Photographing Scotland

I’ve been lucky enough to close out 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. This is the place where my husband and I met. The chance to spend some time here again has been so rewarding, from both a personal and a photographic perspective. One of my big goals for 2015 is to explore more – explore places I haven’t been and learn from my experiences, explore small but beautiful details that are easy to overlook, explore friendships and opportunities for growth in unlikely places, explore my personal boundaries and push beyond them so I can achieve more.

2014 was a year of discovery for me as I left what was safe in favor of the unknown. This was the year I committed to documenting love in all its forms and have a lot of fun along the way. I’m looking forward to sharing what 2015 brings, starting with two Scottish engagement shoots coming soon!

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Downtown LA Arts District Portrait Session

I met up with Tsz for an Americano at Blue Bottle Coffee in one of my favorite parts of Los Angeles, the Arts District. Every time I come here there is a new restaurant, gallery, or bar that has opened up. And of course, for a coffee fanatic like me, it’s an extra bonus if there’s a good roast to sample before a photo session.

Tsz is a graphic designer and lover of delicious food. She’s merged these two interests into lots of interesting career opportunities, from an interning pastry chef to designing the graphic elements of restaurants. She has been a food blogger and a recipe creator. You can see more of her work on her website. With such a creative eye, Tsz had a strong vision for a portrait session of dreamy, romantic photographs with an urban edge. She made the flower wreath herself and I love the pop of color it gives these photos.

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me.” -Jane Eyre

Downtown Los Angeles Arts District Portrait

Downtown Los Angeles Arts District Portrait

Downtown Los Angeles Arts District Portrait Downtown Los Angeles Arts District PortraitDowntown Los Angeles Arts District Portrait

Downtown Los Angeles Arts District Portrait

Downtown Los Angeles Arts District Portrait

Downtown Los Angeles Arts District Portrait

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Downtown Los Angeles Arts District Portrait

Downtown Los Angeles Arts District Portrait

Downtown Los Angeles Arts District Portrait

 

Sunset Portrait Session on Santa Monica Beach

On top of being a lovely and sweet person, Daisy Jing is a talented entrepreneur. She has a series of successful Youtube videos on a channel called Perfect Beauty and also has her own product line. We met last week for a portrait session on the beach in Santa Monica. I enjoyed talking to her about perseverance – how sometimes it seems like you spend countless hours working on your craft, but that if you love what you do and keep at it, good things happen and people take notice. 2014-10-221

Portrait Photography on Santa Monica Beach at Sunset

Portrait Photography on Santa Monica Beach at Sunset

Portrait Photography on Santa Monica Beach at Sunset

Portrait Photography on Santa Monica Beach at Sunset

Portrait Photography on Santa Monica Beach at Sunset

Portrait Photography on Santa Monica Beach at Sunset

Portrait Photography on Santa Monica Beach at Sunset

Portrait Photography on Santa Monica Beach at Sunset

Portrait Photography on Santa Monica Beach at Sunset

Portrait Photography on Santa Monica Beach at Sunset

Portrait Photography on Santa Monica Beach at Sunset

Portrait Photography on Santa Monica Beach at Sunset

Portrait Photography on Santa Monica Beach at Sunset

Portrait Photography on Santa Monica Beach at Sunset

Portrait Photography on Santa Monica Beach at Sunset

The Day I Aged a Decade

It’s that time again. The dreaded time to renew my passport. I got my first passport when I was 14 and ever since then I’ve had a series of truly unflattering passport photos. Usually I go to the pharmacy or the copy shop to get it done, where a beleaguered employee, who is simultaneously expected to run the cash register, rushes me over to a corner, grabs a point and shoot camera, and snaps. Without time to review, whatever photo comes out in the first shot becomes the one I’m stuck with.

This time, I decided enough was enough. I got a photo that was my worst yet. Frozen mid-blink, the bags under my eyes and my sallow complexion made me look like I’d been up for three nights straight binge-watching Orange is the New Black. I imagined myself for years to come, cringing whenever I opened my passport at the airport and getting the stinkeye from flight attendants because my photo looked so shifty. As a friend said when I showed her, “It looks like they had a time machine that fast-forwarded to your future self in 10 years.”

But when I stopped to think about it – why did I need to resign myself to the worst passport photo ever? Why not take my own? Here you can see the before and after, taken about 20 minutes apart. I did not edit the 2nd photo at all or change my makeup.

(Please forgive the poor scan quality of the first photo)

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A few simple tricks made all the difference in the world and can help you take a better passport photo.

  1. Lighting: At the pharmacy, yellow fluorescent light poured down on me from directly overhead. At that angle, it highlighted every flaw, cast me in a sickly glow and made the lines around my eyes really pop. In the 2nd photo, I opened the curtains and positioned myself near but not too near the window to utilize the diffused daytime light.
  1. Positioning: While both photos are against a white background, I stood a little further away from it in the 2nd photo to create a softer shadow against the wall.
  1. Symmetry: In the first photo, my shoulders are uneven. One is way higher than the other, which put my head at a wonky tilt. To be honest, wonky is my natural posture, but it’s worth putting in extra effort even if it feels weird and unnatural. In the 2nd photo, I made sure to stand with my shoulders even and square to the camera and push my chin out and down, which adds definition to the jawline.
  1. Eyes: Having fully open eyes seems obvious, but the difference is really dramatically displayed here. Even though you aren’t allowed to smile with an open mouth for the passport, thinking of something that makes you feel happy and confident can create a better expression on your face.

If you decide to take your own passport photo, don’t be afraid to take several and pick the best among the bunch. Keep in mind that you need to follow certain size rules for the passport office to accept the photo, like having it be 2 in. x 2 in in size and other requirements.

I know it seems silly to go to all this effort for a single photograph, but there’s comfort in knowing that every time you take out your passport over the next 10 years, you can like the photo inside.

Silvia & Ricardo’s Engagement

Truth be told, I’m not much of a morning person and usually need countless cups of coffee to wake up and be totally in the moment. But, to make the most of the early morning golden light, I met up with Silvia and Ricardo for their engagement session on Santa Monica Pier at 7 a.m.

As I approached them from the beach, I could tell from their smiling faces and the adorable way they interacted with each other that it was going to be a great morning. And it was!

Silvia wore a flowy skirt that went perfectly with the beach setting. It’s couples like these two that make me love my job. They had a lot of fun together and that came across in their photos, whether Ricardo was giving Silvia a piggy back ride and carrying her through the surf, or they were picking out the best blooms at the farmer’s market.

The best engagement sessions are personal to the couple, somewhere that has significance – whether it’s where the proposal took place or a memorable date, or highlights an activity that the couple enjoys doing together. With Silvia and Ricardo, it was the farmer’s market where Silvia told me they often go to spend a relaxing Sunday picking out bundles of colorful flowers.

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