Raphael Mazzucco Shoots in Vietnam 2012

A while ago I posted an article on one of my inspirational photographers Raphael Mazzucco shooting a GUESS campaign. It was an amazing shoot with stunning models and a great location. In this shoot Raphael becomes more connected with the models as it’s just him and her. He really has a way of communicating with the models that really make them feel comfortable just being around him. As a photographer you not only need to know how to take a great picture, but also how to work with your subject and have them put their trust in you. Vietnam offered a very tranquil yet exotic mood to the shoot. I can see him shooting the Pirelli calendar in the near future.


GUESS 2013 Spring/Summer Campaign Photoshoot in Bora Bora

GUESS spared no expense shooting for their 2013 Spring/Summer Campaign in the beautiful French Polynesian island of Bora Bora. I’m still waiting for the day a client fly’s me to shoot bikinis at an exotic location like this. GUESS chose Yu Tsai to shoot the campaign. This is the extended version of the video. Enjoy!

Lighting Beauty & Post Production Workshop Announced



Had an amazing time last month with my second workshop in Lighting for Beauty and Post Production. The workshop sold out in less than 2 weeks after it was announced. Back by popular demand is the return of my workshop for lighting for beauty and how to achieve professional results in post production. I will teach my students my very own techniques in achieveing the perfect images right out of camera and giving it that extra commercial ad quality in photoshop. This is an 8 hour intensive class that is geared towards the intermediate level photographer. If your thinking about signing up, do it before April to get the early bird special.

Apsara Skincare 30 Second Commercial

It’s always nice to have a decent budget when asked by a client to shoot a commercial for them. Having a realistic budget provides for a bigger “production value” for your video and ads more of that commercial flavor. I’ve been shooting the product on Apsara’s website for a couple of years now and just recently I was approached to shoot a 30 second commercial clip for Apsara SkinCare on a limited budget. The company is just getting off the ground and needs to be frugal on the marketing dollars to start but there’s a promising growth in the near future for them. As they continue to grow, this will allow them to spend a bit more on advertising and allow us to create more polished videos. Here’s the first in a series to come. The art direction was handled by Sheetal who is the owner of the company.

Using a tablet for retouching in Photoshop

Other photographers often ask me during my workshops if a pen tablet is necessary for postproduction retouching. The answer I always give starts with, “well, it depends”. It really depends on you, your style and the complexity that goes into your postproduction work. Out of a typical workshop my guess is that thirty percent of the room uses a tablet for retouching, I find that to be a very low percentage. I’ve had numerous photographers tell ne that they just can’t get use to it. It feels very weird, the mouse feels better, I boxed it up and returned it after a couple of days. These are common complaints with tablets and the fact is that they DO feel weird at first. But guess what, if you stick to it, it will begin to feel natural in your hand and you will come to a point where you wouldn’t dare touch your mouse while retouching. I’ve been there trust me on this.

If you’re considering doing any amount of quality retouching for fashion and/or beauty then it’s imperative that you own a tablet. You just can’t get the level of control with a mouse that you can get using a tablet. There are plenty of articles that discuss the advantages of a tablet over a mouse so I won’t get into all that here. Just know that YOU NEED A TABLET if you want to do some serious retouching. Could you imagine drawing in eyelashes with a mouse? That just sounds painful.

As far as which tablet to get, that depends on your budget and taste. There are plenty to choose from but I would recommend sticking with the industry standard Wacom tablets found here www.wacom.com

Wacom carries many different types of tablets. Ranging from the consumer end Bamboos to the pro end Intous line. Surely it would be nice to go for the top and get the latest and greatest Intous 4 but it may not be necessary. The Bamboo line is perfectly capable for meeting your retouching needs.

I’ll move on now to what I use and how I have mines configured to work for me. I’m currently using the 4×6 Intous 3. I never use the mouse that comes with these tablets, I leave it in the box. I choose a small 4×6 tablet because I simply don’t need all that area to retouch. Maybe if you’re a digital painter in Corel then I can see you might want wider and bigger strokes when your painting but not for retouching. If I’m working on detail, I just zoom in. The size will also depend on the amount of workspace you have on your desk. Some of the larger tablets take up a lot of real estate on your desk.

Ok, here’s how I set up my tablet:

On the tablet itself, I have my control buttons on the left. If you retouch with your left hand then you just flip the tablet around to have the buttons on your right.

Button 1 : I have this button set up as a MODIFIER. When pressed, it acts as the ALT/OPTION key. This button is used most of the time and really get’s its use when cloning and healing.

Button 2: ZOOM IN. Clicking this button zooms in.

Button 3 : ZOOM OUT. Clicking this button zooms out.

Button 4 : Hand Tool. When I hold this button down, it allows me to move around the picture when I’m zoomed in. It also works handy when I shaking my image around to see imperfections. (I teach this in my workshops)

Button 5 : This is actually a slider and not a button. I have this one set to increase and decrease my brush sizes.

And now, on to the pen.

The pen has a simple rocker button on the side. The front rocker button I have set to a keystroke of CTRL+SPACE. This allows me to selectively zoom into an area I’m working on simply by holding down the button on the pen and dragging the zooming area I want. The rear button on the pen is set to a keystroke of CTRL+ALT+Z or CTRL+OPT+Z for a Mac. This undo’s your last action in Photoshop.

As you can see, configuring a tablet to work for your needs is the way to go. It saves a lot of time in having to deal with the keyboard. Something a mouse simply can’t do.

I hope you enjoyed my first tutorial. Now get up, put on your shoes and run out to your local retailer and pick up your tablet!

FNK Asia Editorial

A 6,000sq.ft home nestled high up in the Morgan Hill area was the location for the FNK Asia editorial spread. A designer thousands of miles away wanted to bring a new taste of style to their campaigns. We created a vision that brought together fabrics from the East with the cultures of the West. We had an excellent crew on the day of the shoot. I had warned everyone that the drive to the house would be treacherous and halfway up the drive I was already getting calls on my phone asking “How much longer?”  Once at the house, it provided a beautiful scenery and excellent weather. Our crew consisted of make up artist Aliya Qazi, Amy from FNK Asia to help style and label the clothing, Micha from Halvorson Model Management in San Jose and Isabella from Ford Models SF.