New Westminster w/Sarahjwong, Stylebyamberhuang and Alisonntam

When I was in school, student clubs was the place for me to meet like-minded individuals. If you were to ask me about my fondest university memories, I could go on for hours about the amazing people I've met and the experiences I've had in them. 

When I was out of school, I desired to find a similar place. However, networking events and Meetup groups just wasn't the same as student clubs. There was pressure and it didn't feel genuine. 

People have long warned me about the difficulties of meeting people after you are out of school. I felt this and it suffocated me. 

It sounds cheesy but Instagram really changed that reality. 

As my interest in Instagram and photography grew, I had this crazy idea (since I'm just a small potato) of creating an Instameet where people from the same niches or different niches could come together and meet each other. Sort of like a student club. 

Before getting too ahead of myself, I sat down with several respectable Vancouver Instagrammers (shoutout to Nicole (@tokyo.to) and Nathan (@bokehbites)) to get their opinion. Even though they liked the idea, the experience of meetings had the same type of feeling I had in student clubs.

I was pretty hooked.

Ever since that time, I've been actively meeting some amazing like-minded people through Instagram. I can say without a doubt, I would be preaching and complaining, about how difficult it is to meet people once you're out of school, if I didn't meet Nicole or Nathan. 

So when @sarahjwong_ told me in December that she wanted to meet more bloggers and do some mini meetups, I was ESTATIC. You bet I encouraged her to go for it! 

On a COLD and clear December day, I met up with Sarah, @alisonntam, and @stylebyamberhuang for shoot. It is incredible how these 3 braved the -15 degrees weather! I was all bundled up but they were wearing only 2 layers...Talk about dedication!

Take a peek at the photos from the shoot below!

Outfits:

Sarahjwong_:
Fur Vest: Sirens
Leather Jacket: Top Shop
Checkered Pants: Aritzia

Stylebyamberhuang:
Hat: Garage
Top: Zara
Trousers: Topshop
Boots: Public Desire 

Alisonntam:
Leather Jacket: House of Mackage
Grey Sweater: Aritzia
Pants: Zara

Learning Flatlay & Shooting with Tomoka Matsui

When I started out, I thought flatlays was just throwing a bunch of different items on a surface and taking a photo. Boy was I wrong.

Like every great photograph, a lot of planning and knowledge needs to be put into play. A great flatlay is not about throwing random items on a table. Each item is chosen for a purpose and placed in precision. Not only that, lighting and styling can make or break a flatlay. I knew that I needed to brush up my flatlay skills if I wanted to venture more into product and lifestyle photography.

What better way to learn the secrets of creating great flatlays than from a pro? A few months ago, I met up with Tomoka Matsui (@imtomo.m), who does amazing clean and minimal flatlays. While we sipped on some coffee, I asked her for some tips on how to improve. She was super cool in giving me some pointers and even showed me her process. In return, I promised her that I would teach her how to use her new DSLR camera :)

Ever since that meeting, I've approached flatlays in a more strategic manner. 

When I started shooting fashion and portraits in September, I had a very loose process. I would let the model do their own thing and make some generic pose suggestions. Because I kept floundering around and didn't have a vision in place, the shoots would last for a few hours. I would basically keep going until I got what I wanted.

Like how I now approach flatlays, I now also approach all my photoshoots in a more strategic manner. I would have a set vision already (ofcourse with flexibility). This vision would be inspired by moodboards I created from Pinterest, prior to the shoot. While I continue to let the model free pose, I also make specific pose suggestions by showing the model a picture. Not only has this shortened the shoots (key for client shoots), but it also aligned with my desire to go for a more editorial quality to my work. If you scroll through my work on Instagram, you might have noticed this upgrade!

Tomoka was the second person I worked with, using this new process. Overall, it helped me shorten the shoot time, made it more enjoyable, and produced a higher quality of work. So if you are just starting out with fashion, lifestyle, or portrait photography - I suggest trying this method out. 

Check out Tomoka in 3 different outfits:

Outfit #1:
Sweater: H&M
Pants: Aritzia
Boots: Zara
Watch: Nicole Vienna

Outfit #2:
Black bell sleeve shirt: Asos
Burgundy skirt: Forever21
Purse: Coach
Watch: Daniel Wellington

Outfit #3:
Bomber jacket: Zara
White top: State concepts (Frank + Oak)
Boots: Missguided

Make sure to follow Tomoka on Instagram @imtomo.m and check out her amazing flatlays and minimalistic style!