Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Not Such Fancy Snaps and the Importance of...Well, Fashion, In Fashion Photography

For some reason, every time I do a photoshoot, I feel pretty good about the pictures for a few days, and after that I decide I don't like them so much anymore and want to redeem myself. This is how I am feeling right now, despite the fact that I was feeling pretty victorious with the result of my recent shoots. Especially the Hannah shoot.

I am currently in the planning stages of two shoots with two models. Unfortunately, because I don't have a lot of money, planning takes longer than it might for another photographer. I know I shouldn't take a break after just two more shoots...the more experience and photos I have to add to my port, the more chance I have of getting client shoots and thus of getting paid for what I do. But I just can't pay for these things anymore!

On another, more cheerful note, I wanted to explain why I have a few fashion blogs linked here. In a post over at fashionphotographyblog.com, Melissa said some true words of wisdom:

Fashion photography is the business of photographing fashion. That means that the product we are selling are the clothes. It is important for the young, aspiring fashion photographer to understand this. When a client hires us, we are being hired on our technical ability of understanding garments and the way they will photograph. I see so many photographers who are just starting out and building their books and the weakest part of their photographs is the styling.

Styling Mistakes:

  • The clothes are wrinkled or out-dated.
  • The clothing is accessorized poorly.
  • The model doesn’t befit the style of clothing she is wearing.
A lot of new photographers allow the models to just bring some clothing and then they throw something together when the model gets there. I don't believe in this...and this is partially why TFCD shoots are making me broke haha. You can totally ruin a photo with poor styling choices. I wish I had some good examples of this, but I can't think of any off the top of my head, and I run the risk of offending someone out there. But my point is, the styling shouldn't be left on the backburner when preparing for a shoot. It really is the most important part.

You really need to think about poses that will match the garmet as well. For example, I saw a series by a photographer in which the model was wearing a long lose summer dress, and clearly trying to pose with her legs. Instead of looking good, the dress just looked lumpy and the model looked awkward. If you're selling dresses, pose according to dresses, and if you're doing a portfolio shoot for a model who wants to do odd poses with her legs, make sure she is wearing something that shows her legs!

Picking a model that matches the look is quite important. I couldn't have used one of my beautiful Indian models for my indie-inspired shoot...well, I could have, but it would not have come out as well as it did with Dani, who already had perfect indie-red hair, straight-across bangs and a face begging for gigantic, vintage sunglasses.

That said, I link to a few fashion blogs because I think keeping up to date with fashion photography is important...and I am also a total fashion whore who just loves reading about it haha. You don't need to study a lot, but just reading every so often also gives you a better sense of how to match things and what is in.

And while we're at it, here are two more "best shots" from my Danielle shoot.

beautiful loser 05

beautiful loser 04

Monday, October 27, 2008

Skater Photography

Skaters Life, originally uploaded by J.H.C..

the skater, originally uploaded by pschmutz.

, originally uploaded by ekpa_ntan.

Skater, originally uploaded by Mayordomo [..i go on the moon..].

I have recently been missing other types of photography since I have only really been focusing on fashion since I got back in the country. I have never done any kind of sports photography, but I would really like to start photographing skaters. I have always been that one girl that hangs out with a bunch of skater boys, but never bothered to photograph them. Now I wish I did...it seems like a lot of fun, and I like the more conceptual ones as well as the ones of them in motion. I want to get back into street portraits and candids as well.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Why Film is Better than Digital - RANT!

I just wanted to point out the fact that there is absolutely nothing wrong with shooting film.

Film grain does not really show unless you are SUPER blowing up a picture, and you would get an equally ugly effect if you SUPER blew up a photo from a digital camera if it wasn't very high megapixel. The advantage of shooting film is that they is no megapixel problem...you basically have infinite resolution! A great many people photoshop film grain into their digital photos to make them look "cool" and there is a whole class of digital photographers that own film cameras but rarely use them to seem "hip." Oh yes, here is a slew of digital photos and one Polaroid. I am so awesome blah blah.

I like the sound of the camera when I take a photo on my film camera. I like the feeling of (pleasant) surprise I get when I get my photos back. I absolutely ADORE the saturation present in my film photos...it is something you just can't get from a digital camera, no matter how much photoshopping you do.

Most importantly, I really feel like I am working when I am using a film camera. When I only had the film camera, I wished to have a digital camera. But I noticed that when I shoot digital (at least when I am shooting fashion digital), I take a lot more photos, but the photos aren't as good. With film, every photo has its weight. Besides the cost of developing and buying film, you also won't know what the photo looks like until it is developed. This forces you to really focus while shooting film, like paying attention to garmet movements, lighting, poses and composition. You only have one chance to do this (you are not going to get the same model, MUA and stylist and do the shoot over again if you blow it), so you have to pay attention. Thus, as opposed to shooting 200 photos and only liking 75, you can shoot 100 photos and like 75.

And the last note is that for the amount of experience I have and money I have, I think I do a lot better than a lot of photographers with much more experience and much more money. My choice of medium means nothing in the face of my skills and talents. And yes, I think I am talented. And yes, I intend to go damn far in this business.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Dani (Indie) Rock Best Shots!

I got the film back from my shoot with Danielle yesterday. These are my favorite shots:

I'm already well underway planning a new shoot with Hannah and Jonathan. I'm going for something a little darker this time. You'll see when it's all done with. There is still much planning to be done, but I am excited to work with Hannah again. I have a lot of faith in her abilities and want to help her develop her portfolio as much as I can.

Looking at my own photostream yesterday, I realized that I am much better at portraiture and beauty than I am at fashion, and in fact have a lot more portraiture and beauty in my portfolio than fashion. Though this is great to show agencies to start doing paid tests with their models, this is not what I ultimately want to do. I have decided I need to do more full body shots, more fashion, particularly high fashion. This is what I intend to do with Hannah in our next shoot, save for some beauty shots for the MUA.

My main inspiration for all of my fashion photography is of course Lara Jade Coton, but I think my main inspiration for my beauty and glamor shots is my kind-of mentor Aysha Abdulla.

I also realized that I am a rather unique fashion photographer in that I also have other areas of photography I like a lot, namely candids and street portraits. It's been a long time, so I am not sure I am ready to dive back into candids, but I would like to start doing street portraits again. Just as I gain much enjoyment from controling every aspect of the photograph as I do in my fashion photography, I also enjoy taking pictures of people as they come, as life bring them to me. I need to take myself on an urban adventure soon, as I have really missed this while I was in Egypt.

I also wanted to put the spotlight on fashionphotographyblog.com for this post. Shooting fashion wide can be difficult but rewarding, and it has been something I have been wanting to look into (though I will need to look into a wide angle lens first, haha). I also like the idea that the rules of fashion photography were made to be broken. This makes me wonder why they should be learned at all, if we're just going to throw them out in the end. My photography at least began that way...and until this day, most of my photography "studies" have really been just looking at other people's photos.

Anyway, I have posted this photo before, but I wanted to post it again just because it breaks a photography rule and looks damn good.

One of my biggest photography pet peeves is when a photographer gets his shadow on the subject. A lot of new photographers do this not noticing, and it really gets me - I think it usually looks horrible and unprofessional. But here the shadow/reflection of the photographer on Charlotte Gainswhatever really adds something. This is art.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Dani (Indie) Rock shoot

Today I wrapped up my indie-inspired photoshoot with Danielle (also known as Dani Rock). I'm antsy to know how the photos came out since I dropped the film off. All I have are a few shots from the digital portion of the shoot. A few I liked okay, but only one of them stood out to me...and not in the same, beautiful way as Hannah's, but as photographs. It achieves the goal of "Indie."

It's funny though, when I put the digital camera away and pulled out the film camera, I felt way more confident in my abilities and I think may have got some much better shots, particularly on our second change. We'll see how true this is when I get the film back tomorrow.

I am going to do the few shoots I have planned and then take a major break. I am totally broke. I am literally walking around with a few bucks in my pockets and a credit card...I can't keep spending borrowed money on photoshoots. I have maybe two more and then I am going to take a break, unless of course I can get a job or some paid shoots.

On the job front I keep sending out resumes but haven't got any responses, except one that said that the position I applied for has already been filled. It's getting frustrating, but not because I am bored (on the contrary, I somehow have been able to keep myself very busy). It's frustrating because there are things I need to BUY and I can't right now. I can't fully dedicate myself to my photography without money...I need to buy clothes and props and pay for gas, even if my MUAs and models work TFCD.

While shooting with Dani today I found the loveliest circular patch of grass, trees and Ivy, all covered by a round fence. I decided I am going to have to use it as a staple photoshoot location. The above photo was taken there.

We found this incredible purple dinosaur that dani and I were eager to shoot with and we did! There was also a huge yellow "worm" play structure that I shot dani on. Of course all the kids were waiting for us to leave to continue playing. We later realized that the area said "Tiny Tots - 7 and Under." Dani resolved to bring her 7-year-old son there haha. We were going to shoot on the swings until some ghetto kids with a dog (GASP! i AM DEATHLY AFRAID OF DOGS) went and sat there. Annnd the orange-looking lollipop I brought from egypt for a photoshoot came in handy as a prop today. I'm actually a lot more confident in the second change than the first. Even the second pair of sunglasses I gave Dani looked better on her.

On another note, I had always thought of my time in Egypt as lost time in terms of my photography, yet since I have returned I feel like my work has improved a lot. I am thankful for my time in Egypt. I realized that even though I didn't get to shoot much, I spent a lot of time studying photography and this has improved my method.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

my so-called life!

I just had to share the awesome opening to my favorite show ever, which has recently been re-released as a box set for a mere $40. You know I need a job so I can grab my box!

This is my favorite scene from my so-called life, when Angela thinks she is over Jordan and does a happy dance.

I learned about this show waaay after it was canceled in 1995, and became an avid watcher in college. I was nine when it came out.

Shoot tomorrow! Plus Hillbilly girl :)

I have a photoshoot tomorrow! This is very good thing, since it has been over a week since my photoshoot with Hannah and I was starting to get my antsy photo-itch again.

Tomorrow I will be working with Danielle, a 5'7" red-head of Irish, Japanese, Russian and Mexican descent. She's a new model, but I believe in working with underdeveloped models and helping them, especially since I think she has a great look that has not been properly captured yet.

We'll be working sans MUA and sans assistant sadly. The make up will be simple so it is not super important to have one, even though I did want one. It's nice having a friend around to hold things and whatnot, but again, it is not entirely necessary since we won't be doing a lot of walking and I can just leave things in my car. I wanted to purchase a fake reflector (just a cheap foamcore board), but I went to the location to check it out and there is actually a lot of shady spots, with means enough light for photos, but no unwanted shadows on the face. Hopefully this should not be a stress-intense shoot, like my last one kind of was, and the theme is very fun! You will hopefully see the photos tomorrow or the day after.

On another note, I think I found a cool location for a shoot, giving me that "abandoned building" look. It's a building on Angel Island that my friend Allison photographed a while back. Allison is an excellent photographer and loves urban exploration. She was actually my friend Jenny's roommate. I think these photos she took sum up the location. The problem is how would we get out there, considering I hate driving. And how would I find this abandoned building?

061023angel118, originally uploaded by Allison Ann.

061023angel215, originally uploaded by Allison Ann.

9-26-2006c-05, originally uploaded by Allison Ann.

9-26-2006b-08, originally uploaded by Allison Ann.

9-26-2006b-23, originally uploaded by Allison Ann.

On a totally personal note, this is pretty much what I want to be for halloween, which is sad since this girl was being totally serious. Her outfit is cute for a serious outfit too though:

This photo was taken by the Facehunter of an Australian girl in London. I probably would wear jeans instead of shorts because...well, I don't wear shorts!


If you are a model and want to shoot with me, don't send me a message expressing interest and then ask me to pay you. If you are contacting me, you are asking for rates or TFCD. The nerve!

When you don't have a lot of cash, it sure is hard to schedule these photoshoots! I feel like this shouldn't be so difficult!


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Charlie bit my finger!

This is hilarious and so cute :) Just thought I should share.

On another note, I have decided I need to learn photoshop beyond fixing skin blemishes and the like. I downloaded a bunch of textures to play with and shaz told me we can go through them and she can teach me how to make full use of them. She also sent me some tutorials so I have an idea of what to do before I actually see her.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Feature: Victor Candia

Paola, originally uploaded by Vichi =.

Today I discovered this amazing photographer out of Argentina...and might I add one of a long line of South America-Based photographers that are out doing very original things! His name is Victor Candia (flickr/blogspot). Check him out!

Pao, originally uploaded by Vichi =.

Berenice, originally uploaded by Vichi =.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Cakes and cakes and photo equipment

As a thanks for reformatting my computer, I brought a box of cake mix over to my friend Shazzy's house the other day. Her two brothers had stayed up until 1 a.m. fixing it. I am pleased - it's like a brand new baby and works a lot better than it did before. We ate rainbow cake while shazzy worked on her websites and I edited Hannah's photos. There are a lot more up at flickr now by the way. Shazzy is a bio major from SF State, works an admin position in the same city we live in, and happens to be an excellent webdesigner. She does webdesign on the side in a way similar to me and my photography, but she actually gets paid, haha!

I also posted my palestine pictures on flickr, or at least a few of them. Check it out!

I stepped into Ritz Camera yesterday to check out a reflector, because as much as I like my shoot with Hannah, it could have been better if there were less shadow around her eyes. This could have been helped by just not using just big eye lashes, but a reflector would have helped. The reflector was $45. Ouch. I guess I will keep haveing ugly shadow until I can afford that or find some other alternative...

I also wanted to point out that inspiration works in a funny way! This photo was my inspiration for my shoot with Hannah, and below it is my interpretation:

I guess what did remain was the black eye make up and beret. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the top image is an photo of Kate Moss for a Calendar, taken right after her cocaine scandal. The original image is topless...and i guess you can't get more simple that topless! So I was going for a beret, black eye make up and simple - it came out totally different, but I love it still.

Sorry all my photos are here are so low-resolution. You have to be careful with photo-thieves!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Believe In Me

I wanted to thank Hannah C. and MUA Rachelle D. for believeing in my enough to be willing to do TFCD with me. In fact, I want to thank all the people in the industry that have supported me and wanted to work with me, especially Aysha A., my photog flickr friend who Dubai who so ready dishes out advice and support. I believe in me more than anyone, and that is the most important thing, but it is nice having others believe in me as well...this isn't something I feel like I have experienced a lot in my life.

Even my brother, upon viewing the pictures from my latest shoot with Hannah, told me, in his own way, that I have a shot at this. And I am aiming for the top...and I'd love to take those who believe in me with me! I think I deserve it. I think I have vision.

I have always thought photogs who make themselves facebook groups narcissistic, even though I know that in a business like photography, you really have to get yourself out there and publicize to get anywhere. I am generally a humble person so this vexed me. I was discussing this with my brother, and he told me that when it comes to money, there is no such thing as narcissism.

Wise words.

Due to scheduling conflicts, it appears that I may have to postpone my shoot with Danielle until next week.

And a funny side note, while I was shooting Hannah (in the shots where she was wearing the beret), a lady came up to us smiling and said

Her: "Parisian!?"
Me and Hannah: "Huh?"
Her: "Parisian!"
Me: "Umm, why yes!"

That was what I was going for, haha, but I guess it doesn't mean much if she's wearing a beret. Before the beret went on and Hannah was wearing the top and boots, we decided she looked like a French Pirate rather than Parisian, LOL.

Hannah Photoshoot

Well I am feeling rather triumphant! I got my photos back from my first photoshoot since my return today and I was very, very pleased with many of them. Hannah is an awesome girl - she is part Scottish, part Dutch and came over from England about four years ago. By agency standards she is a little short - 5'7", but she is a tall 5'7" in my opinion! She has a great personality and photographs amazing! I have likened her to Veronica from prison break, DJ from full house, Kate Moss and a friend likened her to Keira Knightley. These are all good people to be likened to!

My wonderful friend Sarah acted as my assistant and Rachelle of Faces of Nefertari Beauty did her make up. We had a nice French-inspired shoot, and by the time it was over Hannah wanted a pair of pirate boots and beret! The shoot took a lot longer than we all expect though and we were all really tired, I got home around 8 pm, after leaving the house no later than 12 pm. The homeless people...and people in general...in San Jose got a kick out of watching us, but Hannah was a good sport about it. I had a problem with my computer in the morning as well. It got a virus and died! I am currently trying to get it fixed. My friend Shaza's brothers are helping me with this. Shaza herself is helping me edit the photos for the shoot, a few of which can be found bellow...enjoy my lovlies!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

busy busy busy

I finalized a photoshoot with model Danielle today, who is part Japanese, Mexican, Irish and I think Russian? Regardless, she is a lovely redhead who looks like a better Renee Zellwenger, albeit a little short. I think she has a lot of potential. The shoot will be much simpler than Hannah's and after all the time devoted to finding an MUA's for Hannah's, I have decided we're just not going to have one. The theme is indie-inspired and I want this to be colorful...which also means I will save on buying black and white film. I bought three rolls the other day for a horrendous $23!

We lost our MUA today for my shoot on Monday. I am busy trying to contact other MUAs, and think I am going to put up a casting call, but I think I may end up doing Hannah's make up myself, since we are just doing black liner. Last time I tried didn't go too well, but that's because I was putting it on my friend Sarah, who squirms more than any one I have ever seen! She couldn't get her eyes to stop twitching either! Sarah was a bad person to try on, as she has a severe phobia of pretty much anything to do with eyes (she's 22 and has never used contacts...see what I mean?).

I'm also busy busy busy revamping my resume and cover letter so that I can hopefully have a real job by the end of the month...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Updates, updates and more inspiration

A few changes have been made in my upcoming photoshoot...the MUA bailed and I am now looking for a new one. I found a great professional to take her place but can only work at 1:00, so this means the shoot will have to be pushed earlier, meaning we would have as good lighting. If I recall, we started shooting with chesley at 1:30 p.m., so I am hoping this won't be too bad.

I am also in the works of planning an indie inspired shoot with another model. Fun, fun!!

On another note, I am totally in love with this simple picture of Feist. I am a fan of her music but not of her looks...still something about this photo is totally alluring. I am not sure who the photographer is, and normally i hate it when the photographer gets his shadow/reflection on the model, but here I really think it adds something to the photo.

This is a very famous photo of Kate Moss for the 2006 Pirelli Calender, cropping out her boobs, since this was a topless picture. It came out right after her coke scandal as part of her comeback. It's undeniably a striking photograph, and is actually part of what inspired my shoot with Hannah on Monday.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Welcome Back, Me!

Being home again does mean that I will be more free to photograph, and will soon be setting up TFCD sessions with lots of models...something I have missed a lot.

I consider this photo to be my official "Welcome Back!!" haha. My very first "fine art" photograph was taken when I was walking with a friend who was an avid photographer. He never left the house without his camera. Anyway, he received a phone call, so I began playing around with his camera. I stuck a flower in his fingers and photographed. It was a lovely picture, nicer than this one, albeit a little out of focus (I didn't know what a macro lens was back then).

Since, I have stopped being friends with this friend, even though I credit him for my interest in photography. The digital file of the photo was deleted and the only proof that it exists is the print on my wall.

Thus, I think this is a good note to start off at, again...I promise I won't make a habit of it though. Anyone who keeps up with my photostream knows I am not a fan of photographing flowers.

Sorry for this rambling.

Monday, October 6, 2008


I love the S/S 08 Laguna Escondida, photographed by Gabriel Rocca

As well as this shot from S/S 08 Sisley, photographed by Camilla Akrans

Now what I think is unfortunate is the most recent Guess ad campaign...normally I love them, and I think they are the perfect mix of elegant and sexy. But this time around, I this they focused too much on the sex and forgot the elegance...so much so I won't even put a picture up to share haha.

By a more small time photographer, something about this photo by Cat Crow is just so neat to me. Maybe it's the time of day it was taken, combined with the editing, combined with the light-hearted feel of it.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Jolt of Inspiration!

...and it is exciting! We have decided on the date of my upcoming shoot. The 13th, after Hannah gets out of class. I already checked the weather report and it appears that we will be having sun. Hannah is really intent on having the MUA do black liquid liner for her, and since I enjoy anything edgy, I can't quite disagree. I have a lot of hopes pinned on this shoot, kind of like my welcoming party back into photography. Insh everything works out as planned and we make some wonderful art!

One of my favorite models ever, Ade, is currently in California. She is part Nigerian, part Thai and part chinese...plus all beautiful. She sent me a message today and gave me her number. I would love to shoot her, but if it isn't possible, I wouldn't mind just hanging out with her. She is a very cool chick. Hopefully I will at least get to see her before she goes back to New York. She has the most unique look...it seriously would be a dream to shoot her!

So, insofar as my current plan of action goes, in the next couple weeks I need to start shooting, shooting, shooting, as well as find a job. I need to revamp my room and update my port, and when I have enough photos I think a sarahjehan.com will be needed. Then, hopefully, I can began doing testing with agencies.

There's a long way to go.

I Believe...

...that my digital camera has a problem! Whenever I attach my long lens to my digital camera, "error 99" comes up. It needs to be serviced because I have already tried the solutions listed on the Canon website. I plan on using my film camera for the coming weeks anyway so I will survive. But my warranty ends in January so I need to get on it!

To be honest, my lens has never worked properly with my digital camera. I checked the compatibility when I bought it!

I also picked up a top for my model for my upcoming photoshoot. I am scared but optimistic and excited at the same time. I only hope we can do this before the weather gets bad. Even if it rains, if it is cloudy the light will be really uninteresting. And nobody wants uninteresting light!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Home of the Not-So-Brave

I am finally, finally back in the states, and though I have mixed feeling about this for various reasons, I am certain I will now have more photo-taking opportunities. I have only been here a few days and have yet to take any photos...but I can feel the inspiration creeping back into my veins...

I am currently working out a shoot with a beautiful model named Hannah. I have to say that after laying low for so long, I am feeling quite a bit nervous about the whole thing.

My website has expired and I let it. I decided a different name for this business...something closer to my actual name. Plus, I didn't see any reason in keeping a website with so few photos on it. First pictures, then website.