26 November 2009

The photographer as subject (aka engagement party photos)

My Fiancee Dave and I just got back from florida, for the extra special engagement party that was thrown by his parents, Steve and Maureen.

One of the things i absolutely dislike about taking photos is my absence in the photos! haha. For the most part, i was "forbidden" to take photos of this momentous occassion because they said that it was OUR PARTY.

Let's just say i cant really get my hands off of my camera.

i think, i really did a good job of being a photographer and a subject at the same time.

That's Cindy, Sharon and Sheri Inspecting my engagement ring:

And Me, toasting with grandma joan. lucky that i have my name on my cup that is facing forward.

Thank you, once again, to the wonderful parental units, Maureen and Steve for throwing this extraordinary party. And Thank you, to Everyone who had come and celebrated with us and have given us wonderful and generous presents!

The rest of the photos are here!

30 October 2009

The Don Friedman Quartet

as a huge thank you to don friedman for posing for cultchas, i went back to the kitano lounge to hand him a print of his photo, and take more photos because this time it was his quartet who was playing. i even asked him to sign a copy of his photo for my brother.

with my prime lens in tow and my extremely new "wide angle" lens i felt a little more confident. if you click the links, you can almost tell how much i have broken the bank - one day i will extremely break it. all of these photos except the posed group shot were taken without flash.

one of the oddest things i have learned in this shoot is - if your subject is tall, he will be very well lit!!!! case in point: tim armacost, the sax player.

subjects hiding in a corner, or is blocked by their musical instruments is no easy feat too - but im glad i have these good photos.

you should go see them if you are in the neighborhood. the rest of the photos are here.

28 October 2009

the well-fed secretary that could

My bread and butter for the last 7 years has been a secretary of some sorts. I absolutely love doing it, as i dont have to constantly be thinking about everything. as soon as the clock strikes 6, im done and out and about.

One of the most unusual perk of being ZDNY&Co's secretary (and owning a camera and knowing how to use it) is having my photos of our jewelry appear in trade magazines.

so far my jewelry photography have appeared in three publications:

Modern Jeweler (august 2009) - snake ring photo, bottom middle.

Lustre Who's Who in Designer Jewelry 2009  - distributed during the JCK and JCK Lux Shows in Las Vegas 2009- snake ring photo, first pic on first column

Jewelers' Circular Keystone (JCKMag) September 2009 - circles cuff bracelet, bottom photo

jewelry isnt one of my favorite subjects to take photos of - not only do they require so much light, they also reflect a bunch of stuff you dont need in your photo, like your face and camera on the jewelry itself - a difficult and painful thing to clean off your photo - and, i have to make them look expensive and luxurious.

it's all in the secretary's day's work.

27 October 2009

Can you take my picture?

i am STILL stunned when i have strangers ask me to take their photos. (in some strange way, ive actually taken a photo of the owner of ben's kosher deli because he saw my camera around my neck and asked me to take a photo of him and his friend.)

Last Friday, i went out to the kitano lounge to take a photo of the Don Friedman Quartet and after i took their photo, Tim Armacost asked me if i could take his photo because the microphone company that he uses on his flute wants a photo of him using their microphone.

wow nice. i took about less than 10 shots and got this.

22 October 2009

Jeanine and Rob's Wedding (and the horrors of mixed lighting)

my brother complained about the whole mixed lighting scenario at his goddaughter's christening. i never really thought how difficult and annoying it was until Jeanine and Rob's Wedding.

they had a luncheon reception and the sun was shining brightly outside and INSIDE, with that, the lights inside the ballroom did nothing to compensate the ball streaks of sunshine. and i mean big streaks! aaargh. but i really cant complain much, since the food was good. and it was fun times! (to make things clear, im not complaining about the wedding per se, but the lighting conditions to which i had to photograph in.)

another thing i learned - is to PACK MY STUFF THE NIGHT BEFORE AND HAVE ALL BATTERIES CHARGED. my off camera flash died three quarters into the reception and i had to depend on my on camera flash that refuses to fire in time. aaargh. and in general, as much as it has saved my life a couple of times, i dont really like my built in flash.

im glad my photos turned out fine. and for the record, jeanine and rob's cake is one of the best wedding cakes ive tasted. it was nice and moist inside.

pat loves it as much as i do!

The rest of the photos are here.

17 October 2009

Popping the Portrait Photography Cherry

i started "giving offers they cannot refuse" to my friends and friends of friends 5 months ago. back home, there's a bunch of superstition surrounding a pregnant lady. there's rubbing the belly for good luck, and there's this huge no-no of taking photos of a pregnant lady.

a. i did not rub her belly (and still got good luck)
b. she loved having her photo taken.
c. she gave birth safely and is now happy with a baby girl.

as she is protecting herself from her own professional world, she asked me to not post these on facebook - im also not mentioning their names here.

the rest of the photos are here

therapeutic, at some point

one of the things that is almost always in my purse is my point and shoot. i love how documenting things can make or break a moment - like how misery can turn into great fun (or eventually turn into great fun afterwards)

im no fan of photographing miserable things, but on some days - preserving the moment is psychologically beneficial.

case in point:

this was taken during a miserable cold and rainy day while waiting for the bus to take us back to NYC at the six flags great adventure bus stop. if the NJ transit didnt forget to follow their schedule, this photo wouldnt have been taken. (fyi, my fiancee was making fun of me because i had an umbrella in my purse as well. it proved useful, didnt it?)

it was so miserable, at that point but people managed to take photos of each other and poke fun at this "waterpark" adventure. sadly, i didnt have a photo of other people taking photos.

but yeah, it was miserable.

if it didnt save their sanity, it certainly saved mine. the other photos are here

05 October 2009

Maggie and Dieter's Engagement Photos a.k.a. The Rottweiler Experience

I got the gig of photographing Maggie and Dieter by overhearing my classmate Carol ask our teacher Rich RE: wedding photographers. Since I have no experience whatsoever in taking photos like these, I had offered to take their engagement photos.

With an offer they cannot refuse, they hired me. they told me about the rottweilers that dieter had rescued from the streets in philadelphia and that they describe them as SWEETHEARTS.

there's nothing better than having very good looking, very photogenic and very nice people to pose in front of your camera. i swear they dont have bad angles and the camera just loves them. of course, there's a bit of cheating since i did find out this day that dieter has some experience modelling. (well, if you LOOK LIKE HARRISON FORD'S TWIN, you should be, right?)

Now back to the rottweilers. after all this is my rottweiler experience. Gypsy and Sebastian are the biggest attention seekers that i have met - and THEY ARE FORCEFUL. if you stroke one on your left side, rest assured, the other one will come to your right side and ask for your right hand. of course, i was still fearful while doing this, but they are actual sweethearts. at first, i couldnt understand how a huge animal could be.

but of course, i just mustered the courage to just have this very well acted photo!!!
of course, the nice little doggy can tell that it was all a lie. hahahaha
In this shoot, i have further realized that men never grow up.

That, is never a bad thing. The rest of the photos are here.
ps. i just shot their wedding. i should be posting them soon.

30 September 2009

Little Sister Shutterbug

Now that me and my older brother are continents apart, and much more older - we are actually getting along. This comes as a huge surprise to me because we have constantly fought like cats and dogs, much to the indifference of our loving mother and poor little baby brother that will never cease to be the subject of our ridicule.

The musical snob that he is, he and his very good friend has finally decided to put up a blog called Cultchas: Web log for the underrated and atypical. His blog is all about music. Since he lives in Manila, Philippines and I live here in New York City - the "genius" of an older brother that he is - he has appointed me as the Cultchas Correspondent for New York. (yearly salary: zero dollars)

My first assignment was to interview and photograph Don Friedman. He is a jazz pianist - and from what i have gathered while he was being introduced at the show with the Nicole Pasternak Quintet, he is a very very good jazz player.

Besides knowing what jazz sounds like - i really dont know much. I know a couple of names: Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald but that's about it. I cant even differentiate them - and i think much to the dismay of my brother, I am little sister music stupid. (to my credit though, i have a disdain for hiphop and rap)

While my ignorance is frowned upon, the silver lining shines bright. I can interview and photograph Mr. Friedman in complete ease and a very relaxed manner. Kind of just another day at work for Larry King and Annie Leibovitz.

Photographing him in a low light setting without a flash was tricky, but doable (lesson learned: never leave the house without the prime lens). I also got a couple of good action shots. (i really wish i brought the prime lens with me) The interview? It was not without its booboo. Halfway through it i realized that my handy dandy little video camera wasnt on. haha.

He is certainly one of the sweetest people i have met..

Thank you, Mr. Friedman, for the wonderful opportunity of meeting, interviewing and photographing you.

Creative Commons License
Don Friedman by Stella Dacuma for Cultchas is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://cultchas.blogspot.com.

16 September 2009

The Emergency Photographer?!

last sunday, i woke up 45 minutes past noon, fully intending to spend the day in my pajamas. checking on my email, dave texts me to record the giants game (a mind numbing feat! i didnt know four games happen in one day) and there was a voicemail from tet, sent to my mailbox at like 1115 am.

i need headshots, can you take them?

i call her back and she explains to me that her godson Matthew (angela's son) needs a full body photo and a headshot to audition for a part for the disney channel. they need it on saturday.

i agreed since i never really photographed kids and headshots - and eventually had to make compcards too.

shoot, post process and final artwork. all done in about six hours, with kanye west stealing taylor swift's thunder in the background.

i must say that working with kids is fun and quite challenging. for me, it was sheer luck that matthew was extremely interested in doing this. showing headshots of his crush certainly did the trick for him.

the bad part is, after we saw other children's compcards, we realize that he should have been dressed in different outfits. im sure matt wont mind doing it again!

good luck matt!

13 September 2009

Superheroes and Villains UNITE!

William of Nazareth turned 30 as the superhero Birthday Boy. The invite said that we could be any superhero we wanted to be - and for the most part, i dont really like buying expensive run of the mill wonderwoman costume, so i opted to come as the Cupcake Crusader!
Coming to costume parties is always interesting to me since i never really got to ornate costume parties until i was much older. In the Philippines, the 31st of October is the day we honor our dearly departed by visiting their grave. It is, by no means spooky since the whole nation participates in this and the cemeteries become an overcrowded picnic area.

of course, coming to the party wearing my superhero costume was more uncomfy as i dealt with the stares of the people in the subway and the french tourist who kept pointing to my loud purple leggings. but whatever.

One thing i learned in this whole party was to ALWAYS CARRY MY OFF CAMERA FLASH. the on camera flash on my camera just wasnt powerful enough or didnt fire right away. that, and thinking that a 1.8lens is at its widest opening is enough to capture moving subjects in low light situations. in any case, im happy i snapped some pretty cool photos.


the party was a complete success. the rest of the photos are here.

i even won best original superhero costume! yay!

11 September 2009

the big fat armenian wedding

there's nothing more fun than attending a wedding that is FUN. for the most part, the weddings i have been to is more formal than anything and the attendants are not that much into getting into the dance floor.

this one? you have people holding hands prancing and dancing! i swear, i kinda felt bad that my culture does not have this -

and it was just a blast. the dancefloor was packed! and the candid moments are PRICELESS.

the rest of the photos are here.
Congratulations and best wishes, ariane and tony!

thank you -

I got back into photography almost by accident.

My friends here in new york city are mostly artists - they practice their art in a variety of media. Paper, Modelling Clay, Paint on canvas, Video, even found objects. For the most part, i was a spectator. Happy to document anything that was out of the ordinary, or ordinary or just plain cute. I was mostly happy to document a bunch of people who just refuse to act grown up. (that is a good thing.)

on the other hand, living here in new york almost always means having to conform to the blatant consumerism that abounds. there's the want of sporting a purse that could well be easily a month's rent, or two. for me, there is a strange want to own a nifty canvas purse with leather trim bearing the initials LV.

i was mulling over getting one of those arm candies for my 29th birthday "happy birthday to me" present. after all, i deserve it. the funny thing was - it wasnt really my lifestyle to carry one. Im always in sneakers and it just wont work. that, and i cant make myself depart with that much moolah for something that will eventually get old in my eyes. im one of those odd girls who have more fun shopping at home depot and b&h photo and video than sephora or macys.

as i was mulling over, i remember what one of my friends said to me during one of those drunken sprees -

"im always broke because i spend my money on electronics. electronics give me the ability to produce"

for that birthday, i got myself a canon eos 40d. its been a great relationship between me and buttercup ever since.