TODD FONG PHOTOGRAPHY: Blog en-us (C) TODD FONG PHOTOGRAPHY [email protected] (TODD FONG PHOTOGRAPHY) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:33:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:33:00 GMT TODD FONG PHOTOGRAPHY: Blog 80 120 Test Driving the Panasonic GX1 In The Garden 20130706_TFPhotography_1020130706_TFPhotography_10


NOTE: Sorry for all the technical jargon in this review. I'm writing this for fellow photographers who are thinking about purchasing a smaller camera for fun or profit and might be interested in my experience with the Panasonic GX1.

I think every DSLR photographer craves a smaller format camera but loathes the idea of giving up quality and functionality. The Four-Thirds format has been intriguing to me since it first appeared, and I even bought my wife a Panasonic G2 a few years ago (and have "borrowed" it from time to time). The G2, though a fine camera, never grew on me, largely because the form factor is only slightly smaller than a small DSLR and there were a lot of trade offs in photo quality, particularly in low light situations.

Last year, Panasonic released the GX1 which caught my eye immediately based on the 16MP sensor and the 12800 ISO capabilities (which I imagined would only be good up to 3200, but that was still a big improvement over the G2). Also, the GX1 was a much more compact form factor, reminiscent of the old rangefinders, especially sporting my favorite four-thirds lens, the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 pancake.

But what finally put the GX1 over the top for me was when Panasonic, without explanation, slashed the price of the body only version of the GX1 in half to $249. Occasionally, the price drops as low as $239 with some dealers. Since I already owned the 20mm pancake, which now costs more than the camera itself, I could no longer resist.

There are already some great reviews of this camera available that will tell you what a great camera it is. Coupled with the 20mm pancake, I doubt there is a better all around general "rangefinder" camera out there at double the price. Yes, Fujifilm has some amazing cameras competing with this setup, but you'd have to shell out easily $1000 or more for them.

The level of detail in my tests photos of my garden are phenomenal. Individual hairs on flower stems and leaves are easily identifiable without any sharpening. Focus is crisp and generally quick. Bokeh is smooth and as lovely as you're going to find in this format camera.

My main purpose for this camera was not just portability, though it can easily be taken anywhere being not much larger than a large point-and-shoot. My main purpose was actually to have a nice camera for shooting portraits on the fly and if I get the nerve, to shoot some street portraits of strangers. The camera is small and unremarkable looking, definitely not as intimidating to people as my hefty Nikon D7000 with an 85mm f/1.4 mounted on it. Yet it is capable of producing quality images as good or better than that of a DSLR in the right conditions. With 4 custom settings (yes, there are 4 although the dial only shows 2), I can pretty much preset the camera to shoot exactly how I want to shoot and be ready to capture a shot as quickly as I can get the power on and the lens cap off.

Although shooting your garden would not be your primary subject matter for a camera like this, take a look at the details in these images (processed in Lightroom 4 using VSCO Film).

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[email protected] (TODD FONG PHOTOGRAPHY) 20mm VSCO film four-thirds garden gx1 nature outdoor panasonic pancake photography plants review still test Sat, 06 Jul 2013 04:29:22 GMT
Kai - San Francisco Days 20130626_TFPhotography_220130626_TFPhotography_2


Shooting a fantastic model in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I processed images in this set with VSCO Film and layered in some texture to give it a gritty feel.

Model: Kai Liu

MUA: Miracle Amor Artistry


Model Headshots 20130626_TFPhotography_5


[email protected] (TODD FONG PHOTOGRAPHY) VSCO beauty city editorial fashion model photography portrait style texture urban Tue, 02 Jul 2013 20:14:23 GMT

Blossoming Chives - using the new VSCO Cam app.

So here are the results of my test of the new VSCO Cam app. My wife asked me to document our garden so I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone. Forgive my poor iPod camera skills. To be honest, I'm a bit klutzy taking pictures with any phone-like object. I suppose ergonomically, they aren't exactly made for taking photographs at odd angles anyway.

First thing I must say is that what you can create right out of the camera using VSCO Cam is amazing. Of course I prefer the batch processing power and precision of VSCO Film (not to mention I don't enjoy shooting with a camera phone like I do with a real DSLR), so I won't be ditching my kit anytime soon.


By the way, this final image was shot using my DSLR and processed using VSCO Film. Can you tell the difference between a DSLR and a camera phone? I hope so! When a phone can give me bokeh like that, I'll think about switching over again.

[email protected] (TODD FONG PHOTOGRAPHY) cam color flower garden herb vegetable vintage vsco Mon, 10 Jun 2013 17:12:00 GMT

Image by Nicole Franzen


Today, VSCO released an update to their amazing photography app, VSCO Cam. If you own an Apple product with a camera, this is the app you MUST use. I process the vast majority of my images using VSCO Film, which gives digital images a classic film-like look. VSCO Cam is tuned for iPhone shooters, quick and easy though not as powerful as post process editing.

The truth is I don't own an iPhone but I am living vicariously through my son, who recently got a new iPod Touch for his birthday. I'll run a few tests whenever I can pry that thing out of his hands (generally while he's gone at school).

The new app is free, though obviously VSCO is going to charge for new filters. I'm fine with that because I love this company so much and want them to stick around forever!

[email protected] (TODD FONG PHOTOGRAPHY) amazing app film image iphone ipod photography post processing software vsco Thu, 06 Jun 2013 16:08:20 GMT
3 REASONS YOU NEED A HEADSHOT No matter who you are or what you do, chances are you're going to need a quality headshot, if not now, in the near future. You can thank the Internet for that. Welcome to the age where images have overtaken the written word (e.g. Instagram) as a legitimate form of communication. When you post on Facebook, you get exponentially more responses to your photos than to your written updates. And there is simply no excuse for people not knowing who you are and what you look like.

As I talked about last week, the majority of people settle for representing themselves with images that are blurry, uncreative or downright unflattering. Yet whether we like it or not, those who do not know us are making judgement about us based on the images that represent us. You may say you don't care until you realize that this unconscious judging of you is affecting your ability to find a better job, get more clients, or for you searching singles, find the love of your life.

If you need any more convincing, consider these three great reasons you might need a quality headshot.

To build the trust of others before you meet them. Yes, a good image of yourself builds trust in others about you. Why? It shows you care about the image you portray to the public, enough to invest in a professional photograph of yourself. The photograph of you at the ballgame with our friends with a beer in one hand and a hot dog in the other doesn't quite do that. Neither does the shot of you where you cropped out half of your wife/girlfriend/best friend to make it a "portrait" of yourself.

To look your very best. Maybe Brad Pitt can roll out of bed and look great for the camera, but most of us mere mortals have to do some grooming and posing to get the best shot of ourselves. Professional photographers are trained to look for the best angles for a person's features and light and pose their subjects to bring out those qualities. Your friend with the camera phone, eh, not so much. And forget about you and the bathroom mirror.

The day you need a headshot is too late. You never really know when you're going to need to provide a headshot. You're invited to speak at an event at the last minute. Your friend is setting you up on a date with an eligible single on Friday. It's a good idea to have a current (or fairly current) headshot of yourself available for just this sort of situation. 

Many people look forward to getting professional photos taken with the same enthusiasm as going to the dentist for a root canal. But it doesn't have to be that way. Next week, let's talk about evaluating and choosing the right photographer for you.

[email protected] (TODD FONG PHOTOGRAPHY) creative headshot image photographer photography portrait professional reputation success Thu, 30 May 2013 02:40:54 GMT
SWINGIN' 20130511_TFPhotography_45

I recently had a great client with an 8-month-year old son who wanted to shoot in the neighborhood park near their home. As it turned out, the baby's favorite activity at the park was swinging in the baby swing. Capturing his enjoyment was not an issue, but I wanted something a little different for this shot: a sense of motion.

Now there are ways this can be done during the shoot, but each involves elements of luck as well as skill. The inherent problem with shooting subjects in motion is that they tend to come out blurry. A photographer can "track" the subject by moving the camera along at the same speed of the subject, but there is some luck involved and it reduces the options for camera angles. Add to that the uncertainty whenever you are photographing very young people like babies or toddlers, and it's a risky shot to try to capture.

That's why I love Photoshop. With a little Photoshop skill and knowledge, I could effectively create an image which has the blurry quality of motion but at the same time have a sharply focused face with an expression of joy captured on it. This isn't a technical photography blog, so I won't bore you with the details, but the point is that you don't always have to try to capture the hard shots in real time if you know the capabilities of Photoshop and have the skills to implement them.

[email protected] (TODD FONG PHOTOGRAPHY) b&w baby enjoyment joy motion photographer photoshop portrait portraiture professional swing Wed, 22 May 2013 16:42:00 GMT
SELLING YOU - THE VALUE OF A GOOD HEADSHOT So you've landed a job interview for your dream job at that great startup opportunity. The day of your interview, you rollout of bed, slap on some deodorant and a baseball cap and drive over for your interview, right? Of course not! Nobody would do that and expect to be taken seriously for a job. But why is it that so many people are content to post a profile picture of themselves on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ or other social networking site that is unprofessional, blurry, or downright unflattering?

You know what I'm talking about. Some people struggle so much with finding a good photograph of themselves, they post pictures of something (or someone) else that hopefully represents them. Trouble is, more often than not, it doesn't. You need a photo that represents YOU in the best light possible.

Actors, whose jobs have always relied on appearance, have long had a tool for representing themselves to casting agents: the headshot. Prior to the social networking explosion, the headshot was not well used in other industries, but today, an avatar or profile picture, both just another name for a headshot, are a critical tool for self promotion. Potential employers want to know as much as they possibly can about you, including what you look like.

In today's business climate, potential employers will screen your LinkedIn or Facebook profile even before they invite you in for an interview. If your networking page is now your first impression to the world, doesn't it make sense to put your best face forward?

Business Headshots

A simple corporate headshot for a services professional using even lighting and subtle retouching.

Fortunately, getting a great headshot these days is neither a huge hassle, nor a huge expense. For less than the cost of a decent business suit or dress, many photographers will provide a good headshot in a sitting that lasts less than an hour. The question is, what sets apart a great headshot from a decent one? I believe there are four things that you should consider when choosing a good headshot photographer.

Lighting Style. The most critical element in a headshot, since the compositions are very similar, is the lighting. The ability to light a portrait is a skill that sets the professional photographers apart from the amateurs. Headshots need to look professional, not artistic, so go with a photographer who can provide even lighting and a little dramatic shadow without going overboard. Lighting should also flatter the strengths of the subject, not exacerbate the faults.

Posing. Though headshot compositions are similar, posing of subjects is very important to bring out the best in them. Subjects should appear natural and confident in their headshots. Angles should be chosen to highlight the strengths in the subject's features. A great headshot should say, "This is who I am everyday." rather than "This is who the photographer made me look like today."

Background. A good headshot can be shot on a solid background and some people prefer that look, as generic as it is. A great headshot can often be shot using a location as a background, especially when the location informs the viewer as to something about you. An office setting might hint you have a strong work ethic. Tokyo Tower might show you aren't afraid to travel and interact with a different culture. Use of backgrounds should be discreet, but add information about your personality or experience.

Retouching. Many photographers do not use retouching techniques at all, saying they like "natural" portraits. The trouble with this is that the camera itself often distorts reality, so many times there is nothing natural at all about a photograph of a person. Perspective, lens type and lighting all affect how a person appears in a photograph. A great photographer knows how to play to the strengths of the subject, retouching the image to put a little more light in her eyes, lighten age spots, or remove a stray hair. Even simple perspective corrections to make a subject appear a little thinner or more symmetrical are easy work for a skilled photographer. The trick is that retouching should not go overboard; the subject should not look artificial, or worse, unlike themselves.

Casual Headshots

Even a casual headshot for a church youth advisor benefits from great lighting and a relevant background.

Keeping a headshot current is often a challenge. Many things can affect the currency of a headshot: hair style changes, fashion updates, even weight loss. Some photographers will offer a package that will enable you to update your headshot several times during a 12 month period at no extra cost. If you are one who frequently updates hair or wardrobe styles, you might consider such a package as an added value to you.

Next week, I will discuss other potential applications for a good headshot or variations of the headshot style.


[email protected] (TODD FONG PHOTOGRAPHY) headshot image interview job hunting networking photographer portrait professional resume tips usage Mon, 20 May 2013 17:11:00 GMT
CREEPY COOL 20130328_TFPhotography_6Editorial


I consulted with my 10-year-old daughter on this image. She gave me feedback on the tones I used, which she described as creepy but cool. I love the edginess of this shot, which our model, Anne, is great at capturing. 

MUA: Miracle Amor Artistry



[email protected] (TODD FONG PHOTOGRAPHY) VSCO avante editorial european fashion garde model outdoor tone Thu, 16 May 2013 17:15:00 GMT
MISSING ROSES 20130327_TFPhotography_3 Last month, Miracle and I went for a shoot at the Berkeley Rose Garden. I guess I should have done my research a little better because apparently roses aren't in bloom until well into Spring and throughout the summer. We showed up at the Rose Garden; unfortunately, the roses did not.

Fortunately our model, Jewel Pi was a good sport and we ended up at a botanical garden. No roses, but at least there were some other flowers. Lesson learned and we still had a great shoot.




[email protected] (TODD FONG PHOTOGRAPHY) VSCO asia asian beauty editorial fashion female flower garden model nature outdoor photography trees Mon, 13 May 2013 16:15:00 GMT
THE SECRET TO GREAT BRIDAL PORTRAITS Alyssa Bridal Shooting weddings scares me. The idea of being responsible for capturing one of the most amazing memories in a person's life gets my mind racing with all the things that can go wrong. There's only one sure way to rid myself of the butterflies in my stomach related to wedding shoots: practice.

In my opinion, the bridal portrait is a critical shot in any wedding shoot, so I take the time to practice this shot and make sure I know how to produce it. Not only that, different couples have different styles of photographs that they prefer, so that means I need to understand the lighting setups for each type.

My good friend Miracle did an amazing makeup job on our model Alyssa for this practice shoot. We kept the shoot simple in terms of staying in the studio, but we moved the lights and lighting modifiers to produce a variety of different looks. From classic to modern, we covered the bases for what a bride might ask for.

Beauty Dish Style20130508_TFPhotography_1

Above: The "beauty dish" look is accomplished with one umbrella as close to the camera lens as possible.

Classic LightingAlyssa Bridal

Above: Classic portrait lighting is done with an umbrella to the left or right of the model with a reflector or fill flash to fill in the shadows.

Beauty LightingBeauty

Above: Beauty lighting is done by reflecting light from a silver reflector directly in front of the model. A backlight gives the image added depth.

[email protected] (TODD FONG PHOTOGRAPHY) VSCO beauty bridal bride bright fashion female model portrait style wedding Sat, 11 May 2013 03:52:49 GMT
IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE? Emily - Waiting in the Stairway

Hong Kong film director Wong Kar Wai has long been a favorite of mine, less so for his quirky plots and chaotic timelines and more for his sumptuous visuals, courtesy of legendary cinematographer Christopher Doyle. It's no wonder Wong Kar Wai has an eye for style; he originally wanted to be a music video director, just like me (back in the day when MTV ruled cable television).

As a filmmaker, I was always drawn to Wong's style, but in practice, it was a harder look to master than what met the eye. I had some limited success shooting first generation digital (we're talking 1.3MP here) in Hong Kong on a business trip, but recently, I wanted to explore WKW's style in a little more depth.

That's how my collaboration with Emily Tang began. Ms. Tang is the reigning Miss Asian America and contacted me when she found out I had an open project to pay tribute to WKW's incredible style. Given her current role, she had access to the wardrobe we needed to pull it off and as a fan of WKW like myself, she was well aware of the look we were going for.

I scouted San Francisco Chinatown and found some great places off the beaten path where we would not need to deal with gawkers and tourists. The shoot would be done at twilight, giving me time to use both existing light and strobes. Ms. Tang brought a number of qipao to wear, but we only ended up using three (try finding a place to change in and out of a dress in Chinatown!). Nonetheless, the results were spectacular.

My partner, Miracle of Miracle Amor Artistry acted as lighting assistant for a number of fairly challenging setups (on the streets of Chinatown, anyway). We would have shot the night away if we didn't have prior appointments so we are looking forward to a "Part II" of our shoot in the future.

Emily - Beneath the Moon

Emily - Under the Light

Emily - Sophistication

Emily - Still Waiting


[email protected] (TODD FONG PHOTOGRAPHY) 2046 asian beauty chinatown chinese classic fashion female in the mood for love lifestyle model san francisco style wong kar wai Tue, 02 Apr 2013 00:14:18 GMT
VSCO FILM 03 TEST DRIVE Anneliese - GardenEditorial


Picked up the latest incarnation of VSCO Film for Lightroom yesterday. Though I haven't done any recent fashion shoots, I decided to find suitable shots to test it out on from some of my former shoots. VSCO Film 03 is the "Instant" film edition, so all the emulations are instant classics (no pun intended) from Polaroid and Fuji, including some fun stuff like expired film.

The filters have a dreamy quality as you would expect from an instant film emulation. The tones are rich but the contrast is generally lower than you would get from a print film emulation.

I had my doubts that I would love this film pack right off the bat as I figured instant film is a fad that will come and go with the hipsters, but the quality of the tones now lead me to believe it will endure. In any case, it seems this pack fits my personal style better than the previous two packs did, and that is saying a lot. VSCO Film completely changed my workflow for the better, and now I'm happy to say that I have a whole new palette to play with to achieve the look I want in my images.

Below are a few more shots using VSCO Film 03 as the base processing and tweaked a little in Lightroom for effect.



Anneliese - Vintage


[email protected] (TODD FONG PHOTOGRAPHY) 03 Film VSCO beauty fashion photography test tones Thu, 14 Feb 2013 04:11:46 GMT
THE JOY OF REVISITING THE PAST Izumisawa JR Station 8Izumisawa JR Station 8


Sometimes it is wonderful to go through an old photo set and see it again with fresh eyes. This past week, I went through some of the images I took in Japan during the summer of 2009. There are a number of places we visited that summer that I am not likely to visit again for a long time, so looking through the image with a new perspective helped me to pick a few more shots that stood out for me. Also, when you look at your old photographs you can see how much your personal vision and technical aptitude has changed or remained constant. This could be an encouragement or an opportunity to take a few more risks in the future to grow as a photographer.

This set came from a set I took visiting a little town in Hokkaido called Iwamizawa. The majority of people would just pass through this little town to and from Sapporo, but we stopped mainly because my wife's cousin's boyfriend, Hiroshi Nishimura, won an award for his design of the Iwamizawa train station. His design, incorporating and reusing elements of historical significance to the old station was a thing of beauty. Below are are interior and exterior shot of part of the station. Most of these shots I never bothered to process, but I felt with my improved skills, I could do some perspective correction, fix exposures and apply some great VSCO Film filters to finally do these shots justice.

Izumisawa JR Station 6

Izumisawa JR Station 3


[email protected] (TODD FONG PHOTOGRAPHY) asia film japan perspective photography post-process process review revisit train travel vsco Fri, 01 Feb 2013 23:20:05 GMT
THREE PURPLE TULIPS Purple Tulip - ThreePurple Tulip - Three


The cold spell has broken and I can finally have thoughts of Spring! Shooting flowers in my studio for potential use in a future project.


[email protected] (TODD FONG PHOTOGRAPHY) art artistic beauty closeup floral flower nature purple studio tulip Fri, 18 Jan 2013 16:24:15 GMT

Last May, my good friend and professional photographer Paul Gor performed an act of kindness toward me that changed my life as a photographer forever. Paul decided to attend the Lifefinder seminar given by the talented photographer-artist Jeremy Cowart in San Francisco. Jeremy's act of generosity was that if you attend his seminar, you can bring a friend for free. At that time, as a part time ministry worker, I had no extra money to attend a seminar, so Paul's kindness was the only way I was going to get there.

Prior to attending the seminar, I felt I was in a major creative rut. I was not shooting as often as I used to and even when I did, I felt uninspired. Photography for me had lost it's sheen. But through the seminar, and the great ideas Jeremy presented, I was inspired to do something different. I felt energized, ready to take on the world with my camera. And the very next day, I did just that, taking the train to San Francisco and shooting around town. One of the "memorable" photos I took is the one above.

Yes, I am being facetious. The fact is, none of the photos I took that day were particularly inspiring or memorable. Which is really the point of this story. I could have looked at my batch of images and decided that I had no talent for photography after all. It would not have been much of a stretch considering how terrible they actually were. But instead, I decided to push on, realizing correctly that even the best photographers have bad days.

A month later, it was that seminar that inspired me to see Japan in a slightly different way through my lens than I had in previous years. It was that seminar that inspired me to take photographs of flowers in a way I had never done so before. In fact, it was the Cowart seminar that inspired me to try a new field in Fashion and Beauty portraiture. And I have shot almost exclusively in this area for the past six months.

You see, creativity is an elusive creature. You may find something that sparks your desire to be more creative, but that doesn't automatically MAKE you creative. You have to chase it, through failures, experiments gone wrong, and past that nagging voice in your head telling you that you aren't good enough. And when you think you've caught it, let it go and chase it again.

[email protected] (TODD FONG PHOTOGRAPHY) creative creativity fashion inspiration jeremy cowart motivation paul gor photography tenacity Tue, 15 Jan 2013 17:18:15 GMT
ANATOMY OF AN EDITORIAL SHOOT - MIXX COLLECTION Mixx Collection - Somar Hi everyone! When I worked in the corporate world, my company had a tradition called "Week of Rest" which was shutting the company down for the entire week between Christmas and New Year's Day. It was meant to be a time to spend with your family, take a short vacation and just recharge the soul batteries. Though I no longer work in the corporate world, it's a tradition that dies hard, so I've taken the greater part of the last week to just relax and stay away from my computer and yes, even my camera.

Before that, however, my life was packed with shoots. My good friend Miracle of Miracle Amor Artistry is jetting off to get married and honeymoon in the Philippines for two months, so we wanted to get as much work in as possible before she had to leave. In the span of two weeks, we packed in 5 shoots, two on one day. For a photographer, of course, this means a lot of post production work to be done, so I spent quite a while in front of my workstation, but the results were fantastic.

One of the shoots I am excited to share about is a fashion shoot we did with Mixx Collection, owned by Tonya, a great designer and collaborator. Tonya had a couple of pieces she wanted to photograph for the holidays so we started planning this shoot a couple months ago. Tonya had developed a good relationship with SomaR Bar, a bar in Oakland where she had put on fashion shows in the past. SomaR Bar has a great intimate feel with cozy furniture and exposed brick walls. I knew it was going to make a great location for what we wanted to do.

Tonya already had one great model in Jessica, who had modeled her work in fashion shows at SomaR Bar several times in the past. Miracle and I asked Kai, an up and coming model whom we both love, to join the collaboration.

We knew we would only have the bar for a couple hours while they were setting up for business, so our shoot schedule would be tight. I worked on shot ideas in my head the week before to make sure I covered the needs of Tonya, the models, Miracle and myself with regards to photographs. I knew I would need catalog style shots for Tonya, including closeups of certain details of her work. The models and I would need more fashion oriented shots that looked like they were torn from fashion rags like Vogue or Elle. And Miracle would need shots that showed the work she did on the makeup, perhaps augmented by the lighting style I wanted to use.

Detail shot of Mixx Collection TopMixx Collection - Top Detail


The lighting was the biggest challenge in this shoot. We ended up starting 20 minutes late, so what was already a tight schedule became even tighter. The bar was dark, as bars often are, so I set one of my flashes in the background with a warm gel to complement the red brick wall and give the atmosphere a warm, romantic look. You can see the effect of the background strobe in the detail image above. I set a second flash as a main light which I kept over my left or right shoulder as I shot, depending on the effect I was looking for.

Model: Kai Liu MUA: Miracle Amor Artistry Designer: Mixx CollectionKai Somar The goal I had with the models was keeping with the theme of "a night on the town". I envisioned two girlfriends going out after work in their gorgeous new outfits, enjoying all the attention they were getting and having a great time together. Though Jessica and Kai had never met before, they jumped right in to their new roles. I asked the girls to flirt with the invisible guys at the bar behind me. Though one of them admitted she didn't have much experience with flirting, they both did incredible jobs, apparent in the flirty look by Kai in the image above.

The most difficult shots, both for me and the models, were the shots with both of them together. I had to find ways to shoot them together in natural ways while showing off their outfits. My idea was to shoot them at a bar table with fake martinis in hand, talking, laughing and flirting with the guys (you know, the ones who weren't really there!). I shot them as individuals but kept the other model in shot so the viewer could see the interaction between them. One of these shots is the first shot in this article.

Tonya also wanted some full length shots against the wall, so we moved them to the wall. At first, it wasn't clear how these shots were going to work, but Kai threw her arm around Jessica, laughter ensued and the girls just started posing! We ended up getting some great shots once everything fell into place. The lesson I learned was don't give up on an idea right away, just keep going with it and see if it takes off.

Models Jessica and Kai for Mixx CollectionMixx Collection - Somar

My post processing workflow involves Adobe Lightroom 4 and VSCO Film with detail work done in Adobe Photoshop CS6. VSCO Film saves me a ton of time in helping me get the quality of film from a digital image without too much tweaking.

Models: Kai Liu , Jessica Mitchell
MUA: Miracle Amor Artistry
Designer: Mixx Collection
Location: SomaR Bar, Oakland CA

[email protected] (TODD FONG PHOTOGRAPHY) beauty designer fashion indoor location model mua photography planning shoot Mon, 31 Dec 2012 00:57:11 GMT
ICE FAERIE Elizabeth - Ice FaerieEliza Beth Ice Faerie

The incomparable Ms. Elizabeth as the Ice Faerie. I shot the basic portrait using my new "Light Room" lighting setup (not to be confused with "Lightroom", the Adobe product I use in my workflow) and brought in some ice and steam textures to give something of interest to the background. Finally, I toned the image with some nice cool colors. This is one of my best composition pieces, in my opinion and I am inspired to find more ways to do work like this.

[email protected] (TODD FONG PHOTOGRAPHY) model portrait ice cold beauty fashion cool winter fantasy Mon, 10 Dec 2012 04:31:03 GMT
PIGEON POINT LIGHTHOUSE Pigeon Point LighthousePigeon Point Lighthouse


After almost 3 months of nothing but fashion and portraiture, I took a drive along the California coast to return to my first love, landscape photography. A great way to recharge the soul and creative energy.

The post processing was done in Adobe Lightroom 4 and Adobe Photoshop CS6 and color processed with VSCO Film.


[email protected] (TODD FONG PHOTOGRAPHY) Film VSCO VSCO. california cloudy coast dramatic landscape lighthouse ocean pacific pigeon point sea winter Thu, 06 Dec 2012 02:54:14 GMT

Trisha had a dancer's background which is why I knew she would be perfect for this concept. I had been obsessed with the idea of levitation from shots I had seen taken by Natsumi Hayashi, a Tokyo photographer who perfected the concept and suddenly just stopped.

The idea of floating or levitation is not new to photography and in fact, Photoshop has made it easy, almost too easy, to create impossible feats of levitation. But what I wanted was real, true-to-life levitation, a moment frozen in time.

Because Trisha was both a dancer and an ex-volleyball player, she was able to get the height needed to pull this idea off. That, and she actually practiced before we even shot, which is amazing for a model who wasn't even getting paid to work.

While levitation was the theme of the day, Trisha is also a fantastic non-levitating model, so we squeezed in a few shots of her, feet firmly on the ground.

Trisha Trisha

[email protected] (TODD FONG PHOTOGRAPHY) beauty fashion floating flying levitation model outdoor photo photography Tue, 09 Oct 2012 20:45:00 GMT
VERONICA - BLACK ON BLACK Veronica TwoVeronica Two


The beautiful Miss Veronica Liu, with makeup by the exceptionally talented Miracle Amor Artistry.


[email protected] (TODD FONG PHOTOGRAPHY) MUA: Miracle Amor asian fashion glamour model veronica liu Sun, 07 Oct 2012 20:33:00 GMT

A fairly impromptu photoshoot with Anneliese Yang in the San Jose Rose Garden. We were going for an editorial style with an organic feel about a girl and her camera. Typically, Anneliese prefers high fashion, so I think this was a different kind of theme for her, but she did an incredible job. 


Editorial Anneliese Anneliese

[email protected] (TODD FONG PHOTOGRAPHY) beauty editorial fashion garden model organic photo photography photoshoot summer Fri, 21 Sep 2012 20:30:00 GMT


Model: Alice Ohtsuki

MUA: Miracle Amor Artistry


[email protected] (TODD FONG PHOTOGRAPHY) beauty fashion model outdoor photo photography Fri, 14 Sep 2012 20:27:00 GMT

Yesterday, Miracle and I had the pleasure of working with Frosan on a shoot we dubbed “Colorful Scarves”. The idea of the shoot was to use scarves to highlight Frosan’s lovely features. Actually, the scarves were not necessary as Miracle’s great makeup work did all that was needed to bring out Frosan’s beautiful features.

We shot out near the Bay and it was a picture perfect day, no pun intended. The weather was warm, not hot, and we had a constant breeze blowing in which served to keep us cool and to keep Frosan’s hair in motion which just added to the pictures.

As usual, I elected to shoot mostly in the shade and use spot flash to create highlights. However, we did shoot the second half in direct sunlight, so I cranked up the power of my strobe to try to overpower the harsh shadows of the early afternoon sun.

I had reflectors and two potential assistants to help with them, but I decided to go with the flash for two reasons. One is that reflectors tend to be tough on models as you are directing the full power of the sun back into their faces. It’s hot, bright and generally uncomfortable to subject a model to that quality of light for any length of time.

Second, I am still working on my technical skills and I have felt that the better I can become manipulating flash, the better off I will be as a people photographer. I found that I did make a number of errors and there were some images that I just decided I would not use because I didn’t set up the lighting correctly. On the other hand, some images worked beautifully and I learned from those as well, knowing how I positioned the flash in relation to the sun and model.

Every shoot is an opportunity to learn, meet new friends, and produce great new images. I think everyone involved was thrilled at the work we were able to create yesterday.

Frosan Frosan

Frosan Beauty

I often use Visual Supply Co.'s VSCO Film in post processing as my starting point. I'm still tweaking my workflow to make the most out of it, but so far, I'm more than satisfied with the results I have been getting from it.

[email protected] (TODD FONG PHOTOGRAPHY) VSCO VSCO film beauty fashion female model outdoor portrait portraiture scarf scarves woman Tue, 11 Sep 2012 16:18:00 GMT


One of the joys of doing outdoor fashion and portraiture is finding new places to shoot. Finding a good location is often like an Easter egg hunt; sometimes it’s right in front of your face and you don’t even notice it.

There are different schools of thought when it comes to finding the perfect location to shoot. Some photographers go with the “exotic” approach: find a secret fabulous location with beautiful scenery, lighting, and of course, no other photographer has ever shot at before. To those photographers, I wish them the best of luck. The Bay Area is full of great exotic locations, but one could spend days, even weeks trying to find one. And with so many local photographers, it’s doubtful you would be the first to ever shoot there.

Other photographers go for the scenic approach: shoot in a beautiful location that is well known for its beauty, such as the Hagiwara Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park or at the foot of Coit Tower. True, these are lovely places to shoot, but the problem is everyone, including the tourists, know that. Therefore, a lot of time is spent maneuvering yourself and your model for an angle that doesn’t include tour groups from Asia or Uncle George from Kansas in the background.

I prioritize my locations based on one main criteria: privacy. Not in the sense of “My project team are the only people in a 10 mile radius”, but rather one of low traffic, low interest from onlookers, and definitely low security.

Low traffic is key for me for a number of reasons. First, is that I simply don’t want to have to deal with the interruptions of people walking through my shoot. Stopping to let someone pass by can break a rhythm with your model and cost you some good shots. Also, heavy traffic can make a model feel uncomfortable, especially when dealing with non-professionals. And finally, there’s the issue of theft. I bring a lot of equipment to my shoots, much of it unsupervised while I am shooting. I don’t need someone walking off with lenses, cameras or makeup kits.

Low interest is important for non-professional models or people having their portraits taken who are not used to being the center of attention. Being in front of a camera can be nerve-wracking enough without strangers standing around gawking at you. For this reason, as I have mentioned, I like to shoot on college campuses. College students are too cool (or like to act it) to pay much attention to something like a photoshoot. Even if they’re interested, they’ll be very low key about their interest. Another factor in keeping your shoot low key is to try not to make your shoot bigger than it needs to be. If you come in with your 10 person entourage and set up a bunch of strobes, reflectors, and directors chairs, prepare to be surrounded by lookie-loos. Keep your team to a minimum and set up only the equipment you absolutely need and you’ll be fine.

Low security means shooting in places where I know I will not be hassled by security, either law enforcement or hired help. Back in the day, I used to walk onto construction sites or into abandoned buildings and shoot for hours without being bothered. In this day and age, it is nearly impossible to shoot on or near private property without being hassled by private security.

So now, I do a little research to figure out what, if any regulations there are about photography and how well they are enforced. For example, you may shoot upstairs in the Ferry Building but for whatever reason, you cannot point your camera downward at the shops or into the windows of the businesses that are located there. If you stay friendly and abide by the rules, no problem with the security people who work there.

At East Bay Regional Parks, favorite outdoor locations for many Bay Area photographers, there is a $100 annual photography fee for photographers who shoot portraits. And San Francisco Parks and Recreation, bless their money grubbing souls, charge $231 per DAY of commerical shooting! Wha what? You didn’t know that? Well, it isn’t common knowledge and for good reason: it isn’t a well enforced regulation. But it’s good to know for two reasons. One, if you are shooting without a permit, park employees have every right to ask you to leave and technically, delete every photo you’ve shot. Doubtful they would ask you to do this unless you’ve been a complete turd to them, so this is a good reason (if you need one) to mind your manners.

Two, if you’re shooting a paid project where that particular location is important to you, you might just want to pay for the permit. Why risk having your whole shoot cancelled to save the cash? After all, now that you are aware of the permit cost and requirements, you can build that into your fees if a client requests a specific location.

To be honest, however, this is rarely a problem. At one park, which shall go unnamed, the park employee noticed my equipment and model and asked if I was shooting commercial photography or a project for school. He noted if I was shooting commercial photography, I would need a permit but if it was just a student project, he’d let me slide. Then he gave me a look like “So what do you think your answer should be?” I told him it was a student project and he waved me by with a wink and a smile.

For those who prefer ignorance on the subject of photography regulations at specific sites, I believe this is a huge mistake. You should always know the rules for shooting at a location, even if you want to pretend you don’t if you are confronted by the authorities. Then you know, as Kenny Rogers once sang, “when to hold ‘em, when to fold ‘em, when to walk away and when to run.”

[email protected] (TODD FONG PHOTOGRAPHY) fees location outdoor photo photography regulations scouting shoot shooting sites Thu, 06 Sep 2012 03:45:00 GMT

Anneliese Anneliese was another model that I shot with Miracle Amor Artistry as my MUA. We went up into the hills above Milpitas to Ed Levin Park. As we drove in, I was pleased to note the pond at the park is stocked with trout during the late fall and winter months (if I’m not shooting, you can find me fishing!).

Anneliese had her own idea for her shoot and since Miracle and I are in portfolio development, we were happy to oblige. She wanted a vintage theme with braided hair and some cute vintage outfits. Miracle kept her makeup very straightforward, with some gold around her eyes the red red lips that are a must for the vintage look.

We found a great oak tree with low branches that allowed us to take some beautiful images of Anneliese reclining in the tree like a nymph. I also wanted a particular shot of her lying in the grass but found it very challenging as the grass was soaked by the sprinklers in some places and covered in goose poop in most others. We solved the problem by finding a poop free zone and having Anneliese lie mostly on my large reflector to keep her from getting wet. The reflector also added the benefit of giving her white dress extra luminosity so it truly looked like it was glowing around her.

My favorite shot of this shoot occured in the reeds near the pond. The flash was a little too unnatural for the background so we reflected light into the shadows instead. There wasn’t a good place for Anneliese to stand safely so she half sat, half squatted along the edge of the pond near the reeds. Anneliese was very natural with posing with her hands and arms and came up with this beautiful pose. Eyes closed and arm back, she reminds me of a lost princess waking from a dream after sleeping along the edge of a lake.

I processed this using VSCO Kodak Portra 800++ and softening of the light source and evening of skin tones in Photoshop. I also applied some blue green tones to the highlights.

More photos from this shoot can be seen in my Fashion/Editorial portfolio.

[email protected] (TODD FONG PHOTOGRAPHY) Fri, 31 Aug 2012 03:45:00 GMT