5am thoughts.

I woke up at 5am.

Who am I?  Who is this person?  I am not a morning person; I am a night person.  I can stay up all night for days and be okay but wake me up at 8am and I'm a zombie.  Ever since I came back from Paris, the mix of jetlag and being sick got me on a "normal" schedule.  In bed by 11pm or midnight and up by 9am.  woot.  The funny thing, sometimes my family can't tell whether I'm up in the morning or just up from the night before. haha.  I actually enjoy going to bed early and waking up early much more than the other schedule.  If I'm up in the morning I usually finish most of the day's work by lunch.  It's great.  I sleep a lot less on this schedule and am much more awake for most of the day.

But even for my new schedule, 5am is early.  Way early.  The sun's not even out!  I woke up this morning from a nightmare.  I was shooting a wedding, and it was running ahead of schedule so I suggested the bride and groom go with me to do some portraits.  I took along my second shooter and the bride brought along one of her friends.  And everything went bad from there.  I remember the bride was wearing a beautiful lace gown with shimmers of gray beading all over the dress (think of a glamorous flapper dress mixed with lace).  When we got to the location I told my second shooter to photograph the groom while I did the bride.  We were shooting in a beautiful mansion and the bride did not want to listen to me.  She just stood there with a scowl on her face, with her friend egging her on and messing up the bride's hair and photobombing the pictures.

These are my nightmares.  I dream about weddings and photo shoots gone wrong.  teehee.  It could be worse, I could be living them!

(the picture above was taken at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix.)

Naomi used to sing, but now she chows.

I hope the title gives you a good laugh. I don't have very many "getting ready" pictures in my wedding photography portfolio, so Naomi graciously let me tag along to take pictures of her getting ready.  Naomi was calm during this whole process. The day started at 6:30am when I woke Naomi up and repeated tapped Naomi, yelling, "You're getting married today! You're getting married today". She got dressed quickly and we rushed to one of her bridesmaids' home. As Naomi sat, poised in her chair, the hair lady curled her hair. I just stared... amazed that my sister was getting married on that day. It really blew my mind.

Below are pictures of Naomi, still a Tsang, right before she became a Chow.

My cousin is gorgeous. Meet Mrs. Smith.

After six long months of planning and preparation, the time had finally come... my dear cousin was getting married.

Nearly three years ago we had each finished our thesis and were ready to embark on four week European adventure. It's what we thought would be our last adventure before we joined the working world. We had a blast and created memories that will last a lifetime. Upon our return to the states, I settled in to my new job and she continued to search for hers. Only three months of searching led her to the opportunity of a lifetime--a year long internship at a toy company in shanghai (she's a product designer). She was to leave that very next January. I was heartbroken that my cousin was leaving. After four years of being apart during college, I had hoped we could be together to have more adventures.

With tears in my eyes I said good-bye, with the hope of her return in a year. I continued with my job and was laid off seven months later, just as my cousin began to speak of this guy she was "getting to know". By the time I went to visit her in November, I could tell marriage was on their mind. I knew they'd be engaged in the next couple of months. I was halfway wrong--they got engaged in July of the following year.

These past months have been bittersweet for me. Filled with the stress of wedding planning and responsibilities as a bridesmaid, I became overwhelmed that my cousin would be soon moving away (almost indefinitely) halfway across the world to be with her future husband. It's been hard to be happy for her new marriage, knowing she was leaving.  I have been so happy for these blessings in her life, but still dreading the day she'd leave.

Her wedding day came and went, and I did my best to enjoy myself and celebrate her marriage, but thoughts of us being apart made me want to cry, making me feel like a silly school girl.  She is one of my closest friends, and I had to say good-bye to her tonight.  She is the one I want to go exploring with, the person who I'd do crafty things with, the best model for my pictures, the one who encourages me spiritually and the one I can really giggle my butt off with.

I'll miss you, Kristina.  le sigh.

Here are some random pictures I snapped of her on her wedding day.... (click on the images for a larger view)

I'll say it just one more time....

I'll miss you, Dear Cousin.  :********(

My thoughts on wedding photography

I am by no means an authority on photography.  I'm actually very much an amateur still, but I currently edit for high-in-demand wedding photographer as well as second shoot for a bunch of up and coming wedding photographers.... and I've been to a lot of weddings.  :)  So as someone engrossed in wedding photography, here are my unsolicited thoughts on wedding photography if I was a bride. 335ellenandy

- Find a focus for your wedding and splurge on that. My girlfriend spent a ton of money on her flowers and skimped on everything else because flowers were most important to her. As for me, photography would obviously be my highest priority. I would spend whatever it took to get the photographer I wanted; I would rent a gown, slash my guest list in half, make all the invitations and decorations myself, use fake flowers just to get the photographer. That's just me. Thankfully, the photographer I want is still under $10,000, and evidently, my sister tells me I could ask for an industry discount! woot!

- I would only hire a photographer with a second shooter. I would require to see portfolios of both the first and second shooter. I've seen so many weddings with moments missed because there was only one shooter or the second shooter was mediocre. If you're paying for a second shooter, make sure the shooter is good, or else you're just wasting a second shooter

- Make sure you know what you're getting.  Some photographers, even though they give you all the files from your wedding, you may only be getting the 4x6 size files; make sure you know what kind of files you're getting... i.e. high resolution files. Also, some photographers may be cheap to hire, but when you go to buy prints from them, the 4x6 ends up being $20. Make sure you see the pricelist. Also, make sure you know if your photographer is shooting in film or digital.

- Decide what kind of "look" you want. For myself, I want wedding pictures that look fresh out of the camera like Jasmine Star or GH Kim. Even though I LOVE Amelia Lyon or Max Wanger, I don't want to look back at my pictures and decide that I actually don't like that look anymore. Fresh out of the camera style is timeless. Besides, I could always apply that "look" later on.

- Magazine style albums are expensive.  To just merely print one for a client, it usually is at least $500-800.  So with the cost of designing the pages/layouts and actually making a profit, the photographer will charge you anywhere between $1500-3000.  So don't fool yourself and think you can get a magazine style book for $200 (trust me, brides think it's possible, but they're just being unrealistic)

- With photography, 75% of the time you get what you paid for.  If you're paying $1,000 for your photographer, you better not expect to get a top of the line photographer with high resolution photos and a photo album.  It's possible....anything is possible, but it's highly unrealistic.  For a decent photographer and a decent package, expect to pay $3,000-5,000.  Also, make sure you get references from the photographer.  If they take great pictures, but the brides thought they were a jerk, why hire them?

- It's better to get the kind, patient photographer with mediocre pictures than the jerk photographer with the amazing pictures. On your wedding day, you want everything to go as smoothly as possible.  You're not going to want that photographer who gets in the way or yells at your guest.  The photographers I work with are the kind, patient photographers, and although I hear the criticisms that they're pictures are over processed or over posed or boring or plain or whatever, you get your money's worth in their personality.  They genuinely care about you and do what they can to help you through the day.  That's why I appreciate these men that I work with so much.  Even though their photography style is not exactly what I would personally want for my own wedding, I would highly recommend them for how well they work with their clients. (also... most of their clients have been referred. so that's another thing to take note of)

- Take engagement pictures with the photographer who's shooting your wedding.  Think of it as an interview process.  How they are in your engagement session is how they'll be at your wedding.  This is your opportunity to get used to having a camera in your face and getting to know your photographer.  This way on your wedding, you know what to expect.

- Take your bridal party pictures before the wedding.  Why? Because dresses aren't wrinkled, make up is fresh, hair is still pretty, and you still have energy.  I've been at too many weddings where the bride and groom try to squeeze these pictures in between the ceremony and reception and they're so exhausted they end up cutting out a lot of the picture time.  If it were me, I would regret not having good pictures.  Also, taking pictures before the wedding allows for the bride and groom to have a "first look" before the ceremony.  This is the first time the bride and groom get to see each other; it will probably the only private moment the bride and groom can share that day.  I think it's good to see each other before the ceremony because then you get rid of your nerves by seeing each other.  

- I will be hiring a photographer with a tilt-shift lens.  Google it... it's AMAZING and I love it . Here's an example below from Chris+Lynn

That's all I have for now!