Can you tell us your journey with photography? What keeps you fascinated by photography?
It all started with a disposable camera that my mom bought me when I was 12 years old. It was the last day of school, and I wanted to document the day before we went off to summer break. I’ve been snapping photos ever since.
I didn’t really take photography seriously until I started taking headshots for actor friends of mine when I was studying Theater at UC Berkeley. Before I started my business, I was actually a photojournalist and editor at the Daily Californian and worked as an Arts Marketer for several theater companies around the Bay Area. Currently, I primarily work as portrait/headshot photographer for artists and creatives, and as a wedding photographer (I still definitely make time to act and make music - so if you’re curious about it, let’s chat about how I try to make it all work!)
Praise and I like to call ourselves accidental business owners, because like her, I don’t think I intended to start a photography business - I just really liked taking photos and people liked it enough to pay me for them, haha. In the last 5 years of being a photographer and a freelancer, I’ve not only learned and grown as a photographer, but what it really meant to be a business owner.
I always ask myself why I keep picking up a camera, and I think it all goes back to that moment in 8th grade - to preserve and document our memories and collective stories. Of course, the nature of my work and how I make photos now goes beyond documenting my daily life. What’s so powerful about photography for me is the simplicity of capturing a frozen moment or feeling in time. I’m being really reductive here, but photography makes it really accessible to capture our most important moments, our creativity, and our stories in a very simple way, because all you really have to do is press a button. Of course, there’s definitely much more to that. Otherwise, if it was that easy, I would be out of a job. You know the saying ”a picture is worth a thousand words?” I don’t believe that. I prefer to say a “picture is worth a thousand feelings,” because that’s what photography evokes for me. How many times have you looked at a photo and just stared at it? Even if it's just a few seconds, there’s a thousand moments that can happen. You can remember a memory or a loved one, a story can unfold, you can be transported to a different world, or you can share moments of joy, love, and laughter. Our first instinct when looking at a photo is not to explain it, but to remember those moments that make us pause. Those are the moments I try to capture.
You know the saying ”a picture is worth a thousand words?” I don’t believe that. I prefer to say a “picture is worth a thousand feelings,”
What’s a yearbook-style superlative you’d give to your high school self? What’s one for your current self?
Hmm...let me think (googles high school superlatives). I'd probably be "Most likely to sing in the shower." Now, it totally would be "Most likely to serenade his dog."
What gives you goosebumps?
Really good BBQ, and Noah Reid singing Simply The Best in Schitt's Creek
If any celebrity could be your neighbor, who would it be and why?
I can't choose, so here's a list: John Legend and Chrissy Teigen, Alicia Keys, Jacob Collier, The Fab Five, and Angela Davis. No explanation needed, because if you know who they are, you'll understand why ;)
What do you want the people you photograph to feel during your photoshoot and why?
I want folks to feel comfortable, confident, connected, and at ease. If there’s one thing that I always strive for in all my shoots - this is the singular thing. If I’m doing portraits with a couple or an artist, the photo is actually not my main priority. I know it’s ironic, because that’s the whole point of a photoshoot. But hear me out! I don’t focus on the photo, because it’s not about the photo, it’s about the person in front of the camera! The photo is just a byproduct of the shoot. I’m going to repeat this, photoshoots are about you.
I’m a people photographer, which means I’m your biggest cheerleader and there for you to make you feel your best and capture the moments in between that make you want to smile, laugh, or cry (in the most positive sense).
I sometimes joke I’m a "lazy" photographer, because I don’t like to bring a lot of equipment (you’d usually find me with just a camera and a large softbox or umbrella).
I think the reason I do this is to have as minimal distractions as possible. When I’m making photos, I want to focus all my attention and be connected to the people that I’m photographing. I have a minimal set up, to make sure my shoots are as laid back and natural as possible.
One thing I always tend to say is “I’m just your friend who has a fancy camera who also happens to know quite a lot about photography.” It’s easier to take photos with friends, right?
Whether I’m working with couples, creatives, actors, or models - I keep to this same core value.
I’m going to repeat this, photoshoots are about you.