The Blogger

“My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that, and I intend to end up there."

Jenn is one of the most prolific San Francisco Bay Area Fashion blogger, who introduced me to Anubha, during a fashion event that we attended. I loved the intricate craftsmanship of Anubha's designs that we decided to shoot a project, a long with bag designer Camino Brands, makeup artist Josanna Aguilar and Hairstylist Ray Ray for an editorial shoot for Astound Magazine.

For Coach; one of the many perks of being a successful blogger is to get noticed and showered with gifts by brands, big or small. One of those brands was coach, who approached her to feature a hand bag on her blog.  

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We took on an adventures; I would give an idea for the location that think it's best, and adamant of it, she trusted my visions each step of the way, but has ways to divert my attention. At time,s I would make it harder for her, but knowing Jenn, she will always find a way to style her shoot in fine details.

The owner and editor of Dark Beauty Magazine challenged me to shoot a project, worthy for one of its up n' coming issue. However our project never got published, because as (the prince of darkness) Topher puts it "You're not dark enough" but I've learned a lot of about myself and my style, I tend to lean towards colorful, and beautiful stories. Mind you, DB is a very challenging circulation to get published into. There are so many talented photographers. I am just glad that I was given the opportunity and has been published in the past. ( Special credits to MUA Wendy Tran, hair by Intertwine Hair Design and to all of my crew)

I have so many photos that we've collected over the years, but my eyes are hurting from the bright lights of my monitors, this shoot was our getaway from the busy San Fran. and we went to Tiburon to get a new perspective and inspirations.

The Finale through the years....

She loves to quote the Afghan scholar and poet Rumi.

“My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that,
and I intend to end up there."

The stylist

I've skipped a lot of months since my last blog entry. I have been concentrating on posting mass contents on Instagram and neglected to updated and write a diary of my experience or talk about random topics.

Late December, I had a meeting with Nikki, I was fascinated by her and for her love in styling other people. She wanted to collaborate, with me on a project to create a portfolio of her work, but I had other plans, since she already started to blog about herself, I just thought that she should continue what she had started ( And also advice her delete unnecessary content on Instagram and start fresh.. There is nothing more liberating than deleting your content on Instagram.. Try it! and forget the likes )

Displacement

The displacement project is born through the rolling chaos of events that I've seen. I do have a sense of displacement within as constant instability - the uninterrupted existence of everything that I love and care about is not guaranteed at all. I wait for catastrophes.

There’s a difference between photography and visual storytelling. You can easily take a photograph, but not all photographs tell rich stories.

You’ve heard the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” many times, right? As a photographer, I believe this is true when we dedicate ourselves to seeking out images that really tell a story. As a fashion photographer, I am hardwired to these words "Fashion is an ART of self-expression, not an excuse to be pretty, popular and charismatic" this is where it draws the divide.

We all have emotions within us, the trigger of our daily feelings of Anger, Love, Hate and Dissolution, once expressed The Magic is in the Telling.  When a person feels an emotion out of anything, process or event, the person will hardly be able to forget that specific thing, process or event, and will try to recreate these experiences, through one's art. It may not be exactly of how it happened, but paints in abstract.

It is in the mind of the photographer to “direct” or “channelize” the minds of the viewers to a particular, strong and appealing stories. And if the photographer is not successful in this endeavor than the photograph loses its distinctiveness and falls under the “normal” category.

Through travel, I have witnessed different human emotions, seeing pain in other peoples eyes is what evokes our self awareness. Not too long ago, my stressors  was triggered. It was unexpected, as medical responder, every second counts, while flipping through the index and possibly 100 billion neurons, with over 100 trillion total connection point in the synapses only to get to the hippocampus to obtain one single event in time.. The rest is history..... I can only rely in my art to show a little sanity left in me..

It’s gonna be everything you’ve ever dreamed
It’s gonna be who and me
It’s gonna be everything and anything that aren't meant to be

Anew

It has been awhile since, I graced my own blog, with new work, ideas and thoughts. I was not really expecting you reading this, as well, as published bloggers. I thank you all for supporting and for reading my BLAH of typos.. But, I think, I am getting better at this...

Somewhere along the way, as some of you already know my disability seeing colors. Colors fascinates me despite my limitations, thus I am challenged, therefore my quest for the perfect color grading methods eludes me. At times, I get frustrated and would walk away from retouching just to ground myself. Only to find myself on the hot seat once, I hear a good music online or on the radio.

Music speaks volumes, I hear my soul weep thru the keys and notation, Radiant melodies fill my eyes, I see colors, those that I cannot see, and it takes me to Paradise. Let me tell you about this girl in a muted story...

 

I found a way to let you in
But, I never really had a doubt
Standing in the light of your halo
I got my angel now

Everywhere I'm looking now
I'm surrounded by your embrace
You know you're my saving grace
You're everything I need and more
 

Working with Cristal on this concept, I was ready to shoot the whole series in Black n" White and retouch the photos in Noir. After talking to my circle of friends, I opted not to, because BW is something that I can easily do, but it has to be expressive, emotional, and tell a story with a refine curves. Because to me, black and white has to capture the soul. So, I decided to capture the imaginations instead.

Hit me like a ray of sun
Burning through my darkest night
You're the only one that I want
Think I'm addicted to your light
I swore I'd never fall again
But this don't even feel like falling
Gravity can't forget to pull me back to the ground again
 

It's like I've been awakened
Every rule I had you breakin'
It's the risk that I'm taking
I'm never gonna shut you out!

Everywhere I'm looking now
I'm surrounded by your embrace
You know you're my saving grace
You're everything I need and more
It's written all over your face

Pray it won't fade away

Lucky Man

Jackie and I loves sharing songs back n' forth, she introduced me to other genre that uplifts my spirits, when I am down. A good friend, down to earth, with a smile that can bright up a room. And to our most amazing MUAH and dear friend Maryanne for her magical touch.

I consider myself lucky to have met her.. Because the last chapter of my book of journey, highlights an important event in my life that depict real love story. It is a story of my grandfather meeting the love of his life, and I've always wondered of what beauty looked like that reflected unto his eyes.

So you tell me that I am a lucky man
You're so right, yes you're so right
Girl you know, there is no other place I'd be right now
Holding hands with my baby
So I'm going to love you until the sun comes up
Be that extra sugar you need in your cup

Not a day goes by when it's me alone
Like a soldier, can't wait to come back home
 

There's no holiday from this love
We won't take a break no
From this love

So you tell me that I am a lucky man
You're so right, yes you're so right
Girl you know, there is no other place I'd be right now
Holding hands with my baby
So I'm going to love you until the sun comes up

And to let you know every man on earth wished they had you
For their special lady
So am going to love you until the sun comes up
Be that extra sugar I need in my cup

There's no holiday from this love
We won't take a break no
From this love

The Dancing Cry Of The Soul

Love is the dancing cry of the soul, calling the body to worship
Like a shining whirlpool, or a spinning mayfly
So is love among the skies.

Unreal! Unnecessary!
Where is the beauty?
When I, like a glowing comet, may flash around your sun

 

 

 

I shall show you the brilliant crystal fires, shining within
I shall show you the beauty deep within your soul

I float through the ether, intoxicated, thrilled
I think only of your love, your calling to me
And I dance the thousand dances of love, all returning to you.

Only dance, and your illusions will blow in the wind
Dance, and make joyous the love around you
Dance, and your veils which hide the Light
Shall swirl in a heap at your feet.

Where is the beauty?

Mi último adiós

The shoot that the designers called Ivory Elegance, is a continuation of a story that I conceptualized called La Hacienda, with model Maryna and hairstylist Nicole Fike.

Last year, I shot the continuation of the story,  I got back into photography, after working as a first responder for sometime, I needed to take my mind off of things, and photography served to be that outlet, where I can release my stress, specially, when I am editing.

"Mi último adiós" my last farewell to 2014. I wanted to step into a new year, with fresh ideas and perspective. New networks, and specially, with a new workflow.

Determined that we are going to get our work published, and everyone's hard work paid off.

To my A Team. Congratulations for making it in IKON Magazine, international publication.

Model: Alyssa Elaine @dapunkay
Designer: Hill Tribe
MUA: Nora Arechiga @noraartistry
Hair: Nicole Fike

SKYFALL

This is the end
Hold your breath and count to ten
Feel the earth move and then
Hear my heart burst again

For this is the end
I've drowned and dreamt this moment
So overdue I owe them
Swept away, I'm stolen

Let the sky fall
When it crumbles
We will stand tall
Face it all together

Let the sky fall
When it crumbles
We will stand tall
Face it all together
At skyfall
That skyfall

Camille and I setup for a shoot during the one of the strongest storm in the Bay Area. The theme jumped from on theme to another, mixed emotions to how it would look, I was experimenting, with different looks and lighting setup.  Making each look more cinematic, as I go. It was a challenge to set the camera according to available ambient light, but it was doable, as I am now dependent in using natural light.

During this shoot there was two songs that kept playing in my head. One from the HBO series show "True Blood" and "Skyfall" by Adel.

When you came in the air went out.
And every shadow filled up with doubt.
I don't know who you think you are,
But before the night is through,
I wanna do bad things with you.

When you came in the air went out.
And all those shadows there filled up with doubt.
I don't know who you think you are,
But before the night is through,
I wanna do bad things with you.
I wanna do real bad things with you.

CONVEX

Photography and the art of self expression is never ending. A month ago, I was studying and try to create a look. I made lots of attempts, I made mistakes in color grading, skin toning and skin color matching. Each day after work, I would retouch for 2 hours, and record hours of footage and not one look grabbed my attention. I was almost frustrated, but I'm not about to give up, because I know, the answer will present itself.

I reached out to a fellow photographer for inspiration, and we've discussed lighting and retouching. When, we photographers/retouchers talk, we share abstract information, to shield our signature look, and I know, I was not about to get a straight answer, but he pointed a look that I've created years ago, when I first started in photography. A photograph of a friend of mine, whom I shot his first recording album photo. Breedsworld.

I searched in my cabinet of notes, until I found the particular workflow, and I could not stop laughing of what transpired me to create such photograph. It was good, but there are technicalities that was missing, but I guess we all have to start somewhere, and I am just glad that I was able to create a look then that is the main inspiration for my lifestyle workflow.

The model is also an artist in her own rights. Jenn is a visual poet and during our shoot, she had asked me if what I liked any of her youtube videos. I blandly replied that I liked one. But there was in particular that is one that is my favorite, and I challenge every word that she said in her video.

I challenge her words, because during the shoot, I asked her to describe her mood and emotions, when she is in her poetic state of mind.. And her answer was "PAIN" and when she said that.. I somehow pictured rays of light entering through kaleidoscope, but the light that I was "LOVELESS"

Who doesn't like details?  The theme of this shoot was Jenn herself, she inspired me to create, her words brought out the best of me. As, I painted each details and light back to create her words.

The model was trying to read me and anticipate my every move, and waited for directions. I hardly pose models, I've learned this ever since, I was shooting beauty, with my team of makeup artist, and I've also learned not to look through the viewfinder, and constantly look for details, expression, and simple emotions.  It takes skill and the motivation necessary to master those skills, photographers becomes stagnant if one does not evolve, and be creative. 

JUST LIKE AN ANGEL

I left the comfort zone to create an untitled project, willing to continue the book of journey, with this sophisticated Russian model. The whole day was in anticipation for this shoot. When, I arrived at the location (at her apartment) the interior resembled of that from a movie scene. It was not messy, but there was a feel of disarray, with a sense that "I did not belong here" a lyrical note from the song Creep, by Radiohead.

I can step into the room and able to take mental snap shots of my surroundings, it is what I am trained to do, as part of my profession, then be able to create a scenario based on that collection. The whole environment took me back in time, and I was able to vividly place myself during one of my short stay in Thailand. The glare of the light, the tonality of the colors, and the chaos within, but in the midst of it, there was beauty in the midst of a beautiful disarray.

When you were here before
Couldn't look you in the eye
You're just like an angel
Your skin makes me cry
You float like a feather
In a beautiful world
I wish I was special
You think you are special

I don't care if it hurts
I wanna have control
I want a perfect body
I want a perfect soul
I want you to notice
When I'm not around
You think you are special
I wish I was special

Whatever makes you happy
Whatever you want
You think you are special
I wish I was special

But I'm a creep
I'm a weirdo
What the hell am I doing here?
I don't belong here
I don't belong here

2014 was about enhancing the book of Journey, through color styling via color grading. The book of "Journey" was created using only minimal lighting most of which as created by ambient light, aided by CTO gels. The video below, was aided by two lamps. Lamp on right with gel, and overhead natural light from the lampshade.

 

Retouching in beauty is very close to me, working close by pixel level is therapeutic, I have had a shift of interest, influenced by other retouchers, and that is, leaving small imperfections to keep the aesthetic complementing the skin textures.  Blurring out the skin is...... ummmmmmm..... Would be a lazy approach.  I have been following  Melidsa Rodwell and she is a quite insightful photographer that will answer you openly. I like the blog that she wrote that took by heart, when I first started exploring retouching years ago.  GOOD AND BAD RETOUCH

A NEW

A New, yesterday was the most expensive trip to San Francisco! To summarize the trip. Golden Gate Bridge, camera, water, phone, and Alex got WIPED out by the cold, wave, while we set out on a rain and windy weather conditions to scout for locations. But the flip side, all things are replaceable, and we came up, with another workflow.

"Simplicity is a freedom from complexity, intricacy, or division into  parts. Painted only by a story captured frozen in time"

With this said, I don't know if, I can put my brush down and not create a story. Let me take you to a journey of colors and moods once again.

Alex reminded me of, why I do, what I do. She too is an artist, and a model that has shot, with the best. When we first met, back, when birds can talk to the moon. We did a session in my studio. A session that led to her managing of how, I retouch a photo that she liked from our set, to my surprise, she and I created a new look that I have been using in a lot of my dramatic studio work.

After that day, and a couple of shoots, with other photographers, she went AWOL, and was never seen again. Until one day, she resurfaced, and gave a like in one of her photo that I posted in Instagram. And I was glad that she did, because she again influenced the direction of my storyline. 

"This door, this plain white door. Nothing poetic, but I'm searching for more. It has no story to tell.
It stays within a frame, just a hollow shell, it hasn't even a name.
"

"Reflections, a curious thing. Imperfections control our silly breed. You can bat your lashes, and strive to have "the look", but I will change the masses by writing a single book"

"I grew up "poor"; single mom with multiple jobs. I learned the strength of a woman early on. Wouldn't have changed a thing" - Alex...

"I’m sorry, I did not mean to hurt my little girl
It's beyond me, I cannot carry the weight of the heavy world"


RAIN DROPS

Early this summer, i had the pleasure to work with model Camay and her MUA friend Patty, before these two moved to L.A and started fresh with their individual careers. During the shoot the weather was blazing hot, as California stepped into its 3rd year of drought. 

While driving around trying to stay out of the burning sun, we spotted a corn field and drove to the side of the field where large Eucalyptus trees serves as a canopy that kept us cool during the shoot.

It took me a while to actually find a way to render the photos, since I have been doing a lot of retouching with glam fashion, but for the past weeks, I've taught about this project and looked back and how Camay, Patty and I, wished of how perfect it would be if it was raining and our model Camay would be all wet.. But, all of that was wishful thinking, although....... It would of been AWESOME!

Camay has features that I really like and a beautiful face that fashion fits her well. I had fun on this day, I guess we all did. This day has to go down in history as the "Hottest" shoot ever..


YELLOW TOKEN 309

So i travel
with packed traps and springing strides
and it better be where
i can spend the night,
it better be where
i can spend the night...

Sarah is not a model, she is a hairstylist, and not your average person.  When Sarah told me of her story and how she was on her own at a very young age, and how time has drifted her away from her family and how she had always been looking at the world in the rear mirror, she learned to travel light, learned to leave the past and how to quickly live life a new, as part of her survival.

I hear the wind drifting
through the woods,
its a secret, yea a secret
is what i overhear,
which i am sure,
the wind wanted the gentle
leaves alone to hear,
its going to get colder
said the wind
for the winter is
around the corner
.

I travel,
like the seasons
i travel,
winter or summer
i don't bother
but marvel,
summer its hot
so what i care not,
I am a Traveler
i fear not the cold,
i fear not the winter
for i have no place to go
the winter is around
the corner, though.

Yellow Token 309 is over looking the Oakland Tribune..

Little did Sarah knew that I spent a lonely night in this place, a place, where I was soul searching, a place, where I left my own demons behind. One of the places, where it helped me lift myself out of the darkness.

BINIBINI

BINIBINI.  In Filipino, which means "Miss"

When, my co-worker at the hospital saw the photo below, she said that the model looks like "Pop Fernandez" who is a Philippine movie and singing icon. But, I don't know who, Pop Fernandez is, so I had to Google her and behold, they both have the same facial features.

Nicole captured the Filipiniana beauty, as well, as strength by going against the odds in modeling, specially in fashion. There are lots of models that comes and go, but she is determined. Nicole's photo gallery is very refreshing to see, as she's able to compiled works from different top wardrobe designers.

I am honored to have shot with this BINIBINI, along, with her awesome MUAH and close friend, Annie. For this presentation.


She has became one of San Francisco's runway darling for years, and she is now ready to embark in a journey that will lead her to the City of Angels in the next month, and I hope to follow thereafter for my own agent meeting, and also reunite, with other models that I've shot in the past.

As an Asian model, she is very particular about her book, and choosing fashion, rather than becoming your average Asian import model, modeling in front of cars is a feat for every Filipina model. Fashion modeling has a sense of socialistic, elite presence and a league of their own rights, from classy galas of socialites, fashion weeks, swarmed, with the industries best.

For this reason, why I really never became a Glamour photographer, because I am attracted to the rich culture of Fashion, and the roots of fashion photography, where the essence of the story depends on one's creative ideas, rather than a workflow that are constant, and looks that are typical.

 

 

BASED ON YOUR SMILE

When, I was first introduced to the music of Jack Johnson, I was in Hawaii, riding a bike that I had borrowed and decided to have an adventure along the beach of Maui, with these godly HUGE headphones. One particular music in the album that I really liked was Cocoon.

"Well based on your smile
I'm betting all of this
Might be over soon
But your bound to win
Cause if I'm betting against you
I think I'd rather lose
But this is all that I have"

When I prepare for a shoot, I usually prevision of what I am going to do and music plays a big part of it. I choosed cocoon for my song inspiration, because I know the message of the song will spark or help me in motion in finding dramatic mood, according to the light, and what more dramatic and to be inspired by a sad song.

"I know it's not your style
I can tell by the way that you move
It's real, real soon
But I'm on your side
And I don't want to be your regret
I'd rather be your cocoon
But this is all that you have"

In each of our journey, we've been hurt in a relationship before, and the pain runs deep. Cocoon, hits close to home and every time i hear it, i immediately just zone out and put everything into perspective. I don't know why but there's something about this song that does it too me. The tempo is dramatic, and lyrics has so much meaning.

"You said this was all you had
And it's all I need"

"But now we have
Only confused hearts and
I guess all we have
Is really all we need"

As part of my series, called "Experience" I am recalling music, colors, and mood of the past to bring out how I felt through out my adventures in life, and this shoot, was one of them. I could not bring Hawaii here in the mainland, so I tried to capture, what I saw, felt and heard, towards creating the photographs in this series in places that will help me bring back memories.  And, also the big part of recapturing this particular journey in my life, is that I was surrounded, with great company (amongst friends) and therefore, I recreated the atmosphere during this shoot by taking with me, a fellow photographer Robin HagyKristina Rink Piccardo, as MUA and Hairstylist/wardrobe stylist, Kody Genovia, who flew in from Hawaii, just to hang out. and Andra Mortensen's, friend, who was kind enough to help her out.

"So please
Let's take these broken hearts and use
Let's use only what we really need
You know we only have so little
So please
Take these broken hearts and leave"

TRY

I was awaken by the music of Colbie Caillat entitled "Try" as it shuffled through the selections on my ipod. I have listened to this music numerous times, but this morning was different, carefully listening to the lyrics.

"You watch should you care what they think of you
When you’re all alone
By yourself, do you like you
Do you like you"

My fellow photographer and friend, Paul Ferradas has told my about his minimal workflow in retouching, it has resonated a sense of challenged to do more, yet less towards augmenting in preparation for my new style to improve the storytelling.

 

My recent series are inspirations from experiments that Anna and I shot in the past, along with two different MUAs. Tay Le, who has been generous in providing her services on separate occasions, and Kimberly Brown.

The series that I did, with Anna was more than just a typical shoot, we tailored each look differently and brainstorm on what works, while maintaining the cinematic effect of my workflow.

"Take your make up off
Let your hair down
Take a breath
Look into the mirror at yourself
Don’t you like you
Cause I like you"

I am drawn to the more artistic workflow, and lots of heavy dramatic retouching, but it doesn't hurt to create a new workflow, so I decided to take a new approach and relearned, whta I have learned and simplistically dropped down my workflow. This morning after being inspired and zoning to the music of Colbie Caillat "Try" an addition to my workflow is born.

Our previous work.

IMPETUS

The force or energy with which a body moves according to the light and how the mood changes, by the melodic sound of the music, as it played continuously in the background during this shoot, making each frames an edition from artistic standpoint is irreproachable.

In the fields of visual creation and digital effects, lighting is an important element that creates mood, depth, and realism or surrealism in a scene, and ones experience is the greatest constituent to making each visual effects comes to life.

I have walked through many lives, some of them my own, and I am not who I was, though some principle of being abides, from which I struggle not to stray.

When I look behind, as I am compelled to look before I can gather strength to proceed on my journey, I see the milestones dwindling toward the horizon and the slow fires trailing from the abandoned camp-sites, over which scavenger angels wheel on heavy wings.

Life is the sum of experiences, when we encounter a challenge, we have freedom to choose how to react. Every decision that we make leads us down a different road. We will never come to exactly the same crossroads. Every decision the we make has significance. The tiniest choice that we make reverberates throughout. In my world, where colors, I cannot totally see, I resort to music to guide me, with each experience.

SILENTIUM: The Muted Note

Before everything fades, and before, I will take away the colors. Let me tell a little bit about me. Since early childhood, one can no longer surmise the fact that I could not pass the color test, and with each passing years, my site deteriorates. My last eye exam, I was given a 60% color sight. Some days I catch a color (so, I may think) but a mere wishful thinking, although, I am still wishing to see all the colors of the rainbow.

Mute Poetry, Speaking Pictures, without colors.. Lets begin....

And there is the silence of this morning, which I have broken with my pen, a silence that had piled up all night.  Like  a heavy dark blanket that has fallen on top of the house—the silence before I wrote a word and the poorer silence now.

And, when night begins to fall from the black oaks, darkening, In the nightingale’s soft call. Our despair will, solemn, sing a muted song. I also find my fear of black and white, being lifted, as I exposed, what I truly see, with each waking moment.

Some things you know all your life. They are so simple and true they must be said without elegance, meter and rhyme, they must be laid on the table beside the salt-shaker, the glass of water, the absence of light gathering in the shadows of picture frames, they must be naked and alone, they must stand for themselves in the muted corner of the mind.