Fashion Designs by Von Monica Couture

April 30th, 2012 4 comments

Monica Fraser, the head designer of Von Monica Couture, contacted me to photograph two of her designs. I had previously photographed her beautiful peacock motif collection, and love her work. Each piece is hand-made, meticulously designed, one-of-a-kind clothing. There’s a story behind each one — the fabric, the inspiration and the work that goes into each detail.

Danyella Angel was gorgeous in the leopard print top, black dress and makeup by Kym Davidson. A special thanks to Mika of  The Studio By Mika Does Makeup for hosting us during the makeup and hair styling!

It was a pleasure to work with such talented people. We were also fortunate to have a beautiful Spring day – a rarity in April in rainy Vancouver!

Sugar Skull Inspired Makeup

April 10th, 2012 No comments

Here are some photos from a recent shoot with Blanche MacDonald student makeup artist Hannah Journey. The beautiful makeup was inspired by the sugar skull imagery from the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos. Thanks also to Carole Méthot, who is also a makeup artist, for the awesome modeling work!

Harajuku Fashion Shoot – Part 2

April 4th, 2012 No comments

Here is Part 2 of the Harajuku-inspired fashion shoot that I did in December.

Harajuku fashion originates from Japan and gets its name from the Harajuku station in Tokyo, which is popular place to find many types of street styles, collectively called Harajuku fashion. The styles usually include colourful and crazy hairstyles, makeup and outfits.

For this shoot, I teamed up with makeup artist Mika, stylist JoAnna Keller and model Laurel. We had a lot of fun with the creative makeup and styling as you can see in photos below!

Check out Part 1:  Ganguro Fashion Shoot.


LED Hoop Performer

March 24th, 2012 2 comments

Stephanie is an adventurous model who is also a circus performer, fire eater, belly dancer, actress, traveller and photographer (and more!). She wanted to get some photos with her new LED hula hoop, and I wanted to try out a lighting setup. So we got together for a shoot! The makeup and hair styling was done by Catriona Armour Makeup Artist / Hair Stylist. I have worked with both Catriona and Stephanie before and hope to do so again soon.

Here are some of the photos:

I’d love to spend some more time shooting Stephanie with the LED hoop – as well as the fire eating & spinning – maybe this summer!

Categories: Photography Tags: , , ,

Valentine’s Day Boudoir Photoshoot

March 18th, 2012 No comments

Maggie wanted to surprise her boyfriend with some boudoir photos for Valentine’s Day! She started the shoot getting gorgeous makeup done by Mika of MikaDoesMakeup at Mika’s beautiful studio.

Here are some photos from the shoot – I couldn’t blog them before Valentine’s Day or it would potentially spoil the surprise! Maggie brought a couple bags of rose petals, which was a really great idea. Maggie and Mika had lot of fun throwing the petals around (and strategically placing them on Maggie). It definitely had an American Beauty look. Maggie had a great time and loved her photos – as did her boyfirend, I’m sure ;)


Sultry Smoke and Shadows

January 21st, 2012 No comments

Shadows are as interesting as the light. Chiaroscuro is a term used in photography, as well as cinema and painting, that literally means “light-dark” and originates from the Italian Renaissance. The shadows help define the image, making the two dimensional appear three dimensional.

The idea for this shoot was to have the model, Saori, emerging into the light from the shadows. To get that effect, I used a black seamless background, making sure that the key light did not spill onto it by keeping them well-separated. I started with a large gridded softbox close to Saori, on camera right to light the portraits and close-ups, highlighting Julia’s makeup work. By moving the softbox in very close, the light falls off quickly so the opposite side of her face is quite a bit darker than the side with the light. To control the shadow’s darkness I used a large white foamcore panel and a silver disk reflector for fill light.

For the full body shots, I really wanted to get the shadowy look, so I used a more focused light – a gridded strobe on a boom in front and above Saori. For an interesting background, I put a fog machine and another strobe to backlight the smoke/fog behind Saori. For some of the shots, I used a blue gel on the strobe to make a blue smoke effect. With this set-up, Saori’s face was well lit and her body gradually became darker, fading into blackness.

Post-processing was done with Lightroom 3.3 and Photoshop CS5.

Inspired modelling by Saori Sloan
Beautiful peacock themed makeup by Julia Lockley




Update: Olympus Studio 2 for Mac & Time Lapse Photography

January 3rd, 2012 No comments

As an Olympus and Mac user, I have Olympus Studio 2 (version 2.3) to allow me to tether my E-system camera and control it from my MacBook. In 2010, I posted about my experience with tethering an Olympus E-501 with a Mac using Studio 2. This is an update on my experience since that post.

I have since stopped tethering whenever possible, mainly because I do not like the restriction of being attached by the USB cable during a shoot. There are also a few other reasons for not tethering. I had an incident with my E-510 when it was tethered. I stepped on the cable when it was attached to the camera and the force bent the pins of the camera’s USB socket, rendering it unusable. The same socket is also used for downloading images from the camera, and for operation of the remote control. I could have it repaired, although the expense is probably not worth it because the E-510 is an older camera body.

I now own an E-30, which also has a similar USB socket and must use Olympus Studio 2 for the Mac for tethering. I don’t want to risk damaging the body, so will only tether using something like the JerkStopper or other device to protect the camera.

Another problem that I encountered with Olympus Studio 2 was software crashes. During nearly every shoot, at least once Olympus Studio 2 would freeze and only work again after rebooting my Mac. As a Mac user I rarely encounter this situation — normally it’s easy to force quit and restart the application without rebooting. Rebooting and initializing everything takes some time, and is not good during a studio shoot with clients and models on set! I generally take a break to sort it out, but it does waste valuable studio and talent time, and stops the flow of the shoot.

Olympus Studio 2 has a great time lapse feature, however, I recently discovered that time lapse does not work with Mac OS 10.6 (Snow Leopard) or OS 10.7 (Lion). It does work with 10.5 (Leopard). I checked with Olympus customer support, and they responded:

Unfortunately the Time Lapse function in the Mac version of Olympus Studio 2.3 no longer functions. This occurred after an APPLE OS update awhile back. But because Studio is officially discontinued there is no patch to address this.

Time lapse is not built into my camera, but I can do time lapses with an intervalometer, or using a clever hack with an eraser and rubber band!

There is a big need for better tethering support for Olympus E-System cameras for Mac users. According to the forums that I’ve read, it would require Olympus to licence the software development kit (SDK) to third-party developers which they have done for Windows but not for Mac. That could allow the Olympus camera tethering with other applications such as Lightroom or Capture One. But at this time that does not seem to be likely.

Ganguro Fashion Photoshoot

January 2nd, 2012 2 comments

Ganguro is a pretty unusual style from Japan. The look involves dark tan makeup, blond or orange hair, black eyeliner, false eyelashes with white around the eyes and on the nose, and white lipstick. There’s usually also jewels and stickers added to the makeup. The clothing is very bright and colourful. The style started in the 1990′s and was influenced by the dark tanned blond look from Camlifornia, but taken to an extreme! Ganguro is one of many street styles from Japan, and can be seen in Harajuku and Shibuyu, Tokyo.

Here are some photos of model Kristy with ganguro makeup by Mika Does Makeup. The outfits were provided by stylist Joanna Keller. Kristy was perfect for the shoot and is very familiar with the Harajuku fashion scene. The makeup was also perfect and the outfits put together by Joanna were great. The shoot was a lot of fun!

We did a couple more Harajuku inspired looks, which I will post soon!


If you are interested in trying the ganguro look, here is a very good tutorial on YouTube:

For more more information about Ganguro, check out the always informative Wikipedia!

Vancouver Wedding Photoshoot

November 19th, 2011 2 comments

I had a great time at the Ultimate Shootouts Vancouver event on November 13, 2011 at the Ironworks Studio. I arrived at the studio and was inspired by the space with its skylights, large windows and interesting backgrounds and props. Earlier in the day, makeup artists Sarah Lam and Jayna Marie had been getting the brides and grooms ready for the shoot. There were 4 couples ready to go, with the brides in beautiful gowns and bouquets by CC Roa.

The event was limited to 24 photographers, so we were split into 4 groups and spent some time with each couple. We had 2 indoor sets where we took advantage of the studio’s cool backgrounds and beautiful natural light. We also had 2 outdoor shoots where we used strobes as well as the natural light. It was a cloudy, cool day but there was some nice light later in the day. It was pretty cold for the models, but they did a great job and were a lot of fun to work with.

Thanks to Jason Ho and Derek Cheng (Pure White Studios), Dan and Kat Stone (Stone Photo), and Chris and Gina Chong (Butter Studios) for organizing the event and for providing excellent tips and advice during the shoot. This was the first time for this event and it went very smoothly. I’m hoping there will be another one soon!

Here are some more blogs with photos by some of the other photographers who attended the shootout. It’s interesting to see the styles of the different photographers who were photographing the same models under the same conditions.

Cecilia Flaming Photography

Denise Lin Photography

C. Williams Photography

Vivid Moments Photography

Aaron Aubrey Photography














Categories: Photography, wedding Tags: , ,

Greg Girard — Langara Master Photographer Series

October 17th, 2011 No comments


Langara College hosted a presentation by Greg Girard on October 14, 2011. It was fascinating to see the work of four decades of his photography and hear the stories behind the images.

Greg Girard is a Vancouver-born photographer who moved to Hong Kong in the 1982 to work for the BBC News. Prior to moving to Hong Kong, he spent his early years in Vancouver and recently published a book of his work from 1973-1986, titled In the Near Distance (2010). In 1987, he left the BBC and became a freelance photographer. He moved to Shanghai in 1998 to cover China for news magazines. Girard has photographed on assignment for National Geographic, and his work is shown in galleries in Toronto, Vancouver and Berlin.

The presentation covered his early work in Vancouver, Tokyo and Hong Kong, his coverage of the civil war in Sri Lanka, as well as fascinating stories from China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam.

A couple of the highlights for me were the Phantom Shanghai and Kowloon Walled City projects. Each project took about five years to complete. The photographs were taken in his spare time between assignments for magazines – true passion projects!

Phantom Shanghai

While he lived in Shanghai, he photographed the rapid modernization of the city. Shanghai had many old European-style buildings from the colonial era, and in the 1920′s was the financial and cultural capital of China – known as the Pearl of the East. However, after the war and the revolution in 1949, the old building were taken over and converted to public housing and government buildings. After the cultural revolution, the city started to become modernized and the old districts were demolished to make room for development projects. Girard’s book Phantom Shanghai (2007) documents this massive change over a 5 year period. His work shows the wear, decay and textures of the old buildings juxtaposed against modern architecture. Many of the photographs were shot at night and capture the lights and colours of the neon signs and city lights. Most of the old buildings are now gone, but are still preserved in the photographs.



Kowloon Walled City

Another amazing project that Girard worked on was City of Darkness; Life in Kowloon Walled City (1993), which documents the incredible densely populated autonomous section of Hong Kong. For a few decades, the Walled City was dominated by triads which controlled prostitution, gambling and drugs. The Walled City was demolished in 1993-1994.


Walled City Exterior, 1987

West Side Street, 1989


There are many more images from these projects, and four others, on Greg Girard’s website to check out if you want to see more.