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Postcards from Laomei Green Reef, Taiwan

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Hello from Lao Mei, Taiwan.

It’s so nice to be back in Taiwan revisiting old nooks and discovering new places on this island that feels like home every time I am back. I think the beauty of going away is being able to come back and look at things with a new perspective and fresh lens. There are many memories I have from Asia and they grows richer with each trip.

I took the liberty of the Labour Day holiday and drove out to the North coast with friends. Taiwan is small yet I never cease to be amazed by the diverse landscapes and lush beauty the island seems to hold.

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Laomei Green Reef: A seaweed carpet formed by a type of algae that grows on the reef from April to May before the summer heat hits the coast. I have never seen such curious plants and might have taken a photo too many. taiwan_lao_mei_green_stones-12engagement_photography_taiwan_taipei
Chasing the light with Albert and Liz

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My squinty friend
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I have a few more days left here and it is always a fun battle between savouring moments like a local or taking photos like an unapologetic tourist. I leave feeling full from the warmth of the culture here and am excited to head back to Canada with a deeper understanding of Asia.

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And this is where I leave you.

Three tips on Photography and Styling

scanteak_canada_gastown-17.jpgI get many questions on photography and styling so I thought I will share some tips here along with photos from a recent shoot for Scanteak.

There is no greater joy than the moments on set where you get to be behind the camera, working with your hands and finishing a project with a feeling of great contentment.

Here they are: scanteak_purebread_gastown-5.jpg

1. Keep it simple, work on composition and utilize white space
I am guilty of over-preparing for every set even now but I am always surprised how a good space, ample planning and fresh beautiful props go a very long way. As Phil Hansen says ” “We need to first be limited in order to become limitless.” You don’t need a lot to create magic but it does take some practice and honing to create a refined look. Remember that imperfection is beautiful too.

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2. Choose your light carefully
Lighting, lighting, lighting! Photography is all about lighting. You can shoot the most wonderful set in bad light and it will be 😦
I love working with natural light, by a large window and preferably during a time when there is no direct sunlight hitting the subject. If I am shooting indoors I always ask  to turn off  certain lights as multiple light sources can distract and change the tone of your photos.

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A few my favourite creatives: @verdenius, @cafe_no_ma, MUJI and Azuma Makoto

3. Put together a mood/vision board
If you are an indecisive person like me (I can never decide on pho or sushi, too hard!), a good trick is sketch your concepts, put together a mood or vision board, print it and take it to the shoot. It’s very helpful having a visual guide on set and you also save time communicating to people(example: bring me a chair that looks like this!).

Other than that, planning, creating a shot list, getting inspiration and getting hands on practice is always a good thing. And of course, rules are meant to be broken so take these tips with a grain of salt and trust your gut. As the wonderful Rumi says:

Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.

scanteak_canada-6.jpgLeave any questions here and I’ll get back to you!

Photography, art direction and styling by me

Summer in Vancouver

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English Bay, the place of pretty sunsets

This coming month marks three years of me being in Canada. Three crazy years of going down this creative journey that’s often crazy but always fun.

I’m at this season where I feel happily overwhelmed by life and work and it’s kind of amazing. If you ask me a thousand times why I take photos I will say it’s because the world is beautiful and that there are many stories waiting to be told.

I like about how nice it is to be alive and living in a place where I have the liberty to create and write about things that matter. I hope to never take these things for granted.

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The summer is being very wonderful and I am loving all the light it brings. So much colour and time to shoot and see. And you know it’s precious because it doesn’t stick around 🙂
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Here are a few shots from my neighbourhood, city and portraits of lovley people.

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Light and shadows – this is my favourite balcony in Vancouver
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And because it is nice to share  – here are a few books I’m currently loving:  Rework by Jason Fried(great left brain strategy for creatives), A Wilder Life (Good book with plant solutions for daily life) and Miss Peregrine’s home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. I’ve always been inspired by children books and writers since I’m making my own. I’m trying read every book I can get my hands on—they’re great. Miss Peregrine will be coming out in theatre and of course anything directed by Tim Burton is a must see.
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If you’re looking for me – I will be by the beach.english_bay
Here’s to a wonderful summer!

Photo of me by Michiko
Pants and Black Lace Espadrilles from Zara
Stripe Top from Joe Fresh
Beach Blanket from Scout and Catalogue

Lorraine Sui – A Photo Shoot

One of the best feelings in the world are those moments of serendipity where you find yourself working with people you met years ago in coffee shops.

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This campaign was shot with Flowmarq for Lorraine Sui – a mom and daughter team who came together through their love for fashion and designed this adorable collection of bags for the everyday girl.

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 I got to meet the mother and daughter Judy and Natalie on the day of the shoot and learned that the bags are actually a creative result of Natalie’s journey with Autism.
Despite their challenges – Judy fully embraces her daughter’s neurodiversity and believes in her ability to create and come up with practical solutions for daily life. The bags are designed practically but meant to inspire and encourage you to live colourfully and to live out loud.
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This project was themed around color and playfulness and we had a lot of fun putting together ideas, location scouting, prop shopping, juice drinking and working with models in crazy hot weather even for Vancouver.

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 It’s those moments you have in your career where you plan and edit way into the night with too many glasses of wine but there’s no other work you’d rather be doing even though you’re always sleep deprived. It was fun.
I might have taken too many selfies during the day but I’m glad to step out the comfort of a studio and work with a team that puts much effort into executing a creative vision. It’s really rewarding watching your creative ability expand as you work with other people. Judy and Natalie are looking to open a shop in Gastown, Vancouver and I am stoked for them every step of the way.
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 Till next time.
Models: Kirstyn and Caylene
Art direction + photography: Me
Makeup: Winnie wu
In partnership with: Flowmarq
Special thanks to our friends at: The Juice Truck

Postcards from New York

brooklyn_bridge_nyc_sophia_hsin (1 of 1)Hai Brooklyn Bridge

Remember when you were little and read all the E.B.White books and watched the sailboat race in Stuart Little and decided that you wanted to go to Central Park and visit New York for yourself?

The New York I met this winter was crowded, incredibly hot (I’m talking about 20 Celsius in December here) and a few shades grittier than I imagined. But the moment you find yourself in a city you’ve had on your travel list for so long is the moment you believe you can do anything you put your mind to. It’s a girl boss moment.

I love waking up in a new city to the twitchy feeling in your stomach because you know there are so many new things to try and places to explore.

Here are a few favourite photos from this trip.

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The Egyptian exhibition was beyond cool and I stood here and took like 10,000 photos.

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Eats with the lovely Nana. Yes, the food is as good as it looks and Whyte Hotel is probably my favourite non-minimal hotel ever.

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Brooklyn Bridge

Tourist check.

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Not going to lie, I can live off coffee and milk bar ice cream.

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Totokaelo 

Cooler than the one in Seattle. Unrealistic wardrobe goals check.

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Came here for marbled tables and photogenic matches lattes.

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Bakeri
My future home is going to have this lightning. Plus Williamsburg is the neatest hood for shops and coffee ever.

Thanks to Justin for showing me around. Too bad we came on a cloudy day and missed the window light. The sculpture with the creepy dead cat is worth checking out though.

That’s all for now. And for what I haven’t photographed here’s to more future trips.

Till next time New York City, you were a dream.

Shirt from COS, ZARA. Photo 1 of me by Nana. Everything else by me.

The universe is a beautiful place

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Sometimes in life things fall together in a way that is totally unexpected.

It can be as simple as meeting a new friend while grocery shopping or complicated like a series of unfortunate events that lead to other beautiful things.

As a kid, I’ve always loved Harry Potter (all seven of them, so sad they’re over). The world of magic where there seems to be unlimited possibility. The feeling that you can live in constant awe like Harry’s first time at the candy shop. I’ve come to realize in a way that magic isn’t limited to waving a wand or wearing a wizard hat. It’s not travelling to the end of the world nor as terrifying as taking a giant step into the unknown.

It is simply finding magic in the most simple and random places and trusting that it all comes together in the end. There’s definitely magic to that.

In some way, it’s like someone is out there orchestrating all these things and all we have to do is to live and to tell them well. It can be anything or anywhere you want. It’s something that keeps me really excited.

The universe is a beautiful place.

Note: This photo was taken on the Amtrak to Seattle, The train broke down on the way back and we were stuck on a platform in the middle of nowhere and there was nothing left to do than to make conversation with the person sitting next to you. That person turned out to be a retired pilot who’s travelled the world. I’ve heard that he’s recently picked up photography and continues to travel the world. That, my friends, is a mysterious and wonderful thing.

Croissants, Photos and Farewell to Summer

Here are photos from a recent shoot with Bakery Sate– a little French bakery and cafe in the Vancouver.

They have the most heavenly selection of croissants. Butter, chocolate, almond, double baked almond, matcha, cheese..everything you can think of that goes with a croissant.

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I love going through the process of planning every shoot – set up, tear down, working for the right lighting and composition. It’s a thrill being able to come up with ideas and finding a way to make them come alive.

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It’s also immensely satisfying getting to eat your work after.

Can you believe that summer is already over?

Looking forward to the change in season, not too stoked about the Vancouver rain but am excited to work with the different array of moods and colours.

Hope everyone’s had a great summer.