Engagement Session at Colorado Street Bridge

Most of the year, you expect blue skies in SoCal. When your timing is right and have a session in between the rain clouds, you get the soft sort of natural light reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest. Not only that, the rain brings in new growth with lots of leafy plants shooting up through the once patchy ground.

Located in Pasadena, the Colorado Street Bridge has a long history but recently received notable attention on the big screen in a particular 2016 musical. It’s also nice to give the San Gabriel Valley some love, as I’ve been frequenting Central LA and Orange county all too often.

Engagement session at colorado street bridge
Engagement session at colorado street bridge
Engagement session at colorado street bridge
Engagement session at colorado street bridge
Engagement session at colorado street bridge

Jennifer & Jordan: Classic Hollywood Engagement Portraits

When I met Jennifer and Jordan, they had a clear idea of what they wanted before they even hired a photographer. However, they had not yet found a wedding photographer who could do more than just environmental and available light portraits. They liked the way that I use shadows in my wedding work, but they did not know I had a strong studio foundation as well. To go off on a slight tangent, shadows are important. They define our visual selves – our faces, our eyes. The use of shadow is the same as the use of light, the very foundation of what makes photography possible. Our couple wanted a studio session instead of your typical outdoor portrait shoot, but they also wanted it in a certain style.

As fans of old Hollywood glamour and film noir, they wanted a certain classic finish to the final product. I knew I could do it. I’ve had years of experience on commercial and studio jobs. The catch though was that I’ve never been asked to shoot something like this. How many photographers actually deliver old Hollywood glamour portraits? How many fans have what it takes to pull off the look? I was excited for a challenge. These unique opportunities are what I live for.

This was also an amazing chance to put my Mamiya RZ67 to work. After Jennifer had her hair and makeup done and picked out her favorite dress and jewelry in the studio. Jordan donned a timeless tweed jacket and pants combo that complemented Jennifer’s vintage style. We put on a playlist with tunes from the 1920’s and 30’s. With a couple of rolls of Ilford HP5, getting rich shadows and grain on black and white was a perfect tool for executing Jennifer and Jordan’s vision.

Hair and makeup – mariaaspegren.com

Classic Hollywood engagement portrait - Stephen Tang Photo
Classic Hollywood engagement portrait - Stephen Tang Photo
Classic Hollywood engagement portrait - Stephen Tang Photo

Griffith Observatory Engagement Session

Sunsets are great. As is cool architecture. Crowds, on the other hand, are not my favorite thing. We waded through the sea of people to emerge through the surface of the very popular Griffith Observatory. For a crowded space where you do want to include the environment, put some space between the subjects and the background. In the case of this engagement session, take a walk to achieve the composition for the wide shot.

That one photo with a black border? Kodak Portra 400 on my Mamiya 6. The way it renders color at sunset is quite spectacular with those orange and purple hues.

Tidbit: I met Kawhi Leonard a few months ago, but this tall gentleman claims to have been dunked on by him, which is a way cooler story to tell.

Sunset Portrait at the Griffith Park Observatory - Stephen Tang Photo
Sunset Portrait at the Griffith Park Observatory - Stephen Tang Photo
Sunset Portrait at the Griffith Park Observatory - Stephen Tang Photo
Sunset Portrait at the Griffith Park Observatory - Stephen Tang Photo
Sunset Portrait at the Griffith Park Observatory - Stephen Tang Photo