Sadness and Pain

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

My grandma passed away on Boxing Day six years ago.

No one told me the news, even though she was the only one who raised me when I was a child. The way I found out was cruel in its offhandedness, the memory loops around in my head every year when the season comes around.

It hurts, so much so that I sometimes want to claw my chest out and rip my heart to pieces so the pain can stop.

It was the last time I celebrated a Christmas or New Year.


There are blocks of days in a year that are blacked out in my mind. These are days where I know I can’t function. I can't avoid the nightmares, I still mourn.

Sometimes I wonder if it will only end when the entire year is dipped in black, because then I would have no choice but to accept those days as the new norm and live.

Maybe I hold on to too much, maybe I am not as strong as others, maybe I can never become a person who doesn’t cry on days close to the death anniversaries of people I knew and cared about. But I think that's okay. It's a part of me, and has made me into who I am today.

Festive seasons make it hard to talk about pain. If you are hurting inside, you are not alone.
       

14 Tips for Photographers Who Want to go Pro

Friday, December 18, 2015


This is the sixth article in my Profoto Blog series

Hi everyone! In my last five articles for this series, I have covered the process of producing photoshoots, my favorite fashion photography lighting equipment, and tips on how to break into fashion photography. In this sixth and final piece, I would like to follow up on breaking into fashion photography and talk about how one develops into a professional photographer.

People arrive at their destinations through different paths, but many also share the same struggles, dilemmas, and pitfalls. I hope my thoughts will shed some light on what the path of going pro often entails. Let me know what you think at the end of the post!

1) Learn to be Prepared


This subject may sound silly, but for the most of us, we have no idea as to what we’re doing when we first start learning.

On the day I did my first shoot with my first camera, I took it out of its packaging, pressed the shutter, and was greeted with the message: “No Card”.

I’ve always been a more hands-on learner, and prefer jumping into things and learning on the go. However, I’ve learned that gaining a basic understanding of something new before diving in helps manage expectations and allow things to go much more smoothly. Google tips and how-to’s before you try something you haven’t done before, there is usually always some good advice out there, even amongst the seemingly bad ones.

2) Learn with What You Have


My first shoots were self-portraits, pictures of friends, and of my younger sister. If you can photograph normal people and create compelling images, you know you are on the right track in terms of aesthetics and skill-building. As you improve, you will find that people will want to work with you based on your ability to achieve good work with non-models.

My first purchase after my camera was a second-hand hot light, also known as a continuous light. I had endless questions about which strobes to buy or lenses to add to my collection. But at the end of the day, I learned that the 18-55mm kit lens was a decent range to work with as a new photographer, and that a hot light provided me with a good deal of room in terms of experimentation. I mastered shooting with one light, and many of my early works were shot with it alone in my family’s living room.

3) Be Genuine and Do Things Because You Want to


My first model agency test happened through someone I was assisting. The photographer was shooting portraits of elderly people, I was interested in his work and wanted to know what the shoots were like, so I volunteered. One day, he set up a shoot with an agency model and encouraged me to do something on my own. I was given time to set up after he was done. The model’s agency loved my pictures, and they have continued sending me girls ever since.

Do things that you are genuinely interested in. Don’t do things with mixed intentions, ulterior motives or expect reciprocal favors.

People will remember the person who genuinely wanted to be a part of something that they cared about. They will think of you when something perfect for you comes along. This is how opportunities happen.

       

New Course: Artistic Portrait Photography

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


Hi everyone! I am super excited to share that I will be offering my very first online photography course—Artistic Portrait Photography—on Learn Squared.

In this course, I will walk you through my process of crafting a unique, creative portrait photoshoot.

Beginning with the basics of photography, I will go through all the steps I take from production, lighting, retouching to post-production.

Limited places available for mentorships.

Check out the course page for more information. Hope to see you there! :D 

       

Top 10 Fashion Photography Lighting Tools

Monday, November 23, 2015


This is the fifth article in my Profoto Blog series

In my previous article on how to break into fashion photography, I mentioned a few lighting modifiers frequently used in the industry. In this piece, I would like to provide some examples of those modifiers used in my work and also share with you my thoughts on a range of other equipment that I favor in the studio. I hope you will find this article helpful!


Lights

Monolight




After renting equipment in and out of studios for many years, when I set up my own home studio, I decided to get monolights. Each of these lights is a single unit, making it easy to carry, set up and pack away. The lower price point also makes them more affordable, thus allowing me to have more. So I got 4 of the D1 Air 500s.

Since I can shoot most of my standard fashion, beauty and portrait work with monolights, they are my go-to lights at any time. 

       

15 Tips on How to Break into Fashion Photography

Thursday, March 19, 2015


In my last three articles, I talked about producing commercial and personal photoshoots, and tips on how to improve one’s photography. In this guide, I want to share my thoughts on how to break into fashion photography.

Fashion photography is a highly exclusive and competitive industry. Getting in requires dedication, commitment, hard work, and often times, a dash of good luck and timing. There is no great secret or shortcut, it is going to be a tough journey, and you must be prepared for the long-haul.


1. Understand Fashion

Christian Dior Couture Fall 2008 Backstage

Just as a photographer in general should know how to operate a camera, a fashion photographer should possess a basic knowledge of fashion and its history. A good understanding of the topic and your subject matters will go a long way towards helping your career, so I recommend studying up the following:

History of fashion
– Silhouettes of different periods and eras
Designers, icons, and image-makers
– Fashion terminologies
– Hairstyles and makeup looks
– Fashion films and documentaries
– Current industry news

Many photographers try to shoot fashion without knowing what fashion is. It shows. Don’t let some reading hold you back from the possibility of producing better work. Most materials on these topics are readily available on the internet now, so there is really no excuse.


2. Read Magazines, Learn Who’s Who


Reading magazines is a great way to find inspirational images and ideas for new photographers. Take this time to curate the styles and work that you find yourself responding to. Identify traits in the photographs you like and explore those for your own shoots. Make folders on your computer or use Pinterest boards to curate and save them. Jot down the names of people whose styles you feel for in a notepad or text file, so you can work towards collaborating with them one day.

Also keep in mind that publications have different demographics and aesthetics from one another. Knowing who wants what will be very helpful in preparing an appropriate portfolio for the kinds of magazines that you want to shoot for in the future.

       

Elle Vietnam: Minh Hang

Monday, January 26, 2015


New cover and editorial for Elle Vietnam's Lunar New Year issue featuring Vietnamese singer/actress Minh Hang. Styling by Phuong My.






Minh Hang
Elle Vietnam, Janurary 2015

Photography: Zhang Jingna
Stylist: Phuong My


Model: Minh Hằng
Makeup: Minh Loc
Hair: SiNam Nguyen @ HairBar
Set Design: Zhang Jingna & Phuong My
Flowers by Padma de Fleur
Photographer's Assistants: Ernie Chang & Nguyen Phuong Thao
Stylist assistant: Thao Nguyen
Location: S3 Studios