No spam - just cool blog posts like these with occasional portrait promotions.
SUBSCRIBE TO THE COOLEST NEWSLETTER
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!
You may be feeling a mix of different emotions leading up to your photoshoot. And that’s okay! Whether you’re excited, anxious, or both, reading positive affirmations can help put you in the right mindset before for your shoot! As important as it is to take care of yourself physically, it’s just as important to take care of yourself mentally. You may even want to take some time to think about why you wanted portraits to begin with. Whatever it is, you are going to look amazing! And just remember, we are celebrating YOU and the queen that YOU are!
2. “We need to reshape our own perception of how we view ourselves. We have to step up as women and take the lead.” -Angela Merkel
3. “I am my own muse, I am the subject I know best. The subject I want to know better” -Frida Kahlo
4. “Make yourself a priority once in a while. It’s not selfish. It’s necessary.”
– Karen A. Baquiran
5. “This is your moment. Own it.” -Oprah Winfrey
6. “I don’t need a crown to know that I’m a queen” -Lizzo
7. “Darling, you’re a goddess, a badass and you’ve totally got this”
8. “Be healthy and take care of yourself, but be happy with the beautiful things that make you, you” -Beyoncé
Dear Future Client,
You are beautiful and powerful. You have the ability to inspire and love at near-limitless capacity to not only those around you but your community and the generation after you. You deserve to have a stunning portrait of you that captures your very essence and be celebrated… yet somehow you don’t see that in you.
You don’t realize that there is a greater you that is capable of loving yourself without judgment or shame and instead with overflowing joy and pride.
You say to yourself, you aren’t good enough or pretty enough to the point you’re conditioned to say “sorry, I’m not that photogenic” to the photographer every time you step in for an obligatory work headshot or a photo with your friend at her wedding.
I see the hesitation in wanting to invest in a photoshoot for yourself and I understand. You might have doubts about whether you can be as beautiful as the other woman I’ve photographed. And I get that you might be asking yourself what others might think of you. But let me tell you what I will see when you come into the studio.
The first thing I see is a woman on the cusp of change.
I see a woman who is so giving with their time that they may have overstretched themselves and their self-love has taken a backseat.
I see a woman reaching out from behind the walls she built after all the years of pressure on women’s beauty standards.
I see a woman treading carefully through life the way society has asked her to live.
I see a woman putting her life together after a divorce, who has taken a step to move forward.
I see an overstretched mother who decided to make self-care a priority.
When I greet you at my studio, I will see you. And I will be in awe that something has changed in your life that you have taken this step. Coming into the studio takes courage just like how getting onto a plane is the first step to skydiving. I want to let you know I will be here throughout the whole plane ride up and make sure when you jump, you’re jumping with intent into connecting with the most beautiful and confident you.
By the end of it, you will realize this wasn’t an investment for great photos, this was an investment in you. A commitment and statement to you saying: You are Fucking Worth it.
“I’m not trying to sell you me, I’m trying to sell you, you.” – Lizzo
With less than 6 hours left in 2019 and the last decade, I looked back at my 7-year photography journey. A couple of things happened in succession: I cringed, I made an audible “wow” to myself, and I remembered that I used to think studio portraits were LAME.
If you care to follow me down memory lane, I started photography in High School when I begged my dad to upgrade the family camera so I can film dance videos for YouTube. He knew how passionate I was about dance and bought a Sony NEX-7 which I pretty much carried everywhere with me. I LOVED that thing.
I was that guy taking photos of all the athletes for yearbook. I was also the guy pulling aside friends at the Han River to test out flash photography at sunset because of some new technique I saw on YouTube.
After 2 years of this, something weird happened with my head – it started to get big.
You know when you’ve been at a hobby for some time, received a number of compliments, no longer feel like a beginner, and go from “oh nono, it’s just a little hobby” to telling people about your passion without any given prompt? Yeah, that’s what was happening to me after 2 years.
Little David who just started Freshman year at UC Davis apparently knew what he liked and didn’t like in photography styles and one of them was studio photography.
These were some of the reactions I made to seeing studio portraits:
– “that’s just waaay too set up for me”
– “like where’s the fun in studio portraits when all they do is set up the same lighting set up and a lame color backdrop?”
– “that’s just a picture of someone’s face – like it’s so simple.”
– “I’m all about capturing the candid and the atmosphere’s vibe, not some boring static vibe in a studio.”
2014 David sounded like as if an elitist film critic who criticizes any movie that isn’t directed by Alfred Hitchcock started getting into photography.
I was all about creating these outdoor images that only catered to my vision. It also showed in the way I directed my photoshoots. I focused on my camera settings, the light, and loosely cared about what the subject felt like. You can already imagine how uncomfortable that made anyone in front of my camera. I would have people ask me nervously what they should do with their hands or whether they should smile or not.
As cocky as David was back then, he still wanted to learn and the fact that clients were asking him countless times what to do pushed him to evolve. And little did he know the thing he despised was going to enable that.
Everything changed when I found my mentor, Sue Bryce, online and taught me about the delicacy and mastery of photographing women’s portraits. My mentor would say that you can photograph ANYONE if you knew how to photograph women and boy you could see her 27 years of experience in her photographs and how she interacted with her subjects.
Her portraits were simple if I used David’s words from 2014 but that David grew up. Sue’s portraits were elegant and beautiful. You could feel the connection to all the women she photographed and that was what 2014 David chased after in his work which led me to where I am today.
So after 5 years of learning the craft of photographing people in a studio setting whether it’s my first humble college apartment with ramen boxes in the back or my new commercially leased studio in Sacramento, here is why I love studio portraits.
A blank backdrop says nothing. It’s a blank canvas that I have the privilege to paint it with my subject’s soul. The portrait will be beautiful not because of a sunset or a waterfall, but solely because of the person I’m photographing. I get to fill the blank backdrop with confidence and beauty that lets my clients truly connect with the person in the portrait.
Isn’t it funny how life works? Now my business is all about helping women understand their beauty through studio portraits.
So as we go into the new decade, I leave you with two thoughts:
1. Push yourself to grow and be open to things you despise because you never know what you will learn from.
2. If you have never experienced studio portraits for yourself, allow yourself to be photographed in 2020 (by me!).
Planning a photoshoot can feel like a big task at first but as long as you have these 5 tips with you, you’ll be just fine.
This is THE foundation for planning a great photoshoot. A mood board is “an arrangement of images, materials, pieces of text, etc. intended to evoke or project a particular style or concept.” Important keywords here are “evoke” and “style“.
You want to use mood boards to set a direction to where you want to go with your photoshoot. Think of it as the brainstorming phase. There’s absolutely no correct way of this, but my favorite way is to simply brain dump. There’s inspiration everywhere around us, whether it’s taking an iPhone photo at the mall of a cool movie poster or jumping on Instagram to browse your favorite models or actresses.
Here are two resources you can use to create your mood board:
– Pinterest // is great if it’s your first time and you want to create a mood board around keywords such as “moody portraits.” Pinterest is also super user-friendly as all you have to do is click “Pin” to start adding images into your first mood board.
– GoMoodBoard // is another option if you already have a couple of visual images to work with. GoMoodBoard makes it easy to create a mood board by simply uploading your images online and automatically compiling it into a shareable link for you. Here’s one I made in 1-minute with old inspirational images I had on my computer.
Lastly, if you still have no idea where to begin with inspiration, you can take my free “What is Your Dream Photoshoot Style” and get a whole entire mood board I created for you based on your result!
This is so, so important – I can’t emphasize it enough.
Even before your makeup and hairstyle, what you wear at the photoshoot is going to set the tone of the whole shoot.
Investing in the right pieces is more important than quality pieces. Many times I have photographed a whole shoot with just one large piece of tulle, another large piece of satin fabric, and two simple dresses from Amazon.
You don’t have to spend a whole lot of money to have the right pieces for your photoshoot unless your mood board calls for it. I’m not saying quality doesn’t show on camera but what I am saying is let’s remember that these portraits are about you and not the clothes. So as long as these clothes are working for you and creating the right moods & vibes, they are serving their purpose.
“Makeup lets you experiment and be whoever you want to be in that moment.” – Oprah
One of the first few things I tell my portrait clients is that a portrait shoot isn’t about just capturing who you are. It’s about so much more. The person we capture in the portrait can show a bit of who you aspire to be or perhaps it’s a version of you from a totally different universe with a different style.
When you get in makeup, you’re getting in character. In character to be confident and classy with an updo like Audrey Hepburn. Or maybe it’s to be bold and sexy like Rihanna.
Hire a makeup artist and hairstylist to help you explore through this photoshoot. Use the mood board you created earlier on to share your vision with your makeup artist to create to look you truly want. You’re so used to do your makeup in a certain way that it’s great to have a professional who’s trained for on-camera makeup glam you up.
If you’ve come this far as to planning your portrait shoot then I have reason to believe you’re quite invested in, not only, making this happen, but making it happen fantastically. You have your mood board, your outfit, and makeup ideas. Now, all you need is the right photographer.
This is the step that really decides the outcome of your photoshoot. You might have passed all the steps before this with flying colors but if you hire the wrong photographer… you might be in for quite the disappointment.
This is what you need to look for when hiring the right portrait photographer:
Congratulations – you’ve made it all the way here! But it’s not over yet. This is where many women doubt themselves and drop out. They ask themselves questions like “am I worthy enough for this” or “is this too selfish”. Here is what I can tell you after having photographed over 100 everyday women: every single woman I photographed doubted themselves. In fact, I compiled the 6 most common objections women have when it comes to portraits that you should check out.
If you are asking these questions of whether you’re pretty enough, worthy enough, confident enough, then it’s time to do this for you. Invest in yourself and invest in a photoshoot that makes you feel good and look good. Every woman needs a beautiful portrait of themself and I 100% believe that.
I hope you enjoyed these 5 steps on planning a fabulous photoshoot for yourself. In summary, find a great inspiration, backup the inspiration with clothes and makeup, find the right photographer, and commit!
So you found this guy named David Suh on the internet through Google, Instagram, Facebook, or maybe a friend told you about him and you’re curious. You’re curious what all this “experience being a celebrity for a day” whole thing is. You looked through all the before & afters and the testimonials and now you’re thinking about booking a shoot. Well here’s how you can book a shoot with David.
Before you actually book David for a shoot, David makes sure to have a chat with you (whether that’s in-person at the studio or over the phone). So don’t worry and be happy! As much as you want to find out if this is going to be a great experience for you, David equally wants to know if this is a good fit for you. Here are some questions David will go through with you on the phone so you can be prepared.
These are all questions that will quickly help David understand what kind of shoot you’re thinking about and the vision you have. If you are thinking about sharing your shoot with your family or partner, it might be a good idea to talk to them about their availability prior to the chat with David.
Now that you have those answers in your head, you’re ready for a chat with David and it’s super easy to set that up and there are two ways to do that. You can send David a message by going to the “contact” link here. to fill out a 10-second form and David will give you a call as soon as he can. You also have the option to schedule a specific date and time with David and the option to do an in-person meet & chat if you go this “book now” link here.
So you’re on a call with David and you’re having a blast (you typically do with David) and you rocked all the questions he threw at you because of this blog. He’s gone through the different products offered in the studio and how much you would be looking to spend based on what you told David. You go over some possible dates with David, find a matching date, pay the session fee and you’re set to go, my friend! You have successfully booked a portrait photography session in Sacramento with David. You’re in for an incredible luxury experience and now it’s all about planning the shoot which you can more about here.
I had the privilege of creating my signature magazine-style portraits for 18 highschoolers performing at a talent show called Teens Create Dreams. I found out about this awesome event through Taylor from PFamPlatters! (Make sure to check out my business feature of her on the blog here if you haven’t).
Local high school students put together the “Teens Create Dreams” talent show with 3 main goals in mind:
How freaking cool is that? The students put the whole event together in less than three months and blew me away. There were high school volunteers everywhere with custom Toy Story shirts to match their themes. Tables and chairs were set up to house 200 attendants and dinner was being prepped to be served for all the guests.
High school talent shows hold a special place in my heart. I participated in my first one in 8th grade and by my senior year, I had 5 talent shows under my belt and was putting together my very own multi-school talent show to allow students from other schools to perform.
If you haven’t picked up by now, I’m a true advocate for teens not only in chasing after their artistic passion but sharing their incredible talents with the community. And it was a great time photographing and chatting with all the 18 talented individuals in the short time we had along with the “oooh’s” and “DANG” reactions to their magazine-style portraits. I know for sure I’m hanging on to these portraits to brag to my friends when they go famous.
Would you like magazine-style portraits like these for your high school senior photos? Book a free consult with me here!
You’re scrolling through Facebook and you come across your friend’s new stunning portrait this awesome photographer took. She’s in this extravagant make-up with gorgeous hair wearing a jaw-dropping gown you dream of wearing to a red carpet event.
The pictures speak to you and you know you want a bespoke portrait shoot experience, but… something is stopping you from booking a shoot for yourself.
I get it – it’s scary and nerve-racking to say the least! It’s totally normal and I hear objections from my clients before they book all the time. Let me tell you the 6 most common objections my clients give me and my answers to them so your heart can be at ease.
If there’s one thing that fuels my passion to level 1000, it is hearing someone say they don’t deserve having portraits because they aren’t photogenic. I am a believer that a beautiful portrait isn’t about you being born photogenic – it’s about the photographer understanding that everyone is beautiful in their own way and knowing how to bring out their beauty through styling, ambiance, lighting, and posing. Let me show you that you can be ‘photogenic’ and capture the best photo you’ve seen of yourself.
What comes first – confidence or the perfect body? I am all for working on health and fitness – I’m working on achieving my ideal body every day. However, it doesn’t mean I can’t separate my being from my physical body and celebrate me for who I am. Portraiture isn’t simply about celebrating what the eye can see. Portraiture is about exploring, celebrating, and embracing. Come experience a portrait shoot with me today and come back when you achieve your ideal body and let’s celebrate again.
In the beginning, many of my clients end up coming in for a shoot for someone else. It might be for their significant other or their parents, but here’s what I end up hearing almost all the time at the end of their experience, “I ain’t giving these portraits to no one but me.” You’ll receive a lot of love from friends and family. You’ll also probably receive a lot of attention from social media and all these feel great at first but you know what you’ll love the most? Your newfound love for you and your confidence. Do this for you.
“You can be gorgeous at thirty, charming at forty, and irresistible for the rest of your life.” This is one of my favorite quotes from Coco Chanel. The source of feeling too old for something is modern-day marketing. How many major companies out there are marketing to age 40+ women? Most beauty and clothing brands are putting “young” faces on their campaigns to attract millennials and because of that I hear my clients say “I’m too old for that style.” All that is a social construct. If anything, this is when you SHOULD be celebrated. For your accomplishments, your wisdom, your growth, and your beauty. Do this for you and the generation to come after you. Leave a legacy.
You don’t have to have ANY type of experience and neither do you have to be a model. Perhaps you saw the beautiful women on my portfolio and thought “wow they’re so gorgeous, they must be professional models.” You’re right and wrong about that. You’re right because they’re absolutely gorgeous. But you’re wrong because they’re the everyday woman. Just take a look at the Before and Afters and let it speak for itself! I guide you through the ENTIRE posing process from eyebrows to toes and you simply need to copy what I do – it’s almost like taking a dance or yoga class.
In a HuffPost article called “Top 10 Ways to Invest in Yourself and Why it’s So Powerful,” Megan Tull writes “Investing in yourself, sends a powerful message to yourself and the world. The message is: The value and potential that I possess, is important enough to me that I’m going to give it the energy, space and time to grow and create results.“
What an incredible message that is to make a statement to ourselves and the world. It’s taking the steps to respect and honor the untapped greatness stored within us and saying we’re going to give it the right environment to manifest itself.
Megan goes onto list 10 ways to invest in yourself and here are my favorite three:
When was the last time you did any of those for you? If the answer is more than a year ago, I think it’s worth booking a session with me.
Did I answer your objections for you? Click HERE and let’s book you your free style-consult to design your bespoke portrait photoshoot!
The Fundraiser Portrait
I met Vi at a non-profit fundraiser event where I was photographing and she was working at. I was wrapping up photographing the attendees when I caught Vi right before putting my camera away. I waved my hand, gesturing her to come to the small photo corner I set up for a photo. She stood in front of my yellow backdrop timid and unsure of what to do. I quickly tossed my hands on my hip and kicked out my hip saying, “don’t worry, just do what I do.” In less than 5 minutes, Vi went through a variety of poses and she rocked it.
Never to guess what might come next, I shook her hand saying ‘thank you’ and that I’ll be sending her the photo later on that night along with everyone else’s.
A month later, I received an email on a Tuesday evening with this title and it read this:
“Hi David, my name is Vi Nguyen, and I am Tese Foundation’s Head intern. I am writing to you to thank you for the pictures you took of me at our most recent high tea (I was the last person that you took pictures of!)…
My first reaction was astonishment. The pictures are really, truly beautiful. I have literally never seen myself so beautiful before; I mean I never thought that I could look so beautiful. So, I just wanted to thank you and all that you do. It’s so hard to love yourself sometimes but it’s pictures or moments like these where you are reminded that you are beautiful, no matter what other people say or think. And that’s tough, especially with the beauty standards in today’s society — even worse if you are Asian. That being said, I wanted to thank you again for reminding me that beauty is in everyone and that you just have to really see it.”
I froze there in shock. The bestest kind of shock.
I wasn’t sure what I was feeling but it was a rush of warmth in my heart. I mean how do you even describe the emotion to something like that? When something as simple as a portrait you’ve taken of someone helps them have this kind of revelation.
So I responded,
“Vi this is so beautiful I don’t even know what to say. To hear this response from a simple pop up shoot where we only had less than 5 minutes is so humbling to me. I want to invite you to come experience a full shoot with me and it’ll be on me.”
Vi was so excited to hear about the shoot with me but she was also nervous. We talked on the phone to design the shoot and soon enough she was in the studio getting her makeup and hair done by Veronica.
Vi came in nervous and anxious about the shoot but she was a totally different person the moment she had her first outfit on in front of the backdrop.
Vi went home feeling like a million dollars and I asked her a couple questions to share a little bit of her story on the blog.
I am a Vietnamese-American girl, who is shy and confident, funny and weird, hard-working and people-loving, and I want to make a change in this world.
I grew up with a skewed perception of beauty. I still remember navigating through life and trying to understand what that word means, growing up in a world that demands so much of women. I remember looking at the girls around me, as they began painting their faces and altering their bodies to hide features of themselves deemed unsightly by the people around them. I grew up, wanting to be confident, wanting to love myself, and wanting to be myself, but it was hard. I was always compared to my sister. Everyone would say that she is so much cooler and so much more beautiful than me. My family members would joke around and say that she took all the best features. It was so hard to love myself, when everyone told me that beauty was not me.
I was so shocked to see David’s response. That was the last thing I would ever expect to happen from that email. It took me a while to process that he really invited me to his studio. I probably read that email over like 20 times before I accepted that it really happened. But after feeling ecstatic about the opportunity, I felt a sense of dread overcome me. I never liked being photographed. I was not a photogenic person; I hated photoshoots, especially because it made me feel like I was trying to show a made-up version of myself.
I am so proud, grateful, and happy that I agreed to the shoot with David. Starting with the hair and makeup by Veronica, the experience was heavenly. I felt so pampered, loved, and important. The whole experience was about me, and the 5 hour shoot was just that. David is such a wonderful human-being, and he made the photoshoot so fun, natural, and relaxing. We got to try so many looks, experiment with different poses, and show multiple beautiful sides of me. I was fierce and powerful, but also relaxed, playful, and happy. I didn’t realize that pictures can capture so many different sides of a person, but I was able to experience that magic with David.
I love all of the photos that we produced together because it shows the multiplicity of myself and who I am. I can be bold, fun, stoic, and joyful. If I do have to choose a favorite, I would say that the one where I had a bold face and my hair was blown is my favorite. I have always admired beautiful celebrities and their fancy magazine-style portraits, thinking to myself that I would probably never be able to look like that. I remember looking at Lana Condor’s Instagram photos and thinking that these pictures are the closest thing I will get to seeing someone who looks like me on a magazine cover or in a professional shoot. But that photo of me is what I would have imagined myself to look like on a magazine cover, and now I will be able to remind myself that I can also be beautiful and powerful as an every day woman.
Remember to love yourself. The world will tell you otherwise, but you need to remember that you are enough. You are beautiful and you are loved. And if you ever need a reminder, then don’t hesitate to experience a full photoshoot that’s all about you. Don’t let fear and insecurities stop you because the end products are the ultimate reminder that you are beauty.
Hailey is a 20-year-old healthy lifestyle blogger navigating through college. Hailey found me through Instagram and wanted to create beautiful portraits for her and her personal brand as a blogger. She brought in amazing wardrobe ranging from colorful & casual to contemporary fashion that allowed us to create portraits that captured so many different sides of Hailey.
What do you love most about your new portraits?
“I love how my portraits are all so different! We did so many different outfits and expressions, they really showcase a lot of different aspects of my personality.”
“I discovered that I really do enjoy being in front of the camera. My session with David helped me realize that I really am versatile and that I should own it!”
“Oh man….David and I laughed A LOT during our shoot. I think we were both able to bring out a side of each other that didn’t take the shoot so seriously, but we were able to try some different things and just have a ton of fun with it.”
“Just do it! Seriously, you won’t regret it! Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. You are so beautiful and if you just trust David to make you look amazing on camera, he will do exactly that. It’s so fun to get all done up, wear outfits you might not wear every day and then just own it in front of the camera!”
Find out what it's like being in the VIP David Suh Photography email list. Be the first to know about exclusive announcements, how-to's, and projects.
Stay Connected with Me!