Thursday, July 27, 2017

Making Magic

Ana in Old Pasadena.

Photography is my happy place and it's significantly changed how I look at the world.  When I peer at my surroundings, it is through the lens in my mind's eye.  I am always framing and composing every day scenes in my head.  There is a story to be told in every image and I want to capture those moments as organically as possible.

When I look at a person, I am making memory pictures and photographing them always changes my perception of them.  I start to see more of their beauty: the curl of their lip, the flicker of light in their eyes, the way they smile.  We are all carriers of innate natural beauty and that's what I'm always trying to capture. 

I saw Ana in passing recently.  On a whim, I asked her if she modeled and scribbled my information on the back of a receipt.  We met up in Old Town, Pasadena (clearly a favorite spot of mine) and found little nooks in which to shoot.  As a director, I'm fairly minimal.  I prefer models to fall organically into movements and poses they might adopt in my absence.  I don't like to direct the minutiae or interfere with the scene.  When asked about wardrobe, I always say, "Wear whatever you feel most comfortable and beautiful in."  

I think Ana is a natural!  Don't you?  I may not have posted the images where she is grinning, but she is one of the warmest, kindest people I've ever met.  As a model, she was game for anything and incredibly patient during the whole process.  She has a good eye as well and had suggestions for backdrops (which we used!).  I'm 100% open to input because shoots are a collaboration, not a one sided venture!  There is almost always a thing or two you can learn from others: a new perspective, a way to play with light, how to interact. 

Post-production and retouching were kept to a minimum.  If you're wondering, I only touch up impermanent things such as acne, scraps, or bruises.  I won't do any further alterations unless requested.  I will NEVER alter someone's body, face, remove scars or seek to misrepresent them.  Firm believer in, "You are beautiful as nature made you" over here.  Hopefully, my editing will appear seamless so that you can't tell what I've done! 

Let me know your thoughts?  As always, if you have suggestions or critiques, I am open to hearing them!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Sunday #53: Pasadena, Santa Monica, Los Angeles

Photograph by Ana.

Whoo!  Sunday night!  Mine was pretty packed and I'm tired.  I had two photoshoots, a music festival, and regular life things in between.  I had handed in my most recent draft of writing to my advisor Friday so it was a good weekend overall!  


My friend Ana had the idea to go to Santa Monica this past week for an evening.  Believe it or not, I've never been to Santa Monica Pier or the beach.  I'm terrible at this whole California thing!  After an hour long drive, we rented a tandem bicycle (another new experience) and rode along the shoreline, into the setting sun, with the sea breeze blowing through our hair.  All we needed was a Lana Del Rey song playing in the background because it felt like being in on of her videos!  Riding along that shoreline felt like flying.  We grabbed burgers at Stout and finished out the night with a ride on the Ferris Wheel.  It was so much fun!  Good company, good times. 


I've done headshots for Grant at Lost Art Creative a couple of times in the past.  This week, he hired me for a short session in Pasadena so I did that on Friday.  Today, I had another shoot with Roberta so it was a lot of photographing over the past three days!  Honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way.  Taking pictures if my happy place, especially the editing process, which takes a good image to a great image.  Tonight, I'm trying to squeeze in some edits before the arrival of Monday.  In case you missed it, I shared a recent photo shoot his past week!

Grant of Lost Art Creative.


On Friday, my friends and I went to eat burgers at The Counter, a trip we'd been planning for two weeks.  All in all, I'd say I ate a lot of good (but unhealthy food).  On Saturday, my boyfriend and I went to FYF Festival in Exposition Park to see MGMT, Built To Spill, and Tribe Called Quest.  It was quite a good Saturday; we don't get a lot of time to do things outside of Pasadena just for the two of us.  

Want to hear something funny?  When we were watching Built To Spill jam, these two girls jumped in front of us to film Instastories of themselves dancing and having fun, which would've been entirely plausible if they didn't leave right after taking the videos.  It was the most inauthentic and bizarre thing I'd seen that night. 

How was your week?  What were you least and most favorite parts?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


This year, I'm working on pushing myself outside of my comfort zone.  At the beginning of the year, I largely photographed friends and people I knew within the academic community.  However, as an artist and photographer with a love of portraiture, I'm always staring politely glancing at people, even in public.  When I was picking an outfit with D for a shoot, I noticed Niko working in the store so I asked him to model and he acquiesced!  (I get hard NOs or stipulations, too).

I'm always grateful when someone will model and give me their time.  Taking photos, editing, and sharing the final images is done purely out of passion.  One of my favorite parts of the photoshoot process is finding the perfect images that capture a sliver of time or a microexpression.  I don't believe in people being "photogenic"; everyone has a good angles and beauty if you are just patient enough to find it!

As I photographer, I am beginning to understand why fashion magazines look for such tall models.   Working with D and Niko has helped me see what it's like to having the skeletal structure to fill up a frame.  It has also made me realize how much focus I put on the face and upper part of the model's body.  As I've said, every shoot is a learning experience.  The next thing I want to work on are compositions with the entire body in frame!

If you want to see more, visit my Instagram page @lumiereandlens!  Let me know your thoughts?

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sunday #52: Branching


This Sunday post opens with a self-portrait I did this week.  I went to a conservatory-type high school where they taught the Art Majors, "If you don't have a subject, you always have yourself."  Here's one of the few that worked out!


Nancy, Eena, and I live relatively close to each other in Southern California. We're always on each other's blogs and coincidentally in the same areas a lot. On Friday, we had a little meetup. It was my first time meeting anyone from the blogosphere (thank you to Nancy and Eena for setting this up)! We ate yummy food and just chatted away. We could take pictures of our food and each other without thinking it was weird. You know, #justbloggerthings! 

Something I love about the blogosphere are the voices of other women, especially those from my ethnic background, who are not often present in mainstream media.  It was just as wonderful to meet these women in real life as it is to read their writing on my screen.  There's something surreal about the instant recognition of someone after reading their blog for so long.  Has anyone else felt that?  In any case, I had a great time hanging with Nancy and Eena! 


Last week, I gave a girl my contact information after seeing her in a restaurant because I wanted to photograph her.  Meeting new models that don't attend my university means I have to put myself out there.  My last two shoots are with people I've met in Old Pasadena who I thought would be amazing models (and they were!).  I'm putting together a post about my recent shoots so stay tuned!  I have to say that photography brings so much more emotional fulfillment to my life.  Not only do I get to spend time doing what  I love, but I also make new friends and have new adventures.  No joke, I meet some of the sweetest people!  I'm not making money at the moment, but I am loving the photography I get to do!  Pursuing this is also an exercise in putting myself out there to make things happen.  


I've spent a chunk of the weekend revising some writing I am doing for lab.  I also got the chance to head out on Saturday with a friend and my boyfriend.  We finished out the week with a delicious dinner at a Japanese BBQ place.  As for right now?  I'm going to get ready for bed because my eyes are closing as I type this.  Hope you all had a good week.  Tell me about it?


•  Let's congratulate Dani on welcoming baby Harry into the world!
•  A powerful essay on grief from Michelle. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

In the Forests of Alaska

lumiere lens, midnight sun, alaska, golden sunset, sunset in alaska
The golden sunset on our second night in Alaska.

I had the opportunity to spend a week in Alaska with my boyfriend and our family at the end of June.  I've posted a lot of snaps on Instagram, but it's time to start sharing on Lumière & Lens!  Since I took so many photographs, I figure I'll split this up into several posts so this first one is about getting to Alaska and our location.

We stayed at the Glacier Bay Lodge in Gustavus, Alaska which is inside Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.  In order to get there, we had to fly to Juneau, Alaska and take another plane into Gustavus.  Like the city, Gustavus airport is tiny (about the size of a house).  We were shuttled to the lodge and found that there was absolutely no cell phone service.  We had WiFi in the lobby of the lodge, but that was it!  I had a minor moment of panic before reminding myself that people don't hang out in the wilderness to stare at their phones. 

Glacier Bay Lodge (top) and the boardwalks between rooms (bottom).  

The lodge was composed of wooden buildings.  Everyone who worked there was really nice.  Come to think of it, I didn't meet a single rude person in Alaska!  The rooms had blackout curtains because of how late the sun set in Alaska (not until 11:00 PM).  I have always dreamed of living in a Scandinavian country and Alaska was as close I've gotten to it.  Coming from Southern California, it was absolute heaven to hear rain and feel cold again.  I fell asleep most nights to the sound of rain against the windows and walked under a light drizzle each morning.  How wonderful it was to breathe crisp, clean air and feel water on my skin!

Bartlett Cove viewed from the lodge.
Mountains, the dock, and beach flora.
The wooden dock on Bartlett Cove.

The lodge was situated right by Bartlett Cove so it was just a short walk to the shore and docks.  When the clouds would allow it, the mountains were visible in the distance, behind the forest of trees that lined the cove.  I walked out there as much as I could because I'm rarely near the sea in Pasadena.  The water was calm and reflected the surroundings like glass.    

Walking on the Forest Loop Trail (top), the moss that grew everywhere and Huna Tlingit carvings (bottom).

We settled into a routine of living slowly in Alaska.  We would wake up early each morning, eat breakfast, depart to the day's activity before returning for supper.  After supper, we would always freshen up and then take a walk on the Forest Loop Trail.  The forest was dense with trees, lichen, and moss that grew on everything.  Here and there, we would see carvings in the trees made by the native Huna Tlingit tribes.  The forest was peaceful; all you could hear were the sounds of yourself, the birds, rain, and other animals.  One night, we were treated to a golden sunset in the wilderness!

A sunset through the trees.

The city of Gustavus is very small.  There is no hospital, no police, and no movie theater.  They have one organic food market, a convenience store, a coffee shop, some galleries, and a pizza place that is open two nights a week.  On our second to last day there, we walked the one big road in the city into their "downtown" area (just two store fronts and a gas station).  The forest clears up as we get into town.  We could tell how close we were to town by the bars of cell service we had!  On the way, we passed by a small winding river called the Salmon River which had an abandoned boat on its shores.

Salmon River (top) and the abandoned boat (bottom).

On our last morning in Alaska, I wanted to walk along the beach so we went to the shoreline around the cove.  We walked on wet rocks in the intertidal zone where I pocketed small pebbles that were smoothed by the water.  Back in the lodge, I rinsed them off and packed them into my bag.  It made the departure from the heavenly dreamland a little easier.  Those rocks now sit on my dresser, little pieces of Alaskan shore with me in California.  

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Sunday #51: Back Home Again

Gustavus, Alaska, Lumiere Lens, Glacier Bay National Park
Bartlett Cove in Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve.

Hello, folks!  It's been a hot minute since I've been on here.  If you keep up with my Instagram, you'll know that I've spent the past week in Alaska with my boyfriend and our family (without whom this trip would not have been possible).  This Sunday is my first day back; my flight landed at 5:00 AM today and I climbed right into bed after arriving home from LAX!  Flying is very tiring for an activity where you spend the entire time sitting.  


I'm saving what I did this week for my upcoming Alaska posts (finally, real travel posts!), but I gotta say that it was amazing experience.  We stayed in Gustavus, Alaska that's a stone's throw away from Juneau.  We spent the week in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve which meant we were right in the Alaskan rainforest!  The city of Gustavus is so small that a week was just enough for us to do everything short of fishing and kayaking.  Here are a few of many highlights: we went on a whale watching excursion in Icy Strait where I got to drive the boat for a bit.  The skies were pretty much always overcast and it rained fairly often, giving the landscape a foggy, forlorn, and moody appearance.  We were so close to the Arctic Circle that sunset was 11 PM (that midnight sun!) and even the nights were never pitch black.  We ended every evening with a walk in the forest!

Gustavus, Alaska, Lumiere Lens, Glacier Bay National Park
Gustavus, Alaska, Lumiere Lens

Suffice to say that returning to Pasadena is a bit of shock.  I've been drowsy most of today and it seems too sunny.  I'd love some cool Alaskan weather with a spot of rain right about now.  


Our Independence Day falls on this coming Tuesday.  I plan to spend tomorrow catching up on work from home and getting into the swing of the week.  I have lab meeting on Wednesday and a new revision to turn in.  A few people have reached to me for photography work and collaborations via Instagram so I also have two shoots lined up this week.  I shot a new model/friend I met the week before I left for Alaska that I'm in the middle of editing.  I realized that I have a bunch of shoots that need completing!  If only I got to do this full time!      

We're too fried from unpacking/cleaning to cook tonight so we're ordering takeaway and having a relaxed night.  I've painted my nails this afternoon to transform myself from a Forest Girl to a City Girl.  Now working on hydration and getting nutrients.  Does anyone else feel hungover after long plane rides?  I plan to finish out the night with a face mask and long sleep. 

Tell me about you!  What did I miss while I was gone?