Thuy, John & Girls 2008.12

thuy, john & the girls family portrait at the beach in front of the montage in south laguna in december 2008, a couple weeks before christmas.

Torrey Pines Gliderport, La Jolla

want to fly? earn your wings in paragliding or hang-gliding at torrey pines gliderport in la jolla, california.

want to be just a passenger? sign up for a tandem flight with one of the highly qualified instructors.

i had a chance to stop in at the gliderport with good friends sunday last week-end. torrey pines gliderport perched high on a cliff over-looking black's beach, adjacent to famed torrey pines golf course in la jolla.

the weather was beautiful and we spent a good hour or so watching paragliders took off and exploring the area immediately next to the gliderport.

if you are visiting the san diego area, be sure to add it as a stop on a good weather day.


Kim-Phuong & Bryan Wedding 2008.07

congratulations to kim-phuong and bryan on tying the knot on 07.27.2008. a big thank to the newly wed couple for choosing fotografiablu as their wedding photojournalist.

they picked in the hacienda a beautiful venue located near the cultural center of orange county, in santa ana. i had previewed the location a few weeks before and liked the outdoor patio ceremony and dining area arrangement a lot when i saw them.

on wedding day, the weather was on the warm side. fifteen minutes into the job and my shirt had already soaked through.

contrasting lighting during the ceremony from the late afternoon sun dappling through tall trees and roof structures proved to be a handfull as the bridal party passed through the small courtyard on their way to the stage.

we took advantage of a small break between the cake-cutting and dinner to take some formal photos of the bride and groom by themselves in front of the hacienda marquis door.

dinner followed by a fantastic performance put on by stevie b. and the band complete with afros who showed us all how to get *down* :) bryan warned us the band would be loud, but it appeared that no one minded.

once again, congratulation kim-phuong and bryan. may your lives together be fill with countless laughters and endless happy moments.


Michelle K Outdoor Session

i met up with michelle an hour or so after leaving ariana's baptism post-ceremony luncheon.

it was a very warm day, and at first we had some issues with the heat until we were able to find a location that suited us both in terms of lighting and shade where we also benefitted from a pleasant breeze. the session was intended as an introduction. i wanted to get a few good head-shots of michelle for my files and for michelle to get started on her portfolio.

i hope to work with michelle on a fashion shoot for a future project.

check out michelle's blog on modelmayhem.

Helen & Kenny

after having to reschedule 3 times due to cloudy afternoons, the 4th time was a charm. i often wanted a variety of scenes and helen and kenny's session was no different. we mixed it up by kicking things off at the carousel and ended with beach photos.

from the start, it was clear that helen and kenny preferred to interact with one another candidly and it was up to me to miss the shots. this was really the best of both worlds.

helen and kenny's chemistry are pretty obvious from the sample takes of the set.

check them out!

Vicki & Andrew

I was taken by their amazing eyes. Even from across the street they glowed like precious turquoise. We had not met in person, but their eyes easily gave them away.

I barely had time to figure out my lighting when Vicki & Andrew gave me wonderful candid opportunities such as the one in the photo above. Click, click...focus wasn't even quite on but this turned out to be one of my favorite photo in the set.

Congratulation Vicki & Andrew on tying the knot just earlier this June (2008).

Good Eats

good eats and drinks are certainly some of the greatest delights in life. often it's not even about the dishes themselves, but about how you get there, where you have them and who you share them with.

check out my new food-photo blog at

thanks to or blame it on television shows like anthony bourdain's no reservations, more than ever, food is something we experience rather than simply consume.

how lucky we truly are those of us who have the fortunes of experiencing food made with love whether from commercial kitchens or home kitchens. and to that, i can think of no better way to applaud my favorite chefs than turning their savory arts into photographic delights.


on photo session week-end i missed khalana on saturday, but was lucky enough to catch her on sunday...

we shot at a park and then moved onto the pier. the sun was contrasty, and while there were a few decent shots for our effort at the park, i like the set in hb a lot better.

needless to say, khalana made my task easy...

thank-you for stopping by, cheers!!!

pier rendez vous

this past week-end was a wonderful week-end to photograph portraits outdoor, indoor, any-door albeit warm. it was 36.5c at 1:30 pm in rancho santa margarita when i was returning to my parents' place after a lengthy haircut in little saigon.

the night before, i went to a concert in la. before that i had photo-session by the pier in san clemente. before that i drove up from san diego to stay in oc for the week-end.

the drive through camp pendleton between oceanside and the check-point near san onofre is nice this time of year. the scorched earth from last year's fire have been replaced by lush green vegetation with blankets of gold and purple wild flowers.

the area around san clemente pier was beautiful. i stopped in on it on my way to my parents'. i continued on smiling ear-to-ear and started to look forward to the afternoon's engagment photo-session with growing excitement.

with only a slight delay, the afternoon session started about 30 mins later than i had scheduled it. but it didn't matter, there was plenty of daylight left for a couple hours worth of work.

i could not have asked for a better couple to photograph this afternoon than mike & elizabeth. they are as nice and wonderful to work with as they are beautiful.

this couple first met on this very pier so we chose it as the location for the enagement photo-session. lets just look:

i hope you will enjoy the photos as much as i have enjoyed making them.

for now, it's a wrap...
good night from la jolla, california.

night tracks

lets just say i miss street photography. i look forward to doing it more. even if it takes me a bit away from other things, i think the therapy will be well worth it!


looking back, i'm still quite impressed with the image quality of the d70s. i think i possibly prefer it over the s5.

to me, the nikon photos just look smoother, almost creamy, in comparison to the fujifilm. ok so pixel count isn't everything. moving on...

nicole is a friend of sort, though not the kind who hangs-out. she is not only beautiful, but smart and is an excellent cook. she likes to reverse engineer dishes at restaurants at home. the love for good food is what we have in common as well as some favorite sushi restaurants in the oc.

in this portrait set, i photographed nicole at her house and in her garden. while i had taken many more portrait sets since...this one set of nicole remains one of my favorite.

i hope you enjoy the photos...


introducing kimberly...
this photo-set isn't from a new photo session. it's from one i have made sometime ago that i haven't blogged. we shot nearly all day that day, at the pool, in laguna beach, and by the beach. kimberly changed her outfit several times for a variety of looks. it was by far one of the longest session i had attempted up to then.

kimberly was a 2005 miss vietnam little saigon contestant. she was easy to work with as she go through her poses without much input from me. these are a few of my favorite photos from that session, one from each setting.
the first two photos (top and left) were taken in kimberly's backyard. it was around noon and the sky was brightly overcast. on this occassion, i made rare use of a reflector. a reflector is my fill of choice, however, more often than not, i find myself taking photos without an assistant and as consequent without a reflector.

we spent a good portion of the afternoon in the back of the house. kimberly was in blue by the pool. then she was in white by the flowers. then she was in white in front of the pool. sometime between the house and the late afternooon in laguna beach, we break for lunch at plums.

the third photo in thumbnail was taken between the small boutiques and shops in laguna. by the time we hit the beach, the sun had broken through the fog and clouds and glowed mesmerized gold, no fill required :)!!!

photographers' best light...


a traditional wedding

vietnamese style!!!

wedding day

i'm finally getting around to blogging the wedding day photos of a couple dear friends. it will be one year ago this april.

sarah & jeff's wedding
april 2007
rancho las lomas


an engagement session digitally re-processed.

the beautiful background (bokeh) in these photos were rendered by one of my favorite lens, the nikkor 85mm f1.4. little direction was given by me during this engagement session. the couple was very comfortable in front of the camera, and they knew exactly how they wanted to present themselves in front of it.

the lighting on some parts of the csu long beach campus was excellent. it was the engagement session of a hundred kisses. check out the slideshow "kiss me" on margin's right in their honor.

that's it. see you soon on the next blog entry.

now going to bed ;)


road unpaved

i'm two weeks behind with my blogging. here we go.

a few weeks ago, i had the good fortune of contacted by "m". m asked if i would take headshots for some of her actresses participating in a for-television pilot.

i was a bit anxious the night before. i was supposed to be in granada hills the following saturday afternoon, but when i was getting ready to go to bed at 1:30 am, i had neither address nor schedule information.

sometime during my sleep the email came. for breakfast in the morning i had coffee, an email, a place to go to and a time to be there. anxiousness became excitement.

the good thing about having my parents in the oc is being able to stay with them on short notice. it makes my mom happy. i can count it as a visit with them. everyone wins. the bad thing is sometime i wake up the next day without a clean shirt or warm clothes to wear. on these occassions, the benefits of recyling seem quite clear :)

granada hills wasn't going to be a short drive. i stopped for an iced-coffee in westminster for wake-up insurance. unfortunately insurance expired too soon. i dozed off soon after...

if i had been more alert, i wouldn't have missed the turn, and if i hadn't missed the turn, i would have made it to the location on time. ok, no big deal. i would be just a little late, but then...surprise!!! the road ended. a couple blocks from where the address were, the road ended. there was road on this side. there was road on the other side, but for a good 30 yards or so in between there was no paved road.

easy grasshopper...think!
#1: range rovers are practical!!
#2: gps save time if not photo sessions!!!

"there is no spoon!" doh, there is no road! the road here must have buckled. the broken asphalt were probably carried away by the strong current that buckled it and by subsequent clean-up effort. what was left was a highly uneven dirt road with a deep gouge in the middle of it.

worry #1: the low clearance of my car won't make it.
worry #2: i will get stranded in the middle of the dirt road.
worry #3: worse yet, i can make it to the other side, but won't be able to make it back.

i drove a couple car lengths onto the precarious surface. my car's taut suspension refused to yield to the hostile terrain. like tip-toeing on eggs-shells, car and i made our way slowly to the other side.

finally, i had arrived. i met with m and with j. they were wonderfully nice as were the cast and crew. the large backyard of the house is on a hill. a stone stairway graced the hillside leading to a tennis court below. i rubbed my eyes. inside the tennis court there were two large living and breathing llamas, two llamas on centre court.

i had a great time photographing the cast, mostly headshots, and some group photos that could be used for the dvd cover later.

time flew, it was time for me to go. and then she came up and asked for her photos to be taken. i'm brazilian she said. i ended my day photographing this beauty in the backyard and on the hillside steps. the sun was setting. everything glowed golden...

the end.

sunset at eucalyptus grove

if streets were ever aptly named, this one definitely qualifies. follow westbound i8 on the southern border of mission bay in san diego until it turns into sunset cliffs blvd. and you get exactly that, tall sheer cliffs perching high above where water meets land plunging steeply into the pacific, providing for a good mile of vantage point from which to watch the sunset from.

Eucalyptus Grovedriving through ocean beach on the two lanes road was like driving through a vintage california surf-culture documentary. the kind of film we used to watch when i was in high-school during pe. when it rained outside. ob is kinda hippy. bohemian a colleague from work described it. strangely, it felt like familiar territory.
Catching the Sunset
there was a reason i came this way. i was looking for an apartment for possible future rental. my lease on my tiny studio will be up soon. it would already be 6 mos. i'm ready for a new pad.

i must have missed the turn. i will have to look for it on the way back. for now, lets see where the road goes. past the unstable-sheer-cliff warning signs, past the million dollars mansions the road climbs moderately for about a hundred yards then turns right into a dirt parking lot. i have arrived at sunset cliffs park, the end of the road.

come to sunset cliff park when the sun set to witness an amazing view. even without a compass one can be certain the park faces directly west as the sun goes down at near the middle of one's field of view, straight out the pacific. and when you get here, take out the camera and take a few snapshots because when you return home and you want to remember it again and again you could.

the end!

in the (monterey) park

the week-end was going to be a cloudy if not rainy one. this we all had known from the weather forecast about a week in advance. just a few days before the saturday afternoon of our shoot, kp asked if we would canceled if it will rain. my thought was, if it would rain we will put on our rain coats.

i had a photoshoot with kp about 6 mos earlier. my, how time flies. in that session she had jeans and a nice top on and we shoot all the photos around her house. i thought the results were pretty un-remarkable, but when she saw the photos, it was clear that she had thought a lot more of them than i did.

she told me what she liked and what she didn't like about the photos. she likes the close-ups. i like the more environmental ones. the ones that incorporate more of the surrounding into the composition of the photos.

when you have time, lets shoot again i invited kp. ok! when i'm not so busy she said. i made mental notes of our conversation and her preference for the close-ups.

an employment change for her, an apt change for me, a xmas, and a new year later...i revisitted with kp in moterey park for photo session #2. it was almost a pity that the rain gave way to late afternoon sunshine at the wind-blown park when we arrived. i would have like to incorporate the rain into our photos.

the park wasn't my first choice for a shooting location. i had wanted to photograph kp in a more urban or modern setting. the park was quite unassuming and lacked any structures of real interest. the time constraint prevented me from suggesting that we take a drive to a different location. the late afternoon traffic in la. would not have been forgiving.

luckily, a quick jostle of memory reminded me that kp likes intimate close-ups versus enclosing environmental shots...the park would do :)

here are some photos that are representative of what we came up with that afternoon.