Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Urizar Wedding

I was really looking forward to tape Crissa and Oscar's Wedding. I have known Crissa from taping her sister's wedding and her sister's friend's wedding, so I was really grateful and excited that she had approached us to tape her wedding too.

I love how her wedding was very untraditional, unique and fun. This was my first time being at a vineyard and being at Park Farm Winery. It was so breathtaking. And as usual, Joan Ney, the wedding coordinator, blew my mind away with her magic touch. There were so much details in this wedding, each decor had its own unique meaning. She was extremely dedicated to her job, I wasn't even sure if she sat down and ate her dinner, as she was always on her feet making sure everything ran fine. I really adore her dedication and talent. She really is one of a kind.

We also enjoyed the opportunity to work with Paul and Nicole from Catchlight Imaging. They happened to be friends of my ex-colleague. I love their pictures - extraordinary! Every now and then, we were lucky to run into photographers who too respect the work of videographers :).

It was such a beautiful day for Crissa and Oscar's outdoor wedding. You could tell that everyone really enjoyed themselves and was having lots of fun, even though it was hot. I always tell people that when I do video shoots, I always feel like I know these people, partly because I have an upclose and personal view. Just like when you watched your favorite TV show and you happened to run into the star of the show on the street. There are weddings where you can feel that there was more passion and connection between the couple and their families. This was one of those weddings. Crissa and Oscar were so in love, I think people who were there felt that. And their families were very close and supportive. I felt really happy to be around them and to be capturing the most important day of their lives.

At some point, I was very disappointed with myself when I was caught off guard with a brief attack of heat exhaustion. I was very concerned if I was able to last through the whole wedding. I was also very thankful that my new assistant, Nick, was there to help me out with all the heavy equipment. I have never seen anyone work so hard and have such great work attitude. I was not even intending to hire an assistant for this wedding, but I was really glad I did. I really did not think anyone would exceed my expectations, but he did.

Thank you, Crissa and Oscar, for having us at your wedding!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Martin Wedding Highlight Video

I love doing weddings in Cedar Falls where I don't even need to print a map to know where I am going. I don't really mind the 1.5 hour drive. I was very hyped and inspired to shoot this wedding after watching the Tony Romo wedding video. It gives me some new ideas to try out and to improve. I can tell you that every wedding I shoot, I do get nervous. I see it as a good thing because I care a lot about weddings. I can't help it, it is a live event and I need to get it right the first time. My goal is always to exceed a bride's expectations, to capture the details that she was too overwhelmed to notice. I wanted someone to watch my video and say "wow". I feel like I am still getting there but I know I will get there.

This wedding has so much beautiful details that I wish I had more time to capture. First of all, my assistant arrived half an hour late, I almost felt that I was better off if he didn't show up. Hence, I was in such a rush setting up all the cameras, talking about the standing positions and lighting with the wedding coordinator and capturing some details around the church... all in one hour!

I love, love, love Samantha's entrance at the ceremony. The music, her coming down the stairs... The Heartland Vineyard Church is indeed a beautiful church, with a great sound system and nice theater seating. The people are absolutely wonderful and very helpful.

And I love doing weddings at Pipac Park Place Event Center too. It's probably the most beautiful location for a reception in Cedar Falls. And Joan Ney did a great job with the decorations at both the church and the reception. I am always excited to shoot a wedding when she is the coordinator. I haven't seen anyone else with such talent, putting together such a beautiful and elegant wedding. I am excited to shoot another of her wedding coming up in just 2 weeks!

For some reasons, I always run into some friends when I shoot weddings in Cedar Falls. Like the whole 6 degrees from Kevin Bacon. By the way, I swear I am 2 or 3 degrees from him.

Weddings are stressful to me because I want to do a very good job. I am very attached to the weddings I do. I can't help crying after listening to the vows and the speeches. But it is an amazing feeling to be able to work with and be surrounded by such wonderful people. That is why I'm still doing them.

I was actually upset while driving home from shooting this wedding. I thought I had found THE assistant to help me out on shoots. I have been trying out several but none had worked out. This assistant might have good technical skills but not only was he late (contract stated punctuality is very important), he had some attitude issues and was not enthusiastic to perform. It's really hard to shoot a wedding video and hold someone's hand at the same time. I understand most people work for the money, but it is important to love what you do because your work shows. I am a picky employer, I have no doubt about that. But anyone who has seen my work would know that I put a lot of heart into it. I just do not settle for low quality or bad attitude, it would be wasting my client's time and money if their shots are unuseable. I haven't been using assistants for that long, in fact I have done weddings by myself for many years. I think it's time I run a one-woman show again.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Esau Wedding Highlight Video

It was forecasted to rain on June 25, 2011. I even got rain covers ready for my equipment. But strangely enough, there was no sign of rain and it turned out to be a perfect day for the Esau Wedding.
The wedding took place at the Immanuel Lutheran Church in Guthrie Center, IA. It was a very small church and camera placement was very limited. Cara was looked simply radiant in her dress. It was an emotional day seeing the father of the bride teared up. Brandon occasionally couldn't hold it in as well. There were some laughs at the ceremony, with the pastor describing how he received a LONG detailed email of the wedding schedule and him dropping the rings right before handing them to the couple, it made the ceremony an unforgettable one. It was a "Wild Weddings" moment.
Cara and Brandon then took off in an unique double decker bus, which I have never seen before in Iowa. We arrived at the Lake Panorama Conference Center and the inside just took my breath away. What beautiful decor - the lanterns, the flowers, the name cards, the cake... everything in great details. Due to the tight schedule, I managed to sneak them out of the reception hall to do some private shoots. They were really great to work with, very organized, flexible and understanding. You know they are people who treasure relationships when you see the room filled with their friends and families who have traveled far from all over the States to attend their wedding. I was happy to be apart of it. Thanks Cara and Brandon!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A little visitor

It had been 3 years since our friend, Ling and her husband Vincent had left us for China. While they were there, they had an addition to their family, little Miss Serena. This was the first time we got to meet her and she was turning 2!

Don't you just love her curls!

Even though dealing with jetlag, this little one was a little ball of energy!

All the little friends taking a pic together.

My favorite pic of the day - little Serena was due for a nap.

And then her second wind kicked in.

Little Evan sitting up all by himself.

What a cheerful little boy!

The iPad - Vincent's life saver handling little Serena on the 1-day flight. It was a great day, it was great to see all our friends. Miss my friend, Ling though, she didn't come back on this trip.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Who is your photographer/videographer?

I love posting pictures and videos on my blog but I realize that part of blogging is telling your story and that seems to be missing from my blog. So I've decided to start by sharing something about myself.

I come from a little country called Singapore. It's not part of China, nor is it close to China. I do get that alot. In fact, it's somewhat close to Australia, Indonesia and Malaysia, it's that little dot right at the equator. Yes, the toilet flushes anticlockwise (or as you say it here "counterclockwise") there. Somewhat similar in culture with China, nobody is raised to become an artist. You can be really good at something, but you have to "realistic" on what would put food on the table.

The very first ever compliment I got was from my primary school vice-president whom I had photographed when I was twelve. She said I'd make a good photographer. Honestly even at that age, it was nice to get a compliment, I had never really put much thought to it.

I considered being in a photography club in secondary school but I wasn't interested in the dark room. I then went to a polytechnic to pursue business studies. My mentality was that I wouldn't go wrong with a business major since anything we do would be related to businesses.

I graduated at 19 and started working as a shipping officer for Shimano, a Japanese bike parts manufacturing company. If you have a good bike, it will have Shimano parts in it. I loved it there, everything was great - great people, free transportation, free uniform (no need to worry what to wear for work!), free lunch, great employee activities etc. We were very well taken care of there. I had learned to deal with a lot of stress and focusing on work details. I'm a spelling-nazi. I think if you can't spell, you probably should be refrained from graduating. Spelling is an important part of communicating. In this job, any spelling error in a shipping document would prevent the importer from getting their goods. It was that serious. We worked long hours, sometimes over holidays. We had to talk with our customers all over the world - Taiwan, Belgium, United States etc. Believe me, it wasn't pretty when Taiwanese customers started yelling at you. I knew it was time to move on when I started getting constant nightmares about shipment problems. So I decided it was time to pursue my dream.

At 21, I sat my father down with a financial plan of a university I wanted to attend in the States. I wanted to study in the US since I was 16 but I was too young then, my parents didn't think I was ready. I had never held a video camera and I wanted to study film. I wanted to do something that will make people feel good at the end of the day and that is what movies did to me. Several of the film programs needed existing credits for taking video classes in high school, which I lacked of. I also wanted to challenge myself in extreme conditions in every opportunity - so I chose a place that had very cold winters, that had a 1% asian population (where I would live as a minority), that was surrounded by farm lands (the only cows I've seen were at the zoo). A place that was completely different from where I came from. If I can handle this, I can handle anything. So I ended up at the University of Northern Iowa for their electronic media program.

The surreal moment came only when I boarded the plane at the Singapore airport. I started to ask myself "what in the world am I doing?". I had to calm myself down and remind myself that "there is no right or wrong path and everything that we do only shapes who we are". And with that, I studied very hard for 2.5 years (as my dad paid for my tuition, my goal was to graduate at the fastest possible speed), taking the maximum 18 to 21 credit hours and working the maximum 20 hours for international students on campus as a custodian and computer lab attendant. I finally graduated with a summa cum laude.

Upon graduation, I was lucky to get an entry level job as an audio specialist at The Mudd Group - an advertising firm in Cedar Falls that does car commercials. I worked my way up to become an Avid video editor, sometimes churning out 6 to 8 TV commercials in a day. It was a great place to work at, I love my colleagues, they were the best! We would have BBQs on some work days. That was also where I met my future husband - the nerdy computer programmer who sat in his cubicle all day.

We got married in June 2004 and did not have a large budget for our wedding. Being raised in a different culture, I did not think I need a "princess" wedding, it was more important to just have friends and families to share the day with us. So we just had a small ceremony and reception in a tent in our backyard. We were also saving up money for a trip to Singapore for a "second wedding" and to get our wedding pictures taken there. We had looked all over town but nothing came close to the quality work you would find in Singapore. So we decided to have a friend take our pictures with our cameras. I even searched the internet and prepared an idea shot sheet (little picture thumbnails) on how I wanted my pictures to look. I also traded video services with another friend who was getting married the week after us. So the result was atroucious. I had never blamed my friends because it was a bad decision on our part. We really appreciated their time and effort to help. If anything, I would thank them for it because it was instantly clear to me what I wanted to do with my life. I knew I can do it and do it well.

A year after my wedding, I finally quit my job and started my own photography and videography company. Because my standards are so high, it is difficult for me to even find an assistant that will match what I do. Till today, I still run everything by myself. Much of what I do for both photography and videography was self-taught. My father is an entrepreneur. He started off as a sewing machine sales person and an electrician but his work had evolved to engraving by hand and now engraving by computers on bulk jobs for large companies. He was an inspiration to me and my business because with very little education, my dad was able to teach himself, relearn, change and evolve with the economy. I truly believe that is where my company will be heading. My pictures and videos looked a ton different now than when I first started out. I look for new ideas and invest in new equipment to keep up with the trends. I have a broad perspective on an international level, not just on a local level; I love to see work of artists all over the world. I believe in lifetime education for me to stay current and relevant. Even though I didn't end up in Hollywood, I ended up somewhere better.

Iowa is an extraordinary place. I have met people who have cared for me like I was family. Strangers are open and friendly. People are not preoccupying their lives with technologies,.. well some people. And people are polite and very appreciative. And what better place to raise a family than in Iowa.

Well, that is the summary of this photographer/videographer. I've spent enough time blogging... time to log off and spend time with my kids. Cheers!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Schaudt Wedding

Highlight video of the Schaudt Wedding - June 11, 2011 Saturday (Ames, Iowa)

East Coast Park

It was the school holidays and the kids were able to spend time with their cousins at the beach.

A beautiful location - quiet and airplanes coming by every 5 minutes.

Connor pointing at the airplane above.