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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!
… That is usually the question I get when I tell people I built a business around creating a luxury, celebrity photoshoot experience for the everyday women.
And here is why.
It all started with my passion for photography and making others feel good.
I used to be that kid in high school who would try to make everyone happy. I was a people-pleaser.
I would give free shoulder massages during breaks, carry a bag for someone, and be there for someone who needed support.
It wasn’t just to please someone – I genuinely enjoyed making others feel good.
Interestingly, one person I couldn’t make happy was my older sister when it came to taking photos of her.
“I look short and chubby David.” is what she would say.
I brushed it off saying it must be the old Nokia phone she’s making me use.
Surprisingly enough, I encountered the same experience with girl friends at school when I picked up photography.
Countless times, I would get a private message asking me to untag or delete a photo of them in my “Pep Rally 2010” Facebook photo album.
And I just wouldn’t get it.
I had an awesome “high resolution” digital camera. It had more pixels. It had more technology.
Then, it hit me.
I wasn’t listening.
My friends didn’t know how to pose, where to look, how to smile, or what to do. They felt awkward and embarrassed.
And I was just there with my new camera being clueless.
That’s when I understood that capturing a beautiful photo of a woman wasn’t about the camera… it’s about so. much. more.
All of a sudden I started seeing things that women tend to see.
The make-up, the stray hairs, the style of the outfit, the pressure to look a certain way, and the harsh beauty standards for women. All of it.
So I studied and practiced.
I studied and practiced ways to pose and light women to highlight their best features. I immersed myself in fashion, color, and makeup. And most importantly, I learned to listen, empathize, and communicate to navigate this complex subject of beauty with women.
I still remember the first time my client teared up seeing her photo.
“I can’t believe I can look this beautiful” she said.
That’s when I set out to create a business to serve the everyday women that have yet to see their true beauty.
Group photo of the workshop attendees with Sue in the middle
Last year in November, I was lucky enough to attend one of my mentor’s, Sue Bryce, portrait workshops in LA. Ever since then it’s been uphill with newly acquired knowledge and skills. I learned so much more about posing, lighting, people skills, branding and so much more to add to what I knew before. But another thing that was really valuable was connecting and networking with the other photographers there. Since it was a workshop for guys, it was a bunch of dudes from different cities and countries with the same determination to hone our craft and business sharing their stories of where they’re at with business. Yeah, we had one heck of a time all together. A few of us found out that we were actually at 2 hour driving distance of each other so we talked about doing a get-together. And so we did last month 🙂
Taken by my girlfriend as she watched the live streaming of the workshop on her computer
It was me, Neon Engfer and Joshua Pheneger. Neon was kind enough to offer up his beautiful home studio in Modesto as the meeting spot. Our objective… shoot and have fun. We had three lovely models and Joshua’s very talented wife, Katie, providing gorgeous make-up and hair. So thus the day began.
While the models were getting ready, us three decided to start photographing each other because what’s greater joy than three guys creating portraits for each other?
Photos of me by Neon Engfer
Photo of me by Joshua
Photo of Neon by me
Portrait of Joshua by me
Time flew by and soon enough our first model Val was ready. The great thing about all of us coming together was the sheer amount of tools, outfits, backdrops, lights, and all bunch of stuff at our disposal. So we all put our creative minds together to style the different looks. Yeah… we collect dresses too…
Photos of Val by me. Make-up and hair by Katie
We had a little station thing going on where Josh would be photographing Neon while I’m photographing Val and we would switch every 10~20 minutes. Next up was the gorgeous Veronica that I didn’t get as much time to shoot with :l Loved the dress she had on with the shimmery texture of it and the faint gold accent.
Neon working his magic and posing at the same time
Portraits of Veronica by me. Make-up & Hair by Katie
Last but not least, our third model and family/children photographer Carly Mynear. Quite frankly… I was nervous and thrown off guard with Carly because I found out she was a photographer herself and… photographing other photographers is always a little different. Photographing the guys, it was chill; we talked and had fun with it so it wasn’t bad but I was getting nervous with Carly. I felt like under-performed a little but thankfully by the end we were able to share some conversations and get some great portraits 🙂
Annnnnd that’s a wrap! Joshua and Neon carried on to shoot for a little longer but I was dead tired. It was so nice being able to get together with other fellow mentees of Sue and just have this day to shoot, chat, learn, and have fun. I learned so much from just being to able to see the different workflows of these two guys and also how Neon setup his studio. Can’t wait to do this again and thanks again for hosting Neon and thanks to Katie for her awesome talent and thanks to Val, Veronica, and Carly for dealing with us three guys!
Photo of us three by Carly
Last weekend I gave away some of my time to photograph a couple cancer survivors that came out to the annual Relay for Life event in Davis. It was my second time back being able to photograph and it’s just such a powerful event filled with positivity and inspiration (check out last year’s portraits here). I hope these portraits foster that same sense of hope and courage to all the cancer patients and those affected by it around the world.
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