Jennifer traveled from Las Vegas to shoot with me at this unique Airstream property in LA. It was surrounded by a lush garden, koi pond, and picnic table. Jennifer totally rocks the long black hair, since not too many girls in the West Coast still keep their Asian hair a natural color. All of the photos were shot in natural light with no fill or light modifiers, just the way I like it. Keeping equipment down to a minimum of just the camera allows me to greatly interact with the model in a more natural way. She really knows how to stare at the camera and gets each pose just right, who wouldn’t want to spend a day running around with her at a heavenly escape?
Imagine spending a weekend in paradise with the sexy Estrada sisters, secluded behind a wall of bamboos, gardens, and a cute backyard shack. Tip toe, spin, toss, push and pull, flirt and dance. I love being around these girls, while they can be incredibly sexy in front of the camera, they are really just down to earth, low maintenance girls that I can eat Chinese take-out with, joke around and be myself. As most of you know, I’ve been creating beautiful images with Kyla since she was 19, and over the years she transformed from a cute innocent face to a mature sexy vixen. Koleen eventually came along and allowed me the great pleasure of being her photographer at 18. I think their photos speak for themselves how comfortable we are with each other, which lends itself to creating the best work.
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.
Yayoi is an international model traveling around the world, busy making editorial spreads and covers. When she’s not on set, she likes to lounge around the house with a nice cup of coffee and just strut around in loose fit tops and panties, and sometimes nothing more than a body chain. I enjoyed interacting with Yayoi at my place during our session, she’s one of the rare Japanese models I get to work with. She can be cute or sultry, but delicious either way. Her favorite music is classical, so here is an appropriate piece to pair with her classy photos.
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!
I’ve known Eddie since high school, so it was exciting to be his wedding photographer and see his family again after so many years after they moved to LA. I liked Celine immediately with her charming, friendly, and outgoing personality, and all three of us just had great chemistry when they came to New York to shoot their engagement photos, since they both grew up in the East Coast. It was in the middle of winter during the session, but Celine braved the freezing weather better than anyone else I’ve met, her smile never dimmed and I don’t even remember her shivering at all.
They picked a beautiful location on campus to get married in LA where Celine works. The weather out there is perfect, and the foliage and architecture made for plenty of opportunities for photos. It was such an easy day, I couldn’t ask for a better couple!
The next morning would start before the sun came back up as we walked down to the beach waiting for the sky wake up right behind us. Later in the day while driving to Fajardo for our ferry ride to Vieques, we spotted a pony ranch on the side of the road. I always love random detours that gives us unexpected photo opportunities. The owner of the ranch was extremely helpful, making sure we got the ponies to do the poses we want and standing where we want. When we were done, he gave us a phone number for a friend of his in Vieques, just in case we needed anything – this would practically save us later in the day.
Upon taking the last ferry from Fajardo to Vieques, it was already evening when we arrived at the island, and due to low tourist season, there wasn’t a taxi in sight. I had no choice but to call the phone number given to me and see what he could do for us. Amazingly, this friend, Luis, is a driver for tourists and just happened to be a few minutes away and saved our evening by taking us to our B&B. We enjoyed his company and knowledge of the island so much we decided to cancel our rental car and hire him as our driver for the next day on the island while we shoot. He took us to all the best locations we might have never been able to find on our own, so I credit the Vieques photos to Luis. We visited the island’s four hundred year old tree, complete with vicious fire ants, secluded beaches, and access to a fort museum. Our last spot was a black sand beach. It would be a grueling hike to reach this secluded cove. I would have loved to spend more than just the quick forty five minutes we had there. Our amazing three day shoot would end here, as we packed up and took our redeye flight home the next morning. It was a trip I will never forget, and the photos will always remind me of these moments.
Below is a rare look at my earlier work, which some of you loyal fans remember from Xanga days, shot in my cramped makeshift basement studio.