narrative

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I had a negative narrative stuck in my head for days and couldn’t get it out. Perhaps, the effort of getting it out of my mind was making it worse. The story in my head goes like this. I didn’t deliver what I promised. I disappointed my client. I could’t attend an event I RSVP’d already. I disappointed myself for taking on a project that caused the same anxiety and stress that I’ve been running away from for years.

The story I tell myself is the story I make up. It’s not something someone else created for me. It’s all invented, derived and interpreted from situations I found myself in. The story could be completely different if I look at it from a different perspective.

Today, I’m trying to write a different story. A story that looks at things the way they are.

Oh my god, that woman just kicked her dog

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‘Oh my god, that woman just kicked her dog!!’ A woman walking a dog on the opposite side of the track about 20 metres away from me was talking on the phone telling the other person on the phone how this awful person abused a dog.

The woman who (she thought) kicked her dog was me. Well it might have appeared that way, but that’s not what happened. You see, my dog, Lush, and I walk 6kms or so every day along the river. Despite my best efforts, this little puppy gets too excited when she sees other dogs and pulls on her leash so much so that I often get worried about her being choked. In order to avoid strangulation, I sometimes balance on one foot and hold her back by hooking the other foot around in front of her. This also distracts her from running after the other dog. So that was what the ‘kick’ was.

Now, for the other woman, I’m a low down dog kicker. Clearly, at first, I was annoyed by her overreaction and her judgement. Not that I would worry about ever meeting her one day and being remembered as the ‘animal abuser’. Having said that, with Perth being so small, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility entirely.

We all know the axiom, there are always two sides to a story. It made me wonder how many times I have judged other people, rightly or wrongly, for their actions. After being judged by some random person for doing absolutely nothing wrong, I reflected on my past actions and I repented for the judgements I had made against unsuspecting individuals, and I paid particular attention on the way back home not to ‘appear abusive’ to my dog.

 

P.S. Some mobile pics from the walk with the dog.

The New Guildford Hotel Launch Party

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The-New-Guildford-Hotel-May2016-0441Eight years in the making. That seems to be the headline of today’s launch party of the new Guildford Hotel. There were times when all of us in the Eastern suburbs thought the historic building would remain as a ruin. Then there was talk of developers not willing to fork out a ton of money to redevelop and a lot of back and forth with the local Council. We saw hundreds of socks getting hung on the scaffolding of the building in protest. People were willing to give up their socks for access to beer (and to have a beautiful historic building restored).

Although I drive along Guildford road all the time, I didn’t pay much attention to the construction site. Tonight, I was getting dressed up  I use this phrase very loosely as I don’t have a cocktail dress to speak of, although the mention of tonight’s dress code by David Gardner, the man in charge of PR for the launch, didn’t literally mean that ladies had to put on a cocktail dress on a cold windy night  to attend the reopening of the new Guildford Hotel.

Funnily enough, there were women literally dressed to be frozen while their +1s were rugged up with a winter coat. It was an especially peculiar experience for me as I have never been known to queue up to enter a bar. There were hundreds of shivery people wrapped around the side of the building, lined up to get into the venue. Luckily, it didn’t rain so we only had freezing ladies (not the wet ones).

I admired the turn out. Mid-week opening of a bar attracting this many people? Suppose it’s because the building had quite a bit of a reputation over the years getting built, not built, abandoned or demolished. I was quite amazed by the PR guy’s ability at that point. And now the building is back with all the ‘reconstruction surgery’ completed and it’s looking younger than ever. Walking inside, I felt a welcoming warmth, not only from all the bodies but also from several fireplaces. The lighting was warm as well, with just enough visibility.

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The new hotel has several distinctive areas. Main bar, outdoor beer garden (I’m guessing), upstairs lounge and a function room. Every area has a number of details evoking the hotel’s history and charms. I felt rather envious of the person (a photographer) who would get to use every nook and cranny of the place as backdrops for photo shoots.

And oh boy did they put on a spread!! I must say if it wasn’t for the fact that I already had dinner and that I’m on a calorie restricted diet I would have had a really good feed at the party. I did not pick up a single bit of finger food on offer. Not even a drink. There was food and drink everywhere. My +1 went the whole hog on ribs and fried little morsels and he wasn’t alone in milling around the bbq area to pick up freshly carved ribs straight out of the charcoal grill.

There was lots of cheer and glitter. As the formality began, I heard the names of ‘distinguished guests’ and among them was the Premier of the State. I assume if he was turning up to an event like this it must have been quite significant, hence the large crowd. It’s still a bar opening though. There are quite a lot of significant events that he skips.. makes me wonder…

Just a few titbits

– my dressing up involved Gail’s Dawn top by Gail Thompson and a pair of tux trousers from Abu Dhabi purchased in 2003.

– interestingly, the ladies at the door didn’t have my name on in the guest list although I did receive their RSVP confirmation. They asked who invited me and my answer (correctly) was David Gardner which let us in.

– there were so many (mature) ladies I would have liked to photograph. It was too busy, crowded and noisy to strike up much of a conversation with anyone. Well, that’s my excuse.

Official Runway Photographs for Fremantle Fashion Collective 2015

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I was the house photographer for the show last night at the PS Art Space. It was a great show with a decent lighting setup and electrifying atmosphere.

Huge hugs and congrats go to the team at The Studio (Jacqui Brown). Hopefully, you would enjoy these photos especially if you’ve missed out on the show last night (as it was another sellout event).

For the first time, I’m selling these images (online) on this website as well so if you’d like non-watermarked images just use the ‘buy now’ button. :)

Designers

  • Poppy Lissiman
  • Sea Dreamers
  • Alexandra King
  • KINN
  • One Fell Swoop
  • Wild Horses
  • Monster Alphabet
  • Empire Rose

Like these photos?

Non-watermarked high resolution images can be purchased.

Write to studio@songyknox.com.au.

Telstra Perth Fashion Festival 2015 Backstage Exclusive images from TPFF2015

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I was hired by Style Voyeur to photograph Fashion Paramount evening show backstage during 2015 Telstra Perth Fashion Festival.

I attended the following 10 shows. Each set contains 200 or so images. You may find some repeated photographs with slight variations but I didn’t edit those out as I wanted to show pretty much what I delivered to the client after each show.

I was trying to be as discreet as possible when photographing but I know that I was in the way of people (models, dressers, makeup artists and hair stylists) who were busy working. Big hugs and thanks go to the backstage crew for being so supportive during the most crazy and hectic moments.

For that reason alone, these are precious to me. I have to also thank Style Voyeur for the amazingly exciting assignment.

Orange, Tangerine Colour Fashion Guide

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It was raining as I was thinking of writing this piece. Then a few minutes later, the sun came out. Winter is on its way out I think although it will probably have a few of cold nights up on its sleeve. Our friend came and visited last week with a bag of tangerines and oranges. It is the orange picking season! On that note, let me show some gorgeous orange coloured outfits that you could try.
Orange

Orange is a tangy, optimistic colour that demands attention! Strong, joyful, and happy, adding orange to your engagement session is always a hit on camera. Couples with a more extroverted nature might enjoy orange-themed outfits. Orange also looks wonderful in urban settings, such as against concrete, brick, and stone.

fashion modelling portfolio photography for anyone

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Modelling Portfolio Package wasn’t something that I was planning on offering at the start of my photography business. People may think that there is something very glamorous when fashion and model are mentioned together although the reality is quite far from it. For that and more, I wasn’t particularly keen on doing any (so called) ‘test shoots’ with models. Why would I want to when we could have more fun transforming regular, every day women?.

Therefore, My main gig has always been ‘making every day women beautiful’. And my team and I could really make anyone to look and feel like a model.

Then earlier this year, we got to help Nikita who wanted to update her modelling portfolio. When she first contacted me for this, I was a little hesitant. Interestingly, she really wanted to have her folio updated with the style of images that I’ve been producing for my portrait clients. That was really it. The whole team got involved and we did a shoot. Nikita was very pleased with the result and she subsequently (with her new folio) signed with an agency.

I’m good at directing and posing women (as every client who did a shoot with me told me) and that goes a long way when creating a compelling portfolio for modelling. With that in mind, I decided to create a page dedicated to modelling portfolio. It was created some time ago but I have been tinkering here and there for some time. Today, I think I’m ready to tell everyone that we are doing this.

 

Father’s Day Gift Guide

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This post below was sent out to my mailing list last week (with a major typographical error in the heading! Duh). I thought it would be good to have a post here with some additional content for those who are not part of my newsletter subscribers’ list.

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I did promise to give you Father’s Day gift ideas earlier. What I present here are something that I love (well, I do like guy stuff as some of you may already know!).

Some are Perth local which means you don’t have to wait for a long for them to arrive. Others (the wallet) offer a free express shipping so you might just get them before Father’s Day which is Sunday, 6 September. Not long now!

Happy shopping and keep loving!

xo
Songy

gift-guide

1. Chapels Fine Teas

Chapels on Whatley is a restaurant, cafe and a tea merchant. I love their tea more than any other tea products available in Australia T2 included. If your Dad or your man is a tea drinker, see if you find something he might like. If you like me you’d like Skinny Bi**h Teas. Don’t let the name put you off. It’s simply delicious! Their teas range from around $15 to $30.

If he is not a tea drinker I suggest having breakfast or lunch there. Make sure you book a table well in advance (about now would be a good time) as tables booked out fast for special occasions. Chapels is located near Maylands train station.

2. Rhus Watches

Serious covetable watches. I love them all but my particular favourite for boys is Sand / Matt Black Watch. This watch brand is based in Perth! Me LIKE. This particular watch is $130.

3. Bellroy Wallets

You may say ‘Not another wallet!’. He may already have a wallet as well. But probably not this one. This is the only wallet I own. Trust me. He will like it if he carries no cash and just a bunch of cards. My favourite (the simplest) is Slim Sleeve.

Hang on, but he has everything!

Well, in that case, I might still be able to help.

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CELEBRATE DAD!

This father’s day, capture the amazing love between Daddy and the kids with one of my relaxed mini photo sessions. Each session is short but sweet, offering your family an affordable way to get beautiful, professional portraits to enjoy for generations. These mini sessions sell out very quickly, so be sure to book your time slot with me well in advance.

PERFECT GIFT FOR DAD

1 hour Mini Photo Session
5 hand-retouched high resolution digital photos for $350

Find out more about Father's Day Mini Sessions

Indigo blue colour fashion guide

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Indigo

 

Today would have been a perfect sunny day to pull out some summer clothes (although it’s still winter where we are) as the temperature went all the way up to 27 degree C. That is practically a summer weather in some parts of the world!

Blue is not definitely not my colour but my friend Simone looks great with blue. Probably some of you out there would definitely prefer blue to brown (my colour). Don’t get too excited with this summer attire though as it will soon get colder towards next week. We may get some more rain then.

Here’s some story on the colour indigo blue.

Indigo – or deep blue – is a rich, exceedingly popular colour which looks beautiful in almost any setting. Outfits with blue elements create a sense of calm and quiet – perfect for a more introverted couple or natural backdrops. Blue can be dressed up or down to fit your tastes, and can be used either as a main colour or accenting in your outfits.

Green Colour Fashion Guide

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Green

Here’s me thinking, perhaps, spring is peaking his head although it’s still cold at night and my toes suffer from chilblain of some sort (could you believe it!?). At least, we are having a bit of break from rain this week. I’ve been loading the washing machine (ran out of my undies!) non-stop today.

Green is a perfect colour for me today. I’m a big fan of slightly ‘cooler’ green such as turquoise. See if you have anything in green in your wardrobe. Wear some green!

Here is a little story on Green. Enjoy.

Nothing says fresh and new quite like the colour green! Green comes in a wide array of shades, ranging from a yellowish, pea-like hue all the way to turquoise! Green looks beautiful combined with earth tones, and therefore makes a wonderful choice for outdoor shoots and backdrops of wood and stone. Even small accents of green, such as jewellery, scarves, or shoes, look wonderful with whites and tans.

Violet, Purple, or Lavender Colour Fashion Guide

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Violet

We had quite a wet day. I haven’t been able to walk with my dog and had to remain at home. Not so good when my GP sent me a letter saying that (after a full blood test) I have vitamin D deficiency. I suppose I just have to stay out in the sun (if and when it does come out again) for a bit.

After posting a yellow guide earlier this week, today I felt like purple (or violet or lavender if you’re more romantically inclined) today. I don’t have anything purple in my wardrobe. I’ll have to look for some (not that there’s any more room!)

Here is a little story on Violet. Enjoy.

In ancient times, the creation of purple dye was an incredibly lengthy, expensive process. Purple garments became a symbol of wealth and nobility, even royalty; and were sought after world-round. Although violet is now far easier to come by, the colour is still associated with its royal roots. A violet-themed engagement outfit exudes playful sophistication and looks great on camera! Small accents of purple, such as scarves and accessories, can also liven up an otherwise muted palette!  

Yellow Colour Fashion Guide

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Yellow

This isn’t about how to wear yellow if it is indeed your colour. This is about show some options for those who often tell me that they don’t know what to wear. It’s a glorious winter’s day today. I found these fashion guides online and loved them so much so I purchased them (for you). Here’s some blurb on today’s colour YELLOW.

Ah, yellow! The colour of happiness, of light and sunshine. Yellow is a wonderful colour to wear in outdoor, buttery natural-light shoots, and looks amazing on camera! Although yellow can be difficult for some to wear because of its tendency to wash out skin tones, patterns with yellow or a single yellow garment in an otherwise neutral palette adds wonders to your images. Adding yellow florals, jewellery, or accents also helps to make your photos go “POP!”. We love yellow. 

How I made free stock photo download page

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My friend suggested giving away some photos on my website. They don’t have to be great work. They just have to be good enough to be used as background images in website projects etc so she said.

Even after years of somewhat hoarding my photos by watermarking them (usually do that for my fashion runway images) and reserving rights (copyrighted), it didn’t seem like a radical idea. After all, I don’t do anything with those images and it’s not like they are like some kind of ‘work of art’ – ah yes, they are in a way, but I still think I have a long way to go with my craft.

It didn’t take much to take some photos for that very purpose, since looking through old archives to select sharable images would take so much longer, on early cold mornings. That’s when one could get spectacular micro (macro a la Nikon) photos. Having photos made and ready to share is easy but how do I make them downloadable?

I causally thought about, after having looked around various other free stock photography websites, what my page should look like. Here’s the list of things I wanted.

  1. Photos downloadable without having to navigate to another page
  2. Photos laid out in a neat grid format
  3. Page is mobile device friendly (modern standard!)
  4. People could buy me coffee via PayPal (make a small or big donation)
  5. Photos are stored not in the web server space but stored externally (i.e. Dropbox or iCloud or Google Drive) with a cloud storage service.
  6. Photos could be categorised and sortable. This means preview images (low resolution) have to exist in the web server as ‘posts’ so that I could apply tags and categories.
  7. I don’t have to upload photos one by one (That would be a deal breaker as I don’t want to spend too much time maintaining the page)

The list is not in any order of importance. They have been used as criteria for deciding what kind of plugins I need to make the page happen. What I need to point out here is that I am not a programmer, or a web or a front end developer. I’m just a photographer who makes simple websites with the use of readily available themes and plugins.

After a few days of experimenting with different methods, here’s the list of plugins/services I used to make the page to work the way I wanted (according to the seven items listed above).

  • WP Download Manager Pro (Paid)
  • PayPal Donation (free)
  • Quick Featured Images Pro (Paid)
  • 30 minutes of front-end developer’s time (Paid)

The result of all that is now available for you on Photos. The page itself doesn’t look all that special. However, it took some time to make it work. Let me explain.

WP Download Manager Pro

It’s a pretty comprehensive piece of software built by a guy in Bangladesh. They have a slew of add-on programs to go with the WP Download Manager. I had to pay for their Pro version because they following features are not available in a free version:

  •   Bulk Import – this meets (so I thought) criterion 7
  •   Download Stats – didn’t think I’d need it but would be handy to know how many people are benefiting from these images
  •   Custom Templates – really needed it because of criterion 1 

I thought this plugin would fulfil all of the requirements. However, I found out, after trying out their bulk import feature (simple CSV file with various columns), that it was not quite enough. It does do what it says but not completely. The biggest problem is that after loading a bunch of images, they don’t actually show up in the Photos page until I assign a preview image (which have to be stored locally and not in Cloud to make my photos sortable/categorised) for each downloadable item one by one. That clearly defeats the purpose of having a bulk importer although it does save a little bit of time. The guys at WP Download Manager, when I pointed out the obvious flaw of their software, were kind enough to suggest an additional plugin called Quick Featured Images Pro which eventually solved the problem – read on to find out how I got the work around.

The Custom Template was definitely needed because I really didn’t want people to click through to another page (which was a default behaviour of the plug-in) to download actual image files. I’m not selling these images one by one (like other stock photography sites) so there is really no reason for people to move away from the list of photos. That meant I had to modify their ‘download link’ template. I never want to tinker with plugin’s core files as that would jeopardise future updates of the plugin which is critical for website security (in case you don’t know, outdated plugins are one of the key reasons why websites get hacked). With their custom template function, I was able to simply delete all other links, icons, click through and make the page to show list of preview images with download links.

So far so good, but what I ended up with was a list of small thumbnails and download links as text which are not really ideal. That’s when I got my front end developer to help. He spent half an hour tidying up CSS and made the page to look the way it does now.

Quick Featured Images Pro

Lastly, this plugin saved a lot of my time by allowing me to grab attached images – Bulk Importer above could attach images as a piece of content but not as preview images as Featured image. That meant, l could run Bulk Importer to upload multiple images all at once. Then run Quick Featured Images Pro to attach preview images.

wp-download-manager-file-list

So what?

What this means that I could upload several images at once spending perhaps half an hour or so rather than hours across several days to upload new photos for people – YOU – to enjoy and perhaps to use for work.

I hope this was helpful for anyone who is thinking of doing the same thing (saving you time and some headache). Also, you know what I do when I have spare time – stuck with my computer tinkering with websites.

Until next time… ciao.

Winter Specials

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Exactly what the title of this post says, we are offering a special photo package for July and August. I hear that the day are getting longer from today (or has it begun since yesterday?) but it feels rather too cold (and wet until yesterday) to go out. 

Having a photo shoot with us would be an excellent indoor activity for you, ladies. That’s actually what my client told me today.

If you want your partner to do something special for you, this ‘image flyer’ would definitely be a good ‘hint’. It cannot get easier than this, can it?

I don’t usually offer this type of special – some of you may already know if you’ve been watching – so it would be a good opportunity to get your gorgeous portrait made by my team if you’ve been umming and ahing about coming in for a shoot.

3 hour photo shoot including:

  • Professional hair styling and makeup
  • 3 outfit changes and styling
  • Set of 6 gorgeous digital photographs
  • Choice of 1 archival mounted 7×10 inch print.
    ** Bookings available every day except Saturdays

The package price is $1,295.

Booking request form

 

Film Noir Nude

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I read somewhere or heard from someone that when I feel stuck I should try something different. So that’s what I did. I haven’t been very shooting actively. I blame my cute puppy for that inactivity  but I know that I must own my schedule!

My joy in taking photos of women has always been in dressing & styling. Undressing then taking photos has never been a thing for me. I didn’t think about it until lately that I don’t need pretty garments to make women look beautiful in photos.

What if I could do just do that with shadows? Painting with shadows would just be effective hiding multitude of things and highlight the curves that I love seeing in women’s body. Jacqui, in these images, is very tiny so I would love to try this film noir style nude with curvier ladies soon.

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Would love to try again with people with crazy tattoos as well. Oh possibilities and opportunities! Who is feeling stuck now?

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Portrait for Elite Athlete Genie Colllin

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I don’t often do portrait sessions without my team these days but sometimes it is just so easy to have a session with no one else around me. After all, it was how I used to work.

This 18 year old young lady  just came back from Brazil after winning a bronze medal at the ICF canoe slalom Junior and Under 23 World Championships. And she will soon be off to Europe and the USA for other international level competitions and training. 

Unlike in America where Senior Portrait (for those who graduate high school) is popular, I don’t really get to take portrait of girls like her here in Australia.

It is quite apt that she got to do this session with me as she will be able to use these images to replace her profile photos (after all, she is an elite athlete!), to approach potential sponsors and employers.

I also managed to dress her in a more grown-up attire, namely, a lattice pattern top from a local designer Gail Thompson whose work I recently found and fell in love with. I also put her in a peach dress from our massive shooting wardrobe (which is growing day by day).

Love making gorgeous images of young girls (ahem, adults, thank you very much, she would respond)… more images to be seen in my portfolio.

View more photos

 

What is her favourite colour?

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What is my mother’s favourite colour?

That question popped into my head and I realised that I had absolutely no idea. Do you know your mother’s favourite anything – colour, food, magazine, singer, movie etc?  I don’t know anything about my mother. She has always been just the carer, provider, someone who nagged me for not doing the right thing (by her standards of course). I never knew her as a woman just like me. In Korea, she wasn’t even called by her name. She was simply known as Songy’s Mother (that’s was a normal thing until the early 90s’ but not sure if it is still the case).

Margaret, my client Neonie’s mother, brought her favourite hoodie jumper for her shoot. She seriously wanted to wear a hoodie (and insisted on wearing it up) and she looked fab. Neonie lives in Perth and her parents are in SA. This photo shoot was something very special for both of them as they don’t get to see each other that often.

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Does your mother have her favourite hoodie? Or simply does she like colour black? Or would she look absolutely fabulous in black?

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Or does she have her favourite dress in which she looks great and makes her look 20 years younger? When was the last time she wore that dress?

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If you know answers to all of those questions you are lucky because I, as mentioned earlier, know nothing about my mother (not having seen her for 10 years doesn’t help either).

Quite a few daughters – clients – came to me with their mothers in the past 12 months. I’m very grateful for the experience because those sessions helped me to understand finally that my mother was once a woman.  While I plan to have a visit back to Korea at some point to re-discover the woman who brought me to this world, I suggest that you do the same if you don’t know much about your mother.

Having a photo shoot with her, of course, would be something exquisite (as my clients all call it now) but it doesn’t have to be that grand. Just find out, look and talk to her not as your mother but as a woman for once.

Session with Stephanie Labrousse

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Sexy, crazy, and cool is what the shoot was like with Stef Labrousse. Jillian, our stylist, well I’d rather call her my Creative Director, had a brilliant idea of setting up a backdrop with what was sitting in my backyard to be thrown away, a decade old brushwood fence.

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From there, it got wilder as the shoot progressed. The resulting images are something that I couldn’t have been able to create if it wasn’t for having my team. A big thank you also goes to the makeup guru Miss Gower who did a fab job.

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Just wanted to share what happens behind the scenes of a creative photo shoot. _DSF1028 _DSF1031

These following close-up photos were taken by Hollie Gower while I was taking photos. It wouldn’t be long before she switches side (from makeup brushes to a DSLR) but I guess I could be totally wrong there. You be the judge.

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Session with Amy

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Amy is tall (5′ 11″), has short blond hair and she’s a young professional. An invitation to a photo shoot was sent to her quite a few months ago. As she ‘confessed’, she’s been putting off a session with us. When I finally plugged a date into our shooting schedule, she just accepted the appointment without much of a reaction.

The day came. Jilly, the stylist, started ‘inspecting’ what the client had brought with her for the session. Lots of pearls. Didn’t make sense to Jilly. Amy’s style isn’t usually the girly pearly look. As Jilly was whispering that in my ear, I called out to Amy loudly, ‘Hey, what’s with all these pearls?’ She explained that they were from her mother who passed away quite a few years ago. Silence. We then went about incorporating the pearls in the shoot with a few modern twists.

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The image above was a huge hit when I posted it in Facebook. Amy didn’t know that the pearls were going to be used this way. When the image was uploaded, she left comments with photos from her childhood taken at a portrait studio – probably with her parents watching her. Little Amy is wearing her mother’s pearl necklaces.

amy-childhood-photos

As a little girl, she is so small that the pearls came down to her knees. If Amy had brought those images along to the photo shoot, we could have easily simulated the looks and poses. Then again, it might not have worked out all that great. More than likely, I would have been a sobbing mess and would have made everyone else cry. Amy now has gorgeous photos of herself as a grown-up wearing her mother’s pearls. We love what we do. Could you tell? I’m teary already.

Before & After March 2015

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Every woman feels insecure. This very generalised statement seems not very far off from the truth. This morning, I watched a TEDx talk by Cameron Russell who has been a super model for over a decade. Even she came out and said, despite all her lucky genes (her words), she feels insecure about how she looks. Most of us understand that even the most beautiful woman could feel that way. Knowing all that doesn’t make us happy or confident about how we look. Actually, it rarely works that way. 

However, these ladies told us that coming to the studio and having a photo shoot was a great way to boost their confidence. That’s because they realise they also could look like a super model given there’s a team of specialists whose job is to make ladies look beautiful. Some ladies refer to that as magical. I’m almost sorry to say this but there is no magic in this.

I have a great team of creatives who share the same vision: makeup artists, a hair stylist and a fashion stylist. I try to have my full team of three in as many sessions as possible. I send big thanks and kisses to them for this month’s Before & After images.

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For mothers

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Within a few weeks, after consuming a copious amount of chocolate during the Easter break, Mother’s Day will arrive in May. While some of us would still try to wake up from the ‘choc coma’, others will be busy preparing something special for their mother.

I have a solution for those who haven’t got a clue as to what to do. You’ll probably want to save some money or maybe crack open your piggy bank. Or you could gather a photo-fund together with your bros and sisters if you’re lucky enough to have siblings. For the month of April & May and only for seven sessions, I have something special for those who want to treat their mother for a session at our studio. Valued at $1,595, the Mother & Daughter Celebrate Relationships package includes:

  • Makeover for two (mother & daughter)
  • Styling
  • Photo shoot
  • A pair of Stirling silver rings from Grace & Scaper
  • 10 archival mounted photographs in a gorgeous Photo Box**
  • Images in a CD

As I mentioned, we have this package available for seven sessions only and it cannot be combined with other offers such as discount/gift vouchers.

Some might say, I’m not a daughter … I say just book your mom in.
Others might say, I would like to book it in for myself, so I say just book a session for yourself.
And some could say, I am not a mother but I would like a session – then I suggest just booking a session but I cannot give you this package because this is only for mothers! So I’ll offer you something else from our price list.

** We have three white and four turquoise blue photo boxes available. Each box contains 10 of 6×8′ mat mounted photographs.

Interested? Contact us!

It doesn’t look like me. But it is you, beautiful.

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Scared/terrified – these are sometimes the words my clients use to describe their feeling before coming to the studio after they confirm the booking.

We sometimes have very reluctant clients who would only come because they were strongly encouraged by their partners to have their photos done with us.

Some clients are ‘slow burners’ who are, at first, in denial about how beautiful they look with a repeating comment like ‘It does not look like me’ while looking at their photos at the back of my camera during the shoot. My repeating response then is ‘But it is you standing in front of me’. They then would realise the plain fact – They are beautiful in their own way.

The beauty we saw today was incredible. I hope she could now see what we saw.

[update]

After I posted this message with the photo in my Facebook page , the client wrote a very long and heart ranching comment. Here I placed it in verbatim.

Songy, let me tell you my story.

As a teenager I was bullied by the boys at school. They called me “Mack Truck” for most of the time I was in high school. I was quite sporty, had a basketball scholarship, played netball and tried my hand at many other sports. I had quite a bad ankle injury at the end of year nine, and this was my out – I had an excuse to quit my basketball scholarship and not have to spend so much time around these boys.

I’m also from a single parent family. Raised by my mum, but always searching for my dad’s approval. He would introduce me as his “smart daughter” and my sister as his “beautiful daughter”. Now while I now recognise that this was his way of complimenting us, I always saw it as he calling me ugly and my sister dumb.

There is no doubt I was an awkward teenager, but these words from those hateful boys and my lovely dad have stayed with me 20+ years after they had been said. This is why I have never seen myself as beautiful.

I am now trying to teach my boys to be respectful and instil some of those old style personality traits that aren’t seen so much these days – to be chivalrous, romantic, and to hold their tongue if they don’t have anything nice to say. My sick little man’s face lit up when I arrived home yesterday, he kept looking at me and smiling, telling me how beautiful I was. This to me is all that matters now. Thanks for yesterday, I’m looking forward to seeing the other photos.

When I got this message, I was just parking my car near where I was supposed to meet someone. Of course, I couldn’t get out of the car as tears were streaming down my face. It was very hot outside and I had the car engine turned off so I had messy tearful face with sweat rolling down my back. I only wished she was able to share the story with us during the shoot so that we could give her a hug. It is me being rather selfish. I guess that sharing her story this way more people get to read and get touched by it.

Very few people ‘waltz into the studio’ for a photo shoot with us even when she wanted to do it in the first place. It is incredibly overwhelming having to face a camera. Claire did it and she shared her very personal story with all of us. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I cannot wait to show you the rest of the images from the session.

 

A bunch of Before & Afters

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In all seriousness, the idea was not to post a bunch of before & afters unceremoniously. The actual plan was to do a post for each and share the behind the scenes images along with stories from each lady.

It turned out though I cannot physically manage that as I got more bookings hence shooting and having to process more images. A bunch is better than nothing at all, I figured.

I harp on about how much I love shooting women and I also talk a lot about taking photos of regular women. What do I mean by regular women? The definition for me is simple – she is not a professional model. I’m having to explain this a lot because a) I get contacted by (wannabe) models asking for shoots quite often b) my business tagline says fashion/beauty and people assume, therefore, I shoot fashion models (why? not sure) c) I call myself a glamour photographer. Somehow that makes people to link to fashion models.

I was asked again today in a different way. Who is your target market? Or better way would be Who is your ideal client? My answer goes – mothers who have always been putting everyone else before them. And really if I were to go more broadly it would be women who could really do with feeling great about themselves for a change. That means a lot of us. So I’m telling all of you that you deserve to be photographed by my team. There, I said it.

Here, please enjoy this bunch of before and after images. We have mothers (with at least three children) with career, a young manager at heavy machinery hire company, professional women who wanted some different corporate photos and ended up with more than just photos.

Until next time. xoxo

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Happy Together

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This photo was taken 10 years ago from my apartment in Paris on a winter’s day. To this day, I cannot describe how heart-achingly lonely I was.

In 2004, I decided to base myself in Paris to pursue my career, leaving my guy behind in Abu Dhabi. Being separated after spending nine years together was the hardest thing I had to do. He still had a year left on his contract with an employer in the UAE, and I had to spend a year in Paris working. Being separated for one year doesn’t sound like much now but somehow it was too painful to bear most days at the time.

I did enjoy the life in Paris, don’t get me wrong. I would do that again in a heartbeat if I was given the opportunity but perhaps with one difference – I’d go with my partner.

I missed him so dearly. How happy I was when we were together whenever he came to Paris for a visit! This is probably the only picture of us together taken when we finally saw each other after nearly six months apart.

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We both look quite a bit younger in this pic. Looking at the image, I still have tears springing to my eyes and feel the pain and joy I had 10 years ago.

Where are we right now? I’m writing this post in my studio and he is out to see his dentist. Just getting on with our daily lives as a couple. Oh boy, how grateful I am though…Here we are together. We spend a lot of time together now more than ever before. Someone asked us recently if we were newly-weds. Not quite. Just been together for about 20 years and married for 18.

I am glad I have this one image to remind myself how much I cherish my relationship with the man I love. This is especially handy when he does things that annoy me a little. I’d rather have this occasionally naughty guy around me than being alone….so Happy Together.

 

2014 What a great year

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It has not been an easy year. Deciding to go after what made me happy seemed like the most selfish thing to do. Giving up a fat monthly pay cheque was the biggest decision I had to make in years. What ensued as a result of that decision wasn’t something one could easily predict. Read More

Bad photos from a good camera

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Some uninformed would say to photographers “Your camera takes great pictures!”

Well, not so – most of pros think. Because it’s well known that we (professional photographers), more often than not, do take bad photos.

Having a family portrait session for a family of nine, I don’t often use speedlights for large groups. The result – hmmm holy f**&. It’s awful with shadows in the background. I didn’t have time to fiddle with the lighting as much as I would have liked. That is specially not a good idea when a little baby is involved. 

I just proceeded with the minimal light changes knowing that those shadow casts can be fixed in post-production (as painful as it would be).

When I make mistakes like this I painstakingly fix them file by file just to remind myself not to make the same mistake.

Some of you might ask how I did it. Of course, there are so many different ways to fix this problem just to name a few:

  1. Deep etching in Photoshop (various masking techniques)
  2. Smart masking in OnOne Photo (just one stroke it removes the background so they claim)
  3. Spot fix without removing the entire background

I decided to go with the third option which was the fastest it turned out. I grabbed the Stamp Tool with big feather and stamped around the shadow gently. Shadows are gone but grey background not very attractive. Added a couple of layers with texture. How to show the textured layer through the grey background?

Duplicate the photo layer and set the original layer as ‘exclusion’ for the layer blending mode and mask away the grey in the second photo layer to show the patterns from layers underneath. Voila the final result – the client would be none the wiser how crappy the original shot was. Well, that’s only if they didn’t read this post. :)

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Yes, it’s not the camera that makes good pictures. It doesn’t really know what I want or need. It’s the person holding it makes / breaks it all. The actual magic in this case happened outside of my ancient Nikon D700.

Fremantle Fashion Collective 2014 at PSAS

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A long, long time ago, in a far, far away, place called in Perth, I decided that I loved shooting fashion shows. Only God (whatever your favourite kind is) knows why.

Fast forward six years, I was trying not to illegally park my car right next to Pakenham Street Art Space (PSAS – this is where Yuuki, formerly known as NiStore, and I did our editorial/creative shoot early this year) because I didn’t want to drag my case along bumpy pedestrian paths in Fremantle. It was a usually hot evening and PSAS wasn’t the best place to be on a night like this. It was not equipped with any kind of cooling system. Some sea breezes from the doors stood ajar would have been nice. Even those breezes were no where to be found. Usually, they are always there to blow my hat off but not on this night.

I was there kicking nonexistent dust off the floor with fellow photogs waiting for things to happen. I’ve been doing this so busily for the past six years until I found my love for this glamour portrait business.

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Crowd began pouring into the space and the show began. There is the usual crappy lighting -heavily back lit and where it was lit was actually fine. It’s just that models’ didn’t know where to stand so their half of body was too bright and the other half too dark – and swearing my ass off to fix focusing as my ancient D700 struggle to nail the focus on each shot due to back light. It’s just the usual struggle on the media pit.

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I suppose I’m just reminiscing how fresh I was when I first attended Fremantle High Street Collective – Transformation in 2008. I was hungry (for fashion runways) and very eager (so not to miss any shots). Now, I’m not as hungry (been covering far too many runway shows). I am easily the oldest person on the pit as each year the media pit in such shows sees the younger generation of photo enthusiasts taking up space while pros just go after more lucrative shoots. There, I still remain rubbing shoulders with young folks for the love of fashion runways, the music and the heat (probably more of body heat generated by some young dudes half my age right next me). Perhaps, that is why, thanks to this long running ‘romance’, I’m more often than not referred as a fashion industry person (although some real fashion people may not even heard of my name!).

So here I am remembering the woman in her mid 30’s on a hot summer’s day six years ago trying to madly photograph a fashion show in Fremantle. More specifically, I’m trying to remember the hunger and the eagerness she had. That woman is now 40 years old. Definitely, older but perhaps not wiser with a ton of runway photos. Now she wants to do the same with posing and taking photos of women – any women – with the same hunger and eagerness.

Email from Kim

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Amongst all of the thank-you notes and emails I receive after each photo shoot, the following from my client Kim touched me the most. She sums up reasons why I do portrait photography for a living. Kim’s email reads (copied verbatim with her permission): Read More

When and Why Do I Need a Glamour Photo Shoot?

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When do you need a glamour photo shoot? I’d say any day of the year. But if I were to give you a guide, the following list could be a good starting point:

  1. Breakup and divorce – good relationships never ends in a divorce or a breakup so it is a good reason to celebrate (getting out of bad relationship) and get your mojo back. There’s nothing like a glamour photo shoot with photos to prove how gorgeous you look. Sure way to get your confidence back whereas drinking heavily and eating vast amount of naughty food won’t do the trick.
  2. Menopause – Celebrate another big milestone in life. No more pills, pads, tampons or silicon cups. Sip some nice herbal tea getting over hot flushes. Embrace changes and rocking out the new lease in life.
  3. Take a break from kids – you always put your kids first. For one day, put you first. You’ll love your kids more and they will notice new bounce in you after a photo shoot.
  4. Lost weight – Got back in shape? Why not flaunt it?
  5. Feeling old and down – There’s nothing like making you feel and look beautiful than having a make-over and a photo shoot to record better version of yourself.
  6. Glam the dress- modify and wear the wedding dress again for a photo shoot – while remembering your wedding day looking super gorgeous again – styled and pampered just like the day of your wedding.

The bottom line?

  • Boost your confidence when you’re down in the dumps.
  • Enhance and increase the level of happiness

Sounds to good, does it? BUT, it is NOT one of those cases of ‘too good to be true’. I’ve only just listed stories of my clients.

If any of the list items describes you why not give me a call to book a personalised session?

Do you do weddings?

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My answer to that question used to be yes. I still have a wedding work booked in January 2015. I hope that would be my last wedding assignment. I love making images – any kind of photography.

In the end though, I had to decide on my niche. It took me a number of years to figure out what my niche was. Looking back, it was just like the time when I decided to give up graphic design as my career thinking that I’m better yet working with them than being one myself.

When you ‘google’, wedding photography perth there’s a ton of wedding businesses competing for a spot in the first Google result page. I found a couple of wedding photography studios that I’d love to use (if I were to renew my bow for our 20th wedding anniversary?). These guys are so good. See, that’s why I don’t want to do weddings any more.

First one I found is Still Love. I absolutely love their style. The very latest wedding post comes up in the site has a series of candid photos treated vintage film matt finish which makes me just swoon.  At the price sitting around at $3500+, they are  mid-tier photographers, definitely affordable for most people planning for their wedding. Well, I know that some don’t have a budget of $500 for wedding photography but they wouldn’t be searching the web with that budget, honestly. (usually it would be done by a friend of friends who happens to have a nice camera etc).

The second lot I like the look of is White Tulip. Their style seems similar to mine.  Their starting price is $2500 but judging by the way things are described it will potentially be a lot more if you’re after a disc with high resolution jpeg files. I do like their composition – wide angle formal portrait images and close up candid images. Photos are quite varied and they are of high quality.

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There you have it.  You don’t need to ask me if I still do weddings now.  So.. Please let me focus on making every day women feel and look beautiful and let these guys to do your wedding.

Tanya’s Before & After

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My before & after pictures are all about showcasing dramatic and glamorous changes. It is NOT about how ‘ugly’ before photo is. I don’t believe I make ugly before photos. I certainly don’t believe any of my clients look that way before any make up and big hair. There, I said it. Actually, I was talking to one of my family portrait clients the other day and he said some of the ladies look better in before photographs.

Enough of preamble?

Tanya is my client. To be specific, she assigns me to various event photography work specially during the racing season. I see her nicely dressed with matching fascinators each time but I have never really been allowed to take photos of her. You know how it is. Quite a few women I know are very camera shy. To better describe it, some of them are horrified by the thought of being in front of cameras. It was a bit of surprise when she said yes to my invitation to a studio session – being in front of cameras  for more than an hour with my crazy directions. In the end, her ‘give it a go’ attitude  made it possible for me to produce some gorgeous images.

Her exact words were after seeing her photos that I made:

They are amazing – best photos I have ever had!

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Every woman I talk to tells me that she is not photogenic. My response to that? You just need to find a good photographer.

Give yourself a gift of having good photos. As some famous photographers say, you must exist in photos at every stage of your life. You know I am not talking some random selfies?! It is just tragic to see newspapers print bar-crawling photos from Facebook because that’s the only photo available for a person (e.g. who recently got into trouble).

More before & after pics? Head on over to the dedicated page.

 

Social Media Stress & How I minimise it

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Facebook is a great place for connecting with people. One thing that is hard at times, however, is finding myself aimlessly looking at what others (those that I don’t really know but somehow connected as ‘friends’) are doing and getting moody. Or other times I start incoherent rants and get myself into ‘trouble’ – resulting in deactivating the account for a few days.

As I reflected on those, I realised that it largely came from self hate – nothing I have is good enough, not valuing myself or what I do for a living. Ah, isn’t that something a lot of us suffer from? Knowing that though – embracing the fact that most of us are in it together – doesn’t make it any easier.

I fully accept that I get influenced by what I see and read online. Therefore, I now limit my time on social media sites such as Facebook. Excising self-love while I make an effort to see people face to face rather than ‘seeing’ them online. That is the only way to see the ‘whole picture’ rather than what’s been (selectively) presented.

Today, out an assignment, I gave my client a hug. That came from genuine concern and empathy after hearing a rather sad (but possibly better for future) story. It wasn’t actually for that person but for the client’s sibling. I’ve asked to pass it on despite the fact that it was rather cheesy for me to request such a thing.

Go out and see friends and family this weekend. Share stories for real (not via share button), drink your favourite beverages (not via emoticons) and give each other a hug (real tight ones).

I’ll be hugging a lot of people this weekend and it will not appear in my Facebook feed as I will be too busy not being online.

Relationships to celebrate

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I met up with two friends today. Each with different relationship problems. One decided to separate and met a new beau. The other was counselled to talk issues through and make up.

Some relationships would be better ended and others would be carefully nurtured and managed.

Regardless, past and present relationships with yourself and others, should be celebrated. I believe all experiences help us to grow and teach us something about ourselves.

Today, I celebrated the marriage of 17 years to my husband. We have worked hard for all those years as a married couple – negotiated, compromised and managed. It is entirely reciprocal (not a strict give & take kind of way) and balanced in a way that made both of us to change (for the better we hope).

If you’re looking for a partner, look out for someone who is willing to let go of his/her most precious things for the sake of your time together as a couple. That seems to be a good indicator of how committed one is to one’s relationship.

Have a great week.

 

Product Photography for E-Commerce (Jewellery)

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Due to an increasing demand for product photography, my office/studio is more or less permanently setup with studio product photography lighting gear.

Those who know a bit of my shooting history would know that I spent too many years shooting fashion runways. Why bring this up? I wanted to highlight some differences between the two: end of runway photography vs. studio product photography. Read More

Taking photos of an 11 month old

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As a photographer I do a lot of what I call ‘random’ things. One of them is just striking up a conversation with strangers. It is easier when the stranger happens to have a baby with him/her because babies are always a good conversation starter. I might start talking to the baby as if the parents aren’t there. Then I would extend my conversation to the parent(s). This happens when I spot beauty. It is my spontaneous reaction to things and people when I have a strong urge to photograph them.

Read More

New glass 85mm

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It’s that time of the year again – End of Financial Year (EOFY) – when every business is tempted to spend money on things. It makes me giggle to call my little venture as a business. However, when it comes to the taxation department, I’m like any other small businesses.

Read More

Photowalks

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In between bookings and self assigned photo sessions, I’ve been out for photowalks. Photowalk isn’t something I invented. It’s nothing grand either. It’s just taking some shots while walking. There are several reasons why a photowalk is good for you: Read More

shooting time

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It’s been two days since I pressed the shutter of my camera. I am counting days (of not shooting feeling rather guilty). If I were to call myself a photographer I should be shooting every single day. It’s not that I’ve been procrastinating.  It is the tragic reality of having to update my websites. In fact, updating the design for Style Discovery, the folio section of my photography site and setting up this blog took days. It all had to happen sooner rather than later. Read More

Tranby House in Maylands

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The latest location shoot – Engagement session – took place in Tranby House in Maylands. There were a number of tex messages back and forth regarding the the weather forecast right up to the last minute. It was supposed to rain in the morning and to clear up in the afternoon. That was the prediction a few days prior. Concerns were raised from all parties involved but I suggested just going ahead with the shoot. Read More