About These Portrait Meets: Building a Photography Community

It's easier than you think to make better portraits. Since dedicating my life to photography full time over this past year, I've learned a few simple tricks that I'm excited to pass on in a series of community workshops via meetups.

Founded by Can AhtamPortraitMeet organizes local meetups in partnership with IgersSF for networking and skill sharing. Under encouragement from the Boston PortraitMeet community (hey Steve and Rasvan!), I'm hosting one of my own in San Francisco's Financial District and SoMa areas this Saturday 5/7 at 11am. Come one, come all, and follow along using the hashtag #SFPortraitMeet.

We will meet at One Sansome for introductions at 11am and move on by foot through FiDi and SoMa.

Some background: A long time ago, there was a little company with a little app called Instagram, and so far, the community has stood the test of time since I hosted a video review of the early app at Revision3 on a show called AppJudgment over SIX YEARS AGO.

Before moving into the world of pro portrait photography, I casually enjoyed snapping photos of my friends (and dog) with my phone. Both mobile cameras and DSLR cameras have come a long way, and this has been a catalyst to increasing the quality of photos. The community has skyrocketed, and it's been amazing.

I'm seeing a trend of everyday users putting more effort into making their photos sharp and vibrant with several easy tricks, whether they're using a mobile app like VSCO cam, a desktop app like Lightroom, or boosting light during the shoot. The results are gorgeous, and the community wants more.

Meetups in nature are casual and fun. You're surrounded by people of all skill levels who have the same interest of creating better photos. No matter what age you are, or what formal education you've had, I'm a big believer that you can learn by doing... andd it's real hard to practice photography alone. Models and photographers converge on spontaneous, creative ideas, and in the end, everyone has new pieces for their portfolios. 

Come ready with a goal or a topic you want to learn more about. Last time, I gave photography demos on utilizing natural light reflectors, how to shoot during harsh mid-day conditions, how to position flash for a basic portrait, and when you should diffuse your light. Models might want to wear a specific theme of clothing or practice dance or athletic poses. You can bet you'll have the opportunity to practice and learn. 

Photo above by Tiffany Ho. I demoed a pocket sized reflector with Albert Chen.

Here are more of my photos from the last #WWIM (Worldwide Instagram Meet) hosted by Kim Alvarez in San Francisco's Dogpatch neighborhood. I, myself am still learning new photography tricks every day -- I look forward to meeting you! 

Here are some of my favorite images tagged #SFPortraitMeet from the very first San Francisco gathering hosted by Steve Nisotel.

🐆 #sfportraitmeet

A photo posted by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ Javier C. (@four.kicks) on

Smokeshow #SFPortraitMeet #gramslayers

A photo posted by Steve (@s.nisotel) on

#SFPortraitMeet : @ecpeterson13

A photo posted by A. Lam (@alamphoto) on

Light Testing in Tunnels, Treasure Island, and Sutro Baths

Engagement sessions seems to come in waves, so I better get ready for the next one! I've had a few requests to shoot in Golden Gate Park, Treasure Island and Sutro Baths, all popular romantic places. My beautiful friend, Jeel and I toured San Francisco on a beautiful, sunny day and tested all sorts of light at these destinations. I can safely say that after this session, we can control lumination nicely with minimal equipment even when conditions provide harsh or dimming light during the lovely golden hour. Here are our results:

Also, big thanks to fellow photographer Steve Nisotel for coming along to Treasure Island. He gave an excellent assist on Treasure Island by managing the bounce light so we could get the wide skyline shot. Check out his work here: http://instagram.com/s.nisotel

San Francisco Fashion Photography - Jump Shots & the Golden Gate Bridge!

We now joke that "gravity is boring" after shooting this set of photos that includes jumping! Jake wanted to highlight overalls that can be worn three different ways for her blog. I used a 70-200mm lens on my Sony A7 for these shots and tested shutter speeds when she was in motion. Check out the results! 

As a bonus, I got this beauty shot of our Golden Gate Bridge at about 4:30pm. Love SF.

Commissioned San Francisco Photography - Opentalk

I'm officially in love with traveling the city by foot and taking photos. This time, I was given the opportunity to capture the bustling Embarcadero and Market Street area for Talkdesk, who is currently promoting their May conference, Opentalk. Here are some of my favorite shots highlighting the beauty of travel, transportation & business... being in San Francisco is not half bad. :)

The Magic of San Francisco's Ferry Building (including my secret 2nd floor location)

It may have dumped (much needed) rain on us, but this proved to be excellent weather conditions for my lunchtime OOTD shoot with fashion blogger, Jake Bordeleau. Maybe I'm biased, but San Francisco's Ferry Building and terminal are gorgeous. The architecture and view is undeniably excellent. Take a look:

It's always a pleasure shooting with Jake. Check her out on Instagram and see her own blog on this very outfit here!