Frequently Asked Questions for The Process

  • WHAT SHOULD I BRING?

    1. Here’s a general guideline:

      1. Things that spark joy

      2. Things that push you out of your comfort zone

      3. Button down + underwear vibe

      4. Whatever you want

  • HOW SHOULD I PREPARE?

    • The most important part of the process is honesty. Even when you’re picking out outfits, you should be honest with yourself. Does it really spark joy? Does it really push you out of your comfort zone?

    • You should expect to do some emotional exercises during the session. It requires digging a little deeper. Be prepared to spend a little bit of emotional energy.

    • With that said, it’s nothing too scary. You never have to do anything you don’t want to—you’re in control.

  • WHAT SHOULD I DO FOR HAIR AND MAKEUP?

    1. I always suggest doing your own hair and makeup. It’s important for you to feel like yourself.

My Studio Setup

I’ve been getting a lot of messages from photographers about my setup, so I wanted to make a little blog post about it. Here I am focusing on the technical aspect of what I do in the studio, not the artistic process involved. I think everyone’s artistic process is different, and it’s important for photographers to develop their own process through their own curiosity.

STUDIO SPACE + LIGHTING

First of all, I shoot out of my apartment. It’s a lofted space with 17 foot ceiling. There’s a big window facing outside with no buildings across, so it lets in a lot of light during the day. So I mostly use natural light for the studio sessions. Sometimes I play with strobes, but it’s rare. It’s a north facing window, so the light stays pretty soft all throughout the day. The sheer curtain provides a little diffusion, but not too much.

Here’s the view of the setup from where I shoot:

Christina Clark  from New York City Ballet

Christina Clark from New York City Ballet

Sometimes I’ll place a v-flat on the opposite side to soften the shadows or darken the shadows. It just depends on the mood you want to go for. I stay as far back to the back wall—about 14-16 feet (a bit of a guess) from the dancer. I try to get as much distance away from the dancer as possible.

BACKDROP

Here’s the list of equipment I use for the backdrop. I get most of my photo equipment from B&H.

  1. Impact Varipole Support System

  2. Manfrotto Single Base x2

  3. A-clamp

  4. Gaffer tape

  5. Savage Seamless Paper 86”

I try to keep about 10 different backdrop colors. I know I am not suppose to store them horizontally to prevent creasing, but I store them horizontally on top of the closet space we have.

I use about 2-3 colors in a session. I usually change them by myself—the only part I need help is when I roll it down—it helps a lot when you have somebody roll the paper on the bottom as you roll the paper down from the pole.

View from upstairs

View from upstairs

CAMERA

I use Sony a7 iii + Sigma 50mm Art for all the studio sessions. Because it’s diffused natural light, I usually keep my ISO at 800, f / 2.8, and vary the shutter speed. Sometimes if there is more light, I’ll drop down to ISO 400 as long as my shutter speed can be fast enough.

SESSION

I use Capture One Pro for tethered shooting. For most of the session I play some chill vibe music. The sessions last about 2.5 to 3 hours on average. I usually end up with 2,000+ photos due to the way my process works. I narrow down to about 300 and deliver.

POST-PROCESSING

After the session, I import all the photos into Lightroom. I like how Lightroom manages photos. It makes the sorting + editing process easier for me. I use VSCO Preset + little tweaks to create the look I want. The grainy look comes from the preset—but you can also make your own on Lightroom. I usually end up having to fix the backdrop in post. Here’s an example (Dancer pictured: Remy Young from ABT)

Adobe Standard, ISO 800, f/2.8, 1/400

Adobe Standard, ISO 800, f/2.8, 1/400

VSCO Preset + tweaks

VSCO Preset + tweaks

Backdrop fixed in Photoshop

Backdrop fixed in Photoshop