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Joshua Chu – Student and Aspiring Actor

March 28, 2011  •  Leave a Comment

Shoot Date: July 22, 2010

My shoot with Joshua Chu was on the unusual side, simply because he had me in hysterics the whole time! It was somewhat difficult to shoot through all the laughter. :)

I was excited about our decision to have him pose with his car – cars being props I had been meaning to explore. I love the lines created by his arms, legs, the paint on the pavement, the horizon, and the car itself.

Josh had a concept for a shot, and I think it was quite clever. Haha! Look! It’s me in the sunglasses! ;P

It’s important to me that the photographer and the model collaborate as artists. Models are not my mannequins, though there are times I will give direction for a certain pose… but there’s an energy that can exist in a shoot (similar, I think, to that in a play, where the audience and actors’ energies bounce off of each other) when the model participates just as much as the photographer. I like it when models feel free to suggest image ideas, and I am lucky to have worked with so many great models!

This was one of my favorite shots from the day. I had pictured an image just like this when we planned the shoot, and I absolutely adore the lighting on his face and on the dashboard in the back:

Josh is a model who is definitely comfortable in his own skin, and enjoys entertaining others. At one point during our shoot, a car pulled up and stopped right next to us, and a woman shouted out some encouragements, like, “ROCK IT, BABY!” He totally hammed it up and started dancing around in front of the camera for the audience, which -of course- I had to capture. Sadly, he made me promise not to post that photo. Luckily, he did give permission to use the following photo:

All in all, it was a very fun shoot, and I hope to see Josh on the silver screen sometime soon!

More images in the slideshow:

Najarra Townsend – Paintball Girl & Super Spy

March 15, 2011  •  Leave a Comment

Shoot Date: July 18, 2010

I met and shot Najarra Townsend once before.  She was such a wonderful model to work with that I had to shoot her again.  :)

My lovely MUA, Phi, and I were brainstorming ideas, and she said that Najarra had the perfect look for a “dirty bride” shoot she had been wanting to do. We took that idea and ran with it! My roommate used to be an avid paintballer, and still had some of his gear. We thought Najarra’s delicate beauty would look particularly awesome paired with a big ‘ole gun. Najarra, ever the trooper, jumped right into the dirt and started “shooting”. Check out those gorgeous blue eyes:

It took a bit of scouting to find the right location, but I was pleased with the one I found. The backgrounds really have that dirty, combat-worn feel I wanted. And doesn’t she just look like a post-apocalyptic babe, straight out of a movie? She nailed all the expressions and poses.

I also wanted to do some badass, sexy, super-spy shots with her… and our location accommodated both outfits. Her bone structure is just so beautifully fierce… I loved the idea of shooting her as the femme fatale.

One of the benefits of working with this model is that, while she can clearly pull off the glamorous, the badass, the fierce, the rugged, etc… she has a gorgeous smile, which she uses frequently, and is a total sweetie. When we were decking her out with this outfit change, a group of people was staring from afar, and rather than get cross, she grins all huge and starts waving and shouting, “Hiiiiiii….” at them. Gotta love it. :)

When I saw this area of dry brush and palm trees, I was ecstatic. Thanks to Najarra’s acting chops and some items from my old Lara Croft costume, this image leapt to life exactly as I pictured it:

There is something special about working with actors on shoots. There’s a movement to their poses, and they seem to be down for pretty much anything I ask them to do, even when it’s as physically demanding as supporting their weight by one arm, while hanging off a ladder, holding a gun out with the other arm, for minutes on end, as I shoot them from different angles….

I love my models. :)

Najarra was recently filming an episode for CSI: NY, and I have no doubt this Tru Loved star will continue to rise. Thank you, Najarra, for a perfect shoot!

To see more of the paintball shoot, click here:

And for more of the badass shoot, see:

Phi’s Pretty Faces – The Make Up Shoot

December 28, 2010  •  Leave a Comment

Shoot date: July 17, 2010

It has taken me far too long to write this post. This is because I did not want to do less of a job than is deserved by its subject. This photo shoot and blog highlight my fabulous Make Up Artist (MUA) – Phi, of Orange County’s Phi’s Pretty Faces (please visit her website for booking info).

I told the story of Phi and my introduction in a previous post. Looking back now, our meeting was incredibly serendipitous, and I cannot imagine where I would be had we not met. Phi has been such an incredible partner on this photographic journey. When I describe my desires for a shoot, she not only hears what I actually say, she also reads between the lines and hears what I want. She often surprises me with some aspect that I didn’t even know I wanted, yet which was perfect for my shoot. Having now had her do my own make up for two special events, I can say she is a wonderful person to work with, both when you’re in the make up chair yourself, as well as when you’re directing.

This particular shoot started very early in the morning, and Phi was on her feet making up our models for probably around six hours straight. It was quite an extravaganza! I had worked with only one of the models before, Lore Jac-Rey. She had organized some of her model friends for this particular shoot, and our aim was to show off Phi’s talent on a variety of faces.


We began with Liz, a beautiful blonde with lovely bone structure:

Phi gave her an elegant crystal teardrop pattern, in seafoam palette that complemented Liz’s gorgeous eyes perfectly:

I was impressed by how well Liz worked her angles; her poses and expressions were wonderful. I love how she draws you into the photo with her eyes.


Next, Phi created a stunning alternative-rocker bridal look:

As someone who used to dabble with the idea of doing make up professionally (Random fact: I worked under Steve Jan, doing make up for two runway shows, back in college.), I feel compelled to point out the intricacy of the shading and blending of the eyelid in this design. Look at the colors and the detail! Geez!

My model for this look, the lovely Monica, was a natural in front of the camera. She really knew how to fill the space to create a striking image:


Then, Phi created a colorful, vivid, 80s glam look. She drew stars on the model’s lips. Stars. On her lips! And I love the electric blue under-eye liner:

I had wanted to do a record themed shoot, and with Phi’s colorful creation, and Tish‘s fierce looks, I knew I had the right setup.

Tish knows how to find the light and do whatever it takes to get the shot.


Next up was Anisha, whom Phi gave a dramatic, gothic, tear-stained look:

When she began, I was apprehensive. After knowing the model for just a few hours, I had already seen how marvelously nice she was. Utter sweetheart. How was she going to pull of this dark, dramatic look?

I’ll tell you how – she rocked the hell out of it!!

Despite her incredible sweetness (and all while having a lovely time between shots – smiling, laughing, and whatnot), she nailed the super dramatic, intense gazes I was looking for:


Having worked with Lore once before, Phi had a special idea for her make up, which was saved for last due to its labor intensiveness. She created a breathtaking Dia De Los Muertos face: half glamour and half skull.

Lore and I worked to create a Frida Khalo inspired portrait. To obtain the aged look I wanted, this is one of the few photos to which I have ever overlaid a texture effect.

We then took some outdoor photos, which I adore because the background in the photos feels very evocative of the environment I recall from my own trip Mexico.

With all our other projects completed, Phi and the other models retired for the day, while Lore and I headed out to a cemetery, wherein we created one of my (as of yet) favorite ever photos:

There is absolutely minimal editing done on that shot, and I will admit I’m quite proud of it. But here’s the thing: without my make up artist, this shot never would have been. The model and photographer are both obvious contributors to the art, but the make up artist is the unsung hero of any shoot.

I am incredibly lucky to work with someone as talented as Phi. Her contributions have taken my art to a higher level. If you are getting married soon, have a special event coming up, need a self confidence boost, or just want to look your best for a night out with the girls – contact Phi! Her rates are very reasonable, she’s a total sweetheart, and she will make you feel like a million bucks!! :)

Many thanks to my MUA, and to my lovely models! :)

To see more of the above sets, click to view a slideshow of each model’s gallery at my site.