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I'm a portrait photographer living my dream of doing what I love in Sacramento. I'm always on a mission to provide value to others whether that means providing a service, writing a blog post, or interviewing other inspiring individuals!
Couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of photographing two beautiful ladies, Jackie (NPB & Cognitive Science Double Major) and Kaeli (NPB Major), who are graduating from UC Davis really soon. Like exactly in one week from when this is written.
That means two things: I’m done with school in two business days and it’s finals week.
So I looked to my two veterans UC Davis students and asked them to share with me their top three worst tips (which they have tested many, many times) they have for all the miserable UC Davis students out there studying for the upcoming finals week.
And they’re pretty darn hilarious.
So here it is. 6 tips curated by me with commentary, accompanied by their beautiful grad portraits.
Jackie’s Three Terrible Tips For You:
1. Peel every single fruitlet from a strawberry with a toothpick only to drop it and have your dog eat it before you can take a picture of it.
Mmhmm. I was curious too, so I asked Jackie “why?” And she responded “I SWEAR I WAS SO PROUD OF MY STRAWBERRY. IT WAS NAKED.” Oh, the things finals week does to you.
This is Turbo. The corgi that caught that seedless strawberry Jackie worked so hard on getting naked. Jackie says “that’s the dog that stole every opportunity that was put in front of him like a true pre-med student”
2. Get convinced that the pantry needs to be inventoried, then actually make an excel sheet that tells you exactly how many tea bags you have…
Shoutout to all the OCD fam out there. Jackie feels you.
3. Tell yourself that power naps are good, then wake up 6 hours later and still make yourself get an 8-hour sleep later in the night.
This. This is a painful one. Jackie adds “Seriously though, I did that all quarter. All that time wasted.”
Kaeli’s Three Terrible Tips For You:
1. Bake some brownies even though you are trying to eat healthier and have a lab practical at 6pm.
I don’t understand this because I’m a simple man. You give me brownies. I eat brownies.
2. Drink coffee with creamer even when you’re lactose intolerant because you deserve those moments of pure tastiness bliss.
I’m not lactose intolerant but I’m allergic to nuts. But I wouldn’t say my moments with nuts have been exactly moments of pure tastiness bliss.
3. Meet up with a study buddy. Not because you actually want to study. But to make yourself feel better by pretending that you’re actually there to study.
This. Is. So. Me. Kaeli hit this one on the nail.
The moral of the story is: if these two brilliant seniors survived all these years using these tips for themselves, so can you. Have a little fun. Slack a little bit. Get some sleep. And rock that finals week.
3 Key Reasons Why Lauren’s Grad Shoot was like no other
The photoshoots I had with my clients in the last couple months have been absolutely amazing and Lauren’s shoot has to be among my personal and my team’s favorite. There were flowers, tulles, fake Ikea plants, longboard, Vans, and one heck of a good time which made for some really epic grad photos.
And with any failure or success I have, I always like to analyze what contributed to, in this case, a successful shoot. After some thought I broke it down to these 3 key factors that greatly assisted me in creating these results.
1. I Build a Relationship With my Clients and Get to Know Them
The first time I met Lauren was when I photographed her last year for my portfolio. That’s when she didn’t have the fro. A year after, I remembered she was graduating this year and she wanted to shoot again when she had a fro so I told her she has to pick me to be her grad photographer. And what do you know – that same quarter, we coincidentally end up being in two of the same classes.
We did a group project together, we talked about our professors and the class, we were in a lab with lab coats dying kombucha so we learned a lot about each other. This contributed a lot to the shoot because I got to know her fashion style, personality, and her background story a lot more. Which brings me to our second point…
A shot of Lauren from our first shoot from last year!!
2. I’m Open to Changes and Impromptu’s
Lauren is a really chill and down to earth person. A few times we tried to plan Lauren’s grad shoot in class (yeap, I used class time for our consultation) and never really progressed anywhere in terms of determining how we exactly wanted the shoot to look like.
So in the end, Lauren said she has a number of cool outfits she wants to shoot and that was the extent of our planning.
On the day of the shoot while Lauren was getting her hair and make-up done, Maggie and I were looking through the outfits she brought and thought it could go really well with flowers. We brought it up to Lauren and Dana, the make-up artist, and we got a resounding yes so we styled white flowers into her hair style.
While shooting the next outfit, Maggie pointed out that it had a really tropical and jungle feel to it so she brought over a fake ikea Swiss cheese plant leaves and Lauren was enthusiastically down for it. Yeah we had a lot of fun with that one.
Our last hour was planned for a shoot on campus and that’s when I remembered Lauren longboards and thought it would be super cool if we could get her longboarding in our classic tulle skirt. As soon as I said that, it clicked for EVERYONE. Lauren had ideas firing off and Maggie was suggesting Lauren wears her classic Vans so it became this whole thing of yes we have this very flowy princess like dress but we have Lauren and her down to earth and fun personality coming out through her hobby of longboarding.
3. I Invest in a good team
Last but not least, I cannot have done this without my team. Everyone on the team plays a very significant role but it’s never tied down to one job. None of this would have come to fruition without the team. Make up artist was there to execute the hair style, Maggie was constantly giving styling ideas and making sure Lauren was feeling gorgeous, Lauren was chiming in and building the session as we went, and my assistant David was there giving me an extra hand with moving and placing the light.
In the end, it was having been able to build a relationship with Lauren that let me know about her style and down-to-earth personality which allowed my team to make creative decisions throughout the shoot.
What are your thoughts about these reasons? And how do you like the centered and clean format of the blog?
“My name is Sahar Forouzanfar and I am a recent UC Davis graduate with a B.A in Communication and a minor in Film Studies.
Born and raised in Southern California, moving to Davis was definitely a new and refreshing experience for me. I decided to take up the opportunity to transfer to UC Davis from community college and continue my education in Northern California. I fell in love with this college town from its adoration for bicycles, environmental sustainability, and especially its diverse and welcoming community. As a first-generation Iranian-American college student, my parent’s move to the United States and continuous push to provide my brother and I the best resources and opportunities to further our education definitely played a great role in my own aspirations, morals, and goals growing up. Leading up to Davis, I knew being on my own for the very first time, meeting new people, and finding the balance between what I am passionate about and my academic career was going to be challenging yet fulfilling.
My time as a student at UC Davis has truly expanded my horizons and proved to me that there are so many opportunities out there for us to learn from in order to better our self and others around us. Three major extracurricular activities definitely helped shaped my character and goals. Joining a CoRec soccer team, becoming a photographer for the California Aggie, and being a Marketing and Design Board Member for Davis Women in Business. I always felt my time was truly invested well within my involvement in these organizations and I walked away with so much personal and professional growth. I have made long-lasting friendships from my soccer team, turned my hobby of photography into a professional skill, and have met some of the most empowering and driven women during my time working with Davis Women in Business. As the end of Spring Quarter was among us and it was a moment to reflect on my own experiences and involvement at UC Davis, I knew I wanted to have memorable photos to look back on and remember this important time in my life.
I discovered David Suh’s Photography through Instagram and instantaneously knew that I had to take a chance to reach out to him to see if I can book a grad photo session. The one thing that moved me the most is the authenticity within each of his photos. I saw through his previous work shared on his website and social media that the client’s true beauty and personality were all captured so organically on camera. From our first conversation, David truly took the time to know my goals, hobbies, and future aspirations, which gave me the confidence that he would totally make my photo shoot session not only memorable but also make it personalized with my vision and character in mind. His passion for photography truly illuminates through the entire photo session. Thanks to the help of Maggie (photo shoot stylist) and Dana (makeup artist), the entire photo session was professional yet comfortable and fun. As I take what I learn about self-growth and empowerment from my involvement in various organizations at UC Davis, it is priceless to meet new individuals, such as David Suh, at a time where doors close and new doors open, and find joy in the works of talented individuals, such as David Suh, who takes the time to provide growth, confidence, and empowerment to others through his own pursuit of happiness and career ambitions.
As I enter post-grad life, there are a few valuable words I’d love to share from my time here in Davis. With every new experience and stepping stone in life, there is always so much to learn and so many ways to shape your future. You never know who you will meet along the way that will help you feel motivated and inspired as well. Mistakes and hardships will be present in our lives but our choices moving forward is what will allow us to reflect and grow from these experiences.
Many years from now, I will look back at these photos and be able to truly reflect on my challenges and successes that allowed me to grow and shape the confident woman that I am. Thank you David Suh, Maggie, and Dana for allowing me to experience a glam day of hair, makeup, new friendships, and beautiful keepsake photos that my family and I will cherish forever.”
This last couple months have been pretty freaking incredible with all the amazing seniors from UC Davis I got to photograph. They all came in such great enthusiasm (even with finals with dawning upon them) and we were able to create such unique sets for each one of them. I guarantee you won’t be able to see anyone else with a portrait like my clients’ in the Davis and Sacramento area.
So how does this all happen? There’s really no secret formula: I ask questions and I listen. This is why I always make it a priority to meet my clients in person and have a consultation.
Somayh came in to her consultation and she told me she wanted something different. Something magical and something epic. She referenced back to fictional book she used to love back in High School called the Mortal Instruments and that’s when I knew we were going to have some fun. In fact, I was so excited, I made a shameless Facebook post about it.
Okay, I feel a little embarrassed to share the post now I don’t know why but I think it’s good to be so excited for my client.
One thing I pitched to Somayh was a dry ice shoot where she would be lying down in a fog of dry ice, making it look dreamy and fairy-tale like. She loved the idea so the team and I went to work.
David, my assistant, put together this enclosed structure out of all the cardboard boxes I received from packages that week so the fog from the dry ice won’t escape. After that was done, we got the dry ice ready with some pots inside the enclosure (yeah real ghetto) and we just had one last thing left to do. Test it.
Besides creating some rare image of a guy wearing a pizza tank wrapped in white tulle lying in fog, we learned a lot. We learned that the fog from the dry ice dissipates within 30-45 seconds and we also learned that we should get more dry ice for Somayh’s shoot.
So our first step was to ask questions and listen. Our second step was to take action. We prepared the cardboard coffin, the test, the dry ice, and a $80 worth of fake flowers from Michael’s. And we tested it all under the light to make sure everything looked nothing less than awesome.
She’s going to kill me for this… but forreal guys, she’s got such great eye for styling and you have no idea how valuable she is to executing these shoots. She has a blog up now so make sure to check that out when you can.
So after all that, here are the images we created for Somayh.
I loved this shoot and Somayh did as well. What do you think of the shoot and if you could design your dream senior or grad shoot, what would it be like? Let me know in the comments!!!
My name is Zendra Hines and I am a UC Davis senior graduating with a degree in Design.
Being from out of state, Davis provided me with the perfect environment to feel connected to a community and explore various interests. I started college as an engineering major and eventually switched to product design. The remarkable faculty at UCD largely facilitated making such a large transition in my life and career. I have had the opportunity to work closely with several professors who helped define my career path and serve as excellent mentors.
Working with faculty, I have had the luxury of career changing experiences such as studying abroad and working internships with real world impacts. One of my most interesting opportunities has been with Professor Michael Siminovitch at the California Lighting and Technology Center (CLTC).
At the CLTC, I have gotten to perform comprehensive research, work as a TA, and gain valuable work experience. As a result of my work there, I have a billboard in the Sacramento International Airport and will be pursuing a graduate degree in lighting technology this Fall at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on a full ride.
Besides academics, I found a healthy social life through the UCD boxing club and the diversity in student life. Being at UC Davis I feel well equipped to enter the work force with valuable contacts, skills, and expertise.
With graduation around the corner, I am definitely going to miss celebrating the community traditions like picnic day, biking in the bike capital of the world, and campus luxuries like the beautiful Memorial Union.
Nearing the end of my time here at UC Davis, I had the privilege of getting my graduation photos done by David Suh—a professional photographer and one of my students during my TA work at the CLTC. Suh provided me with a holistic experience that highlighted my confidence and personality. I was really pleased with being able to have creative freedom with my artistic vision for the shoot and Suh made it easy to feel like luxury. My photos turned out AMAZING! I have gotten an overwhelmingly positive response from my family and friends and am excited to have such a great memory of an epic four years here at UC Davis!
For future Davis students my largest recommendations are to keep an open mind, go to office hours and appreciate good professors, take advantage of the rare opportunities provided by UCD, have fun, and get your grad photos taken by David Suh!
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