Isabelle Rouger

Isabelle Rouger is extremely photogenic.  She is so photogenic I could not make up my mind if I want her photos in black and white or preserve its real color. So I am sharing both.

In color, her golden hair shines with warm tungsten static light. In black and white, she exudes that classic beauty.

One of my strobes refused to cooperate in this shoot so I used just one diffused beauty dish from the top right, one diffused tungsten static light from the left and another tungsten static light from the back to paint that warm tone.

Technical notes: ISO100, f/5.6, 1/125s, 35mm

Portrait of Fern

fern01Fern Akari from Thailand was one of our featured models on APU Fashion Week 2016.  Her Thai name means Fern which translate to Akari in Japanese, hence the cyber name. She came to the audition looking so shy and timid.  I spoke to her to calm her nerves together with her fellow froshies (at least a freshman to my eyes coz I never saw her in any fashion show or multicultural performance which we have every week).

That was one big check!  a fresh face.  She had that side bangs she couldn’t get rid of so I thought, ah this girl needs some work.  AFW happened October 16 to 21, 2016 and she graced some of our preview shows.  As I was finalizing casting, in coordination with fashion designers, I found her body type to be conveniently slim that she can fit in any of the dresses, especially the long gowns.  In a separate post, I mentioned that dresses featured in the fashion show are not made for the models but for a certain body form by the designers.

Backstage, I inspected the makeup room and found her made up.  ‘Who’s that girl?!’  I usually kid around but of course I knew it was her.  What wowed me was her ability to transform.  After the show and the meet and greet, she transformed back to her usual self, a simple timid girl.  What I liked about Fern is her very simple and humble attitude.

I invited her to a photoshoot I art directed while on hibernating mode.  The concept was Blairwitch meets Conjuring, a post halloween shoot featuring the same lovely gowns she wore on the show.  Hair up or hair down, I can say she rocked it.  So I made a mental note, I want to shoot this girl a portrait so I can see if she is really photogenic as she has proven to be.  What I also want to see is if she can transform like a chameleon as she always does with changing expressions and mood.  So here are my portraits of Fern Akari.

Hairstyling by:  Phu Co

Makeup by:  Jeen Kraiwuttianant

Technical notes: ISO100, F/5.6, 1/200s, 35mm

 

Beppu at Night

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Today I excitedly tested my 24mm Nikon lens I scored from Amazon.  Over the past days, I have been obsessing about this new photography platform – the mirrorless cameras.

The big cons, however, is that the mirrorless cameras and the necessary lenses for portraiture and wide angles cost a fortune.  The only pros of a mirrorless is probably being lightweight, hip, and kinda retro with the old school camera look.  Still looking at that price tag after playing with it at Yodobashi Camera (my favorite hang out place), I could easily justify against purchasing a new platform.

So looking into my camera set, I have a Nikon D7000 (upgraded from my first D80), 55-200mm zoom, 18 to 105mm lens kit, 35mm for portraitures, I thought I need a 24mm for wide angles.  I mentioned that I have stopped taking landscapes but I didn’t say I hate it.  Occasionally and probably when the urge to be artistic or do something different calls, then a street photo or a travel photo would be nice.

Going back to mirrorless cameras that cost around USD1,000, I played with its features.  Okay, the Olympus E-PL8 looks cute, has a remote controlling app on a smartphone, excellent for taking selfies, and has built in artistic filters.  But I don’t like filters anyway.  Filters are for Instagram not for professional photos.  I also considered the Fujifilm X-T1 or X-T2 both of which can afford me a second hand car here in Japan.  The lens, likewise, will be another rent money.  So no to Fujifilm. I am loyal to Nikon so I did not even check Canon.  Finally, I checked Nikon mirrorless cameras, the J1 series and the AW1 series.  They seem affordable, lightweight, and compatible with my Nikon lenses.  However, I need an adapter to make my lenses fit the small body of the Nikon mirrorless cameras.  Which made me go back to basics.  I have a complete set and probably, a new piece of lens would be nice to complete the array – and that is wide angle for landscapes.

Today, my wide angle lens arrived, the 24mm and to my surprise, it is quite tiny and super lightweight.  It has some manual dials that make it compatible with old film cameras as well but for my D7000, it fits perfectly and the f22 is fixed.  Now my D7000 DSLR resembles a mirrorless.  I took it for a spin in my neighborhood and set the picture control to monochrome, ISO from 640 to 1000, f2.8 to 5.6, shutter speed from 1/30 to 1/200.  The above slideshow features Beppu, Oita, Japan‘s Ginza and the oldest hot spring in my lovely town, the Takegawara Hot Spring.  Those are test shots and if I develop a new love affair with street and travel photography then I might start posting some landscapes again.

Jeremiah Nicolas

I first saw Jeremiah as a young boy who visited his mom’s office where I used to hang out as a college student.  Their family moved to Melbourne, Australia in the late 1990s.  Fast forward to nearly decades, I was surprised to find out that mother and son were in town for a male pageant. And since he was ranking in the top predictions to win, a little help from Uncle M would do.

I called my glam team and made a portfolio for ‘Jer’, as his mom fondly calls him.  A fashion design major, I knew the boy has a thing for visual arts and I allowed him to do this thing in front of the camera.  I just had a few pointers to highlight that is very distinct with his face – cheek bone, puppy eyes, and defined jaw line.  He has perfect set of teeth too but I didn’t want him to smile too much for the camera and thought of leaving it for the live show instead of putting it on photo.  His body is ripped but not bulked muscular, the kind of leanness he gets from kickboxing.

Gray and black background for his body shot and fashion shoot was a natural choice.  Using the bathroom lighting technique for his body shot, I wanted the light to shower him from the top to highlight his cheekbone, jawline, shoulders, chest, and some ripples in the abs.  While shooting, we jokingly commented every imaginable actor he looked like with every change in posing or set.  We also did half body black and white and colored full body shots he now uses as a portfolio for modeling.

After getting the necessary shots I needed, I allowed him to do as he pleases and smile for the camera.  In another post, I will share it.

Jeremiah ranked first runner-up in the Misters of Filipinas 2016 male pageant.  With this portfolio, I am sure he will be seen in many more modeling gigs.  A neophyte in Philippine pageants and modeling, this boy will surely go places with his unique looks, his OZ accent, his free spirited personality, and contagious smile.

Hair & makeup by my creative tandem Chris Delfin.

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For booking inquiries you may reach Chris Delfin through his Facebook account.

Real Beauty Shoot

What is real beauty? That is the question I wanted to answer in this photoshoot with some models of APU Fashion Week (AFW).  I have been producing this event for three years now and we have done five major productions.

When they embrace their own uniqueness…for me that is real beauty.

Over the years we held AFW at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, Japan showcasing works of designers from the Philippines, Indonesia, Kazakhstand, Thailand, and whose works have been featured all over the Asia Pacific region.

Backstage and in reality, our models are actually students in our multi-cultural campus so it has always been a challenge to promote diversity and awareness for different kinds of beauty.  In such a young age, we are careful to build the self-esteem and body image of these girls who would wish they’re prettier, fairer, have longer hair, or probably taller.  The sad truth about the fashion industry is that designer clothes for fashion shows are not made for them.  They are made on a body form which the designers create to showcase a collection.  With that in mind, I work with many designers and explain these circumstances and good thing, over the years, we have worked with designers who are quite flexible with body types and can improvise with different mix and matches that suit our young models.  Well, the boys do not have much problems with that.  In fact, our menswear segment has always been the easiest to produce.

So back with real beauty.  I think, when they see no need for heavy makeup to cover up.  When they don’t have to compare themselves with other girls and start becoming their true selves.  When they embrace their own uniqueness.  For me that is real beauty and that makes me go on with AFW.

End credits:  Models featured in the shoot are Ayumi, Fern, Isabelle, and Utako, hair and makeup by Phu Co and Jeen Kraiwuttianant, photography assistance by Alejandro Morales Rama, and photography by yours truly.

 

Portraits of Davide

I have been staring at that white wall of my Manila apartment since I moved in last year and thought, I want to use it as a white background.  Occasionally, I will change it to black or gray or some textured or patterned depending on some hand me downs from my designer friends.

Italian model Davide is Manila-based and conveniently my neighbor so I called him for an instant shoot to test my new lighting equipment I purchased from Hidalgo Photographer’s Haven with my photo buddy Carlo Gono (who specializes on magazine covers and high society portraiture).

Now back to my home studio, I bought a set of beauty dish (looks like a barbecue grill complete with a grill), two strobes and its accessories like softboxes and stands.  It was not my first time to work with a beauty dish and I really intended it to be white washed or sort of high keyed.

There was no hair not makeup artist in this shoot because the concept was ‘I woke up like this’.  No, he didn’t wake up like that.  This was the last set after we have done some cliche kinda shots at the roofdeck and looking out the window artsy shots.  So this was the last set and some designers suggested to me that at least moisturizer would help but totally no makeup can only happen if the model has flawless skin.  Thanks to the Icon Skin clinic for taking care of the skin of my models, makeup was totally unnecessary here.

My creative buddy and excellent makeup artist Chris Delfin would normally tell me makeup is to make up whatever needs to be made up.  If the model is already gorgeous then makeup is not needed.

So here are my shots, portraits of Davide. I never noticed his green eyes so the intention is to bring it out. But what is overwhelming is his tanned skin and good complexion. His body is also picture perfect but I will share that in another post.

p.s.  I heard the dude is sick, get well soon buddy.

 

Of pageants and fashion shows

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As a fashion photographer, I get invites to pageants and fashion shows courtesy of designers I work with.  In the recent years, I noticed the mushrooming of grand productions of pageants from the usual female beauty, male, and even gay pageants.

Back in the day, I used to shoot the main pageants but again quit because of physical exhaustion.  Photographers stay in a boxed area where they elbow each other for a good shot of the pageant front runners and if they win, their photos may land on the front pages of newspapers and probably in news features of fashion glossies.

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I kinda miss those days and occasionally, when a good friend or a client asks me to shoot, I do not act diva but simply request for a good vantage point and equipped with my neck and back pain inducing zoom lens, I can shoot from afar without stepping on somebody.

That ladies’ pageant was extremely memorable because I was seated in the VIP area during the finals night and whenever I needed to shoot ala sharp shooter, I would stand and crouch to the dismay of the person behind me.  I got cursed several times for ruining their viewing pleasure and apologized that its not personal.  Since then, when covering events, I bring my zoom lens and ask for an apple box and a good vantage point so I don’t bother anyone.

No concept no shoot

alexphucNo concept no shoot.  That has been my policy even since I took my photography to a higher level of seriousness.  Starting out trigger happy like everyone else, I used to borrow dresses from designers and shoot them in whatever way possible.  With modern lighting, location, photoshop and many more techniques, I came to the realization that there must me a concept to execute a shoot.

First and foremost, there must be a good makeup artist and hair stylist for a portrait or fashion photoshoot.  Unless the model can do it on his or her own.

I remember getting a salon sponsorship one time to do the hair and makeup because I do not want to spend countless hours applying digital makeup to a model.  But when the time comes, I do digital blush and eyeshadowing and countouring courtesy of training from my creative buddy who is an excellent makeup artist.

Yesterday’s shoot was awesome.  Makeup was done by Vietnamese dude Phu Co and Thai girl Jee.  My photography assistant is Spanish dude Alejandro who was awesomely excited to experiment with lighting.  Cheers to the team and look forward to our next creative endeavors.

Click here to see the first portraiture photo I shot of model Isabelle Rouger.

Why I stopped taking landscapes 

Beppu, Oita, Japan, my home for the past ten years.  I have taken this shot probably a hundred times and so did many students in our university. 

It is said the Beppu has its own ecosystem  blessed with mountains, rivers, and seas. When I used to own a point and shoot camera, I literally pointed and shot anything picturesque to my eye – flowers, sunsets, seascapes, landscapes.  It sure looked fresh for the first time in a year, or maybe a second or third time.  Now on my tenth year here, if I remember it right, I stopped taking photos of cherry blossoms on my fourth year.  It’s on my Facebook page anyway and younger people with newer digital cameras will post the same macro and artsy shot anyway.

The only funny thing about my ordeal is the thing that awakened my creativity is the same thing that ruined it.  My philosophy is anybody with a camera given the right settings, (and in this model age, the right filter) can take the same shot.  And that is why I stopped taking landscapes, travel, food and many more social media kind of photos.

I ventured into portraitures and fashion photography because every model, situation, outfit, mood, look, concept,… they’re all different and unique.

Trolls may follow me on Instagram, screen capture and rework the entire lighting but still, it is not the same flower, sunset, landscape and seascape. Every person is unique and that is what I love about portraitures and fashion photography.

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