Happy International Women's Day

 

Throwback to this little video clip I made for Jenny when we had our photo session for Jennifer Lynn Fitness. She wanted images for her business so I thought why not also create a little clip as her promotional video. When I showed the video to her, she actually had tears in her eyes albeit it was not the best cinematography work out there. She was looking at her life, story, relationship and new venture all compressed in a 20 second video. I could really relate why she was moved because I got to read her stories first hand way before her website was published. She was a Director in one of the top RIA firms but quit her job to become a personal trainer, for the love of her own body, her little girl and the hope to help other women in need to heal their bodies inside out. Cheers to Jenny on this International Women's Day for being a determined woman, a tender mom and a loving partner!

Here's to all strong women, may we know them, may we be with them, may we raise them.

 

The door is opened

 

A few close friends who watched me grow professionally told me that I don't stick to the same photography style. Yes, I often change my style depending on what’s inspiring me and what my clients need, and I think that's a good thing because we should open to positive changes. When I was in my 20+ and started doing boudoir photography I was all about the bright, beauty and cute boudoir photos. Coming from a conservative culture, being able to declare myself a boudoir photographer was a big achievement.  I couldn't picture myself doing any dark, sensual photos. Asking another woman to pose sensually? you must be kidding me. And I didn’t quite like the images I saw online, they looked a little too cheesy or some even horrific to my taste. Therefore my pictures have always been bright, classy, elegant. I wanted everybody to be comfortable with my work.

I have remained the same for most part, avoiding explicit work. However the longer I am in the industry the more I started to appreciate sexier, darker and sensual photos. That’s partly because I have seen enough work to be able to tell good photos from bad ones. The very good ones are so splendiferously done and are indeed an art of its own. I loved those photos as they are work that I am incapable of producing, I started following some of the great photographers, and often revisited their pages for inspiration and ideas. To me I was peeking through the key hole to a world that I didn’t feel comfortable stepping into. I had the desire to open the door but doubted my own knowledge and skills.

Turning 30+ now, I have become more mature and appreciate women’s body more than ever before. I take pride in photographing women from all walks of life, in different shapes and sizes. The greatest thing I have learned is that women who love themselves, their bodies, should be able to choose what photos they want for themselves. Clothed or not should not matter.  

I think maturity cured my vulnerability towards body. Exposing to more fine art photos made this trial a feasible one. I felt ready to explore a new style, I made a call for dark sensual photos, and women responded.

These pictures were done in my 10” x 10” makeup room with just a simple setup of a daybed, white sheets, a window, a lovely lady and some deep house music that I really love. I actually chose to ‘lock’ myself and her in the room instead of using my main and much bigger studio area so that we could have an intimate setting with the right mood. It was amazing how smooth this whole thing went, like I have done it many times prior already. I kept myself controlled and focused, and made her feel at ease.

The result took my breath away, they are exactly what I dream to do. All my doubts are now cleared. I have faced my vulnerability and it’s so liberating. I finally opened the door and can now breath the air that was previously foreign to me. I find this side as beautiful as where I was used to be in, just in a different way.

I am happy as a woman and as a photographer for having learned things that I wouldn’t have if I did not keep an open mind. Starting from now if any client come to me and wanting some dark boudoir photos like this I can proudly tell her LET'S DO IT! Nothing should prevent something so beautiful like a woman's body from being documented.

*When doing photography of this nature, your privacy is of utmost importance to me and you will be protected like how I would protect myself. Contact me if you have any questions.

 

Anonymous Collection

 

Today I put together an anonymous theme album. These were taken by me over the years working with my wonderful clients, and I thought it's fun to create a collection to let you know that you can request shots like this too for your session. This is especially important if you are planning to order an add-on keepsake book because they make great page fillers! On top of that, anonymous shots are also perfect for ladies who'd love to have their images featured without being identified.

I actually enjoy taking these shots even though they are not the typical portraits that my clients would pick. I love it for the creativity part, it's icing on the cake that helps me tell a better boudoir story.

Hmm.. the more I thought about it, the more I am inspired to do an anonymous theme, dark and sensual boudoir photoshoot. Drop me a line if you are interested, as I would love to talk more about designing the experience for you.

 

Vincent // Gentle Man // Kansas City

 

I rarely photograph men, except my husband and only  when I worked on some personal projects. When Vincent and I connected, his look inspired me to do a gentle man concept shoot. My inspiration came from some male artists (Example: Jang Geun Suk and J-pink) that posses both musculine and feminine characters, and the soft quality it's something that I would like to capture in guys, as a women photographer. So I pitched the concept to Vincent and we proceed to meeting and hunting for outfits and heels. At that point, I had no idea how the pictures would turn out but that's the fun of doing a concept shoot, you will be surprised by the unknowns! 

I love love love all the final images, love both his soft curly hair look and edgy look in the heels. I'd like to thank Vincent for his openness and my talented hair and makeup artist friend Kat for doing his hair and makeup. Ideas wouldn't come to fruition without collaboration between different talents! Now it's time for me to work on another personal project. :)

 

What worked for me

 

As a new year starts I always like to reflect back how I did in the past year. Personally, I achieved the goal of visiting 30 countries at the age of 30, visited my Malaysia family twice, became a sister-in-law, had my first Halloween makeup, celebrated 14 years of courtship with Yong and finally got a Kansas state driver's license. Yay! Professionally, 2015 was a tremendous year for me. Let me put it this way, if 2008 to 2014 were the years I acquired knowledge, skills, experience for my photography business, then 2015 was THE year I pieced everything together. Here I would like to share with you the top 5 things that worked for my business. 


1. Make real connection with my clients

One of the most rewarding decisions I made last year was to make real connection with the women I photographed. As a woman myself, I know that there is absolutely no "one size fit all" photography package for my clients. We all have unique taste and expectation for photos and I would not want a woman to book me before knowing that we could be a good fit. Therefore I insisted that my potential clients should be invited to my studio for a face to face meeting. We talked about what brought them to me, how they felt about their bodies, and how to pose for the most flattering images and how to hunt for wardrobe. Of course they also got a complimentary studio tour so that they could see the things that inspire my photography style with their own eyes. 

I feel like by doing all these I could better understand my clients' needs and it helped me to carve them a dream photoshoot. Clients were more engaged, more excited for the shoot, and that's the perfect buildup that I need prior to the actual shoot. After the initial meeting I also followed up with personalized Pinterest board, emails, text, video conference, and whatever communication means to help them make the best wardrobe decisions, book their desired hair and makeup artist and make sure everything is on track. Making real connections required a lot time and attention, but does it all worth it? Yes! They trusted me, they knew that I would make them look great. When I requested them to "smile just with your eyes", they would do it for me even some of they didn't know how, and they all ended up getting killer smiling eyes shots. 

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2. A nice and versatile home studio

After I made up my mind to focus on just photographing women, I knew I needed a studio space. I had very specific requirements in mind (high ceiling, white wall, white floor, independent makeup room and bathroom) and it took me five months in 2014 to find my dream home that would also allow me to dual purpose it as my studio. 2014 was all about exploring the perfect spaces for photography. In 2015, I found hundreds of ways to photograph women at different corners of the studio. I also figured out how natural lights change with seasons, and what kind of shadows and shades I could get! Now that photo spots are everywhere in the home studio, I have to make sure that the the house is always clean, the showroom kind of clean (hence the no shoes policy).

3. Hair and Makeup policy

All women look good with some makeup and with professional hair styling and makeup application they would look even more fabulous. Don't believe that? Check out the before and after portraits of my clients. In 2015, I made a studio policy to use only professional hair and makeup service for my clients. I want them to be taken care of professionally and feeling beautiful throughout the entire photo session. I frequently reach out to local hair and makeup artists and am happy to report that I found some that I really enjoyed working with. How did I pick who to work with? My general guideline is that the artist must capable of styling hair and applying makeup, have pleasant personality, punctual, efficient, helpful and professional. Also, I value hair styling skill slightly more than makeup because hair is often the break or make factor. I can always retouch a flawed makeup in post-processing but with a flawed hair there is nothing much I could do.  

4. Commitment fee

Imagine the night before a photoshoot, I did my homework on the shoot, prepped my studio, booked the hair and makeup artist, just about to go to bed so that I could wake up fresh the next morning. Then I received a text message from client, telling me that she has changed her mind, and not quite ready for a photo session. That feeling sure doesn’t feel good does it?  

Starting from 2015, my studio policy is that I collect a $300 commitment fee from my clients that is fully refundable upon completion of the photoshoot and reveal session. Paying the commitment fee encourages my clients to commit to the dates booked, and it gives me peace of mind to prepare for their appointments. Not a single client forfeited their $300 fee since I started doing this, it has been working great for the studio! 

5. Branding and packaging

Few years ago when I was visiting Paris I picked up a Chanel pouch for my cousin.  I honestly have forgotten how the pouch looked but I still remember the wonderful service that I got from the sales assistant. She meticulously wrapped the pouch in a fancy box and decorated it with cute ribbons and paper tissue before putting everything in a very nice bag. I had a great experience and felt valued as a customer.  I want my clients to know that I appreciate their business with me, therefore for packaging, I also wrap their portraits in boxes with my brand embossed together with other handpicked packaging materials to compliment their products. These little details are what make me happy and I hope they make my clients feel appreciated too.

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How was your 2015? Share it with me?

 

Miss S. // Casual Boudoir and Fitness // Kansas City

 

This is Miss S. - an amazing body transformation coach that came to my studio for some fitness portraits.

I love what she does. She transforms bodies and potentially lives, by providing people the tools and support to become a better version of themselves. I find that aligns with my goal in doing women photography, that is to help women discover the beauty that they have never seen before, or rediscover the beauty that they thought they have lost. I offered her more shoots in addition to fitness portraits, as I really wanted her to see how beautiful she is to have the passion and power to change peoples’ lives.

I love many portraits from her session and my favorite was the one on top of this page in black and white.