1) Keep A List
Whenever you see somewhere interesting, remember to take out your phone and write it on your "awesome locations" list. If you don't have that list, then I suggest making one now. Trust me on this one. Next time you have a shoot and the model asks "where should we go?" you'll have that life saving list on hand.
2) Scout the Damn Location
This is basically an overall time saver for everyone. Go there sometime before the shoot and find the angles you want to take and the alternative locations around the area if it doesn't pan out. Also, find yourself a coffee place close by just in case. Trust.
3) Coordinate the Outfit
Close your eyes and imagine a nice beach, ocean, and birds chirping above. Then all of a sudden you see a man in a giant coat, a beanie, thick snow pants, and a pair of snow shoes. Unless you're going for a creative, ironic shoot, match the outfit with the location you're going to. Simplify it to key words. Badass location = badass outfit. Peaceful location = peaceful outfit. Seems pretty simple, but sometimes you need to remind yourself on how the outfits will fit in the location you choose.
As always, here's an amazing song you brighten your day!
I'm sure you've seen a ton of these everywhere, but normally I see stuff like
"Don't forget to take your lens cap off"
"Don't forget about the exposure"
or my favorite
"Don't forget to bring your camera"
Yeah, totally helpful right? Well here's a couple tips and tricks to actually help you take better photos.
Also, this is going to be written like I'm talking to you, not some web article BS. Hope you're fine with that.
1) When You're Starting Out, Use A Prime Lens
Why? Why would you not want a camera that zooms to the heavens?
Because it makes you slow down and think. Cameras, Lenses, Strobes, these are all tools we use to improve upon our photography. However, having all this equipment doesn't mean you make great photos. The most important thing in a photo is how you compose the image. Rule of Thirds, Leading Lines, Symmetry, Viewpoints, Background, Midgrounds and Foregrounds, Balancing Elements, Left to Right, Golden Triangles, and the Golden Ratio. These are all composition rules on how to make your photos more interesting to the eye. However it helps to make elements of your photo pop.
This is where the Prime Lens comes in. Not being able to zoom in makes you move and find the right composition. It really makes you think about where all the elements are going to be.
2) Triangles, Triangles, Triangles!!!
I don't know why, the person that taught me this doesn't know why, and I haven't bothered looking into the psychoanalysis that explains why, but the more triangles you see in your photo, the more appealing it is. Now what does this mean? Do I have to wear shirts with triangles and super angular, asymmetrical jackets and dresses? Nope. You're overthinking this. Think of the simple things. Framing and posing. Try this on your next photo or find one online from a photographer you really like. Go on photoshop or print the image out and try to draw as many triangles as you can on that image. For some strange reason we are drawn to these triangle filled pictures, so use them in your photos!
3) Know How Light Works
Light is a fickle bitch. Just like every other part of nature, it has no mercy and effects everything with no prejudice. This basically means that no matter how good your camera it is, if the lighting is off, the picture is off.
There is absolutely no way that I can cover how light works in a small paragraph. So here's an online video that explains it pretty well.
Also, here's some studio lighting tips. If you want to learn more, just comment below and I'll make another article.
Studio Lighting Tips
(All else fails, just google some stuff, the internet is full of lighting tips and there is no possible way to cover them in a list)
Fun fact, photography has helped me lose weight. Strange I know, but that's because I move my ass during shoots. Ask any of my models, I look like a complete idiot getting some of my shots. I'll be lying down, on my toes, up a ladder, on the second floor of a building, in a tree (not suggested cause pain), edge of a cliff, etc. Why do I look like a crazy person on shoots? Because of the angles.
People see life at eye level. So if you take everything at eye level, you're just showing everyone what they're already seeing (unless you're at some crazy location). Get dirty, go down, find something new that no one has done. Get into that weird pose, who cares who laughs. You're the one getting the perfect shot. If you want the shot, find a way to get it. Go crazy, have fun, get your photos.
5) Actually Talk To Your Models
Photography is actually quite intimate. You're looking through a lens and capturing a moment of someone's life. That moment is unique and will never occur again. Sooo if you're going to capture a moment in someone's life and present it to them, I think it's a good idea to get to know them first. This does two things. One, it helps the model and you be more comfortable during the shoot. Stiff equates to bad shots. Comfort equates to natural, better looking shots. Two, it helps you know what kind of photos to take. At least in my line of lifestyle photography - and even other portraiture work, it will help you capture the best version of them.
Sincerity, comprehension, and interpersonal communication are skills that are commonly overlooked in the photography line of work. These are, in fact, some of the most important skills in a photographers entire repertoire. Hone them, use them, apply them.
Here's a cool chart summing a successful person's guide to meeting people and talking good.
Also the full book if you like to read.
Long Ass Book
6) Look At Cool Photos and Try To Figure Out How They Captured Them
Go on Instagram, Flickr, Google, I don't know, anywhere you find cool photos. Look at them. Analyze them. Figure out why you enjoy them. Do you know what EXIF data is? I'll tell you what EXIF data is. EXIF, or more correctly Exchangeable Image File, is basically all the information of the photograph. This includes, shutter speed, ISO, f stop, and exposure compensation. It will help you understand how these individuals elements work and how to capture a beautiful image like the one you chose.
BUT DANIEL, ISN'T THAT COPYING AND PLAGIARISM AND BAD STUFF?
Please, everyone in every profession starts out by copying others. Whether that be medicine, photography, music, or whatever. It helps you learn the basics. Once you got the basics down, you can develop your own unique style. Can't do it all at once, take it step by step.
7) Join A Photography Group or Go To A Photography Meet-up
You can only learn so much from the internet and damn, those photography seminars are expensive. What do you do? Find a group of people helping each other learn their trade maybe? Find a free event that brings photographers and models together so they can shoot and learn from each other? Huh, maybe that is a good option.
In this way, you can learn by doing, not by learning. Books will only teach you so much. If you never shoot, you'll never get better. So go out, find like minded people, and just shoot. Maybe you'll learn some stuff, apply your encyclopedic knowledge of photography, or just make some friends.
8) "True Photographers Don't Use Photoshop"
Capital "B" capital "S."
Anyone ever hear this? I heard it a lot when I was starting out.
"I don't use photoshop because I'm a master of my camera and everything comes out perfect"
Translation: *I don't know how to use it and I don't plan on learning it because it's a pain"
Photoshop, Lightroom, Affinity, these programs exist for a reason. Most of what I do is sit on front of my computer trying to get the most out of the images I took. Why would I not do that? Also, photographers are artists. They are creatives. We are allowed to make art using programs and applications. Learn it, use it, don't ignore it. It is a very powerful tool with wonderful positive applications to your photography. It will only make it better.
9) Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Do you shoot portraits? Do some landscapes. You shoot birds? Try people. You shoot real estate? Try shooting cosplay. The gist of it is, get out of your element. If you're always shooting the same stuff, trust me, you'll get bored eventually or you'll just be in a creative rut. Go travel. You don't have to go far, just get in your car, drive somewhere cool (idk look it up on yelp or something) and just change your environment. Talk to new models, reach out on instagram, ask out that cute guy/girl in your class. Do anything. Just make sure to keep challenging yourself. The moment you feel comfortable is when you've stopped moving. Keep on hustling.
Here's Casey Neistat to help convey the message.
10) Screw The Rules
DAMMIT DANIEL YOU'RE CONTRADICTING YOURSELF! You JUST said to learn how to compositions and learn how to make a good photo.
Now hold on hold on. I did say to make your own style. Learning the basics are extremely helpful of course, but take it with a grain of salt. Each photo doesn't has to follow every single rule. Don't be constrained by what others say makes up a good photo. If you read these tips and said "wow, he has no idea what he's talking about," go do your own stuff and prove me wrong. Art is limitless and you should be too.
THANKS FOR READING THIS EVERYONE! If you found it useful just pass it along. Help those poor souls who don't know what they're doing.
P.S. Here's the biggest hidden shoot. Get off the internet and just go shoot. JUST DO IT. Trust fam.
*for the privacy of those involved, details were omitted and names were changed. I have told very few people these events, but I hope that me telling my story will help someone through their own troubles
Two years ago, my life fell apart.
When people say “my life fell apart, “it can be an exaggeration at times. Sometime spilled coffee on me on my way to the interview. I think I just failed my test. Me and my spouse are fighting. When I say this, I fully mean “my life fell apart.”
Two years ago, my long term relationship ended, my family situation went from okay to terrible, my grades dropped significantly, my physical health was deteriorating, I lost a significant percentage of my friends, and for the first time in my life, I was utterly alone. But that was my fault, I shut myself in, unable to even process the idea that anyone would be able to help me. At one point, I was suicidal, thinking that there was no recovery. What led me to this point? What led me to this train of thought of simply ending it all? Let’s rewind a bit.
I was born in Minnesota. Strange, I know, but somehow my first generation Korean parents decided to move to one of the most Caucasian heavy states in America. I grew up with all my uncles and grandparents in one house. It was a cozy lifestyle, everyone taking care of each other with an unconditional love most people dream about. We moved to a house in California and it was an utter culture shock to me. Everything was different. I came from a land dominated mostly by American culture to one that was strangely Asian. In the OC, one barely has to learn English to survive, as most of the people speak in their native tongue anyway.
I was plopped right into a third grade class in April. This combed back Asian kid wearing a polo. Target acquired. Or that’s what I assume came into the minds of the children there. If you don’t know, children are brutal. As we go through life and learn more, we develop a filter on what can be said and what can’t. Children have no such filter. They don’t need a reason to bully someone, only for them to be a little different. For the next seven years of my life, I was bullied terribly, both physically and emotionally. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. I haven’t heard a bigger piece of BS in my entire life. To this day I remember what these kids said to me, although I doubt they remember themselves.
“Why don’t you go back to Minnesota you freak”
“Fuck off you weirdo kid. You can’t do anything right”
“You will never be loved and you’ll die alone”
“I hope I’m Myspace friends later so I can see what kind of a sad life you have”
I ate alone at lunch. Sometimes in the bathroom, sometimes on an empty table on the far side of campus. Sometimes just walking around because I didn’t want anyone to taunt me. Sometimes I simply went to the quiet area in the library so I could lie to myself and pretend I’m too busy.
This continued for a while. I knew I had to change somehow, but I didn’t see a way out. I was bullied online ruthlessly. Funny how much people will say when they’re protected by anonymity. I finally made a change after I was almost beat up in the locker room. I left that day with a full determination. I joined martial arts and through pure force of will, got myself up to blackbelt in two separate disciplines within a year. Things got better as I read books and began to help learn more about myself. Or so I thought.
I learned something else during this period of bullying: people will use you.
Most of the bullying stopped around 10th grade, when I started actively trying to change myself into a more confident person who didn’t take shit from anyone. Although it was all a facade, it helped. However, I still remember a moment during lunch that made me crumble back into my old self. I don’t quite remember what I had done or what I made, but people were asking me for favors. This one girl came up to me and said, with no hesitation, “Wow thank you so much! I used mess with you in middle school by telling you where to meet up for lunch and never showing up, but now you’re alright.” My heart stopped. My teeth clenched. I put on the best smile I could muster and played along. Laughing and hiding my emotions. Sometimes you’ll take a thousand steps forward and think you’re along the path of healing, but one wrong step, one push, and you fall back down, beaten and less willing to make the journey again.
I began to look for things to cover up my depression. Finding patches to repair my heart so that no one could see all the cracks.
But I knew they were still there.
When I went to college, it was time for a fresh start, finally away from all the terrible things that followed me since 3rd grade. At first, it was great. I was making new friends and living a brand new life. The patches were still holding and my outer façade was holding. By my second year, I had a girlfriend who I loved dearly, my family situation was wonderful, and my pre-med life was on track and everything was looking better.
I will never forget that summer. In a period of three days, my entire life shattered. My girlfriend was gone, my connection to my family was considerably damaged, my grades, as a result, were dropping terribly, I had no direction in life, and as a result of all this and the stress of the looming MCATS and responsibilities, my physical wellbeing took a toll. I lost a total of twenty-five pounds in one month. I could not keep down food. I ate maybe once every two days and that was because I forced myself to. When I met with others and talked with them, I still had my façade, but it was cracking. The patches couldn’t hold any longer, they were too worn.
I poured myself into a life of self misery. I was drinking, smoking, staying out late at night, binging myself in life’s sinful ecstasies in a feeble attempt to take my mind away from it all. What did it matter that I was hurting myself and shortening my life? It’s not like it matters anyway, right? Even all the distractions did not help me from my thoughts. If you’ve ever had these kinds of thoughts, then you know that the ten minutes before you go to sleep are what you dread. That’s when the thoughts come pouring.
Why did this all happen? Is it my fault? Could I have done anything to solve it? Maybe I was the one that caused it all. It’s all me. Maybe the world is better off without me. No one would miss all the trouble. Everything would run more smoothly. Yeah that’s it. Maybe that’s the solution.
Lucky for me, my friends and family took notice. Before I could do anything to harm myself, I was brought in to a psychologist to receive help. I was reluctant to change. No one, even a trained professional, can make someone change if they don’t want to.
So what made me change?
About halfway through my first quarter of junior year, I met a patient where I volunteered. She had been severely burned, losing three limbs and had to have painful grafts. I was in charge of her discharge and was waiting for the nurses to finish helping her onto the wheelchair. When I saw her face, I was shocked. She was smiling. I took control of the wheelchair and was about to go to the elevator when she asked me to stop. “I’m a bit tired, can we rest here for a bit?”
We talked for fifteen minutes, discussing my life, her life, the world, her unending positivity especially. Strange how someone can feel more comfortable with a stranger than any of their relatives or friends. At the end of it, she smiled and told me she was ready to go down. After handing the wheelchair to her family member, she stopped me. Smiling, she whispered in my ear, “I’ve never met anyone like you before. One day, you’re going to be a wonderful doctor.”
It was that moment, that single sentence that propelled me forward. Words can have powerful effects and you never know what phrase may affect someone. It could be some seemingly hurtful taunts, or it could be a simple, genuine compliment that can make or break someone’s day, or even their life.
Since that day, I have spent my time learning more and more of the world and took a look into my being. I took a critical look at the past events and realized that rather than fixing my problems, I was adding temporary patches. My entire life had no solid foundation to grow upon. I needed a change, a real change that brought solutions, not hiding them.
There is a story in the bible that I think everyone should be familiar with (I know, strange coming from someone who is agnostic). There were once two men who looked to build their houses. One built a house on solid rock while the other built a house on sand. When the winds came and the floods poured in, the house on the rock stood there strong while the house on the sand was swept away.
I centered my time around how to build a more solid foundation. I read, traveled around, talked to others, and most importantly, explored myself to find what mattered to me most; what my core ideals were. My two biggest drives in life are so: to make those around me smile and enjoy life to the fullest and to find a way to enact change in this world for the better. I fostered a new view of this world, one of cautious optimism rather than the soul crushing pessimism I had before. I started photography as a way of sharing some beauty with the world; to see someone’s face light up when I took a wonderful photo was magic. I formed a new base, a new foundation for my life to grow upon. If you don’t love yourself, how can you love and help others?
Am I perfect now? No. Not even close. But now I can build my house on solid foundation, so that whatever trials may come my way, I will stand strong. I will overcome adversity and learn from those experiences.
Discover yourself. Find out who you are. Learn to love yourself. Continually try to better yourself and strive to better than who you were yesterday. Find what makes you happy and focus on that. What did Kelly Clarkson say again? What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger? Man that’s a good song.
I have completed my brand new gallery of Meg. You can find it if you press that button right below.
It's amazing to see a team of people work together and accomplish something so great. The photoshoot involved Jonathan Thomas (Co-Photographer), Lee Grubbs (Makeup Artist/Stylist), Meg Lucker (Model), and myself. The page I hope is to everyones liking. As it is with my galleries, there is a comment section on the bottom and for some reason the middle of the page so feel free to let me know how you feel, and please be honest. I can take it.
There is a lot of new things in the works at the moment as I am bringing in new members of this blog. As some have already seen, I am expanding the blog section to incorporate more people and topics. Also, I have been making videos and music for a while now, but I have yet to post any online. Maybe later down the road you can see that. Furthermore, I am starting a new food blog and if anyone would like to post onto that for exposure please contact me at my email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
As always, You Do You
Ahhh this question. I get asked this a lot and I never seemed to have an answer for it. What kind of photography do you do? You should really focus on one thing right? You can't have diversity in what you do. You have to "brand" yourself in the work you do. People look for constancy, they hate change. Find what you're good at and stick to it right?
If you guys know me I have a saying...
"YOU DO YOU"
I live by this rule. Do what you need to and want to do. Live by your own rules. Who cares what other people think or rather ask yourself why they care about it so much.
So to answer this question...I shoot what I want and what interests me. Why should that be a problem?
As again you awesome and amazing people, here's an amazing song for you. Have a fantastic day and remember...
You Do You
I just tried a new style of page layout and I love it. The new gallery fro Ami Park is now up at
and it looks amazing, you should all check it out! As an update, I am still working on the edits from my photoshoot with Meg, Lee, and Jonathan, but look forward to it coming out real soon! As per usual, here's another amazing song!
I just had two AMAZING photoshoots with just the BEST people. The first one was with Ami Park at the Travel Town Museum. She is the kind of person whose enthusiasm and pure presence leaves you awe struck and wanting to work harder. An absolute professional, she had a clear goal and made a wonderful model. Her direction and just genuine optimism showed in all the photos we took.
The next photoshoot was with a STUNNING model, Meg Lucker, a MIRACLE WORKING makeup artist, Lee Grubbs, and one of the most TALENTED photographers I know, Jonathan Thomas. They were all the most wonderful people and I have never clicked with a group of people that fast. We had such an amazing shoot, with the makeup being completely on fleek, the poses perfect with little to no direction, and a photographer who knew exactly how to shoot.
I can say that I would want to work with all these people again, hopefully soon. I can honestly call them friends and creators who work for a common purpose of creating excellence. Below are two sneak peak photos for new galleries that will go up very soon.
And as always, here's an amazing song I hope you all enjoy. Have a FANTASTIC day!
I have JUST finished updating some key elements to the site, including a new booking page and new pictures from shoots I have recently done. Any feedback would be nice!
Again below, an awesome song, guaranteed!
For a limited time, my friend and I are offering a TFP type structure for models (time for photos). We have many new and creative ideas we'd love to collaborate on. Contact me if you are interested!
I just started working for the La Sierra University Business Department as one of their photographers! Very excited to work with this wonderful team who feel more like my family day after day! I still do other photoshoots so if you want to contact me and do a collaboration I'm always down for new ideas.
Also, I think with every one of my posts I'm going to post a song that's been stuck in my head all day. Here's todays!