On a whim, I decided to book a last minute weekend trip to San Francisco, CA. Squeezing in a trip to a city 6 hours away by plane in less than 48 hours meant that time was of the essence, so I tried to explore as many neighborhoods as possible.
This was also the first trip I had taken where I was a solo traveler. I had never travelled by myself before, so the concept was daunting. However, armed with a camera in one of the most photogenic cities in the world, I had no trouble filling up my time. This being my second trip out there, I was determined to find and shoot as many pastel homes, and hilly views as possible. I also took some time to meet up and shoot with local style bloggers, but I'll save that for the Part 2 recap :)
I loved discovering all the Victorian architectural details of the buildings there
I often find myself gravitating towards the same easy comfortable pieces when out and about on shoots. It's better to wear pieces that have plenty of pockets and stretch for ease of mobility. And most importantly, a durable and stylish carry-all is necessary to hold all my equipment!
Stretchy pants and sneakers are a must.
I usually carry all my photo equipment and camera in a backpack or tote bag. Backpacks are nice since they leave your arms free for extra mobility. This one from Shutter Totes is made from a supple faux leather with weaving details on the front pocket and dividers built inside. Extra compartments hold other essentials such as SD Cards, water bottle, phone, and wallet. You can shop Shutter Totes on Etsy or Amazon Handmade.
I used to be afraid of many things in life, ranging from thunder to heights (still true to this day), public speaking, and going on first dates, just to name a few. While getting older and living in NYC has quelled most of these unnecessary fears, there are a few others that have emerged through photography. Below are few examples of such circumstances and tips I have found to help with moving past these doubts in order to achieve the creative vision you had in mind. That last sentence totally sounded like self-help. That's ok though, sometimes I feel like this blog is moving in the direction of motiviational self-help advice for photographers :)
Making new friends during NYFW
I have always been on the quiet and introverted side. I would get the smallest wave of anxiety everytime I had to initiate a conversation with a complete stranger, much less introduce my self to new people and explain my services. However, like with many other life skills, networking anxiety can be eased through practice. The more events I forced myself to attend, the more people I was able to speak to and more opportunities for gigs and collaborations came about. Social media platforms, such as Instagram/Instameets, are a great way to meet like-minded people as well. Having seen how the benefits far outweighed my nerves, I soon found myself becoming more initiative in other areas of my life as well.
Always receiving many likes and comments from my shoots in Bushwick, Brooklyn
2. Exploring New Neighborhoods
Before doing photography, I was a total city girl, confined to the island of Manhattan. I was too scared to venture out to the outer boroughs of Queens or Brooklyn for fear that I would not be able to navigate the subway system back to my place. However, photography gigs have led me to discover amazing and cute new neighborhoods all over New York City that I would have never thought of shooting. It made me realize that although I had been in the city for eight years, I was definitely not taking advantage of the exploring the most incredible and diverse place in the world. The variety of sights and sounds in the outer boroughs has far enriched my experience as a NYC resident as well as my photography portfolio.
Studio shoot done with no flash kit, and just two clamp lights
3. Doubting Yourself
At this point I have been doing photography for just a little over a year. And to be honest, my only proper education has been one 3 hour course on how to shoot manually. My only equipment that I've used on every single shoot has been my Nikon D3200 and a 35mm prime lens. With limitations in both equipment and technical background, it's been an interesting experiment to see how far I can push my work to expand and develop. I used to be afraid that I wouldn't have the proper equipment to shoot the awesome editorial I had in mind, or to re-create a certain technique I saw on Instagram, but when you have certain limitations, you are forced to be more creative. They can turn into an advantage, rather than holding you back. Photography, although based in technicalities, is not always reliant on equipment. It's more important to just get out and shoot, because every image trains your eye and allows you to see the world in a different way.
Meeting up with strangers (models) for amazing collaborations and beautiful shoots!
Do you think fear can fuel creativity? How have you managed to overcome fear in pursuit of art?
Most of the time when you're starting out a new business, you have to assume many (aka ALL) positions until you generate enough business and income to hire outside help. While photoshoots are most often a collaborative effort, there may be times where you are one person short of a full crew, or when you have to rely on just yourself for all tasks. Therefore, it becomes handy to have a few extra skill sets as a photographer. Below, I have listed some important skills I highly recommend photographers learn or practice that have nothing to do with taking the perfect shot.
1. Wardrobe Styling
I almost never shoot editorials without a wardrobe stylist. I love having that extra creative eye to make the character in your vision come to life in front of the camera through layers of clothing and accessories. I don't think it's a skill that just about anyone can do. It takes some serious patience and a well-trained eye to know which silhouettes, proportions, and colors work well together, especially when captured on camera. However, there are times when you don't have a stylist available and the model wearing her own clothes is almost never going to cut it for a fashion shoot. It helps to develop your own eye for styling. Pay attentiont to trends, pin every cool blogger outfit you come across, save all those streetstyle snaps. I've copied Paris Fashion Week streetstyle looks head to toe before for fashion shoots with much success. I styled and shot both above images when I had the misfortune of 3 (!) stylists backing out within a week's time.
2. Hair and Make-Up
Going along with that, it helps to know a bit about basic hair and make-up styling too. Again, Pinterest is a great resource for not just inspiration images, but also for clear and concise tutorials. Oftentimes, I'll revert back to my high school and college days and binge watch Youtube make-up tutorials. Pixiwoo is a great account featuring the talents of two sisters that could work for editorial looks. The image above was shot by me, with my stylist and I handling the hair and make-up as well.
Many photographers still do all their own editing and retouching instead of outsourcing it. However, it is still necessary knowledge. Again, Youtube is a wonderfully endless resource, and they have plenty of re-touching tutorials. You will always learn new techniques in programs such as Photoshop and Lightroom. No matter what anyone else says, you absolutely cannot get away with not retouching in fashion photography.
This may be the most important one on the list, and one that applies to non-photographers too. It's near impossible to achieve success, especially in this industry, without a strong network of contacts. Most of my clients have been recommended by other clients, as I understand how it's important to have a reliable and trustworthy photographer. Even going to non-photography/fashion events, I always mention that I do photography because you never know if someone is looking for a new headshot or if they've been interested in trying out modeling. You can find related networking events through sites such as Meetup.com and Eventbrite. When I know that I have a relatively free weekend coming up, I will browse those two sites for events that I can attend to meet new people. I think this is one of the main reasons people attend Fashion Week. It's not for the shows or a chance to get a streetstyle snap of your outfit - it's to meet people, to promote your abilities so that we can all help each other out.
These are all aspects of the photography business that I had no idea about when I first started out. I've learned about ways to continue building various skill sets, which I think is the most valuable education of all!
The bitter winter season and upredictability of New York City weather in general forces you to be creative when it comes to location scouting. I used to be strictly a neutrals and soft pastels kind of photographer, but gave that restriction up when I decided the desire for a consistent Instagram theme was hindering my creativity. More and more I've been experimenting with incorporating color into my photos as well as shooting indoors. Those two elements intertwined into a fun shoot at the neighborhood grocery store!
Model Tiffany was dressed up in a playful Zara fringe dress and decked out in silk scarves by Silver Serzah and bold metallic chrome accessories.
Since we had the photoshoot at 9 AM, Tiffany simply looked like she was doing a grocery run on her way home from a night out. None of the employees even batted an eye at her ensemble and dietary choices.
Part of what I love about shooting fashion is that you can create fabulous and colorful characters through the styling. Tiffany did a great job playing her role and I love the pops of color provided by the product packaging in the aisles.
I'm still relatively new to the world of photography, having only picked up the camera just last year. I've met so many talented creatives throughout my work, but for some reason, I rarely meet other photographers. I saw a post on Instagram from the talented Omar Robles, who was hosting a Instameet in conjunction with Fujifilm and immediately signed up for it.
I had never been to any photography gatherings before, much less an Instameet, so I didn't really know what to expect. It turned out to be a great afternoon spent with like-minded individuals, and eager models in a variety of settings in downtown Manhattan.
Since the event was hosted by Omar Robles, there was one dancer/model present, which I was excited about shooting. There's something about a dancer's presence that brings emotion and beauty to every image. Shooting dancers is also a great exercise in practicing your timing in terms of photography.
Overall, I had a great time at the event, and I am on the lookout for more photography gatherings. It's a genius way to meet new friends and get some unique shots in a way that you wouldn't otherwise go about capturing when you work on your projects.
These photos were taken as part of a test shoot with male model Caleb Funk and stylist Ashley Tanay on a cold Sunday morning, the first of three(!) shoots I had that day.
The model had a great old school vintage look , a perfect fit for the classic suits Ashley had put together. A modern day gentleman strollling the streets of South Street Seaport.
We had so much fun adding props such as a newspaper and shooting in black and white to complete the vintage look.
I love this combination of the soft warm heathered grey coat, bright navy suit, and popped collar.
Check out my Youtube video for full behind the scenes coverage on this shoot!
For the first time as a side-hustle photographer, I actually had a snow day last week! Taking the chance at a day off from my day job, I finally got around to editing a huge batch of photos.
I start off by waking up at a proper hour despite having no set timeline. I'm naturally an early bird (and night owl), so I don't mind waking up at the same time I normally would for my day job. I think even when you work on your own projects it's important to stay on a focused schedule just as you would at any 9 to 5.
After going through my morning routine and eating a healthy breakfast, I begin to plan my day by writing a to-do list. I'm often working on several different projects, both personal and for clients that all have their own deadlines. Setting things down on paper helps me figure out what I need to prioritize for that day. This is totally my inner-Virgo coming out!
I'll reveal some of my projects later on, but I am so happy to announce an exciting feature!
You can purchase a set of Lightroom filters that I've specifically created for bloggers and social media imagery on Filtergrade. They're now on sale at the unbeatable price of $9 - that's like the price of two lattes! I'll definitely do a separate post in a few weeks on what each filter can bring to your photos as well as how to use filters in general.
So there you have it...all in all, I managed to edit about three batches of photos and create a set of Lightroom filters. It was nice to catch a glimpse of what it might be like to spend a day as a fulltime photographer and I have to say I really like the feeling of it!
P.S. The above photo is a the literally how my desk looked the night I worked late before the snowstorm. Fun fact: I'm also a sweater designer!
I "met" Paris, the model, thorugh Instagram at the end of last year. I loved how she was a dancer and a model, two great elements for a photo subject. When I found out she was moving out of New York City at the end of February, I jumped at the chance to do a last minute photoshoot.
Taking advantage of the last few weeks of winter, I had wanted to try a dark romantic shoot in the depths of Central Park. Having discovered a grotto section after a quick Google search for hiking trails in Central Park, I knew this was the perfect shoot location. Hidden from the tourist crowds, and nestled in between two ponds and a stone archway, it offered a tranquil escape from the urban landscape.
Shooting at golden hour also added soft lighting among the dead leaves for an extra moody vibe.
New York City and social media honestly provide the backbone for the majority of my shoots, and it never ceases to amaze me how such awesome collaborations with amazing people and locations can come about!
Catch some behind the scenes footage of Paris climbing to edge of the waterfalls in 4-inch heels in my latest Youtube vlog:
I can't believe it's already been one year since I started doing photography. Flash back to the last week of March 2016 - a gut-wrenching break-up with the love of my life and a quarter-life crisis propelled me to pursue new hobbies I always had an itch to try. I signed up for a photography class last year in hopes of learning how to use every last feature of my beloved Olympus Pen. Three hours of intensive instruction in learning how to operate digital cameras in manual mode left me with a renewed spark of creativity. I booked my first photoshoot ever the day after that class.
I started off shooting fashion bloggers, then delved into test shoots with fashion models. Before I knew it, I was shooting editorials, running in and out of showrooms, and attending New York Fashion Week. I work 18 hours a day Monday-Friday and spend many Saturday afternoons with a cup of coffee and a pastry in cafes offering free WiFi in my neighborhood in order to edit photos and plan shoots.
I'm more exhausted and sleep-deprived than I've ever been in my entire life. But it's absolutely worth it and photography might have just saved me from going over the edge when I was 25. Something in my gut tells me it's going to take me places, so follow along on this new blog addition to see what's next!