Monday, December 17

My Life as a Photographer

Many people have asked me about my photography projects and how it all started. So, I've decided to blog about it,

To many who know me, I've always been a photographer. In fact, before I was a photographer before I became an editor. When I was in college eons ago, one of my roommates had this old camera he was about to throw away. It was a 1950's film camera, all manual without any need for batteries. According to my roommate, it was broken. Curious, I asked for it so I could play with it.

I remember spending the entire night taking the camera apart and fixing it, polishing it, and cleaning out the dust and the mirror inside. When all was done, I noticed that the camera, though old, was not out of order; it was in perfect condition. The only problem was no one knew how to use it. So, I decided to learn.

Fast forward to a week later, I was snapping pictures of people, friends, and family. I did not have a flash component, so I used a lot of ISO, aperture, and speed compensation. Using a film camera required loads of skills, because there was no way of previewing my images before I snapped them. I had to really understand how photography worked, knowing exactly how my images would look before I even took them. I had to be in control. Before long, I was taking model portfolios for model friends and exploring the world of fashion/editorial photography. At one point, I sought the mentorship of Stan Malinowski, a renowned fashion photographer in the '80s. With his help and advice, I perfected my photography skills and started taking wedding and engagement pictures as side projects. Photography was how I supported my family while pursuing my graduate degree.

Today, as executive editor for a publishing house, I spend most of my time reading manuscripts and doing editorial work. But I always find the time to work on side photography projects. Once in a while, I'll get a call for a shoot I can't resist. Nothing excites me more than to be on set with a camera in hand, framing some of the most beautiful faces in the world.

So, without much ado, I'm going to take you through some of my latest projects:

The two B/W portraits above were part of a senior picture shoot I did of a friend. We did the shoot in my garage studio with a FujiFilm point-and-shoot camera and a single continuous light. Since I was using a point-and-shoot camera, continuous light was the best way to go to give the camera sensor the longest light exposure. Using an ISO 800 and an aperture of f/4.5, I was able to achieve a Banana Republic look for my subject. 

This fashion shoot above was one of my favorites. This time, I was using a DSLR camera. The sun was setting behind, giving the subject a natural warm ambient light. With the sun as backlight, I had to make sure the aperture and exposure was correct. I used a fill flash and an aperture of f/4.5, speed of 1/125, and ISO 100 to take this shot.

Shooting in the open is not always the easiest. You have to deal with whatever you have. In the case above, I positioned the model in a shaded area and had one of my assistants block additional light from above with a reflector to prevent unwanted shadows on the face. Bear in mind, this is a fashion shoot, and the face and clothing must be perfect. Prior to the shoot, we applied a simple makeup on the model's face with bronzer on the jawline and nose bridge to accentuate his face. We also applied a bronze shimmer cream on his eyelids as well. For men, the lip color should always be magenta-ish. No reds, no pinks. I used a reflector to light his face and a fill flash to give him some highlights and catchlight in his eyes. The result is quite impressive, I must say.

The shot above was taken in one of the ugliest places in Smithfield, Utah. It was cold and the color was drab. In such conditions, the model's skin will be covered with goosebumps. So, we had the model smother herself with vaseline and lotion. Luckily, the sky was a little on the dramatic side, and I was able to use it as a background, creating a dramatic scene for the shot. For this shot, I did not use any flash, just a reflector to capture minimum highlights on the model's skin. I wanted the model to look like an African warrior queen, but on the fashion side of things. 

Again, this shot was taken at a not-so-interesting location. But by juxtaposing the dramatic skies with the dry weeds, I was able to get a very earthy feel for this shot and make it work. Using only a reflector, I made sure I had enough light to give her dress a sheen, but not enough to give her the punch. I refrained from using a fill flash on this shot because that will take away the natural feel of the frame. 

So there. Those are just a few of my latest projects. I'll have more to showcase in the next few weeks. Please feel free to comment below and tell me what you think of my images. I usually only reserve no more than two photography projects in a month, so if you are interested in booking me, let me know early. 

Thanks for stopping by. Until next time, smile big. You never know who's holding the camera :)


Janet Kay Jensen said...

Wow. Fabulous work, Chris.

Amie Borst said...

man. maybe you can do my author photos! ;)

Christopher Loke said...

Thank you, for stopping by. I'll be posting more photos as I take them. I wish I could shoot everyone's portraits. Hire me and pay for my airfare. I'll be there in a heartbeat, ha!

Elsie Park said...

That's so wonderful, Chris. I never knew you did that. Now I know. Good shots. Great talent.