Commercial Photography Blog by Photographer of the Year Award Recipient, Michael Soo.
Product photography, fashion, food and wedding. San Francisco Bay Area, California, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Shanghai, Singapore.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
North American Hairstyling Awards (NAHA) photoshoot
North American Hairstylist Awards (NAHA), presented by the Professional Beauty Association, is the most prestigious hairstyling competition in North America. I was delighted to help Allan of Allan's Salon in Santa Clara to photograph Allan's entry in the Colorist Category in NAHA.
Trend Zoom Color Challenge, an international color competition invites colorists to interpret the Trend Zoom 2008 trend worlds—Rockmantic and Newstalgia—in a highly creative way and then have their interpretation professionally photographed. Goldwell Colorists can choose to enter one of three categories:
The Creative Colorist Category: For colorists who love working with Goldwell’s Topchic permanent color and/or Goldwell’s Colorance demi-permanent product.
The Elumen Colorist Category: For colorists who love to “illuminate hair” with Goldwell’s Elumen.
Partner Colorist Category: Colorists who work with Goldwell as a freelancer are invited to interpret the trends with a Goldwell color of their choice.
Allan picked the Rockmantic concept; Androgynous, harmonious color schemes created with contrasting light and dark cool tones, reborn from the Baroque romantic era, merged with a Rock and Roll style. Mysterious shades of graphic grays, rich purple, rose violets and pastel silver pearl blondes reflect the mood and textures of this romantic yet rebellious world.
Rockmantic is all about contrasts which are created by placing light and dark cool shades right next to each other. Expressive, extravagant shades - from violet to pink, light ivory and silvery gray up to a deep black - in this way, Rockmantic shows its charms between the extremes. (click on any image to expand).
Allan is quite the perfectionist. His work is immaculate but he is never happy with it, always striving for the next notch towards perfection.
Lacee & Tejas love the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. I mean, who doesn't? It's probably the most popular spot for engagement photography in Northern California. If they make $1 everytime a couple does an engagement shoot there...
I warned Lacee & Tejas that their favorite spot may be under construction but we figured that we'd take our chances. Our shoot began in downtown San Francisco.
We then moved into the grounds of the Palace of Fine Arts. I was right on the money. The entire structure was under construction with scaffolding wrapped around the architecture. Adding insult to injury, the building perimeter was surrounded by a 6' metal fence! Ugh!!
Undaunted by the turn of events, I had Lacee & Tejas climb the fence and took several amazing shots. The beauty of the Palace of Fine Arts will be revealed after the construction for a very long time to come. But the images of the Palace of Fine Arts under construction will never again be seen.
(click on the image on the left to see more)
- Michael Soo
TPR, The Peninsula Regent in San Mateo, California is a magical place. It isn't a run-of-the-mill retirement community but an elegant continuing care retirement community that was thoughtfully designed to cater to its residents.
The security is tight but not overbearing. The automatic doors are wonderful for the residents and myself whilst I push my photo gear past them.
We were brought on board to photograph commercial lifestyle portraitures of the residents for ViewPoint, a newsletter article for the residents and probably the TPR's potential clients.
Kay Harris, a talented freelance graphic designer was with me. Kay worked with TPR for a while now and knows most of the staff of the TPR. She would design and layout the newsletter itself, inlaid with my photographs.
The residents walk around with smiles attached to their faces. They look like they are on vacation 24/7. It then became clear to me that TPR found the perfect concoction of care, love and talents that seem to set the lovely folks here at their ultimate ease. I was astounded by how caring and geniune the staffs were. It is as if they were born to help everyone around them. The Assistant Director, Michelle, would constantly ensure our comfort while we were in the facility. Cookies, drinks, lunch, dessert were pushed into my hands while I was there.
I met Ms Greene, a resident swim instructor, shot by the pool. Dr Moore, a handsome doctor, photographed in his clinic.
Mr Scherba of Scherba Autos, was sitting on a high-back italian sofa. He smiled at me and told me the story of his military service in the Philipines. He did not receive a lifestyle portrait from me. Instead, I chose to showcase his personality, style and his charm in a photograph. He held his chin while he talk, gleaming on his finger, a modest ring that his mother gave him, back in 1946.
The brochure for this shoot, designed by Kay is nothing short of excellent in layout, color and language.
- Michael Soo
I was flabbergasted when I told someone that I was going to Shanghai and was returned with the question, "What is Shanghai?" So, I figured I'll have to deal with my own standards & ideals and move on to explain about Shanghai.
The reason I went to Shanghai, really though is to lead a photography project within Refocus Imaging and Intel's CTO, Justin Rattner's keynote speech in the Intel Developer Forum in Shanghai. Justin, unfortunately was too sick to make it to the conference and had Vice President, Andrew Chien replace him.
The whole keynote was recorded with the actual slides in the IDF's website (Time: 36m50s to 46m:00s) but the part that we really care about is here below, in a YouTube video.
Conferences such as the IDF takes months in advanced of preparation for a 1-2 days event. My part in the photography within the keynote was a mere 1-2 minutes but took over one week in preparations. Preparations include project managing, such as hiring the models, makeup artists and wardrobe selections. Local photography lighting gear rentals have to be managed, as well as, photography work in Shanghai and surrounding city, in HangZhou (for the slideshow to showcase the technology). I also had to ensure multiple backups of workflow in case of failures, etc.
We had to hire assistants, compose several dry-runs, rehearsals, on-site problem solving photography issues (such as the issues of lighting in the impossibly difficult lighting conditions within the huge conference hall.
Whatever simplicity you see in the show was backed up by layers of complexity of preparation in the background.
We got extremely creative in the lighting department. For the studio photography enthutiasts out there, I was shooting at F4.0 & ISO 1600 with a Profoto D4 2400 at near max as the main!!!!!!! If that doesn't send fear up your spine, I don't know what will. Renting more lighting units will overdrive the budget of the client. Profoto, broncolor and high end lighting gears are 4X more expensive to rent in China than in the United States.
Incompatibility in voltage, weight of equipment through air travel, extension cords, all have to be placed into consideration. No, it was no walk in the park. I had to lug 4 large and heavy suitcases across the Pacific Ocean for a mere 2 minutes of airtime. And that's on top of renting 4 more suitcases of lighting gear.
Who says Commercial Photography is easy?
A few fun facts about Shanghai:
Shanghai is the most expensive China city to live in.
The mass rapid transit here is very well connected. They have
a whooping 17 lines. Taxis are in abundance. The starting price
is 11RMB, which is about USD$1.50
The Shangri-la hotel employs a cute girl to knock on your door for morning calls instead of a phone call. I specifically asked for a phone call the 2nd day after running around in my underwear when a door knock came on my 1st day's call.
Shanghainese dialect are spoken alongside Mandarin in Shanghai.
You can custom tailor a full 2-3 piece business suit in China for
US$50 and a wonderfully customed tailored shirt for US$15. Mind you,
the material used is better than those I've seen in some high end stores