Category Archives: Street Photography

The Good (She)pherd – Oakland Zoo, CA (Canon 5D MkII)

 

This is one of my all-time favorite shots. Prior to this, I hadn’t even touched my cameras in months. Livi, my family, and I went to the Oakland Zoo as a learning experience for my nephew, Ariston. During the trip my brother-in-law, Mark, brought his newly gifted Canon 5d Mark II and was snapping away at giraffes, lions, and howler monkeys. Then, we walked in to the petting zoo barn and I saw this tiny, fleeting moment. A true H.C.B moment.

With the quickness, I borrowed the 5d Mark II in my hand, pretended I was interested in photographing the goat, and snapped this ONE photo. I felt like Clint Eastwood only less beard-y, more Asian, and less likely to talk to a chair. It felt good getting this shot. It was reassurance that YEAAA BABY! I STILL GOT IT! DADDY STILL GOT THEM MOVES!

I just love the ray of light beaming down on the little girl and the goat. Looks like it jumped off the page of “The Bible: For KIDZ” magazine – which I totally just invented just now.

Baby Jesus

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Filed under DSLR, Street Photography

WERKIN’ At The Car Wash (Yea!) – Sunnyvale, CA (Fuji X10)

One boring night in 2012 I stood up in bed, scratched my head and said, dammnit, I miss street shooting. So I went out and alleviated my artistic thirst. I drove around Sunnyvale at 12am and happened upon this brightly colored DIY car wash.one_12 one_11 one_10 one_9 one_8 one_7 one_6 one_3

 

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At The Recycled Bookstore: Campbell, CA (Fuji X100)

livi boks photobooks cat books

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Between Classes: San Francisco State University, CA (Fuji X10)

illuminated red phone sleeping on campus1

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Life In Death: Santa Clara Cemetery And Mortuary (Fuji X10)

A trip to the cemetery can be an eyeball full of beauty and wonder. Heaps of gorgeous statues and decaying flowers but mainly the question of: when will my time come?

DSCF4575-2DSCF4626

This was such a beautifully timed photo. I came to this cemetery on a whim and found a perfect ray of sun on the altar.

DSCF4613

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Where Porcelain Dolls Go To Die: Inside Curiousities, A Vintage Store (Fuji X100)

A month ago I stepped into the odd world of Curiosities, a vintage store in Dallas, Texas. Speckled throughout the collection of taxidermy and early 1900’s medical supplies (DIY liver transplant, anyone?) were porcelain dolls. They hung out like mini bouncers ready to follow you around each corner. The collection of stuff was meticulously random, like a Jackson Pollock painting but instead of throwing paint on canvas, they dumped vintage photographs and porcelain knick-knacks. Here are some of the characters I found:

armless soldier doll vintage lady doll head lady cracked face

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Filed under Blind Fire/Shooting From The Hip, Details, My Life, Out And About, Scenes From, Special, Street Photography

One Last Time: My Last Trip To San Francisco (Fuji X100)

 

Before my permanent move to Texas I felt a duty festering deep in my soul to visit the city one last time. With my second-hand Fujifilm x100 and Polaroid Automatic Land Camera 360 in hand, I  spent hours walking around releasing any fears of separation at the tail end of the shutter sound.

 

These are my shots from the X100 in their full form, void of any image compression *cough*Facebook*cough* and commentary.

*exhale*
ariston oops-2 beanie silhouettespace legs blonde hairfinancial street walkschinatown buskbuilding light hard times hiding pop art

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Filed under My Life, Out And About, Paparazzi Style, People, Street Photography

The Midnight Soldier – My Brief Encounter with Raman, The 49ers Stadium Security Guard

When you grow up like I did, staying up late into the AMs playing video games and watching music videos on
Youtube, you start to redefine what night time actually is. For some, like my mom and perhaps the rest of the sane
world, night time is somewhere around an hour after sunset and about 9pm. For me, night time settles in at about
12:01am.

There’s something about crossing into the AM that just changes things. The air smells different —  like smoking
firewood from a nearby campfire — trees turn into ominous, black silhouettes and anyone you see jogging by
or taking a night stroll feels immediately dangerous and suspicious. But that’s just what the darkness does. So
naturally, exploring and adventuring around this time gets even more fun as the mundane things of everyday
suddenly turn obscure, waiting for you to uncover them.

Fascinated by bright lights at night, one night I drove over to the construction site where they are currently
building the new San Francisco 49ers football stadium in Santa Clara. Tripod mounted with my Polaroid
Automatic Land Camera 360, I stood outside the chain linked fence and scoped out possible shots. After two
or three, I saw a security guard emerge from a parked car. He looked at me. And I looked at him. We nodded
to each other, and he walked towards me.

Asking what I was up to, I showed him my camera. He seemed interested but to my great surprise, he didn’t seem
to care that I was up this late taking pictures, nor did he care that I was standing around in a raggedy shirt, short
shorts and a mismatching bath robe. After talking about my camera, we discussed for an hour about everything:
work, school, finding a job, and even football, despite the fact that I know very little about it.

I wanted to take a picture of him at the time but unfortunately, I only had color film which was ISO 100 so I knew
I had to return and see him again to have another midnight chat. So I did. I came back the following week, same day
and around the same time, and there he was again. His name is Raman and he’s a college student who works the
graveyard shift as a security guard while attending classes in the day time. He’s currently studying computer science.
These are some of our conversations:

Scanned negative taken from the positive (shown above.) I love how much of the detail and black levels are preserved: the rifts in his turban, parts of his beard and the building itself.

Me: Do you have to stay up the entire time?
Raman: Yea, but you get used to it, ya know?
Me: Do you drink coffee or something or what? How do you stay up the whole time?
Raman: The first time, you do. I like drank hella red bulls n shit, but after you get used to it and it’s nothing. I just
watch movies and shows n shit while I’m waiting.
Me: Your boss is cool about it?
Raman: Yea, he knows wassup.
Me: Yea, I mean, it’s not like there’s a whole lot going on so it should be understandable.

Me: Do you eat anything while you’re here?
Raman: Nah, we don’t get a lunch.
Me: FORREALS?! Why not?
Raman: We have to be on the watch the whole time so we can’t leave. But we can bring food if we want. I just don’t
eat. I’m trying to bulk up though.
Me: Yea? Been working out?
Raman: Yea man, but it’s hard because I barely get any sleep, and you know how your muscles grow over night n
shit
Me: Yea, yea, my girlfriend used to work at Vitamin Shoppe so she knew all about that stuff

(talking about his annoying ex-coworker)
Raman: Yea dude, he was a fuckin bitch.
Me: How so?
Raman: One time, I thought I was running late so I called my boss and was like “Yo, I’m on my way but I’ll be
there in like five minutes.” So I drive up and just as I’m about to park my car, my coworker is standing there with his
watch and complains to my boss about me being one minute late. I’m like, forreals?
Me: What did your boss do?
Raman: He had to give me a warning. It’s part of his job though, ya know?

FP-3000 Negative that stuck to the back of one of my shots. Caused that weird pattern

Raman: Some of these construction workers make like, $80,000 a year.
Me: Damn! That’s hella crazy! But I mean, they’re doing incredibly physical work. And it’s also very dangerous
Raman: Yea, exactly. They be hanging on this wire thing hella high up in the air while they’re welding shit. I’m
like, awww, fuck that!
Me: haha! Yea man, its almost like, shit, if I can make that kind of money, why go to school?
Raman: I know, right? Make hella bank.

Raman: So what kinda camera is that?
Me: It’s an old Polaroid film camera from the 1960’s.
Raman: That’s sick yo. Does it take hella nice pictures or what?
Me: It does. The thing that I also like about film is that it’s more permanent. You really only get one shot to
get it right. So you cherish your photos more and they’re more meaningful and sentimental.
Raman: Yea, I remember in 2nd grade our teacher had one of those old polaroid cameras and she took a
picture of me, and I think I still have it somewhere in one of my binders or something, haha.
Me: See?
Raman: Yea man, that’s pretty sick

The friendship that Raman and I shared was an interesting one. He’s a sports guy, I’m an artsy nerd. He’s into
computer science while I do communication studies. In a sad way, in our every day life we probably would
never hang out together. But in this instance, we did. Like a stray cat finding a caged dog behind a chain link
fence, that grid of metal served as this physical and symbolic representation of our separate worlds. Worlds
that normally do not collide. Worlds where, had it been daylight, we might not even recognize each other. And by
the mysterious powers of the darkness of night, we shared an intimate yet comforting conversation for just those
two nights.

Goodnight Raman, and good luck in all your endeavors.

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Filed under Full Framed, Men, My Life, Out And About, People, Polaroid, Special, Street Photography, Summer, The man/woman behind the job

Fanime 2013: Where Perverted Virgins and Artists Collide!

Ah, Fanime… the only time of the year when you can walk around downtown San Jose wearing a lolita dress and
not have people suspect that you’re a hardcore weeaboo. But alas, Fanime was today and it brought out all of the
bay area’s nerdiest and most creative minds under one wet blanket. Being the cheap ass that I am, I just roamed
the halls and outskirts of the convention looking for cosplayers with some pizazz. Oddly enough, I actually wasn’t
too thrilled to be shooting there.

You see, ever since I transitioned into film/polaroid photography my shooting style has changed. So while nerd
1, 2 and 384 were all photographing the same girl, DSLRs click-clacking faster than Michael J. Fox in tap shoes,
I pretty much had one chance to get it right. Equipped with 1 pack of Fuji FP-100C color film, 1 pack of fp-3000b
black and white and one roll of Portra 400 in my Olympus Stylus Epic, I had to be very selective with who I
photographed and how. Take this shot for example:

First off, I thought her Catwoman was fantastic. The stitching looked legit and the expressions were
pretty damn spot on. She was even hanging out against the wall like one of those stray cats you might see
in an alley. However, due to the low speed of film (100 ISO) I was forced to really grip down on my camera
and stabilize it as much as possible. A bit blurry for my taste but the silver lining is that popping red against
the blue hazed tones. I also bleached the negative which has a very 80’s-ish vibe – no?

It totally reminds of those thin, outdated hairstyle booklets that almost every Vietnamese barber shop owns.
Gerri curl, anybody? Digressions aside, the con was a little disappointing to be honest. Everyone seemed to be
dressed as the same damn thing and no one really went there. It was all just a bunch of Lolitas, obscure
characters who look like they could be from any damn anime — I mean seriously, how original do you look wearing
an Asian schoolgirl outfit? — and even more annoying was the bukkake of Princess Zeldas and Links gossiping
around their makeshift deku tree.

This was one of the few Zeldas that I actually bought into. She totally stayed in character the whole time and had
demure hand gestures as if her hand were a dolphin skipping away.

See what I mean? This kinda shit is cool. Squatting over a bird shit-stained light post just to give your fans a
good shot? BALLIN! And the black chick has that confidence that bodes well with Black widow.

Being the only polaroid photographer that day, I got quite a few compliments and questions about my camera.
After taking a photo of miss Pochahontas over here, some dude popped out of the trees like Slenderman and
was like “cool camera!” We chatted for a bit about film photography, he told me about his film background
and he eventually gave me his business card. Check out their fantastic work!

One of the moments that truly stuck out to me was when I saw Zero Suit Samus. When I came up to take a
picture of her I noticed this Super-Cholo dude with his hood lookin’ buddy asking to have their photo taken
with her. Arms around her shoulder, they cheesed as the other brother snapped away on their camera phone.
Now, I’m not going to say they were out of place since who knows, those guys could be closeted weeboos,
but what I did take note of was her expression.

Her face was cringing when they were touching her; it was as if she were 5 years old again and her parents
were trying to feed her vegetables. Maybe other people didn’t see it, but I know I did. It was subtle, but it
was definitely there. I guess when you do street photography you end up training your eye to notice
microscopic moments: a bright red high heel on cold pavement, a little child dancing in a pocket of
sunlight or the forced smile of a woman trying to maintain her composure. Which brings me to my final
point of this drawn out post: IS Cosplay consent?

I love how much dynamic range is restored when you scan the negatives of fp-3000b. Pro tip: DON’T keep your unpeeled pictures close together or they will magically warm up and somehow get sticky, leaving this weird pattern that you see.

Oh, what the hell am I saying? Of course Cosplay isn’t consent! Yes, some of these women are dressed more
minimalistic
than your average hooters girl, but the outfit a woman wears should never dictate whether a man
(or rather, a boy) has the right to touch her in any way. Come to think about it, most of the photographers that
were there seemed rather pervy. I kinda just took my shots and walked away while these other peeping toms
looked like they were completely getting off with their camera lenses. WHY DO YOU LADIES EVEN COME
HERE?! SAVE YOURSELVES! LEAVE, NOW!

I kid, I kid. But in all honesty it does make me wonder: during these types of conventions where you have
women dressed up as characters, is there something about the environment that makes guys feel like it’s
okay to touch women? Or should we just learn to expect this behavior from virgin boys who claim to have
reached first base when in reality, an elderly German lady simply patted down their jeans during a TSA
inspection. It really goes to show you that both nerds and jocks can be assholes.

Oh, and I also saw Ironman.

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Filed under Details, Models, Out And About, People, Photoshoots, Polaroid, Rants, Street Photography, Summer, Women

Do I LOOK Like A Terrorist? My First Photography Heckler

You know those nights when the sky just feels pitch black? Like the uncertain darkness of an Mc Escher sky, you
wonder what is up there, hiding and spying on you.

I had on chunky basketball shorts, a paper-thin t-shirt and a fuzzy Star Wars themed bathrobe my girlfriend
got me for Christmas. I probably drove around for 2 full hours trying to find something worth photographing,
anything at all, really. I remembered a bridge and overpass that looked photogenic during the day so I wondered
how amazing it might look at night.

So there I was, feeling almost naked in my bathrobe with my Polaroid 360 on a tripod on the corner of the road
trying to get a shot. Then a white van pulled up to my left and in front of a house. I looked back and noticed an
older Chinese man who looked at me and without hesitation shouted out to me.

Chinese Man: HEY!
*my head turns to him*
Chinese Man: WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!
Me: I’m taking a picture
Chinese Man: OF WHAT?!
Me: The street
Chinese Man: FOR WHAT?
*I kept thinking he said “of what”*
Me: The street!
Chinese Man: FOR. WHAT?!
Me: Nothing. I’m a local photographer
Chinese Man: *in a very sarcastic tone* So… YOU’RE  a local photographer taking a picture of THE STREET?

At this point I became fed up with his CSI interrogation of me and decided to bark back.

Me: YES! THAT’S WHAT I SAID!

He shut up, I turned back to my camera, took a shot and this is what I got.

I kinda like it. The blacks in this shot truly do capture the essence of the blackness of that night. As I walked back
to my car and drove away, I noticed the Chinese man peeking through a small crack in his front door, checking to
see if I were up to no good.

Do I really look that criminal? Perhaps I shouldn’t dress up like such a crazy person in a bathrobe at 1am and maybe
I won’t be so “suspicious” looking.

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Filed under My Life, Out And About, Polaroid, Street Photography