concentration part ii.

“A photograph is usually looked at – seldom looked into.” –Ansel Adams

It is easy to simply look at a photo as you would anything else. Ansel Adadms captured breathtaking black-and-white landscape images—you do not have to look into one of his photos to be impressed. Beautiful photos are often beautiful at a glance. Looking into a photo is more complicated.

The artistic and technical mastery of the Mona Lisa is clear—you look at it, and you know. However, it is her smile that people have been so intrigued by all this time. It is haunting, as it is not the blank slate-expression of many portraits of the Renaissance, nor is it a full-blown, toothy smile. It is small, delicate, and mysterious. That seemingly minute detail is what is found when a piece of art is looked into. Looking into and seeing that kind of detail in a photo is just as important as it is in a painting.

When I am focusing on those details, it has a huge effect on how I choose to capture things. Depending on what that detail is, I may choose to compose my shot so it is more subtle—a treat for the viewer who really looks. Other times, it is the main focus of the image and I really try to get up close and personal with it.

This is an assignment from my Advanced Digital Photography class. Check out my photos from the class here.

Hey everyone!

I am so excited to be graduating this year. Come mid-June, I will be free from the shackles of high school. While the idea of going into hibernation until it’s time to go to college is vaguely appealing, I actually would love to have a productive summer.

So… want to do a photoshoot?

I would love to start getting my summer schedule sorted, so please feel free to contact me about your portraits, headshots, or wedding. If you’re a Class of 2014 kid, let’s get your senior photos done!

Schedule your summer session with me by May 31st and you’ll get 10% off your shoot!

Don’t need photos this summer, but would be interested in modeling for me? I am always looking for people to work with on my creative projects, so drop me a line.

Let’s have a great summer, guys!

concentration part i.

I mentioned a while ago that I am taking Advanced Digital Photography this semester. I thought it would be fun to share my work from the class as I go. The photos won’t always be my best, but you will (hopefully) be able to see as I learn and grow throughout the semester. This kind of work is very different from what I’m used to–or rather, what I’ve gotten used to. Prior to my work being primarily portraiture, I did a lot more of the get-down-on-the-ground-and-try-to-make-a-leaf-look-interesting kind of work. I’d be hard-pressed to call it “fine art”, because I was 11 and just learning how to operate a camera. Still, I did a lot more artistic and creative work, even in Minnesota. It was my hobby as much as it was a way to develop my technique. I guess as I have gotten busier with school and as photography has become more like a job, I gradually phased out that kind of work. I miss it. And as out-of-my-element as I feel in the class, I am glad it is forcing me to get back to my roots. I really think it will help me develop my technique overall. Plus, maybe now I’ll find the time to go on photo-walks again.

In each unit, we have four photo assignments, each with a different focus. At the end of the unit, we look at a quote and discuss what the author meant by it. I will be posting my photos to my facebook page, along with their titles and the focus that the assignment called for. Here, I’ll be posting the quote and my response to it.

The first unit was called Concentration Part I. Enjoy!

“While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see.” –Dorothea Lange

This quote from Dorothea Lange is, in some ways, the very essence of photography. There are two ways that the quote may be perceived. The first is a very simple look at the importance of technique. A photo that tells us “nothing more than what we see” would be a very straight-on shot of a generally boring and every-day object, like a cup of water. A photo that proves what our eyes don’t permit us to see would look at that same object from a completely different and unexpected angle.

The second way one could interpret the quote is a bit more complex. A photographer has a chance of capturing even the most fleeting of moments—an expression that quickly passes over someone’s face, the tension in the muscles of a dancer mid-grand jeté. Someone that is simply watching one of these events will never be able to train their eyes to see that kind of detail on their own.

Lange is best known for her intensely moving work from the Great Depression. The amount of depth and emotion in her portraits from that time is truly stunning. That emotion is only somewhat visible with the naked eye. However, a photo captures that moment and allows the eye to study it fully.

See my photos from the class here!

hello, seattle.

Between trips, I forget just how much I love this city. It has one of the best atmospheres of any city I’ve ever been in. Maybe it’s the smell of the rain, which is intoxicating to me. Maybe it’s that I was born there. Regardless, getting to drive up for a visit this winter was a blast.

The actual drive was hectic. The weather was not agreeable at all, but we made it through. It was my first long road trip where I actually spent a good chunk of time driving. After driving straight through Oregon to Seattle in the pouring rain, I pretty much feel like I can take on anything.

I spent a lot of the trip exploring with my aunt, Maiya. We drove, bused, and walked all over the place.




When we weren’t exploring, we were probably on campus at the UW, studying and drinking lattes.



After such a great trip, I hated to leave… but I have to say, flying home on Virgin America was awesome.



During my visit I had a wonderful portrait session with the adorable 2-year-old Erica! There will be a full post on that later, but enjoy the sneak peek, and make sure to check out the rest of the photos from my trip on my facebook page.

shakespeare.

One of my most missed things about Minnesota is my acting class. It was an escape from my day to day life to a safe place. My classmates were my family. I learned so much with them and from them. Our second year was focused on Shakespeare, and I fell so completely in love. I can still perform the sonnet and monologues I learned in a heartbeat. I could probably still do my scene as well, but I had the most amazing scene partner in Heather, and I would hate to do it with anyone but her.

I am taking British Literature, and last semester, I got to do something creative for my final project. We were instructed to choose one of the several periods that we had studied, conduct some research, and present our findings in our own way. I decided to focus my project on the Elizabethan era. I created a presentation to include the info I had found on the art, music, food, and clothing of the era. However, I also set up a photoshoot. With the help of my friend Seth, I staged and photographed scenes from Shakespeare’s works. I had a lot of fun with this project, and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. So was my teacher, apparently, as I got 100%!

Here are a couple of the photos from the project. Enjoy!


Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.
I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.
Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
To feeling as to sight? or art thou but
A dagger of the mind, a false creation,
Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?


Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of
infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath borne me
on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred
in my imagination it is! my gorge rises at it. Here hung
those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where
be your gibes now? your gambols? your songs? your
flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on
a roar?

I know I said I would get to photo editing, like, last weekend. That was before I came down with the plague.

… okay, maybe it’s not the plague. And as a friend pointed out, I seem to think I have the plague every time I come down with something. In my defense, I never seem to just get a little bit sick. You see, I am very stubborn about being sick. I never want to admit that it’s happening, so I fight it and keep on working long past the time I should. I don’t rest and I don’t take medicine until someone is forcing me to. I know, I know… I need to stop that. I’m only perpetuating the problem and making myself sicker. I just really want to be able to get my work done! Instead, I end up down for the count with what I can only assume is something fatal, once or twice a year. It is very disruptive to my life plans, not to mention my weekend plans.

I’m slowly getting back into the swing things, and I got photos off the camera and into Lightroom. I’ll do some heavy work on all of that soon. Just glancing at what I have from the bridal expo and the aquarium, I am very, very excited to share these photos.

Looks like I’ve got a busy week ahead of me!

happy halloween.

Cannot believe how close to the end of the year we are. That is probably the creepiest part of today. Still, I am pretty excited. School is going well and I am getting all my ducks in a row to apply to college soon (they’re all due in a month–yikes!). Things in the photo world are great, too. Along with my own work, I recently started interning with Kristine Ambrose of Ambrose Weddings! This is such a great opportunity for me, and I am so thrilled about it. We kicked off the internship with me tagging along with Kristine to the Wedding Store 24 bridal expo at the London Hotel in Hollywood. I had a blast shooting there, and I can’t wait to get those photos up, hopefully sometime this weekend. As always, I have several other posts to make, too. Keep a look out for updates here, on Twitter and on Facebook!

Along with work, interning, and school, I am trying to start adding in more of the things I like to do in my free time. I’m back at Kung Fu, which is great. I started teaching myself French, because, well, why not? Yesterday, my parents and I went to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, which was lovely. And finally, I’m trying to get back into taking more photos just for the art. I learned so much that way from when I started taking pictures in 2006, and I really love having it as an outlet for whatever crazy ideas or emotions I have at any given time. I just haven’t had room in my schedule lately. I’m tired of that, though, so I’m making room. I’ll be doing this even more as school lightens up a bit, but I did do a little something creepy for Halloween.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

chris.

In July of 1997, my parents and I went to Disneyland. We went to Disneyland a lot in those days, since my dad worked for the Mouse, but this day in particular was of great importance. This day, standing in front of the Walt and Mickey statue, I met a little boy named Christopher. Our dads worked together, and since we were all new to California, it was arranged for us all to have a Disney day. Christopher and I were 2 years old, so to be frank, I don’t really remember much from that day. I do remember that there was a photo of us from our dinner that night at Goofy’s Kitchen on our fridge for 9 years. I remember several other Disneyland trips, one that included a giant dill pickle and one that made him wish he had never encouraged me to go on Tower of Terror (I love it now… just… not so much the first time). I remember us playing with Legos. I remember arguing over who got to wash their hands first. I don’t actually remember the gymnastics classes we took together, but thank god for parents and their natural instinct to document every embarrassing endeavor of your childhood. There are videos of every class and every birthday party. Photos of every Halloween costume and every ridiculous face.

No, really. We made ridiculous faces. That’s me on the left, Christopher on the right, and my aunt Maiya in the middle.

I’m fairly certain that, 15 years later, we all still make those faces. It’s just that now, Chris and I are taller than Maiya.

Christopher and I grew up together. We spent hours on Neopets and MapleStory together, stayed up late watching Harry Potter movies in the living room when we were supposed to be asleep, took my dogs for walks, made grilled cheese sandwiches, and made up insane stories about the world domination plan of gerbils everywhere. I remember when he first started going by Chris, and how hard it was for me to remember to say that instead of Christopher… it’s still a little difficult now. I was there when his siblings were born. He was there when I moved away to Minnesota.

A couple of months ago, his little sister asked me, “Are we, like, friends, or are we family?”
I’m pretty sure we’re both.

So needless to say, getting to take his senior photos meant the world to me. During the early stages of planning, we talked about a lot of elaborate shoots, including one with explosions in the background. In the end, we had a simple shoot with just him and his dog, Mindy. He turned 18 today and left for college, so it seemed about time I share his photos with you all.

It was a really fun session. Every set of shots would start out serious and end up with him making faces.


Mindy loves her boy.



Serious… happy… aaand silly. Every time.


We did a few that were a little more artsy.


But then he went back to being silly.

Really, really silly.

Still, we got a lot of nice formal shots. Y’know, to make his mom happy.


I’ll put a bunch more on my facebook page soon — we took a lot. I had so much fun with this, just as I have with every day I’ve spent with this crazy guy as my friend.

Happy birthday, Chris! Good luck in your new college digs.

nihon, daisuki.

I may have already mentioned my love for Japan… but seriously. I love Japan. 14 hours was not nearly enough time there. My dad and I woke up as soon as we could and ran out of the hotel to find some food. We made our way to Ajinoya, as was recommended we do. I have to say, it was a fantastic recommendation. I ordered for the both of us (okonomiyaki, yakisoba, and onion omelet). Japanese food is my favorite, and this place was absolutely amazing. We ate way too much and then headed back to pack up our stuff and go to the airport. It was a bittersweet farewell. I was so happy to be going home, but… Japan. I love, love, love Japan. And I cannot wait to go back.

I took as many photos as I could while I was there, and a bunch of them have been uploaded to my facebook page. Check them out, and don’t forget to hit that like button!




kafei qing.

That was really the only thing I knew how to say when I arrived in Shanghai. “Coffee please.” Well, that, and, “I’m sorry, I do not speak Mandarin.”



Now, the trip to Shanghai was very comfortable — we were able to use miles to secure seats in Business class, and those lie-flat seats make all the difference on that 12 hour flight — but there’s something very disconcerting about being somewhere new and being completely illiterate. My dad has traveled enough at this point that I think he’s gotten used to being lost. I, on the other hand, have only ever been places where I had at least a slight grasp of the language and culture, or I was just too young to care about the stress of not knowing. This time was very different and I found myself pretty shell-shocked over the first couple of days. Everything was so fast-paced and completely unfamiliar, but I gradually found a way to relax and really appreciate my surroundings. Shanghai is really interesting because there’s a lot of really modern architecture mixed in with some clearly older, more dilapidated structures.



We spent a little bit of time at the Shanghai Zoo, but not a lot — it was WAY too hot!


We ate a ridiculous amount of food throughout the whole trip.





I did a lot of sight-seeing in Changzhou, Nanjing, and Shanghai.





I always find it interesting to just watch people and photograph them as they go about their business, hopefully without them noticing that I’m doing so. Maybe it’s all of the theatre stuff I’ve done, but I just can’t help but think about what their story is and try to figure out as much as I can about them before they’re out of sight.
Well, apparently in China, people were finding it interesting to watch me. In Shanghai and Nanjing, I encountered this less, but in Changzhou, people would just stare at me as I walked by. The difference being that Shanghai and Nanjing are far more accustomed to tourists than Changzhou, which is primarily businesses and families, and a lot of relatively new developments. The watchful eye of the locals was definitely off-putting at times, but never as startling as in one particular instance…

I was wandering around a park in Changzhou with my dad and his business partner, Steven, when this guy came up behind us. He said something in Chinese to Steven, who replied, and after some (completely incomprehensible) banter, Steven turned to me and said, “He wants to take your picture.” Apparently he had been following us for a bit and watching me take photos before deciding to actually approach us. Now, when he did, he didn’t actually have a camera in-hand. I assumed he would pull out a cell phone or a small camera, take a quick shot, and be on his way. Instead, he pulled that monstrous Canon out of his bag and started ushering me about the park, posing me, and taking rapid-fire shots until Steven finally told him we had to leave. For the life of me, I could not figure out his story, but I asked to take a few photos of him before we left. It was a strange moment, and definitely a story I’ll remember for a while.

All in all, the China trip was a success. Lots of memories, photos, and food was my goal, and I definitely achieved that. I wish I hadn’t been sick the entire time, but I still tried to make the best of it. Hopefully someday, I’ll make it back there, maybe when it isn’t so unbelievably warm. And maybe I’ll have expanded my vocabulary to be able to order tea as well as coffee.

The photos here are a mere fraction of the number I took during the trip. I will be uploading many more to my brand new facebook page! That’s right, now you can press a little ‘Like’ button as well as add me as a friend. Keep an eye on that page for more China photos and other updates!