JRP: Michael Soo is a photographer who has made a reputation as a commercial shooter who is equally adept at capturing unforgettable wedding images. Michael has been kind enough to share a few moments with our readers. Thank you Michael and welcome to JRP Blog.
Michael Soo: Thanks, it’s fun to share knowledge and our passion for photography!
JRP: Where is home for you Michael?
Michael Soo: San Francisco Bay Area, California, but we travel worldwide for destination weddings and commercial work. For example, we were working with the CTO of Intel Corp on the Intel Developers’ Forum in Shanghai, China. Being up on stage in front of over 10,000+ people was fun! We showcased a new camera technology that allows a photograph to be re-focus after capture! Check it out, it’s really, really cool: http://www.soophotography.com/blog/2008/04/on-stage-at-intel-developer-forum-in.html
JRP: How did your interest in photography start and do you have any formal training in your background?
Michael Soo: The only photography class I ever took was “Photography B&W 101” in a local college. 😉
JRP: What is it about photography that motivates you?
Michael Soo: It is a combination of a huge multitude of disciplines. Beyond lighting, photoshop, exposure, technical, composition, workflow, design, etc that already takes up a large amount of brain power, you have to content with additional skills. Meteorology if you shoot landscape, food styling if you shoot food, understanding the trends if you shoot fashion, psychology if you shoot people, corporate business practices if you shoot commercials. I do all of the above, which provides me with enough challenges and fun to last a lifetime.
JRP: If you could only do one type of photography which type would you choose and why?
Michael Soo: I would never do that. We apply skills from one genre of photography to another. Who would have thought that a single wedding day photographer can draw strength from knowledge in fashion to food to landscape to psychology? Think wedding dresses (fashion), engagement portraits (landscape and people), wedding cake or a wonderful white-truffled foie gras or seared scallops (food). The list goes on. You can’t deprive me of all that fun!
JRP: Equipment wise what would I find in your camera bag for a typical shoot? What lighting equipment do you favor?
Michael Soo: Quite a lot of equipment goes in and out of my bag dependent on the type of shoot I’m going to, from ND filters to multiple prime lenses. We even bring tilt-shift lenses to an engagement shoot in Yosemite, creating one in a lifetime unique portrait that clients go gaga over! We use ultra expensive Profoto gear to ultra inexpensive reflectors, depending on the situation and location. The important part is getting shots that and not so much the equipment. Unless there is a specific creative direction that do not allow room to be creative, we tend to play and try new things every time. We are known to create completely different portraits in the same locations. Staying stagnant is the worst thing that can happen to a photographer.
JRP: Would you please describe your digital workflow and the software you use.
Michael Soo: We almost always shoot RAW, import it into Lightroom for minor adjustments and off it goes. Some images require some photoshop work but most of our imagery look great on the get go. That’s how we can get to show our clients the images off the camera. If they love it then, they’ll love it even more later.
JRP: Do you print any of your images?
Michael Soo: Yes, we create light panels, canvases, wedding albums from Pictobooks to Queensberry, etc.
JRP: Could you break down one of your images and explain the lighting and any special concerns you had during the shoot?
Michael Soo: The bride posted a canvas of the image in her reception. Her bridesmaids WOWed and circled around it. They were inquiring how we find such a gorgeous location.
The bride snapped opened her iPhone and showed them the photograph she took of the location. There was silence in the room for a good minute.
Sometimes, it’s just the camera angle, the lens we decide to use, and especially something called pre-visualization. Knowing the end results before clicking the shutter comes with experience and understanding the entire workflow.
JRP: What are some of the new directions being taken by you in your commercial and wedding photography?
Michael Soo: I’m beginning to teach a few more workshops due to intensifying demands from interested photographers. I find that I actually enjoy teaching and imparting skills and knowledge. Raising the standards of photography is one of my goals in 2010! My workshops can be found at: http://www.soophotography.com/workshop That’s my shameless plug. 😉
JRP: What has been some of the best advice given to you by another photographer?
Michael Soo: Pre-visualization (Ansel Adams) , this applies to all genre of photography!
JRP: What advice would you like to share with other photographers?
Michael Soo: Find your strength and weaknesses. What is the bottleneck with how to improve your photography? Is it technical ability? Lighting? Composition? Working with people? Understanding your bottleneck will allow you to be more aware on what you can improve on. Improving those skills will give you the best bang for your buck (or time). Those bottlenecks can change over time, as you progress. A constant check on it will ensure that you are learning area of photography that you never thought you’ll touch on.
JRP: Thank you Michael for sharing your thoughts and images with us. It has been a pleasure talking with you. We wish you continued success.
Michael Soo: It’s my pleasure.
JRP: To view more of Michael Soo’s photography please follow these links:
Soo Photography Website: http://www.soophotography.com
Soo Photography Blog: http://www.soophotography.com/blog/
Photography Forum: http://www.soocool.com/forum