Saturday, April 9, 2016

Rap Sarmiento

Finally had the opportunity to shoot with Bay Area stylist, Rap Sarmiento. A collaboration long over due, I knew I had to catch him before he took his talents to the Big Apple. Glad I was able to squeeze this shoot in - because Rap is a true artist.  He's comfortable in front of the camera, stylish, and a natural on set (probably second nature from the countless shoots he's styled). Best of all, Rap is hilarious and fun to be around, which made this collab all the more enjoyable. As an SF native, his passion and connection really comes across in the images we captured.  

Check Rap out on instagram:

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Why I Love My Leica M8

The M8
The Leica M8 is a dinosaur in the photography world. Released in 2006, its specs can't even compare to cameras today. It's slow, expensive, and at times difficult to use. So why did I buy one in 2013, and why do I still shoot with it today? Simply put, the M8's got character!

Rangefinder Experience
In film photography there are countless rangefinder options. But in the digital world there is only Leica. My kit is simple: a Leica M8, Voigtlander 28mm f2, and Voigtlander 40mm f1.4 (37mm and 53mm equivalents). No zooms, flashes, or exotic lenses to be found. 

If you haven’t shot a rangefinder before, I highly recommend trying one. It provides an experience unlike anything you get from an SLR. There’s no mirror, viewfinder, or depth of field preview. Instead, you have a window where scenes enter and exit frame lines. With rangefinders you shoot more on instinct and feel, rather than calculated technique. Just match up the two images and snap! This is great for street and travel photography as it doesn't distract you from your experiences and surroundings.

Learning From the M8
With the M8 there are only the basics: shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. In addition, the light meter can be inaccurate and its buffer is small. These lacking features, however, go a long way in helping one grow as a photographer. The more I use my Leica M8 the more I realize it has everything I need. I learned to meter light with my eyes, anticipate moments before they happen, and recognize new aspects of a scene. The Leica M8 may slows things down, but it does so in a good way.

Film photographs have an organic beauty that digital doesn't always capture. Its dynamic range, grain, and aesthetic are all unique to the medium. For some examples check out my post: Falling In Love With Film. A big reason I keep the Leica M8 is because its rendering is very film-like. The M8 has natural looking grain, subtle contrast, and the raw files are a joy to process. No other digital camera I've used produces anything close to what I get from the M8.
Black & White
One of the M8's quirks, the lack of an IR filter, is also one of its charms. A potential issue for certain colors, it's great for black and white photography. Without the sensor filter, details are crisper and images have extra pop and definition. Combined with the grain quality, this makes the Leica M8 an excellent B&W camera.

Final Thoughts
There are so many great things about the Leica M8 that I haven't covered - most notably the beautiful lens options and amazing build quality. But for me, it really is all about the Leica experience and the rendering of its files. The M8 will never replace my DSLR as a workhorse, but it definitely has a place in my camera bag. It's usually the one I reach for when I want to slow things down and enjoy photography.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Stephanie & Josh

Davis, CA | October 2014

Last month I had the opportunity to do an engagement shoot for my friends, Stephanie and Josh. They met in college, and naturally, chose UC Davis as their location. Davis is perfect in the fall, sunny and comfortable. It has a beautiful campus full of great places to shoot.

The day was nostalgic - an incredibly personal and sentimental experience for the couple. We walked through familiar places and even created some new memories. Steph and Josh have amazing chemistry and it definitely shows in their photos. They have such a natural and genuine dynamic. It was an honor capturing this moment for them.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Coming Soon...

Harold & The Juggernauts
Stay tuned for the release of a new project by Harold and The Juggernauts! Additional photos and links to come. Great things are on the way.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Farms to Tables: Filipino Americans Then and Now

Asian Art Museum | San Francisco, CA | 10.06.2013

In true Filipino tradition, this post is fashionably late. Although Filipino American History Month is over, perhaps the timing of this post will help the celebration last longer. To kick of FAHM, San Francisco's Asian Art Museum hosted "Farms to Tables: Filipino Americans Then and Now". The event, centered around food, had an excellent balance of history, contemporary issues, and cultural presentations.

It showcased the essental role of Filipino Americans in America's farm labor movement. This coincides with Governor Brown's signing of Assemblymember Bonta's Filipino American Farm Worker Bill, AB 123. Although Filipinos, like Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz, were instrumental in the movement's success, they are often overlooked in the history books. This bill ensures the Filipno American effort is rightfully included in California curriculum. 

Eating healthy was also a big theme. We Filipinos love our lechon, crispy pata, and chicharon but it's important to remember we have healthier options. The American Heart Association put together a cooking lesson and handed out healthy recipes. I will have to try this soon!

I also got a chance to meet PJ Quesada from Ramar Foods and The Filipino Food Movement. Ramar Foods is a family business that manufactures and distributes a lot of classic products. Every Filipino American has to know and love Magnolia Ice Cream! According to PJ, Whole Foods carries their ready-made dishes like chicken sisig, lumpia, empanadas and more. 

Their non-profit, The Filipino Food Movement, works to promote Filipino Cuisine. It's true that outside of our communities, Filipino Food is still very foreign and unknown. A lot of people have no idea how delicious and diverse our food can be. PJ also recommended I check out Memories of Philippine Kitchens. I recently picked it up. Stay tuned for a in-depth post. 

Lastly there were cultural performances and workshops. I got my last name written in baybayin, the pre-Spanish Filipino script. Above is an image of Jay Loyola of Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company. The singer, Tracy Sarmiento, was amazing as she sang in both Tagalog and English. 

Because food was a big theme, there was a large altar with filled with fruits in vegetables commonly found in Filipino dishes. There was okra, eggplant, squash, watermelon, tomatoes, and much more. Guests were invited to bring some home. I was actually the first person to pick from the altar. As soon as I picked up that eggplant, it was over. All these lolas [tagalog for grandma] busted out shopping bags and  cleaned house! They looked like they just came from the palengke [public market].

The entire event was great and inspired me to continue learning more about Filipino culture. It's events like this that really get me excited and motivated. I'm very glad I was able to make it out. 

For more info on the above, check out:

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

University of California | Berkeley, CA

Last week I had the opportunity to shoot my friend, Ferdilyn's, graduation portraits. It had been awhile, so it was great catching up and photographing this moment for her.

Ferdilyn graduated from the University of California so we visited some of her favorite places around campus. Cal is one of the most beatiful universities I've ever visited. I think if I toured it before going to Davis, I'd have gone here instead.

My favorite part of the shoot was visiting Ferdilyn's architecture studio at Wurster Hall. The showcased student pieces were really impressive and the work environment looked like a lot of fun. There was even a separate little room to spray paint projects!

The shoot was a lot of fun and I'm very happy with the results. I'm glad we didn't just stick to the classic Cal sights; being able to photograph Ferdilyn in her studio was really special. Congratulation, Ferdilyn! And good  the best of luck to you!

In honor of graduation, I thought I'd close with Dr Seuss' Oh The Places You'll Go. If you're ever feeling unmotivated or uninspired, give it a read. It never gets old.