Fashion Photography | Tracie Cotta Photo Shoot One - part 2

Video by Tracie Cotta

In part 1 of Shoot One we shot in Tracie's front yard, her bedroom, downtown Fullerton, Disneyland and at a local park. That left 2 days... which took us to San Diego and back up to the OC Fair for part 2.

San Diego "secret" location

Years ago I saw some photos on flickr that were really cool... they had very dynamic lighting... and the location was outstanding. I'm not usually a big fan of girls in bikinis just for the sake of showing skin... but these were really good shots otherwise. I was about to do our first photo shoot of Paul Dateh and I wanted a really cool place to shoot... so I contacted the photographer and asked about the location.

"It's a secret."

Oh. Well that sucked. I sorta understood because if you have a cool location that you use often you may not want it to be swarming with every kid with a DSLR and a cute girl at his disposal... sooner or later that will cause problems with the owners/tenants/neighbors... someone. But I couldn't just give up... so I plead my case a little harder... and he finally relented... but only after I promised not to share the locale with any other photographers. And I haven't. So... don't ask where these were done. I made a promise and I like to keep those. When I can.

We got to the location about an hour before sunset... we planned on getting through two outfits... I hadn't even seen the first one, but LOVED it. Tracie knows how to put together an interesting ensemble, that's for sure.

And she knows how to look fierce.

Tracie Cotta

Tracie Cotta

Tracie Cotta

Tracie Cotta

Tracie Cotta

Tracie Cotta

For the final shot, just after the sun dropped below the horizon, Tracie quickly changed and we took this final photograph... and then, like teeny tiny vampires... a flock (or is it swarm?) of blood-thirsty mosquitoes chased us back to the car.

Tracie Cotta

The OC Fair

In the 16 or so years I've lived in Orange County... I think I've only actually been to the fair like 3 times. Once to shoot a Noodle Scar episode and twice just for fun.

This year Tracie and I decided to go on the last day it was open... and we ended up having a lot of fun and not shooting very many photos... but two stood out as ones I loved. The fair really is a good place to capture color and lights... kinda like Vegas. But with barn animals and carnies.

Tracie Cotta

Tracie Cotta

Fashion Photography | Tracie Cotta Photo Shoot One - part 1

Tracie and I have been planning to shoot together for a couple months now... we were just waiting for the right project to start it for. We had decided to drive an RV across California for a week and shoot in various locations, and had 2 other people coming with us... one was an assistant and one was another model. Tracie, being a makeup artist and hair stylist as WELL as a model was going to do all the hair and makeup... and I'd have 2 models to shoot across California.

Unfortunately as the date approached the other two participants had to cancel... so we decided to change the scope of the project and relaunch it another day. Details about that will be coming... and there will be a cool one-on-one workshop opportunity for one person.

So... we decided to just stay home and shoot at a few local locations... and just try to keep it simple and get one photo done each day for the week. We ended up shooting for 7 days and came away with 20 photos that we liked... and here are the first 9 of them... shot between Sunday and Thursday. The video above has a TINY amount of behind the scenes footage... we actually did a terrible job of recording... but we are planning another shoot week coming soon and we will do a full behind-the-scenes-explain-everything "tutorial" series of videos then.


Tracie actually needed a new headshot for something... and while the actual headshot is nice and normal and worked fine... this was our favorite of the 10 minute headshot session in front of her house.

Tracie Cotta


On Monday we went to the Disneyland employee theater to watch Beauty and the Beast... so we didn't actually have much time to shoot afterwards... we decided to set up a couple of small flashes and a ringflash for a vampirish shot in Tracie's room. I've gotten some interesting/cool feedback on the backdrop so far... what do you think it looks like / reminds you of / actually is?

Tracie Cotta


We wanted to do something with a slightly city feel to it so we decided to head to downtown Fullerton. There is a small street with some cool streetlamps that I thought would give the look I was going for... sorta city girl in the city at night. Then we walked to a little cement park with a bunch of benches for the next shot.

Tracie Cotta

Tracie Cotta


Having a Deluxe Disneyland pass means I can visit Disneyland almost any day of the year except Saturdays and holidays... which works out perfectly since I don't actually WANT to be there on those crowded days.

We started out at The Grand Californian Hotel at an interesting fireplace that just sorta exists outside at a patio.

Tracie Cotta

The we took off into the park with intentions of shooting at the big blue staircase... but also happened upon some gorgeous light on the wooden bridge near Big Thunder Mountain while on our way. We stopped just to look at the water really quick and Tracie said "oooh, sun" and she automatically started posing as I automatically backed off with the camera at my eye. It was actually really hilarious. But you're probably not laughing. I guess you had to be there.

Tracie Cotta

Tracie Cotta

Tracie Cotta


Thursday was a bit of a letdown... we actually planned on shooting at the OC Fair but the parking was closed by the time we got there... so we just went to a park and took this. We also witnessed some people doing some sort of cultish idolish thing while wrapped in a blanket... and ended up ruining the fun of 3 guys and a girl on the other side of the park who were doing who knows what in the big rocketship on the playground but took off when we started shooting right outside of where they were... too bad for them (though it was unintentional)!

Tracie Cotta

Friday we actually did our best work... so I decided to save that for the next post... coming Monday... and we revisited the fair after that for the final shots.

Micah Lee Photo Shoot

Anyone who follows The Bui Brothers' photography at all has probably noticed that we don't really shoot many guys. We've done some headshots here and there and shot Schlomo earlier this year... but we're REALLY lacking in guy photos outside of wedding/engagement shoots. Apparently we do fashion photography of women only.

Tracie not only pointed this out... but also offered a start to the solution. Micah is her friend and she set up a shoot for us and came up with the theme for the day as well... a silent film actor. Never much one for using a shoot day for only one look... I decided on 3 we all liked... and environmental portrait of Micah in his "element", a fashion photography set, and the silent film set which was the point of the whole shoot.

The first was a simple environmental portrait. It shows Micah in his room... in front of a bookcase full of DVDs and small collectibles... and topped with a movie poster for Vertigo.

Micah Lee

We then went out to the yard-ish area for a few "post-apocalyptic" (if the apocalypse destroyed everything but a nice stash of clean clothes and a garden gnome) fashion photography shots.

Micah Lee

Micah Lee

After this we hopped out front of the house for an shot lit from the front by a street light... with backlighting of the telephone pole, satellite dish and tree provided by the security lights of the restaurant out at the main street.

Micah Lee

Then... for the main set... Micah changed into an interesting looking suit and Tracie applied a bit of makeup to create "creepy silent film Micah". He was a lot like regular Micah except for the extreme creepiness and eye liner. We went down to Old Town Orange for these ones... the architecture there fit perfectly.

Micah Lee

Micah Lee

Micah Lee

Micah Lee

The video gives a small behind the scenes glance (literally just a glance) at the shoot. This is Tracie's first video (she shot almost all of it AND edited the whole thing on her new MacBook Pro) and I think it does a good job (mostly due to the excellent choice of music) of properly creating a mood for the photos. Oh, and the video was shot entirely on the iPhone 3GS. Enjoy!

365 Days of Natalie

Over a year ago I came across Bill Wadman's 365 Portraits project. It was extremely inspiring. Bill shot a portrait of a new person every day for the year of 2007, and they were great. It seemed to me that sometimes he had to just pull people off the street, especially in the beginning, but the portraits were mostly great, and some were fantastic. I had tried to think of a great 365 project that I could try myself, and after briefly contemplating a 365 iPhone portraits project then dismissing it (thankfully, because that would have sucked)... I decided instead to attempt a more common endeavor... 365 self portraits, but I really wanted them to be creative and interesting and not just a lame attempt at recording how bad my hair was on a daily basis. I started on January 1st, and ended 31 days later. The results are here.

So... as 2009 approached, I thought of something more challenging but also certainly more fun, and asked Natalie Williams if she would be willing to commit to 365 days of unique portraits of her. That meant that we would need to be able to meet up every single day of the year and shoot a new photo... all while being creative and unique... or at least trying to. To my surprise, on the night of December 31st, she said yes.

My absolute favorite so far is the 10th portrait of the year. It has a lot of meaning behind it, which you can read about on the original post. It is a dedication to Natalie's grandmother whose funeral was on the day of the shoot.


Before that photo, my favorite was the first one we took, around 2am on the 1st of Jan, 2009, at Central Park in Huntington Beach, in the thick fog. It was a creepy night so we complemented it with a creepy photo.


Check out and subscribe to the feed. It's a little screwed up because of the theme I chose for the site right now and doesn't actually display the photo. which is stupid stupid stupid... but it will be fixed shortly. Also there is no archive page just yet, but that's coming as well.

We also plan on doing behind the scenes videos of our bigger shoots with more elaborate lighting setups to share some of the lighting techniques I use that people have asked about. Those are coming... just as soon as we have time for a big production day!

I'm excited about what's coming, especially some of the bigger shoots we've planned out, which will make the normal days pale in comparison. Natalie has been an awesome partner on this project and is thankfully at times much more creative than I am... so I have faith that the year is going to produce some amazing results.

Mark and Candice

When Mark and Candice Brooke contacted Lan and I about shooting a promo video for their photography website we were totally stoked. Their photography is top notch and they are definitely a force to be reckoned with amongst the wedding photographers we know. Part of our video called for some unique shots of them that we were going to incorporate into the intro... a way to quickly and without words show their personality and fun demeanor. Luckily we all chose an awesome spot to shoot the video... so we decided to do the photos right there as well.

Here are a few of my favorites from the shoot... you can see the rest when you watch their video (which Lan did an amazing editing job on) here!

Paul Dateh Live Streaming Concert

Well, the concert went off without MUCH of a hitch. We ended up starting almost a half hour late due to audio issues, but once we got started the show was awesome... and both the live and the internet viewers had a blast. After the show we went out to the back balcony (Keats' place is awesome!) and had snacks, pizza and conversation. All in all... awesome night. I shot a few photos outside... love the metal siding background thing. Unfortunately it was only about 5' tall so I had to sit people down... but it worked out. I'll post more shots to Flickr tomorrow or so.

Bonny Pierzina and the New Ring Flash

I received my new Alien Bees ABR800 ringflash last Wednesday... and have anxiously waited to have time to try it out. Finally yesterday I came over to Lan and Bonny's garage... set up some lights... and did a quick shoot. So far I really like it. I do need to make sure to not overuse it... but when you have something new that's inevitable. All the shots below are with the ringflash and 2 strobes behind and to the left and right of Bonny... at about a 45 degree angle or so. It took some time to get it right, and I was adjusting throughout... but I'm pretty happy with the way they are turning out. One thing I didn't realize that I'm going to have to rectify is that I definitely need an ND filter... many of the shots were done with the ringflash set to minimum power (1/32). Some were still too bright, at ISO 100 f/16. It definitely reminded me that I need to clean my sensor, though. Damn that thing's dirty... shooting wide open all the time I tend to forget that.

Eddie Grey - Personal Trainer

Eddie Grey is an awesome personal trainer out of Studio 1 on 1 in Venice. Keats, Lan and I shot promotional photos of him on Thursday, and here are some of my favorites. As it turns out, the body builder types we see gracing the covers of insecurity-inducing magazines at the checkout stand typically go through quite a bit for a couple weeks before a photo shoot... Eddie educated me a little bit on this. No amount of carb dropping or forced dehydration, however, can fake what's not there... Eddie is the MAN and he is in SHAPE.

Eddie Front

Eddie Curl

Eddie Pull Up

You can also see Lan's images here.

The Bui Brothers at the Madonna Inn

We went to San Luis Obispo yesterday to help a friend and aspiring wedding photographer, Bonnie Tsang, who was shooting her second wedding. We went mostly as support and to do a little second shooting... but we also took the opportunity to shoot a little video that we'll be putting out in the next few weeks. I'll probably post a few shots from the wedding one of these days, but here are a few shots that Lan and I did in another room during the reception when everyone was pretty much stuffing their faces... typically not the best time for photographs.

Lan at The Madonna Inn

Vu at The Madonna Inn

Bui Brothers at The Madonna Inn

Jay and Ryanne Photo Shoot

Jay and Ryanne are East Coast transplants documenting the green and geek communities in the SF Bay Area. Both are ex-television producers and editors who were born anew into the videoblogging world in 2004. Ryanne is the Co-Author of Secrets of Videoblogging; Jay is the Co-Author of Extreme Tech: Videoblogging. Both are the Co-Founders of NODE101 an open source collaborative effort to teach videoblogging around the world. They are, to me, a representation of what is great about new media. They met through videoblogging, and are two of the biggest new media evangelists I know. They contacted Lan and I, wanting photos that can capture their personalities... taken by someone who they can be comfortable around. Here is a preview... just a few selections I made while browsing through them. I'll be posting the rest to flickr when they're done.

See Lan's previews HERE.

Jay and Ryanne

Jay Dedman

Ryanne Hodson

Jay and Ryanne

Jay Jumping Over Ryanne