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Tako and Peter | San Francisco Love Story Collections

I am blessed. I’m very lucky to have the amazing opportunity to spend time with so many happy couples in love and share in it, even if for a moment. Early in my photography career, I knew almost immediately that I wanted to photograph people. Landscapes, animals, sports, and etc. didn’t excite me as much as people do. And it wasn’t just people, but I knew I wanted to photograph couples. There is something about how two individuals coming together to form a team, a family, is a beautiful thing to me. That’s why I love doing engagement photos and couple photos which I call the Love Story Collections.

Having photographed numerous couples, I always find it difficult when people ask me which is my favorite couple because honestly, each and every couple I’ve photographed, they and their story has been amazing. So in reality, all of them are my favorite for all different reasons. Then Tako and Peter showed up. They’re normally a shy and reserved couple, but you can tell there is something special between these two. From their interaction, the way they steal glances at each other to how they poke fun at each other. They were also willing to try new things, so we did and below is what we got.

How about a quick shot inside of Louis Vuitton at Union Square:

How about inside of Saks Fifth Avenue:

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Jan and Ken | Palo Alto Love Story Collections Session at Ikea

When Jan and Ken showed up enthusiastically wanting some beautiful couple photos of each other, I was more than happy to oblige. The energy and love that these two have for each other was very clear, so I knew photographing them wouldn’t be difficult. But the challenging question that always come up is: where do we shoot? Ken is from San Diego and Jan was originally from San Francisco, but now lives in Southern California for school, so they didn’t have too many ideas of where, but they were willing to trust me to find somewhere cool; which can be a bad idea because sometimes I let my imagination run free and choose crazy places! So where did we end up? At Ikea. In Palo Alto. Yes, Ikea. And why not right? There are some great Ikea designers spending countless hours planning and setting up all the sets and displays and lighting them to make them look the absolute best, so most of all the hardwork is done for me. All that is left, insert a beautiful couple and voilà! Magic can be made. So below is a preview of what we got at Ikea in Palo Alto.

If you’re looking for a nice gift for your boyfriend, girlfriend, significant other or you’ve newly married or been married for a quarter century, it’s never a bad idea to get some nice photos of each other together right? Shoot us an email and let us capture some beautiful photos for you.

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Collin and Thuy | San Francisco Engagement Session

Next to shooting the actual couple’s wedding day, I have to say doing the engagement session is one of my most favorite part of the entire wedding process. It is an opportunity where I, as their wedding photographer, spend a good few hours photographing them together where they get to know me and get used to having a camera pointed at them repeatedly and I get to know them. It’s almost sorta like dating, except they’re getting married and I’m some taking photos of them being all lovie-dovie. But moving forward.

Collin and Thuy wanted some engagement photos taken around San Francisco but they didn’t want the typical postcard engagement photos other wedding photographers typically take. Fortunately for them, I had some places in mind. We started off around Twin Peaks, a place for amazing views of San Francisco, but rarely if ever used for engagement photos. It served to be a perfect place for views of San Francisco without being the typical trendy shot. We then made our way to the Hyatt Regency, a beautiful hotel and shot around inside. And because we were nearby, we grabbed some shots near the Ferry Building. We also stopped by the Exploratorium (which has since closed and moved) for a few shots as well and finished off at Crissy Fields.

In all, we had a great day visiting around San Francisco. You can also see their beautiful wedding here (coming soon).

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San Francisco Dia de los Meurtos (Day of the Dead) | San Francisco Bay Area Event Photographer

20121113-020240.jpgI have always been fascinated with the Dia de los Meurtos (Day of the Dead) festival that takes place yearly in San Francisco. Up until recently, the scheduling hasn’t quite worked out for me to attend, but fortunately this year, the stars aligned and I was able to go, watch, and be a part of this very special yearly San Francisco tradition. Dia de los Meurtos is an Aztec tradition in which the dead were remembered and honored during the summer month of Miccailhuitontli. During the 16th century, the Spaniards arrived bringing with them the Christian holiday of All Souls Day. The Spanish priests then moved the Pagan Dia de los Meurtos festival from Summer to Fall to coincide with All Souls Day in hopes it would be transformed to a more acceptable Christian holiday. From this is born the modern day Dia de los Meurtos in which the dead is remembered and honored. You can read much more about this on the official page.

This year’s festival took place on November 2, as it traditionally supposed to, and has two main components: the parade and the altar site. The parade starts at 22nd and Bryant with the blessing ceremony by the Aztec dancers and travels in a rectangular path around The Mission District. The altars are typically setup in Garfield Park at 26th and Harrison. I stopped by early to Garfield Park to see the altars during a time when there would still be enough light and few enough people to photograph the altars. Later I ran into fellow friends and some of the famous San Francisco Bay Area street photographers William Lee, Dave Golden, Rob Clevenger, David Toshiyuki, and more and I ended up walking the beginning parts of the parade with William Lee before returning to Garfield Park. It was an amazing night and I hope for the opportunity to do it again next year. Below are the photos I captured. For those who are curious, I shot all the images without the use of flash relying more on my Nikon D3‘s high ISO capabilities to retain the mood and feel of the event. I had originally planned to bring my LED light panel, but at the last second left it in the car. I used a total of three prime lenses: the 35mm, 50mm AIS, and the 85mm. As it got darker, I relied more on my 50mm AIS and manual focus as it was too dark for autofocus to work. The maximum ISO I used for the night was ISO 6400. You can see all the rest of the photos in the SF Day of the Dead gallery.

Camera(s) used: Nikon D3
Lenses used: Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8G DX, Nikon 50mm f/1.2 AIS, and Nikon AF 85mm f/1.4D

Latest Releases: Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM, Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS, and Canon lens caps

I’m sure you all heard by now, but Canon has released two new lenses to their extraordinary EF line-up, but both of which have been scratching my head thinking…why? First off, Canon just introduced a new Luxury, or “L”, lenses, the Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS. Now if you remember, Canon already has a zoom lens that has the same f-stop with more range: the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM, a fantastic lens. I know because I’ve owned one. So why in their right minds would Canon release a slower lens with shorter focal length? And to boot, it cost more than the 24-105mm, $1,499 versus $1,149.

Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM

Canon also released a prosumer lens, the Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS. For those who know me, I used to be totally against the 35mm lens as it’s not quite wide like the 24mm and doesn’t have quite the reach of the 50mm, but having used the Nikon 35mm for a number of weddings now, this is focal length is totally in my toolkit. Now what I’ve always found kinda strange was Canon’s decision to add image stabilization (IS) to a wide-angle prime lens. Given how small and light the 35mm is, it’s not very hard to hand-hold slow shutter speeds. Plus the f/2 f-stop is somewhat slow for a prime lens. And now with the high-ISO capable cameras, IS isn’t as a big deal unless you’re trying to hand-hold a heavy lens like 300mm and above.

Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS

The new Canon lens caps are really nice. Like really, really nice; probably one of the best new things from Canon. I’ve always hated the Canon lens caps because they were very difficult to remove with the lens hood on. Not a problem anymore now that they switched to the Nikon pinch style caps. Order them by the butt-load from B&H for $9.95 (make sure you get the right size).