I would be lying if I said these posts didn’t stem out of witnessing something that I didn’t agree with. A couple of years ago I wrote a guest post for Rock n Roll Bride on Groom’s style and how they are often left out of the wedding planning and decor. I still think it whole heartedly and am always bummed out when I see over the top girly action going on in a wedding. If I were the man in some of these pictures I see online, I’d just hand over my balls because I wouldn’t be needing them anymore.

I’ve never been a girly girl. I like pretty things, but I like puppies more than glitter and adventure more than glamour. Maybe I’m the odd one out. I shoot weddings, yes, and they involve big dresses, but from what I understand it’s the joining of two different people, and those two people should be represented equally. “It’s all about the Bride” is what I hear a lot. But it’s not. And if you think that way, I think that’s a bit selfish. Equally so, women aren’t presents to be gift wrapped and opened up by our princes.

A place where I haven’t seen endless streams of pink ribbon: same sex weddings involving two women. The ones I’ve been to have actually been the most equally diverse weddings I’ve ever photographed. I think because they are actually planning the wedding together.

A wedding represents how you will be spending your lives together. If the bride plans the whole thing and is shooting glitter out of her nose, what does that say about your marriage? If you both like glitter, awesome, have a glitter canon, I’d really be down for that! But guys, be men. And ladies, hand over some of the weight. You don’t want to be carrying it alone.

Problems and Drama

I speak my mind a lot, and I always feel the need to stand up for myself.  Especially being a woman in a professional field.  Also being a minority.  Recently I’ve had a couple of asian weddings were certain other white vendors who were working made comments to me that I took to be slightly racist.  One was a DJ who said to me before the wedding, “this wedding is going to be… uhh.. a little different.”  Another one was a man after toasts (which were in a different language) said to me, “well that was painful!”  I don’t appreciate those comments and I don’t think they should be spoken aloud, especially to someone who is working.  I don’t know you. I’m not your friend.  How could you think that it wont offend me? Many white people don’t realize that I am half chinese, and I’ve had people make jokes to me about asians, thinking that I would join in and laugh.  Do white people just go up to other white people they don’t know and make racist jokes all the time? Do then the other white people laugh and join in? How else would they think that it’s something to be shared with me?  Look, I’m getting paid to do a job, and I’m going to do it with out any complaints.  If something is bothering me and I have any control over it, I will seek a way to remedy it.  

I also got in a little spat with someone because I saw something on facebook that I took to be a negative comment about how we work.  I approached the person individually and spoke my thoughts on how negative comments should not be put online on facebook where my client has access to it.  I was met with confusion and defense. Maybe I over-reacted, but in my mind, I was only doing my job, getting it done because the bride had paid me to do so.  If that person had a problem with how I worked, they can tell me in person. 

I don’t understand how people, professionals even, think it’s ok to run their mouth online.  Trust me, I gossip with friends and co-workers constantly, but that’s just it, it’s gossip, and it doesn’t leave the room.  Again, if I’m really bothered by something significant, you’re going to hear about it, because I will tell you myself. 

I recently started thinking, maybe I run my mouth a little too much.  I have lots of opinions and I’m giving them out left and right.  I like to think highly of my work and how I work with clients, when I am belittled or treated in a way that is disrespectful, I get fired up and start talking.  I apologize right now because I know that someday, and maybe someday soon, this will come back to me.  Know that I’m trying to get better at it.  Sometimes I just see red and can’t control it. I absolutely find relief in ranting about something that bothers me to whoever wants to listen.  

I also feel like I’m beginning to be bothered by more stuff easily. Maybe its the culture we are in today? But like I said in the beginning of this post, I expect my peers to be professional when working with a client. What you do on your own time is your own business, but when we’re in front of a client, there is a certain level of decorum that I expect to be held. Social networking and the spread of instagram and twitter has allowed people to be more personal.  I love getting personal with my clients, but there needs to be a line in how far that goes. If I am working a job with another company that is also working, I don’t expect to become friends with them, or even really talk to them if I don’t need to. Why? Because I’m focused on my own work. I’m not getting paid to laugh and joke around with your other vendors, I’m getting paid to do what I do best, take photographs. It’s nice to work alongside with friends even so, but I believe that most of my friends know that I take my job seriously, and I cannot be distracted during a wedding day. We can go out for drinks and talk on our own time. 

I’m sorry, I’ve been frustrated the past few weeks. Like I said, I’m trying to bite my tongue, but gosh, people make it so hard for me sometimes. 

When someone cancels their wedding

I still have a hard time with this one. It’s only happened a few times over the past 8 years.

I feel personally invested in my clients so I am heartbroken when they break off an engagement. It’s one of the hardest things, to talk to them when they call you to tell you that it’s off. The message is still on my phone because I’ve tried calling back the past day and only got a voicemail box. I don’t want to leave a message. I want to talk to her. To let her know that I feel for her. It’s awful. I want to know that she’s ok. That she’s better off. I know I can’t ask those questions so I stay silent and supportive.

One thing is that it means I loose a day in which I would have been making a significant amount of money. It’s hard to juggle the business and personal aspects. I’ve counted on that pay, and now it’s not going to happen. It puts me in a bad spot financially. But I place myself in their shoes. The amount of money they are loosing from the break up is probably more than I can imagine. As well as the emotional toll it is taking on her and her family.

For one woman, I did her boudoir photoshoot even after she had been broken up with. The photos were no longer for her boyfriend. They were for her. I think of that when things like this happen. Is there something else I can do? Maybe I can offer a family photoshoot? Because I can’t let things go, not after I have invested in them and they in me.

I think it’s important to treat your clients, even when they are no longer your clients, how you would want to be treated. I know I can’t mend their breakup, but I can do what I can do, and maybe that will go a long way in the future. But even if it doesn’t, it’s ok. Just to know that they know I care.

What I learned from working in a bike shop, and how it applies to my current business

When I was in college I started working at Neighborhood Bike Works. I worked there consistently for 2 years, and a year on and off following that. It was a volunteer position, but I treated it no less than I would a paying job.

My job as a bike works facilitator was to be present and help instruct and empower patrons to work on their bikes. Each night, after the after school program, the shop would open free to the public and allow individuals to make use of the shop and tools to fix their own bikes. As a facilitator, I helped many people fix flat tires, overhaul their bottom brackets (my favorite task), tru their wheels, as well as many other fixes. I also sold bikes and parts. In the time that I worked there, I built myself 3 bikes from scratch, as well as repaired dozens for the shop to sell in tip top condition. Another fun thing I did a lot was make fixed gear or single speed bikes out of old road bikes.

The night that I worked was called Women and Trans night. It was once a week and was women and Trans only. No men allowed. I really liked working with women and trans individuals more so then men. I felt more at home. Many of my friends, both male and female, had expressed feeling intimidated by going into bike works, because many of the people who go there already know a lot about fixing bikes. They didn’t want to seem like they didn’t know anything. My job was to help those who didn’t know anything into taking the tools into their own hands and fixing their own bikes. That way, once they learn how to fix a flat, they never have to go pay someone else to do it for them. That’s called empowerment.

After my first year of working I was sent with a few other staff members to a conference called Bike Bike. It was 5 days, taking classes and seminars, riding bikes around Pittsburg (our first night we did a bridge tour) and spend time with other people around the country running similar non profits and co-ops. Since I ran Women and Trans night, I went to a lot of classes pertaining to that subject. One major point in many of the classes was gender and social equality. Something I learned there really stuck with me and that was: it’s easy to work with and want to work with people you are more comfortable with, because they are similar to you, but we need to practice equality in the workplace. That means treating each individual (no matter how weird or difficult they might be) with the same level of care. So the cool hip girl that comes in to work on her bike gets the same care and treatment as the annoying badly dressed chick that comes in the shop. It’s easy to work with those you like. And it’s not just about preference, it’s about equality. We are all entitled to the same level of equality across the board. Women were allowed, and often attended the non-women’s night, but my night was to be a safe place, safer than normal, for those who might be uncomfortable around men. I loved working there. I loved my Trans clients. I learned more working there than I did in most other jobs. I learned how to interact and treat people. How to teach and learn from others. I was empowered, and helped to empower others in a world that is often oppressive to those who are different. I could go on and on about all the great things about this non profit, from how each person pitched in to make the shop a better place, to the amount of recycling (down to the nuts and screws) that happened. Nothing went to waste and everything was appreciated.

I live by this in my day to day life. I have a passion for empowering others. I have a passion for my clients, to make sure they are getting the best of out me, no matter who they are and how they appeal to me. Each client, from my lowest paying one to my highest paying one is getting treated equally. I put in my all and make sure each person walks away with knowledge that I will take care of them and keep them safe.

I learned very early on what it was like being a woman in a field that in the past was male dominated. Furthermore being a minority in a professional work environment. And every further being an artist who thinks outside the box.

It’s not that hard. Treat others how you want to be treated. It’s the right thing to do.

My role

In my line of work I am an artist, planner, manager, problem solver, teacher and supporter. Sometimes I don’t think people realize how hard I work for my clients. I hesitate to use the phrase, “above and beyond,” because it’s nothing out of the ordinary for me. By no means do I mean to brag about how good I am at my job. I mean, my job consists of wearing a lot of hats, and it can be quite overwhelming.

Weddings can be stressful and I try my best to be there for my clients. I tell them, I am an endless fountain of information. I’ve been to more weddings than the average person attends in their lifetime. I can coordinate, give advice, help with ideas, locate items, etc. Its not part of my job description, but it makes my job easier to be on top of things, so I help out where I can to make sure everything is running smoothly.

Sometimes it means talking someone down from an emotional roller coaster. It means being there in the thick of things when shit hits the fan, so I can help clean up.

This past week I was meeting with a client and she had to be taken to the ER due to pancreatitis. We were sitting there when she began to pass out, dropped to the floor, then threw up multiple times in my presence. I went into instinct mode immediately and alerted the staff of the restaurant, grabbed water and paper towels for her and started to apply preassure to the back of her neck. Her fiancé kept her upright while we waited for the ambulance to arrive. She kept apologizing, but to me, this was my natural reaction to aid her in any way that I can. It might not be part of my job, but if I can be of any help, I will. In a way, I did feel like it was part of my job. I’m providing a service to her, she is my client. At one point she and her fiancé told me they were ok and I could leave. I got in my car but could not bring myself to start the car and drive away. I came back in and told them I was staying until the ambulance arrived. There was no way I was going to leave them without knowing they were on their way to the hospital. The emts eventually arrived and took them to the hospital.

I feel bad for her that she was embarrassed. I know she didn’t want me to see her like that. But when I am with my clients, I want them to feel completely comfortable with me. If they are at their worst, I want them to know that I am there for them.

For me, it’s not just about getting paid. My nature and my business go hand in hand.

I texted her the next morning to make sure she was doing ok. I’m photographing her wedding in a few months. I hope very much that she is not still embarrassed when I see her again. Maybe it will help in the long run to know that she can rely on me and trust me because I will drop everything to come to her aid. This is how I value my clients, but also how I value my fellow human beings. Being a decent human can go a long way.

Who’s to say…

I had 4 meetings today. And I found myself repeating the same things in all of the meetings. Much of it has to do with how I approach my business philosophy.

“Have you heard of so-and-so?” No. “They’re kind of a big deal.” I hear that a lot. It’s not really my concern who’s more well known than who. Maybe I should be paying more attention to names. But I refuse to promote anyone to celebrity status because they’re a well known wedding photographer. Also the quality of their work doesn’t mean that they are a good person or have a good personality either. So when I meet other photographers, it doesn’t concern me what their work looks like. Or how many jobs they’ve done. Or how much money they made last year. Because success to me is not measured in Facebook likes or retweets. It’s more about the quality of life.

It is important to me that I have good relationships with others. That goes for other photographers as well as other wedding professionals like planners or caterers. But honestly, the most important relationship to me is between myself and my client. Because without my clients, I would not be as successful as I am today. Marketing and networking is useful. But many times it is not honest. The one thing I can trust is that my client is happy at the end of the day.

I will be honest and say that I have been fooled many times by people who I thought were my friends. In the business world, it’s even harder. My friendship has been taken advantage of left and right. It’s to the point where I find it hard to trust new people. Are they being friendly because they can get something out of having a relationship with me, or do they just like me for me? I also put myself out there to people who will be helpful to know in my business. I think that happens in any business. But there are nourishing relationships and draining ones. If I am going to let you in, I will give you my all, but I expect the same in return. If I can’t trust you, or if I loose trust in you, you’re out. And it’s going to take a hell of a lot of work to be let back in.

And then there’s the deal of monetary friendships. The fact that this exists in my field left and right makes me sick. What I’m talking about is a friendship that is paid for. There are wedding venues that have their “recommended vendor lists.” They claim that those vendors are good to work with, the best in their field, and have good relationships. What they don’t tell you is in many of those cases, those vendors pay a yearly fee to be put on that list. There is no way that I would ever pay to be put on a list. I want people to recommend me because they like me and my work, never because I pay someone to recommend me. It’s false. And I would not compromise my morals for any gain that might bring me.

The reason why I’ve been successful thus far is because I’m honest. I’m real. I work for my clients. I don’t think about myself. Maybe that doesn’t make me super popular, but it doesn’t really matter to me. I didn’t care if I was popular in high school, why would I begin to care now? I try to nourish my relationships. I admit, I’m not super great at it all the time. But I know what’s important to me. I’m a professional in the way that I see fit.

Social Media

I’m not a social media expert. But I use social media for my business. There’s a few things. I use twitter for both business and personal (I have two accounts, one is private), facebook for both (again one is private), and instagram. There are a few others I use but not to any grand extent. I keep my personal stuff private for a reason. That reason is because I’ve been burned, taken advantage of, misquoted, etc. I let those who I trust in, and everyone else at an arms distance. 

I’m going to go ahead and say I don’t think using a business account to project negativity is wise. Sure I’ll make a complaint every now and then (usually about other “professionals” stealing my work), but it ends there. I don’t try to shame anyone on twitter, make rude comments, subtweet, or nag. Not only do I not approve of it on a personal level, I just think it’s bad for business. Who would want to hire me if all I did all day was rant about things on twitter. Things that have nothing to do with my business?  My work is with weddings. It’s about love and romance. Things that I’m not usually all fluffy about, but at the same time, it’s my job to support it, so I do so with an open mind. Futhermore, if I have a problem with someone or something. I go to the source and state my mind. Publicly slandering another person on the internet because you have a problem with them is never my first step. It’s not even my last step. Sure if a company has horrible customer service, and in order for them to make an effort you need to tweet at them your complaint, that’s totally understandable. 

Let me also go ahead and state that I dont think it’s wrong to complain about things from time to time. And if someone is annoying you, sure complain about them too. But maybe keep it anonymous? I’ll say something like, “Yo chick who just stole my photo and put it on your site, you probably shouldnt do that” instead of, “(someone’s full name and link to their website), you’re an awful person because you stole my photo, and hey while I’m at it, anyone who’s friends with me should now write horrible things to you online because I pointed it out.” There is a big difference there. Also, that whole bit always comes after I personally email them asking that they remove my copywrited images before I get lawyers involved… thus giving them a chance to make it right. 

I was never bullied in high school, and I never was the bully. So I also try not to be on the giving or receiving end of it online now that I’m an adult. And that’s the key word here now isnt it, “adult.” Stop acting like a child and man up. 


Winter, I quit.

My sole fell off my boot this weekend. My dog chewed through my gloves and my hat has a hole in it. My snow boots don’t keep my feet dry anymore. I’ve given up. I bought tickets to Texas.

The winter started off with anxiety, days getting shorter. It improved and snowed. It was nice. Then it snowed again. And again. And again. And a few more times after that. The past few weeks the panic started to set in again. I need to get out of here.

My work season never really “ended.” I suppose it slowed a bit. But not really all too much. It’s ok. I need to make money. Its also keeping me on my toes.

Somehow in the past month or so, I started to see things again. Like how I saw them in college. I knew what I wanted and it didn’t really matter what anyone else thought. Somewhere in the whole making-a-living bit, I tossed that aside. But it’s back. I mean, I guess it never really went away. Maybe it’s just the panic/winter talking. But I think this year might be different. And I’m trying to make it count.

Friendships are weird. I have a lot of them. Sometimes it’s hard work for me. Sometimes it’s super easy. Most of the time I feel like I’m overstepping boundaries or being a bad friend. I’m never really sure whats happening at which time until it’s happened, or someone has called me out on something. I don’t curb my thoughts. I think I see my business relationships the same way. I really don’t see the difference. Why would I portray a different personality in my business than I do in my regular “real” life? But I see it all the time in others. By trade, I am an observer. I see things. I see when people are closed off, when they are awkward, when they are aggressive, when they try too hard, when they are trying to impress me, and when they respect me. I enjoy the latter. There are a lot of thoughts in this post. A lot is flowing through my mind at this moment. Again, it’s the anxiousness.

I want it to be warm again.

Thanks but I’m not flattered.

In my industry for some reason people have no problem stealing each other’s ideas. I’ve been alerted to people stealing my images and content numerous times and claiming them as their own. One photographer even went so far as to copy and paste my content… Full of all my grammatical errors and typos (it happens a lot). It’s like they’re not even trying to make it sound different. It’s too much work to come up with your own ideas, you have to take someone else’s but also you’re too lazy to even make the slightest effort to change it. Another photographer copied photos which even had watermarks already on it and put it on their site as their own. I mean, really?

I feel like I’m going crazy. Am I the only person who thinks this is wrong? I feel like I shouldn’t even be surprised because it keeps happening over and over. And it’s not limited to weddings professionals. Almost all of my artist friends have had their work stolen and copied by big brands. Lawsuits yield no reward. People find loopholes.

I’ve learned to not trust anyone. I have to limit what I say around others and block people from my social networking accounts. There are very few people allowed in my circle, and to them I can be completely honest and open. It’s a damn shame.

In my business I try very hard to make sure people are credited. I pay my employees very well, and I never take advantage of “connections” or throw my weight around. I know I can do whatever I wanted. I could yearn for success and wealth. I could dick people over and not give it a second thought. But that’s not who I am. If you want me to respect you, you better earn that respect. I’m not playing any games.


Photo on 2010-10-05 at 13.14


I’ve been following writer, Suey Park, on twitter lately.  She was the woman to started the hashtag #NotYourAsianSidekick. Reading what she has to say has really gotten me thinking about things that I’ve only grazed the surface of before.


I am an Asian American woman. But I look white. Here’s my story. I am 50% Chinese, 25% Lithuanian and a small mix of German and Italian (possibly some other things).  I am American born. On my father’s side we did not follow any culture. On my mother’s side, we did. I grew up eating chicken feet, going to dim sum for every holiday/birthday/anniversary/etc, celebrated Chinese New Year, lived in a house arranged by Feng Shui, and leaned the appropriate phrases in Cantonese to say to my aunts, uncles, and Po-po.  There are many more points, but to be honest, I’m not sure which of them differ from the “normal” American household because to me, they were normal in our house. Besides American, the only culture I know is Chinese. It is what the majority of my background and ethnicity is.

Growing up, when having to fill out forms which required your ethnicity, the options were: white, african american, hispanic, asian/pacific islander, and other. I checked “other.” As I grew older I started checking “Asian” because I did not want to be “other” any more. It made me feel weird. Like I didn’t belong.

Because I don’t look very Asian, I was never teased the way my sister was growing up. No one called me slang terms. I was occasionally talked down to, or asked, “Do you speak english?” by my teachers in elementary school.  But mostly I saw the racism acted out upon my mother. When we would go out to the store, women would make comments under their breath, “Go back to Korea,” they would say. Which is like, not even the same country, duh.  The cashier would look at my mother blankly because she wouldn’t understand what she was saying in her accent. To me, my mother never had an accent. I can understand everything she says. I would be shocked when people referred to her as having an accent. To me, it was normal. People were rude to her left and right, and still are to this day.  I almost got into a fist fight with a woman once because of how she treated my mother. I was in high-school, and full of angst.

As I grew older, it became clear to me that people have been racist to me and my family throughout the years. I still have to look back at instances growing up and re-evaluate them. “Were those people being that way because I’m Chinese?”

But also because I look white, I see and hear people make fun of Asians around me. They don’t realize that I am also Asian. One co-worker kept making fun of a group of Japanese tourists in the gift shop I worked at. He was an old white man, slanting his eyes and saying horrid things. Because there was a line of people, I couldn’t escape him, as he plainly and rudely made racist remarks in front of me, somehow thinking that I might join in with him. I was extra nice to every customer, and as soon as the line ended, I stormed off straight into the managers office and asked them to fire him. He wasn’t fired of course. Just warned. I put my foot down and said I wouldn’t go back out there and work along side him, so they put me in the stock room, and never scheduled us to work together again. Just typing this makes me remember how angry I was that day.

When I entered the professional workplace. The racist remarks began to die down and the sexist ones arose. The first few years I began photographing weddings, the white middle aged man of every group would look at me in disbelief. “Are you friends of the bride?” “What school are you in?” “Did you buy that camera yourself?” Seriously? And a lot of, “I’m a photographer too, you’re probably too young to remember film photography.” Like, how young do you think I am?! And film photography is still taught in schools, btw. I’ve been shooting weddings since 2002 and people still ask me who I work for. As if it’s not possible that I might be self-employed, or own my own company, or have employees. I can’t imagine what it would be like if I also looked more Chinese than I do, or god-forbid, had an accent.

I’m still fighting this battle. I speak up. I hold my ground. I also joke around with my other Asian friends, because I have to, to not to be constantly angry. I use my privilege and my culture to relate to others. Wether it be correcting them, or identifying with them.

What more can I do? I’m working on figuring that out still.