morning, with no regard to her hair or manners. I want to capture her look of absolute comfort being herself in front of a significant other. I want to capture her guard down and her world opened to my camera. That is when I fall in love. That is when I capture my beauty. This is the reason why I have always loved telling women to throw their hair in their face, nobody is watching her, take the first step into being free from formality.

Now I see the rest of the world catching up.

Amy Fay Behind the Scenes

I’ve been a fan of Amy Fay for a while, a very sexy model out in the west coast. I was pleasantly surprised to be contacted by a client that wanted me to photograph Amy here in New York, so I took this opportunity to book my own session with her at my favorite spot, Hotel on Rivington. I was excited to learn after reaching out to her that she was already a fan of my work too! My first impression of her when we met was how upbeat and spunky she is, which compliments my deadpan personality. While I pick the Rivington because of all the natural light, it was thunderstorms the day of the shoot so the light was limited and soon became dark. I was forced to use high ISO at slow shutter speeds, but I just shifted my style from bright and soft to dark and moody. Once the light was gone, I setup my AlienBees for the rest of the shoot. The total session was about four hours. I have to admit, I was giddy from the first minute of shooting all the way till the end. I felt like I had to pinch myself to make sure this was real life and Amy was actually there with me.

I had a GoPro running in the background, so here is a rare look at my behind the scene process from photo shoot to post production. The editing is not on the same day. This is not an in-depth tutorial, rather just a glimpse of my workflow. I scan through thumbnails to see what catches my eyes, drop them into Photoshop, edit to perfection, and repeat. You can see I rarely go into the menu, it’s all about the shortcuts! That’s all there is to it, do I make it look easy? Photos coming soon!

Boudoir Workshop

Have you always wanted to learn how to shoot intimate photos of women, and make them look beautiful? Here’s your chance to experience one of my boudoir photo sessions with a gorgeous model. You will learn how to interact with your model, how to pose them, and how to make the best of natural light, and modeling lights too. Take beautiful photos straight from the camera without relying on editing later! I am only limiting the class to 10 students, so sign up soon! The workshop will be featuring the beautiful Phiorella.

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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.

Summer!

What do you do when it’s scorching hot outside with unforgiving sun? Jump into the pool of course! Considering I don’t like the water nor do I know how to swim, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to practice some outdoor flash techniques. Nothing advanced here except for two remote Canon Speedlites on each side, and one on-camera Speedlite, although more powerful studio strobes would have been easier. It’s great to have subjects who are so willing to endlessly jump into a pool of water on your command. Hope you enjoy the photos!


See No Evil, Speak No Evil

Meet Emily Wong, she is an amazing artist I had the pleasure of sharing a few college graphic design classes with. She is obsessed with drawing intricate hair, delicate lace, and lovely ladies. Her work below was featured on Nucleus, and I thought it would be an awesome tribute to imitate her art since I also love photographing intricate hair, delicate lace, and lovely ladies. Model: Kyla.

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Update on new Aputure Trigmaster Plus II 2.4G

For the past few years I’ve been using the Aputure Trigmaster Plus 2.4G wireless flash remote systems. They’ve been working very well with no radio interference or distance issues compared to my PocketWizard Plus II’s. If you read my review, the only issue I had with the TM’s was the channels changing whenever you moved the lightstand, compressing the transciever body, thus inadvertantly changing the channel. While this wasn’t an issue with modeling shoots, it was annoying for weddings. The wonderful guys at Aputure sent their newest transcievers for testing and so far they are definitely an improvement. Here are some shots of the new Trigmaster Plus II 2.4G.

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.

Evacuated City

Two years in a row New York is being hit by a major storm caused by a hurricane, and this year’s Sandy will be a lot more devastating than Irene. The night before the storm, New York City forces public transportation shut downs and evacuations. While the weather is still relatively calm, the city is mostly dead with only a few souls roaming around. This was my perfect opportunity to capture empty streets of a city that “never sleeps”. I drove to some of the more well known spots, from Times Square, Columbus Circle, Apple Store, to Herald Square, Union Square and Meatpacking District.

Fern Lee

Meet Fern Lee, a talented professional wedding photographer from San Francisco I’ve had the pleasure of working with a few times. My clients always tell me how happy she is, and I couldn’t agree more. Her smile can make anybody’s day light up. A word of caution – she will most likely end up dancing at your wedding once the music starts, but just watch her and you will smile.

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