I found this sitting in my computer archives and had to laugh. I thought these pictures would never see the light of day, but now they are just too good not to share.
Back when I was applying to SCAD, I entered their Challenge Scholarship Competition. I found out about the competition pretty late in the game and the photography challenge had already ended. Darn. The only challenge left (besides some sort of dress-sewing competition) was their accessories challenge. The accessories challenge was to design an innovative handbag that was functional in real life. I sure didn’t have enough time design and so sew a fancy dress (I only had 1 week until the deadline), so I chose to enter the handbag/accessories challenge. Being a nana at heart, of course I had to do something painfully nana-ish: Grandma’s Brag Bag.
For the grandmother who can’t talk enough about her grandkids, who needs to be toting around a wallet full of school pictures? This bag is sure to stir up conversation wherever she goes. The clear pockets make it easy for grandma to update photos as her grandkids grow. It also comes complete with detachable bag that can be used as a carry-all for when she babysits the kids for the day.
Some of the pictures are my own baby pictures (can you guess which ones they are?) and some of them are random pictures I found off the Internet haha (hello Google Images). If you see your picture here, do know it was used for an educational cause!
Unfortunately I didn’t win. But I still had fun making it. I’m waiting for the perfect grandma to give it to. My grandma (thankfully) isn’t like this haha!
I don’t know about you, but I’m a pretty nosy person. Nosy in the sense that as much as I love to look at a final product, I love a sneaky peak behind the scenes, maybe even more. I love seeing what the surroundings looked like the moment a shot was taken, what was the team wearing, how large was the team, etc. Sadly, no one usually takes behind the scenes pictures of my shoots other than some quick snaps on their phones, but that just doesn’t compare. For my Bella Blue shoot, I asked my friend Helen to take some behind the scenes shots with her camera. I had such fun seeing how I look while taking pictures. I hope you enjoy!
What the pool looked like from the observation deck:
Isn’t the lighting dreammyyy??
Pssst if you missed my Bella Blue shoot, go here. Also, check out the full series complete with all the final images on my website.
Here’s a shoot I did last month for the Material Girl Magazine blog. The model was a girl named Isabella, the beautiful younger sister of a model I’ve worked with before (although the shoot we worked on together has not yet been released). This shoot was inspired by ballet, mermaids, and other beautiful creatures of the sea. We shot at the most amazing pool in the world at the Berkeley City Club, which was designed by Julia Morgan, who was also the designer of Hearst Castle. The stylist was my friend Helen, a ballerina, who kindly lent us her ballet leotards for this shoot.
About a girl named Bella who lives at the pool, except she only comes out after hours. She is very lonely and longs for companionship, but has been forbidden to be seen in public.
photography: micaela hoo (me!)
styling: helen grace lahey
model: isabella sofia
clothing: vintage, stylist’s own shot on location at the Berkeley City Club.
More photos from this series can be seen on my website here.
You may have already seen bits and pieces of this shoot on Calivintage, but back in February, I did a shoot for Ballad Of Magazine’s Summer of ’63-themed issue: Brian & Betsy.
Heavily inspired by Brigitte Bardot, we spent the day shooting and frolicking about the grounds at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley.
This was one of my favorite shoots to put together, mainly because the ’60s/prep style is so close to my heart. I also got to work with an amazing team whose talents blew me away. Tate, the model, embodied the Brigitte Bardot character better than I could ever imagine. She and her mom are a hoot and so fun to be around! Erin of Calivintage styled the shoot and Miche Tan did hair and makeup.
A HUGE thank you to my friend Abby who lent me her bunny for this shoot!
Lots and LOTS more photos from this shoot are up on my website.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s is one of my favorite films ever. I’m not sure if I like it more for the story or just to swoon over Audrey Hepburn’s wardrobe, effortless grace, and the scenes of New York City.
I did this Breakfast at Tiffany’s-inspired shoot exactly two years ago (!) in July, but I felt like it was tired and lacking and needed a facelift. I worked with illustrator Caitlin Shearer to jazz up the pictures a bit. She printed some of the photos in black and white and hand-painted the images with watercolor. The concept was to make the images look like very old technicolor films, where each still was hand-inked throughout the film, just like in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. This was my first time collaborating with an illustrator on my photographs and I’m so happy with the result.
I love the idea of creating mixed media art. It puts a new spin on 2D art (especially photographs), don’t you think? Some of my favorite mixed media artists are Shae DeTar and Ben Giles. I have a feeling this is the beginning of new collaborations with artists!
I alluded to this project on Instagram a few weeks ago, and here it is in the flesh!
My latest project for SCAD was a paint swatch sculpture. Using easily accessible/recyclable items (and the A+B+C modular design scheme), we had to design a sculpture for our hypothetical client’s (the owner of a small chain of organic food stores) waiting area of his/her home office. The A+B+C modular design scheme is basically when you take one item, (which equals unit A), then repeat unit A in some pattern to make unit B, and then repeat unit B in some pattern to make unit C (a good example of modular design would be bricks).
This project reaaaally made my mind work and all week I was racking my brain trying to come up with a good material to use for my sculpture. One day, I took a browse through the hardware store for inspiration and bam! passed by a wall full of paint swatches. Needless to say, I got my idea:)
At first, I wanted this design to be a lantern and have it hang, but the paper ended up being too thick and opaque so no light could shine through. Sad face:( It ended up being a sitting sculpture instead. I’m still pleased with it though!
Scissors, white thread & needle, drafting tape (to temporarily hold the swatches in place), and-of course-paint swatches.
I began by folding each 3×5” paint swatch sample in some sort of random triangular origami form I came up with by playing around with the paint swatches while watching TV one night. This created my A unit.
Then, I hand sewed (tedious!) two paint swatches of the same color together to create a diamond form, which was my B unit. After my B units were completed, I hand sewed the outer four edges of each B unit (more tedious stuff!). After the B units were sewn together, they formed a spherical form.
…And then a paint swatch sculpture was born!
I was so pleased with the result, I took my sculpture down to Pottery Barn for some sneaky pictures in one of their staged furniture displays:
I’ve gotten quite a few questions about the creative process of my photo shoots. I’ve slowed down with my photography a bit since I’m focusing on my studies at SCAD at the moment. But I do like to squeeze in a shoot or two when I’m on a school break to keep the creative juices flowing. Since I’m still a student, most of my shoots are unpaid and everyone works together as a trade, meaning that they trade their services for some rockin’ solid photos (taken by me) for their portfolio
This is by no means the end-all-be-all of the way all photo shoots work, but hopefully it’ll briefly outline the steps of putting together a photo shoot.
Step One: Concept
Before I delve into organizing a photo shoot, I have to ask myself, what is the general mood I’m trying to achieve? and what story do I want to tell? This step comes relatively easy to me, since I usually stumble across inspiration by happenstance. Sometimes it’s a song lyric, a photograph, a book, or a movie that inspires me in some way. From there, I create a mood board of images I feel speaks to the aesthetic I am trying to achieve. In my most recent shoot (which was Brigitte Bardot-themed), I made a Pinboard instead.
Step Two: Scouting a Location
Sometimes this step comes easy, sometimes this step is more difficult. For a woodland/fairy/forest shoot, all you need is essentially a wooded area, which is pretty easy to find. You don’t need to ask for permission to shoot there. You just show up, take pictures, and leave. Simple. It gets more difficult when your concept requires a specific venue, such as a ’30s style Tudor house or something. In these cases, I usually post a status on Facebook, asking people if they know where I can find a venue like this. Sometimes people respond, and sometimes I’m looking for something so specific, no one responds. In this case, I have to resort to a Plan B.
Another way finding a location can get difficult is if you need to ask permission to shoot there. For instance, my most recent shoot was Brigitte Bardot-themed and we shot at the Claremont Hotel. I had to get in touch with the general manager and ask permission to shoot there. Sometimes the staff is nice and accommodating – like this past time was a cinch! – and sometimes they are not kind to photographers at all. (note: sometimes if the team is small enough and won’t attract a lot of attention, I shoot guerilla-style, meaning I don’t ask permission to shoot there and pretty much we go to the location and shoot until a. we’re done or b. someone finds us and kicks us out; definitely a last resort and I do not recommend doing this!).
Step Three: Rounding up a Team
After I come up with a concept and location for the shoot, I have to think about who would be a good fit for my team. My team includes a makeup artist, a hairstylist (sometimes the makeup artist does both hair and makeup which makes my life easier!), a wardrobe stylist, and a model. My mom is usually my assistant and does all the nitty gritty stuff, like lugging around my equipment and holding my cameras while I shoot
The more advanced you get, the larger your team can get. For instance, it may include more specialized artists like a manicurist, art director, and assistant wardrobe stylist, etc. I have a few go-to people I’ve worked with numerous times and feel comfortable working with that I contact about the shoot. I can usually find a person for each styling job who is both interested and available on the specified date and time.
Step Four: Picking a Model
This step is pretty fun! I usually take a browse through the models of my local modeling agencies (I work with Stars Model Management the most) and make a list of conceivable models who could pull off the look I want. I could look at pictures of models all day, dreaming up ideas for shoots based on their features, but that’s another story! From there, I email the modeling agent inquiring about the models I’m interested in with a brief proposal/synopsis of the shoot (this includes my concept, date, time, location, and mood board). Usually at least one of the models is available and I pick my favorite from there. If the model is not available, it’s back to square one and I have to come up with some secondary choices.
I hope this gives you a little insight on the creative process behind my photo shoots. Stay tuned for Part 2 next week!