It's that time again where I look back at everything I've photographed through the year and pick out my top favorites. I've skipped 2014 so I owe it to myself to make one for 2015. This year was huge for me - I left my job as a Dental Assistant to pursue photography full time. It has led me to interesting pathways and although the journey has been a roller coaster ride of highs and lows, it has lead me to very interesting situations and places. Nevertheless, here's my photographic essay of my journey.
One of my earliest shoots of this year was Boris' MKIV Supra right by Levi's Stadium. Ever since crashing mine years ago, I've always wondered what it would have been if I had it today; what it would look like and what mods it would have. I wouldn't be writing this right now if that was the case since I would probably have spent the years building it up instead of jumping into the financial black hole that is photography.
The Shukai meet in Japantown, San Jose was when I started experimenting with tighter shots of cars rather than revealing the entire subject. The builders put so much work in the details that it gets lost in a wide shot.
Another example of a detailed close up at Cars and Coffee in Santana Row.
The first time going to a GoPro GrandPrix as an employee's guest was a blast; free beer and churros plus the track was right next to the campground. This year didn't have that, so I was a bit more focused on shooting the race.
Out of hundreds of slow shutter pan shots made, there were only a handful that turned out fine. Honestly, I was disappointed in myself that for a whole day - I couldn't nail a decent shot.
This was my first time shooting drift with my new Canon 400mm f/2.8 IS. It's a totally different beast than with what I was used to so I would practice panning shots on the freeway adjacent to my house. They end up sucking obviously, so fast shutter/frozen-in-time shots were the only ones that ended up okay.
slice of life
I almost didn't shoot this sunset at Pigeon Point Lighthouse until I stumbled on this weathered old phone booth. I had my Canon 11-24mm f/4 at the time so it made the interior more spacious than it looks. The dirt coating on the glass diffused the golden sunlight and the deep blue setting sky nicely.
My dad had a Leica M8 and a 50mm f/1 that I used occasionally when I want to take a break from shooting heavy gear. I have a three photos here shot with this setup.
Shot with the Leica M8/50mmf/1 combo (1/3) - The Pacifica Pier is one of my favorite places to shoot the sunset.
My younger brother Christian bought his first DSLR last year and has been shooting with it constantly ever since. I wanted him to experience how to photographed people, so I suggested he starts of shooting his friends to get off on an easy start. His friend Maylee was up for the part.
For his birthday/Christmas present this year, my fam put together funds to buy him a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS.
Speaking of Christian, here he is.
A shoot with Miss Philippines 2015. A bizzare re-edit of one of my photos was used in the Miss Philippines facebook cover photo. I guess they really wanted her to have a pink dress instead.
My buddy Mike picked up the new Sigma 24mm f/1.4 and naturally I wanted to try it out. Nanette was awesome enough to model for me at the Palace of Fine Arts.
After a long day of shooting guns in the back country of Groveland, we stopped by a cliff side to check out the view.
Yeah, selfies. The one thing I really don't like photographing is myself. I picked up a ring light along the way and I didn't have anyone to practice on. Pardon the unkempt facial hair.
With the help of Myron and Catherine, I was able to make a few portal shots. Here's one out at Davenport Beach.
Another one near the Golden Gate Bridge.
I was super stoked that I was able to time lapse the NBA finals. This was during the end of the last game, I was on the balcony with DJ Umami to lapse the crowd getting lit.
For FlexxMafi a's shoot, I had to rig a few softboxes to get that strip light effect. This was shot last minute in my garage with a hastily put together setup.
There was a time where I paid my bills by shooting swimming.
I spent the first half of the day snowboarding, then decided to take photos after one too many Jameson shots taken at a bar on the summit.
I've always been fascinated with the ocean and sunsets. It has been a reoccurring motif this year and I consider myself lucky living within minutes to the most beautiful beaches in the world.
After upgrading my 300mm to a 400mm and purchasing a 2x extender, I was able to have enough reach to do surf photography. I've always wanted to shoot surf, but never had the adequate gear. My friend David just got back into surfing, so we've spent a good amount to time trying to catch the biggest waves.
I would love to experience what that guy is going through. Then again, there might be sharks.
Monterey is a nice place to visit when it's not foggy
For some reason, I always end up at Sutro Baths every time I go out to shoot sunset.
Back to Davenport Beach again. There's something so intriguing about remnants of the golden age of the Industrial revolution.
The best part is when there's no moon at night. Another photo at Sutro Baths. There's always something new and exciting every time I come here.
One of the rare moments when the planets align for an epic sunset moment.
Oceanscapes are just as mysterious as they are vast.
Right after the sun dips over the horizon and the sky erupts with colors, I was lucky enough to catch this surfer right before the wave closed up.
Shot with the Leica M8/50mmf/1 combo (2/3) - It took us almost half a year to plan it, most because of schedule conflict and distance, but we've managed to squeeze in a quick beach shoot before I have to leave right away to shoot a wedding.
Shooting cosplay is where I get to shoot for fun. There isn't much room to take things slow when you're under pressure when shooting weddings and gigs, so it's nice to go on my own pace and try oddball methods. I started using my 300mm last year for portraits and again for this years cons.
I like using superteles for portraits since just like cars, you'll miss out the fine details that these coplayers put into their craft that can be easily overlooked with a wide shot.
Plus you get the benefit of completely blowing up the background which gives you interesting color effects.
I like the challenge of it, which pushes me to think outside the box. I would often reposition myself several times just to get a flair effect just right using objects between me and the subject.
Sometimes you have to make the background work for you.
This was my first time bringing my strobes to a con. I hate the thought of lugging it around but after the sun started to set and the crowd started to gather indoors, I had to use something to overpower the fluorescent lights.
After a complete gear overhaul, I'm excited to see what's in store for next year.
With the 16th World Kendo Championships coming up, the folks over at San Jose Kendo Dojo are gearing up for their portraits for the press kit.
I flew to Japan with Team USA to document the championships. While there, I did a little bit of sight seeing.
The famous Fushimi Inari-taisha was a sight to behold. It was a solid hike to cover the entire shrine, but worth it.
After the hustle and bustle of the daily routines of the Tsukiji fish market, there was an eerie quietness calmness amidst the buzzing of machinery. It was a challege shooting WKC with so many things going on in different courts.
Catherine Kikunaga steps into what would be her last match for Team USA.
weddings / engagements
One of my favorite engagement sessions with Mitch and Angie.
I feed off the vibes that couples put out during my shoots. Happy couple = happy photos!
The best part of shooting one your best friend's engagement session is hanging out with your best friend. Rahmi and his fiance Ally poses for an epic Little Mermaid-inspired shot. I was second shooting for Alex Wong for Steve and Kengsha's wedding when the clouds lit up with color during sunset.
The colors we so vibrant and the lighting was just perfect during the sunset. The next couple of photos is of my Brother JR's for his wedding. The cherry blossoms at the Golden Gate Botanical gardens complimented Barry's shirt nicely. It wasn't hard capturing the precious moments before the big day - These guys were in bliss.
The scenery in Sebastopol made the wedding weekend epic.
Shot with the Leica M8/50mmf1 combo (3/3) - I told my brother to do the one thing that would annoy Barry the most.
This shot needed a lot of work. There were several wedding guests bystanding in the back ground that needed to be removed and a few lighting fixes to capture exactly what I have envisioned for this shot. I think it turned out pretty good.
One of the many fleeting moments of the night.
A single flash can make all the difference in the world.
I like how this one turned out for being mostly natural light. The light was a good mixture of softness and intensity to make the perfect exposure.
I tried to recreate the same shot right outside the hotel room since the light in the lobby had the same softness but without the dark shadows.
Wedding shoes can be pretty tough to shoot if you don't have much to work with, so you have to get back down to the basics.
I just rained an hour earlier before we showed up to the park. The water added a nice reflective surface on the rocky pathway.
I was working against time before the sun completely dips in this photo. My softbox had a golden reflector when reversed, giving it that warm light to contrast the cool sky.
And there you have it. I will leave you know of this photo of a seagull catching a crab