JOURNAL

Developing My Unique Photography Style

Developing My Unique Photography Style

3 Steps to Develop Your Own Unique Style

Step 1: Determine what you want to do

This step is very important because in order to build or develop a style you need to have a very clear understanding of what you want to deliver. For me, I decided to do studio lighting types of portrait very early on my photography journey. I started to practice different lighting and learn different techniques towards this part of photography. I still learned some other types of photography from food, architect, to landscape. But the main focus is on portrait especially studio lighting kind of portrait and this is what will define my unique style.

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Step 2: Seek Inspiration

As you start to develop your own unique style, you are most likely be guided by who you learn from the most. It can be a lot of different sources, Youtube, Workshop, Online Webinar. And the way you find these sources is by seeking inspiration.

I really like the way Lindsay Adler’s photography workflow, and I watched most of her master classes and learn her lighting skills. She is my inspiration, and my images are somehow like hers to a extend. My unique style is based on some brilliant instructor such as Chris Knight, Phlearn Family, Lara Jade, and Lindsay Adler.

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Step 3: Have Consistent Retouching Workflow

How you edit the picture is extremely important regarding your personal style. Having a consistent retouching workflow will unify your portfolio to a unique theme that’s belong to you and enhance the portfolio style. People can recognize your work by the way you edit your images.

My retouching workflow have been consistent even though it changes over the years. However, when I put them all together, people can still easily recognize my works.

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Evan’s Hairstyling Photoshoot Part 2

Evan’s Hairstyling Photoshoot Part 2

Editorial Portrait at Evan’s Hairstyling School

This is the second series of the Evan’s Hairstyling School Editorial Photoshoot. For this photoshoot, I invited three models. One of them is actually a student from the school. While we were doing our photoshoot, I spotted this girl from this girl Mikayla and her picture turned out to be my favoutie for this shoot. When I started photography as a student, I didn’t really know any models. Most of the time, I will just ask around or find them on the street. In a college town, most people are willing to say yes! You just need to start, keep learning and trying. And we know all things work together for good!

The first image that I did with Mikayla was a short light Rembrandt set up with a reflector fill on the left side and a background light.

  • Camera: 5D Mark IV
  • Lens: Sigma 70-200
  • (ff/4.5, 1/200s, ISO100)

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This one is another classic clamshell lighting with a background light and kick light. You can see the catch light in her eyes to observe the use of clamshell lighting.

Pro tips: I love deconstruct other photographers image by observing the catch light in the subject’s eyes.

  • Camera: 5D Mark IV
  • Lens: Sigma 70-200
  • (f/4.5, 1/200s, ISO100)

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Another clamshell lighting set up with my coworker/model Clark. He is a super talented illustrator.

  • Camera: 5D Mark IV
  • Lens: Sigma 70-200
  • (f/5.6, 1/200s, ISO100)

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Another image of Clark, the setting is a short light loop lighting with kick and background lights. And I taught my friend Kaden the process of my portrait retouching workflow. He is such a humble and passionate photographer/videographer. I love working with him.

  • Camera: 5D Mark IV
  • Lens: Sigma 70-200
  • (f/4.5, 1/200s, ISO100)

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Here is the last model, Hajdi from Albania. It’s the same clamshell lighting set up except the back lit is straight behind her.

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This is the last image from the Photoshoot! The same setting as the one I did with Max. In order to create a nice highlights on the cheek bone, I used two light with similar power ratio from both side and added a kick light with background light.

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I learned a lot of my beauty lighting theory and retouching from Lindsay Adler. She is a famous fashion photographer based in New York City and a brilliant instructor expertises in beauty and fashion photography.

Evan’s Hairstyling Photoshoot Part 1

Evan’s Hairstyling Photoshoot Part 1

Editorial Portrait at Evan’s Hairstyling School

It was a really fun project working with the Evan’s Hairstyling School. I receive this project while I was the lead photographer for Soapbox Agency. I was challenged to create 10 editorial portraits which will be printed 36×24″ to replace their current prints. I was in charge of finding models, assistants, studio setup, as well as wardrobe. As always, I love working with Tess, she is my go to model here in Rexburg. And my Key Grip, Max, on film set was my first male model. In this blog, I will talk about some settings that I used to create these series of editorial prints.

The first image that I did with Tess was a simple loop lighting set up with a reflector fill on the left side and a background light.

  • Camera: 5D Mark IV
  • Lens: Sigma 70-200
  • (f/5.6, 1/200s, ISO100)

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This one uses the same setting as before but changing her to a profile side.

  • Camera: 5D Mark IV
  • Lens: Sigma 70-200
  • (f/5.6, 1/200s, ISO100)

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This one is my favourite from Part 1 photoshoot. I used a big softbox on the right side as my keylight and a smaller one on the left as a very small fill. Adding a little bit of hairlight from the bottom left side and another light as the background light.

  • Camera: 5D Mark IV
  • Lens: Sigma 70-200
  • (f/7.1, 1/640s, ISO100)

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The last image from part one is a very standard beauty lighting setup called the clamshell lighting I used two beauty dishes from the same angle which you can see the reflection from his eyes. One at the top 45 degree down and the other one at the bottom 45 degree up with a much smaller power ratio. This kind of portrait create perfect highlight on the hair and cheek bone but also brings enough details to the shadow parts.

  • Camera: 5D Mark IV
  • Lens: Sigma 70-200
  • (f/7.1, 1/640s, ISO100)

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I learned a lot of my beauty lighting theory and retouching from Lindsay Adler. She is a famous fashion photographer based in New York City and a brilliant instructor expertises in beauty and fashion photography.

 

 

Wildlife Photography – Moose Charging

Wildlife Photography – Moose Charging

Moose charging – Reckless Wildlife Photographer

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I wasn’t planning on taking much picture for this trip with my brothers  and friends because I really just want to take a break and enjoy our time together. I still brought my camera with a 50mm lense in case we want to take some pictures of us. But then we saw this beautiful moose wondering so close by the road and just having a good day with his lady nearby. I got super excited 😆 hoping to get the picture of this gorgeous moose. But I only had a freaking 50mm prime lense…

So I got closer and closer and closer, until I was around 10″ at this point hiding behind a few trees. The moose noticed me and stared at me for a moment. And then he charged. I was badly injured and stayed at the hospital for the next two months.

Just kidding, he was super chill on that day. Nothing happened and he walked right passed me. It was reckless, but wild life photography is my passion since I was a small kid!!

Even though I have been posting lots of portraits, wild life photography has always been my dream. I remember reading one children’s book about lion in africa and telling my teacher I wanted to be a wild life photographer in Africa.

Producing portraits are just much cheaper and more convenient that’s why I have been doing mostly portraits. I love interacting with people, finding their best moments and turn them into arts. But being in the mountains with the natural and wild life really give me a sense of peace and simply amazed that this earth might be one of the most breathtaking creation of God.

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🦌 Yellowstone national park.

📷: Canon 5D Mark IV
Lens: Tamron SP 150-600 at 552mm
(1/640s at f/6.3, ISO 400)

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A super nice guy Matt @a.name.the.birds.can.pronounce who was also taking the photos at the time let me borrow his camera and lens to take this photo 🙏 check his staff out! It’s awesome!!

Camera: Canon 5D Mark IV
Lens: Sigma 70-200 at 185mm
(f/2.8, 1/1000s, ISO125
Location: Grand Tetons

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I learn a lot from Tin Man Lee for camera setting and preparation in wildlife photography.

Camera: Canon 5D Mark IV
Lens: Sigma 14-24 at 15mm
(f/2.8, 20s, ISO5000)

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Here is a guide on how close you can be while taking wildlife photography.

https://www.yellowstonepark.com/things-to-do/wild-animal-safety

Landscape Photography – GTNP

Landscape Photography – GTNP

Grand Tetons Landscape Photography

Chasing angels or fleeing demons, go to the mountains.” – Jeffery Rasley

These are a series of landscape image I took on my last trip to the Grand Teton National Park. I found that I especially love using a closer zoom lens for landscape comparing to the wide angle lens. The zoom lens can bring mountain much much closer to the viewer and have the theme of being in the that beautiful scenery of peaceful teton.

📷: Canon 5D Mark IV
Lens: Sigma 70-200 at 200mm
(f/14, 1/2000s ISO 800)

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The following two images are taken in the same time and same location, the only change is it was two different angle. One of the things I learn from Caryn Esplin is to always look back and try different perspectives while taking landscapes.

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rying a different style of landscape editing.
Inspiration: @christianschaffer
Go check out her landscape! It’s phenomenal.

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While on our way to Teton, our instructor Caryn Esplin brought us to this small creek on the side of the road. This image might be my favourite image from this trip!

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Landscape/Wildlife Photography

Landscape/Wildlife Photography

Landscape/Wildlife photos from Island Park and YNP

During my trip to Island Park and Yellowstone National Park for the workshop with Caryn Esplin. We had a lot of time to take some stunning images! We went to few stunning sunrise points as well as some sunset points. Photographers are truly the explorer of lights, we chase, create, and be inspired by lights. Being in

The Forenoon of Island Park

Here is the morning sunrise I captured in island park. The river is the famous buffalo river where Caryn’s cabin located nearby. We stayed in the freezing cold wind before the sunrise and just wait until that moment of gorgeous sunrise.

📷: Canon 5D Mark IV
Lense: Sigma 14-24mm (this lens is so good!)
(f/16, 1/500s, ISO 100)
Time: 7a.m.

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Yellowstone Geyser

Here is two images of the breathtaking Yellowstone geyser sunset. A lot of time during this trip we used wide angle and bracketing setting for the landscape photography. But I wanted to try bring the audience much much closer to the geyser and fill the whole frame with the ember sunset. So I switched to a 70-200mm for this image. I love it.

Alright I was a lot further away from this big boy. A super nice guy Matt @a.name.the.birds.can.pronounce who was also taking the photos at the time let me borrow his camera and lens to take this photo 🙏 check his staff out! It’s awesome!!

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Here is a guide for the Yellowstone photography guide.

What to Photograph in Yellowstone National Park

How to Pose Woman

How to Pose Woman

Female Posing Guide

I started as a portrait photographer mainly focusing on female fashion photography. There are many details that go down to how to pose female models. And I learned a lot of the pro tips from through “The Lens Lounge.”  In this article, I will share the 9 tips as well as some of my add on advices on posing woman and finding their best angles.

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#1 The Closer the Bigger

The golden rule in female portraiture is the remember that whatever is closer to the camera, the bigger it is. Minimizing the unappealing body parts such as the upper arm, belly, or even the double chin and putting emphasis on the more attractive parts of the curve are very important.

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2. If it bends, bend it

(from “The Lens Lounge”)

This is one of the first rules of posing women. Because women’s bodies have curves, bending limbs accentuates the curves.

Bending the arms will highlight the curve:

  • at the waist
  • in the small of her back

Bending one leg and shifting her weight to the other leg will:

  • push her hip out on one side
  • which creates a curve when facing to camera

If she’s side on to camera it accentuates the feminine shape, because it:

  • amplifies the outward curve of her butt
  • and the inward curve in the small of her back

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#3 Curve the Arms

This part I have different opinions than the website guide. In the article from The Lens Lounge, it mentioned to give space between body and arms. But I am more incline to curve the arms no matter to bend in to the body so you can emphasize the waist or bend out away from the body are both fine. As long as the arm is not just straight unless is doing on purpose. Here are the examples.

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#4 Less Than 90 Degrees

Anything that is 90 or more than 90 degrees give a sense of boldness, straight, masculine image. On the other side, if it’s less than 90 degrees, it’s more reserved, and feminine. Not saying girls can’t be bold, straight, and like a boss, this is just an expression. You get the idea.

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5. The feminine S shape in posing

(The Lens Lounge)

The beauty of the female form lies in the curves. So when photographing a woman, we need to make sure that we make the most of her curves, regardless of whether she’s standing, sitting or lying down. 

The best way to do this is to think in terms of an S shape for great curves and apply the pose to the whole body. Because the shape is so distinctly feminine, when you photograph an S pose from the front, the side or even the back it’s flattering.

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Conclusion

I think these are the most important ones from the tips that I gathered. A lot of time, as photographer we need to find the angles for our models that will work the best on them. Make a few try and some adjustment and you will get there!

  1. The Closer the Bigger
  2. If it bends, bend it
  3. Curve the Arms
  4. Less Than 90 Degrees
  5. The feminine S shape in posing
Veterans Day Photoshoot

Veterans Day Photoshoot

Veterans Air-force Photography

This is from a few years back when I was taking a class from Caryn Esplin and we did an air-force style photoshoot. And the clothes are actually WWII style of clothing. We did it at the Rexburg, Idaho Airport where we were able to access some really cool planes and trucks as our backgrounds and props. It was an amazing opportunity and an honor to do this shoot. We are able to do this on a land of the free because of the sacrifices that our ancestors have made in the past. Even though I am from Taiwan, Taiwan and U.S. were allies back then and still now. Unlike China, I was blessed to have the freedom of speech and freedom of religions in Taiwan where I spend most of my life.

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“Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country’s cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as he best can, the same cause.”– Abraham Lincoln

This is the guy who owns the planes and WWII costumes. It’s a pleasure to work with him!

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And here are some picture of Erica! Our talented female model on set.

How to Pose Guys

How to Pose Guys

MY MEN’S POSING GUIDE

While the majority of the posing are focusing on female poses, there are few things that men should be doing while posing for the camera. It’s like when you go to a clothing store, and from the 1st to the 5th floors are all women’s clothing and only 6th floor is men’s section.

In this post, I will give a few tips on men’s posing. I learned a lot from a website called, “EXPERT PHOTOGRAPHY“.

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General Tips for Posing 

from Expert photography

General facts that will help you better pose a person and understand why some poses work:

  1. Things that are closer to the camera look bigger.
  2. Things that are further from the camera look smaller.
  3. A longer lens flattens depth (for example, a big nose looks smaller at 120mm than it seems at 50mm).
  4. A short lens makes the face rounder and “puffier.”
  5. Things pointed directly at the camera look shorter (foreshortening).

The following suggestions are for impressive male poses.

But it doesn’t mean that you can only apply them for a male model. Female and gender-neutral models look great in these poses to. You just have to know that these postures create a masculine appearance.

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Give Men A Chiseled Jawline in 3 Steps

  1. EXTEND THE NECK
  2. USE THE SHADOWS
  3. ADJUST THE CHIN UP OR DOWN

Through these three simple steps we are able to grab the focus on the jawline and that will give a sense of strong character.

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Peter Hurley – Squinch 

When people are in front of the camera, they often have their eyes wide open and simply stare at the camera which is something you will never do in real life unless your kids did something very wrong.

Raise up the lower eyelids when the upper eyelids stay open or slightly squinched can create a very interesting look on both male and female. A look that draw people into the character.

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Look Away

Looking away from the camera is also a very nice technique to pose men. And when the head tilt to other angles, the jawline is usually emphasized.

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Quick Pro Tips:

from Expert Photography
  1. A lot of people have one eye smaller than the other (you would be surprised once you start paying attention). You can choose to ignore this or, if you think you want to do something about it, pose the smaller eye closer to the camera (see general fact 1, listed above).
  2. When dealing with a heavy blinker, ask your subject to close his eyes and open them on three. You should be able to get at least a few frames with no blinking right after the subject opens his eyes. This is a great technique for portrait photography. The photos will capture the moment when your model looks straight into your soul.
  3. The double chin can be too much to handle by pushing the chin out and down. You can try blocking it out of the view by posing the subjects’ hand. Place it in such a way that it obstructs a direct view of the double chin. For example, chin resting on fist, fist to the side of the neck, etc.
  4. If someone has a big nose, use a longer lens and shoot the face straight (no head turn) (general fact 3 & 5). Foreshortening and optics would come to the rescue.
  5. Puffy faces look skinnier when using a longer lens (general fact 3).
  6. If your subject has a prominent forehead or is balding, shooting from a lower angle will help alleviate the problem (general fact 2).
  7. If the person gets tired and has droopy eyes, shooting from a higher angle would force them to look up into your camera, thus forcing the eyes to open a bit more.

More Examples:

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Macro Photography – Closer

Macro Photography – Closer

Macro Photography – Beginner Tutorial

As a beginner myself on macro photography, I learn a lot from photographylife.com . And they have a tutorial on Macro Photography, “Everything You Need to Know About Macro Photography.” I have been interested in Macro because of my passion of wildlife photography. While using extreme tele zoom lenses are quite similar to using macro lenses, the technique of this two are very different. Both will take a lot of time and practice. In this article I will share some notes and things I learn from Caryn Esplin‘s Macro Workshop as well as the tutorial above.

I will share again some of the principle and fundamental about Macro Photography here:

  • Understand macro photography terminology.
  • Pick the right camera and lens equipment.
  • Get enough depth of field.
  • Pick camera and flash settings for a well-lit photo.
  • Focus on the most important part of your subject.
  • Learn the common behaviors of various insects.
  • Compose and take your picture.

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It is important to compose before taking the image, I choose to only show half of many macro objects because people already know what that is. Giving a bit of white space allows the viewers to breath as well as for graphic designer to place texts.

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This is one of my favourite macro image, Looking at those texture on the Chinese $10 dollars bill!

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While eyes are the window of the soul, people never really stare at other people in their eyes. Quite interesting, isn’t it?

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