Flashy Lights – In Studio


Above are five selected photos from our studio session during class last week. We had a chance to take our cameras in studio and photograph our fellow classmates and their guests. Before this assignment I hadn’t really been a big fan of in-studio shooting. I had an impression that it was a little too “one-dimensional” and my composition skills were not enough to make things interesting.

After practicing studio lighting and seeing the different effects we could get it really ignited my interest in studio creativity. I realized that it could be completely different from on location settings, and that’s a totally good thing! Adjusting the lighting by turning one off or turning it away from the subject gave the photo depth and mood and it was all at our control. As far as pursuing photography as a career, having studio photography skills is something that is very important. More specifically in fashion photography it will be a strength I can offer once I develop my skills with studio lighting and setups.



Environmental Portraits

The photos above are my take on environmental portraits that I captured during class time and outside of class for the assignment. These types of portraits are very interesting to me and I realized that a lot of thought and planning before hand goes into these kind of moments. I needed to make sure I could capture the subject in a setting that was able to show the viewer a genuine perception of what they do or who the subject is.

For the first photo with my classmate Cameron, I chose to capture him on campus being that he is a first year student attending CSU San Marcos and it would be a classic memory to document. We chatted before hand and Cameron mentioned he is a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity and that they were hosting events on campus throughout the week. When I got to the setting I felt a little nervous since it was during U-hour and a lot of students were on campus, feeling a little hesitant with the crowd I feel like it affected my ability to compose the photo as strongly as I had hoped. All in all I am still happy with the way the photos turned out and this photo assignment gave me a lot to learn and work with.

The following photo was one I was able to capture during our session in class. The subject is an employee at the USU Marketplace who was eager and happy to take a photo. I was initially attracted to the fridge that held organized drinks as the background. With the small isles it took a few tries to position the subject in a way that didn’t show distracting pieces in the background. I felt it showed enough story to the photo and still allowed me to capture my simple style.

Richard Renaldi // Touching Strangers

New York University graduate Richard Renaldi is an internationally celebrated photographer who’s most recent work titled Touching Strangers has had viral success. This particular series includes photos of strangers in New York sharing intimate moments under the direction of Renaldi.

In this series Renaldi was not only able to capture the subject in a compositionally pleasing way, but somehow everyone involved walked away with a greater feeling. New York is known as a fast moving city full of strangers moving to and from; Renaldi was able to break down these barriers and connect these individuals in unordinary ways, using his vision and camera equipment.

This shows how powerful photography can be as a way to tell a story and connect people in ways they may not have been connected before. The photos themselves give a sense of unity knowing that these are complete strangers, who put away all assumptions and ideas to cooperate in making this art piece. Renaldo’s style captures showcases the subjects with boldness and simplicity at the same time, allowing for the story to unfold on its own.

Ian Ruhter // Silver & Light

Ian Ruhter’s career as a photographer started out no more different than many other photographers; he had the same equipment, same lenses, and similar ideas to many other photographers on the market. Again just like many other photographers, Ian hit a plateau and it continued to deflect his interest in conventional photography and lead him to his unique and uncommon photography practices now.

Ian’s journey as a photographer truly took off as he set off to create a giant mobile 1800’s inspired camera in the back of a vehicle that resembles an old school ice-cream truck. Ians work became a culmination of the ideas from the past and the technology of the future. From here Ian was able to reconnect with his passion and continue to make art that had purpose and meaning for himself.

The message I got from this idea was that sometimes it takes a daring and bold step to get out of your comfort zone, and more often than not it could lead us to something even greater than what we could expect. Further, it shows how separating yourself from a crowd can be what makes your work extraordinary and unforgettable.

BE AN ARTIST VIDEO: TEDxSeoul // Young-ha Kim


Young-ha Kim is a Korean author who shares his view on being an artist. He shares his experiences as a child of how he began his story telling, which ultimately led him to be the celebrated author he is today.

A few main takeaways from this TED talk was how Kim believed that we are all born as artists, we have an imagination that allows us to live and act artistically. Somehow as we grow older, art becomes optional to us and we don’t make time for it.  Kim furtherThe lack of an artistic outlet still finds its way to show up in little actions or underlying feelings such as jealousy. We come to idolize people who were courageous enough to stick with their artistic tendencies, such as famous writers, singers, and other celebrities.

There is no better time to become an artist than right now, we’ve always had the ability to imagine beautiful pictures and tell captivating stories. Our priorities change as we grow older but our abilities as an artist don’t have to be neglected.

Letters To A Young Artist – Confidence

The book Letters to a young artist by Anna Deavere Smith is a collection of letters and advice on “making a life in the arts.” This particular letter I read was about Confidence and how we choose to go about it. To exemplify her idea she shared the perception of confidence made by a competitive bull rider named Brent Williams.

51q3cziedql-_sx322_bo1204203200_Brent highlighted that we should value determination over confidence, although confidence is never a bad thing to possess. Determination requires more than confidence because it involves trying and putting action to your confidence.
My favorite part of this letter and the piece that really stuck out to me was Brent’s mention that having determination also means having doubt and humility. To me this means that we allow ourselves to put our best food forward, with just enough doubt to help us think critically and move with intention.  I take this advice with me and hope to apply it to my work, remembering to keep humility and always keeping my eye open to new things to learn.

Walnut Grove Park

Photos taken from  a park near the university, at East Olive St. and Sycamore Dr.

The rainy weather from a few days ago cleared the spring pollen and dust from the air. The hills surrounding the park were glowing from the afternoon sun and altogether made a perfect setting to capture photos.

What immediately caught my eye was the large grass field you drive past when you first arrive at the park. As I started photographing my eyes became attracted to the little buildings and greenery that surrounded the field. My five best photos from this shoot include composition techniques such as spot coloring, harmonious colors, leading lines, and patterns. Having a second round of capturing photos with composition techniques in mind helped to train my eye in noticing different subjects in different perspectives. Overall I am pleased with what I was able to capture, I feel it offers a peak into the setting of the story; the vibrant colors show the coming of the season and the time of day that add to the mood of the photos.

Diptychs & Triptychs


The Diptych above shares a story from my first trip to Big Bear, California. The photos show the scene of the uncommon upstairs room in the cabin and its high-pitched ceilings, and the view of the towering trees outside. I developed the photo in Lightroom to emphasize the muted tones to reflect the mood of the cabin and the snow covered woods. The simplicity of the photos shows the harmonious and serene feelings of seeing snowfall for the first time.  I paired these photos because it were the two photos of the series that I felt really displayed my memories of the trip as a whole.

The following Triptych is a high-contrast black and white series, flowing from one filled frame to another. I felt that developing the photos in black and white gave the series flow and harmony for what could have otherwise been a very busy triptych. It shows the coming and going of finally reaching the mountain top, to see an assemblage of many others who travelled to enjoy the snowfall as well.


Robyn Davidson, Wanderer, & Rick Smolan, Photographer

Robyn Davidson is a wanderer, and writer, who is acclaimed for her trek across Australia with nothing but her camels and dog companion. 

Davidson intended for this journey to be a solo mission, however a coincidental discovery made by photographer Rick Smolan lead the journey to be bigger than imagined. Photographer Rick Smolan had suggested this story to National Geographic at the time, who then allowed Smolan to travel to Australia to follow Davidson and photograph and share the story of her trip.

The question was why would Davidson want to voluntarily embark on a near 2,000 mile trek on foot, alone? Smolan documented the journey from a perspective that would attempt to answer that question. At the same time, Davidson drilled at Smolan’s mental integrity by questioning why he felt the need to “make a product out of everything” and why he wasn’t able to allow himself to be present in the moment, beyond his camera and beyond his assignment. The relationship between photographer and subject in this case made for a more interesting story. As Davidson wanted to remain under the radar, and Smolan wanted to understand and document her journey from start to finish.

Through this assignment it seems that both Davidson and Smolan had learned a lot about themselves from a perspective on the outside. Smolan created a story through photos that allowed curious viewers all over the world to take the journey across Australia with Davidson; every triumph and forfeit we witnessed, making her success of a journey even more meaningful.



The Story of A Girl

 A former Times Magazine photographer went beyond his assignment to capture the story of the Amerasian children who were left behind by their American fathers in Southeast Asia.

Rick Smolan hoped that his photos would not only document the story, but also compel people to make a change about the situation. After Smolan’s initial dissatisfaction with the article that ran in the magazine, he was inspired to find six of these Amerasian children from different countries and tell their story with a meaningful intention.

One of his subjects was a young girl living in South Korea with her grandmother, who effortlessly stole the entirety of Smolan’s story. Unsuk Lee was a lovechild of an American G.I. and a Korean woman back in the 1960’s. Her appearance was a surprise to me as she was a contrast of American appearance surrounded by Korean natives. Smolan captured Unsuk’s simple life at home, school, and with her friends. Despite her obvious differences, Unsuk was a presence that did not go unrecognized. She presented herself as an eager student and a leader on the playground. At the end of Smolan’s self-assigned journey, Unsuk’s grandmother believed she was nearing her end and requested the Smolan take her back to America with him.

At this point in Smolan’s  story, I realized how his simple mission to share the story of Amerasian children turned into something much greater than he probably expected himself. For myself, it was a very humbling thing to know that no matter where our passions take us, its the willingness and bold intention that get us up off of our feet in the first place.

Smolan’s adventure continued after an adoption made by his friend brought Unsuk, now known as Natasha, to America. Smolan captured every bump in the road from Natasha’s journey to America; from her uncle to finally agreeing to sign the adoption papers, getting caught in a deadly hotel fire, one last visit to her home village, and finally being united with her new family in the States. Natasha’s endurance and bold personality managed to stick with her through her travels. She continued to strive in school, entered beauty pageants, became captain of the cheerleading team, got a job, and eventually married with a beautiful family.

Rick Smolan’s initial assignment was to capture the story of the lives of 40,000 Amerasian children in Southeast Asia. His intention as a photographer was to compel the audience and make them feel something great enough to take action. This lead Smolan to a life-changing and life-long relationship with Natasha. His efforts encapsulated Natasha’s story in a way that made you feel like you were right there with her. From a photographer’s standpoint I think he did more than accomplish what he intended to do. Through the power of photography Rick Smolan managed to capture and influence a story along the way.