Category Archives: Personal

Moving to NYC: What I’ll Miss Most About LA

the girl that never sleeps is finally moving to the city that never sleeps. certainly reminds me of one of my favorite songs by the wombats.

farewellLA

how do i sum up 6 years of my life in los angeles? understandably, i’ve been putting off writing this blog by sheer intimidation but it’s probably time. in less than 3 weeks, i’ll be packing up my life in the land of palm trees and saying hello to new york city. if there’s anything i should add to my LA bucket list before i leave, let me know!

i moved to LA initially to study at UCLA and lingered afterwards for career reasons. since then, i’ve had many adventures — from interning at universal pictures and focus features, to working at UCLA’s film/tv rental office checking out equipment, to shooting hundreds of editorial projects and concerts. for some time i even gave the acting thing a shot with a commercial agent i was referred to by the makeup artist on a music video shoot. i eventually became involved with a wonderful non-profit photo organization and loved connecting with others on events and exhibits to bring photography to life. i liked working behind the scenes so much that i found myself on the project management side of a digital media agency– producing apps/games/websites for brands like l’oreal, bravo and several movie studios.

though it’s been an amazing adventure, i know this city just doesn’t suit me. the sprawled geography, the incessant traffic, lack of public transportation and seasons. it was just a ball of stress.

it’s a bit strange now because i’ve established a pretty good life here. i have a wonderful network of friends, a stable job as a producer, regular photo clients, etc. i absolutely adore my apartment and echo park– the neighborhood i live in.

echo park at sunset

however, i know that i won’t ever truly be happy with this city. i mean, you better have a pretty good reason to stay somewhere you don’t like and i’ve been fortunate enough to have accomplished most of my reasons within the past few years.

i’m a firm believer in taking action if you’re unhappy. you can come up with a slew of excuses or even legitimate barriers between going after what you want but in the end, you’re only cheating yourself. don’t stand in your own way because there will sure as hell be plenty of other obstacles to deal with. i try to tell myself that if you want something, it’s not that hard. just take actionable steps and make a plan. honestly, life is precious and you shouldn’t waste time delaying pursuit of the things that make you happy. take the time to stop and ask yourself if you’re doing what you want in life. if you’re not and don’t have a good reason why, you better get it together. one thing i’ve learned through loss is to never take anything for granted– to charge forward with purpose before it’s too late. regret never does down easy.

so with that said, i’m going after one of my life goals of living in new york. as a high school freshman, i visited new york on an orchestra trip (shh…don’t judge). even though i was only there for a week, i completely fell in love with the city and promised myself that when i “grew up,” i would live there. this is a pretty scary leap considering i’m leaving everything behind and i don’t have a job or place lined up. that’s fine though. i like a good challenge and sometimes you just have to shake things up a bit. plus, i believe i’ve outgrown LA now that i’ve accomplished my initial goals for moving here in the first place. thankfully, i do have a roommate to look for apartments with in brooklyn. my old co-worker from lucie foundation, dylan, recently moved there so we’ll hopefully find a quaint apartment together– preferably with good lighting. :]

after leaving LA, i’m driving up to the bay area where my family lives and going on a two week vacation to europe before flying out of san francisco to new york. plane tickets have been purchased and it’s a done deal. i haven’t been back in the uk since i lived in london so i’m pretty ecstatic. i’ve got a bit of wanderlust. so far, london, paris, venice, and amsterdam are on the list but perhaps i’ll squeeze in more. i’m looking at this vacation and move as an opportunity for new adventures and re-evaluation.

now that my moving plans are concrete and the countdown has commenced, i’m starting to realize there are a lot of things i’ll miss about LA. shooting FYF will probably be my last hurrah in LA and it’s strange to think that this will be my 4th year in a row shooting it. i gave notice to work and almost got a bit choked up because i really do like the company i work for and i’m so grateful for the opportunities i’ve had to learn and grow. i gave my roommates notice to find a replacement and realized how much i loved my apartment — which is why i’ve lived in the same one for the past 4 years. i mean, look at dat lightttttttt!

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i’ll miss the walks around the neighborhood, the gorgeous lake that just reopened, and weekends spent in my favorite cafes making idiot faces.

the faint @ music box, los angeles 11/18/12

i’ll miss the music venues and the many music photographers that have become like a second family to me these past years while shooting countless shows. they’ve touched me with their kindness, fervor for life and incredible creativity.

really what i’ll miss the most about LA are the friends i’ve met. i can’t fully explain how grateful and lucky i feel to share laughs and struggles with you fucking amazing people. GAWD DAMN, ALL THE FEELZ RUSHING AT ME. having you in my life at all is a sort of love and gratitude that i can’t fully articulate.

so thank you. you’ve made LA home for me these past 6 years and knowing you is truly the best thing that’s happened to me here.

as for new york, here’s to hoping it’s every bit as rowdy and full of life.

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Weekend Daydream: Angeles National Forest

weekends are for unplugging and working on real tans instead of catching fluorescent office rays and the glow of computer monitors. that’s why last weekend, i went on a hike to a waterfall.

 

it was friday night– my friend, karin, and i just got turned away from the wait list for a musical improv show at upright citizens brigade so we sped down sunset boulevard blasting the “guilt mix” on my ipod. basically we were screaming a bit of this and a lot of this at midnight. we stopped at brite spot and each ordered an irresponsible amount of dessert. maybe it was the sugar rush or the disappointment of the sold out show but the urge to go on a spontaneous adventure took over. we started researching our options and it turns out, hey– there are a lot around LA.

fields, waterfalls, and forests were on the top of the list. after karin left, i passed out fully clothed googling waterfalls and wildflower fields at 2am.

first choice was antelope valley’s poppy reserve because holy crap those photos are gorgeous. however, we let out a whimper when we saw a current photo of the field. basically, it looks like a barren desert when not in season.

all good though. we ended up hiking to sturtevant falls at angeles national forest on sunday. knowing that there was water and climbing involved, i knew better than to challenge my…uh…sub-par motor skills by carrying an SLR. thus, hello average iphone photos.

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the drive only took about 20 minutes from east LA. you’d think you escaped the infuriating traffic once you’re up in the mountains but we circled the parking lot for half an hour before giving up and parking perilously on the side of the road further down on the mountain. guess it’s crowded on weekends. the park only charged $5 for a parking pass and there was no entry fee. make sure you still grab a pass though even if you park on the side of the road– we saw a lot of people with parking tickets.

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there were these cute antique cabins tucked away on the hike. apparently they were built between 1907 and 1936. interestingly, they’re now private property and available for residential sale.

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in retrospect, going on a hike mid-afternoon in the sweltering heat probably wasn’t the brightest idea but we were pleasantly surprised. with very minimal exceptions, ample trees surrounded the trail which provided much appreciated shade. once we got to the waterfall, there was even a very cooling breeze.

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the good thing about going on a hike with another photographer is that you feel less guilty when you pause to take a bunch of photos since you’re both doing it. i caught karin taking photos of the waterfall. i also tried making a video on instagram but hooray it crashed once i got back with network signal and it deleted the video.

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by the end of the hike, the trail was nearly straight uphill. i transitioned into full whine mode but i just thought about the cake i was going to reward myself with and kept going. my legs and glutes are still sore from the hike!

anyway, if you’re in southern california, you should definitely venture over to angeles national forest. i know there’s no wifi or cell phone signal in nature but the beauty of an occasional getaway is worth prying ourselves away from our social media addictions.

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Creative Productivity Tips: Pop a Gat on Procrastination

heat wave has settled in LA. as i’m typing in at this cafe in echo park, i can barely concentrate despite the a/c. something about the summer just inspires daydreaming. or maybe blaming the weather is a convenient excuse for productivity.

speaking of productivity, it seems as though i’ve neglected you, blog. sure, i’ve been busy shooting, work and eating but let’s be real — i’ve also been very busy procrastinating. ;] that hopefully should change. i stumbled across this book called “manage your day to day: build your routine, find your focus & sharpen your creative mind.” i’m not too far into it but it’s already been very helpful. i like that it’s comprised of essays from multiple creative professionals.

manage your day to day

woopz, i got some grease on my copy thanks to a delicious brie/fig sandwich. anyway, with the producer day job, regular editorial photo gigs, concert shoots, and personal projects, i end up feeling really overwhelmed and exhausted at the end of the day.

i’m trying to do the below. maybe they’ll help you optimize your time too:

  1. set aside time for creative endeavors or personal priorities at the start of your day – wake up early. complete the tasks important to you early in the day because by the end of the day, you’ve already expended your best mental energy on other tasks. this leads to more procrastination a la “i’m too tired” or “i already worked all day.”
  2. practice routine and frequency – it’s easier to keep going than it is to stop and start cold. also, when you do something often, it takes the pressure off for each task result to be the most amazing thing ever. this blog for example, the longer i put it off the more anxiety i feel about making a post that’s incredible since i haven’t blogged in a while. you start to overanalyze and that just gets in the way of actually doing anything at all. same with photography too– the more  you develop a habit of shooting, editing, and posting often– the more likely you’ll get an incredible shot. wtf, you think you’ll capture a masterpiece each time you click the shutter? c’mon. whatever you do, it doesn’t have to be perfect– just do it until you get there. anyway, i’ve been applying routine and frequency to exercising lately too– more on that in another post.
  3. break down big goals into manageable, executable tasks – figure out what you want and then list out actionable steps to get closer to the goal. it can get really intimidating when you just focus on the big picture. it makes starting an endeavor hard and procrastination becomes an excusable option. instead, take it day by day and one task at a time. those days will add up and as long as you practice routine (#2!) you’ll get there. don’t obsess over the end goal– always have it in the back of your mind but instead concentrate on the smaller tasks getting there. the project management strategies from my producer job should be applied towards the way i tackle my personal goals. on the projects i manage, there’s always a scope and defined deliverables. you don’t just charge into a project without structure– you take it piece by piece. i make a schedule that breaks down the project into clear design iterations, development rounds and then QA. breaking down steps makes the end goal achievable otherwise you don’t know where to start.
  4. don’t download the simpsons tapped out mobile game – you will spend embarrassing amounts of money on donut currency and premium items. just don’t do it.
  5. don’t procrastinate by googling “how to stop procrastinating.” you’ll just end up looking at cat memes online.

kay, maybe some of those tips are less helpful than others. i might add more later. go ahead and leave your own tips in the comments section.

on that note, gonna leave now. been at this cafe too long and my buddy has already left! we had a brunch/work hang out. i’ll leave you with a photo of our coincidental cat wallpapers.

cat friends

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Racial Threats & Plea for Change

as a first generation immigrant, i’ve seen my family through some trying times. for every kind person i meet that restores my faith in humanity, there’s always another that leaves me fuming and wondering how our species survived this far.

i called my mom the other night to catch up and hear about her day. she works 6 days a week which includes working one day at a bay area chinese restaurant. over some coupon dispute that wasn’t even her fault (just following the owner’s instructions), some customer left in a huff, continued to call the restaurant and harass her with racist threats. oh, specifics? he threatened, “you better get ready to run because i’m going to call immigration. i’m going to call the cops on you.”

never mind that the harassment stemmed from a $2 difference that was out of my mom’s control.

never mind that my mom was just doing her job as instructed. if anything, she was doing more than obligated because when this was escalated to the boss, he simply told her to tell the customer that he wasn’t there and to not provide his name or contact information to the customer demanding information. she was basically forced to take the brunt of the customer’s verbal abuse. such cowardice and awful business management.

the phone calls got so frequent and ridiculous that they were disrupting business. the line was tied up (no incoming to-go calls could connect) and my mother couldn’t serve other customers while dealing with the bullshit. eventually the owner conceded to my mother asking for the customer’s contact information so that they could call him back. you see, the owner doesn’t speak english so he had his son call the customer later.

my mom doesn’t know what exactly they discussed but she did receive a call from the disgruntled customer afterwards ‘apologizing.’ he simply said that he was sorry for his tone and reassured her that he wasn’t going to call immigration or the cops. OH WHY THANK YOU, YOU CONDESCENDING PIECE OF SHIT. never mind that we’ve never been illegal immigrants and have valid passports. he should’ve been worried my mother didn’t call the cops on his racist ass for repeated harassment.

my parents are working class and i’m fucking proud of it. during high school and some of college, i used to be slightly ashamed and embarrassed that they worked customer service type jobs. i’d compare them to my friends’ parents with business jobs or colleagues in the art world and feel self conscious. especially when i first moved to LA where wealth is worshipped and rich kids run amuck. however, now i realize and appreciate how much my parents have accomplished. in china, my dad was an english teacher and my mom worked as chemist. they sacrificed their jobs, lifestyles, and family (everyone else besides my immediate family is in china) to move to a completely foreign country in pursuit of a better future. i’m forever grateful for that bravery and it inspires me to fight harder.

anyway, what i’m getting at is– i know it’s pointless trying to talk sense to people that are capable of gross mistreatment towards others but it’s difficult to see my mother put up with this on a daily basis. she works hard enough and she just wants to retire. dealing with mistreatment regularly can really break your spirit and i admire my mother’s strength to persevere through injustices like this without developing a victim mentality or becoming an ugly natured human being in return.

what are we supposed to do though? accept that some people are just going to be crazy and awful beyond reasoning so we just let the insults fly? we don’t seek these confrontations, we’re placed in them. back in high school, i remember just crossing the sidewalk when someone in a passing car shouted, “hey gook! go home!” wtf, that’s not even the right ethnic slur and this was in northern california for fuck’s sake– we’re not even in the south.

i believe in standing up against mistreatment but there’s too much crazy in the world to fight against. we can’t fight every battle but letting the abuse occur without calling it out seems wrong. no matter which reaction you choose, you’re left exhausted.

so this is what i ask of you– strive to be a kind human being. be as considerate as you can to others because you don’t know the pains and obstacles they’ve encountered in the past or even presently. i know nobody is perfect, but please ask yourself if your actions could cause suffering before opening your mouth or doing something questionable. this doesn’t just go for racial prejudice but for any interaction. be nice to the person making your drink even if they mess up– you never know what kind of day they had. their friend could’ve just passed away. practice tolerance and kindness.

all in all though, you’ll always have friends and family that remind you everything will be ok in the end. on that note, here’s a photo of me giving my mom a kiss and telling her, “yo mom, haterz gawn hate.”

happy mothers day

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I LOVE EDITING

like so much you can’t even handle it yes i’m in my pj’s. is this sarcasm? are you a smart cookie? shush shush shush. oh gawd, someone give me a cookie.

Photo on 3-6-13 at 11.54 PM

photobooth, y u make it so easy to procrastinate? no but really, tonight’s cold war kids performance at kcrw was stunning. photos and review will be up on prefix tomorrow. no sleep for wei.

Photo on 3-7-13 at 12.01 AM #3

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Asian Mother – Thoughts on Homeless Hair

“Ai yahhhh, Weiiii-Weiiiiii. When you wear hair down, you look like homeless person.”

I was playing with my hair today and remembered what my mother would always say to me. I love my mother dearly and her quirks make me giggle now. When I was younger though, this was a different story. If you’ve had Asian parents you know how it goes.

She often protested that, “I only tell you truth because I love you. You think other people care and tell you the truth? They sugarcoat. I look out for best.”

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Looking back on my childhood, I’m actually pretty grateful for the harsh words and criticism not only on my physical features but basically every aspect of my existence. Though silly and ultimately good intentioned, to hear harsh, subjective comments on a regular basis really toughens you up. It helped me develop a strong sense of self worth and “LAALALALALALALA, I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU THINK AS LONG AS I’M HAPPY.” It also helped build acute self awareness because if you’re fully cognizant of your flaws, no one else’s criticism can cut deeper than the standards you’ve set already for yourself. I suppose it’s a form of self preservation as well — you can’t tear apart what’s already been torn. ;]

You can’t worry about what other people think of you because there are over 7 billion people in the world and you can’t satisfy everyone. Even if you could, why would you even want to? Who are they to you? This is why it infuriates me when anyone tries to dictate how someone should live their life. It’s also extremely annoying when complete strangers think it’s ok to come up to me and tell me how they think I should look. For instance, some guy behind me in line at Walgreens decided it was a good idea to tell me, “Miss, your septum piercing makes you look ugly. You’re a pretty young lady and you don’t need that ugly thing.”  Excuse me? Who the fuck are you to me? Why does a complete stranger think it’s okay to voice rude, unsolicited comments on my appearance? I made a clear decision years ago and I did not get this piercing for you. Oh my gawd, I’m just trying to buy some damn paper towels cos it’s only $5 for a pack here.

As for the people you know in your immediate presence, they will all have different opinions and expectations anyway. You’ll drown in the noise if you don’t sustain your own voice.

So yeah, tune into different stations once in a while but don’t ever compromise your own track.

Shh. Whoa, making weird metaphors. I’m tired. HAIR UP!

Photo on 3-3-13 at 10.18 PM

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How February Tried to Destroy Me + Gordon Ramsay Food Porn

february – you wild beast, you’ve tried to maul me but i’ve cracked my whip, hustled and tamed you. unless you have some secret attack saved for the remaining days of your reign, i’d say i’ve won this round.

phew. ok, this month has definitely been busy. between shoots, breaking up with an asshole days before valentine’s day, and working ridiculous hours at the producer job, i’ve been going slightly crazy. thankfully, le tigre’s discography helped me shred through everything in my path. despite the obstacles, it’s been a very good month and i’ve set plans in motion to tick a few items off my bucket list. for one, i finally signed up for upright citizens brigade improv/sketch comedy classes! after the two month class, there will be a graduation show so i hope you guys can come out and see me make a fool of myself. the performance is on sunday, april 21 at 1:30pm at upright citizens brigade theatre. if you’re going to the second weekend of coachella, you will sadly miss me being idiotic on stage. that’s alright, i’m sure if we’re friends you get plenty of that on a regular basis. >:3

oh, and in other news, i licensed one of my music photos for apple outdoor ads in the UK and japan! can’t go into too much detail but i’m very stoked about that.

of the features i’ve shot this month for gilt city, gordon ramsay’s restaurant at the grove, fat cow, was one of my favorites. executive chef, mathew woolf prepared stunning dishes including grilled shrimp with bacon habanero marmalade, root beer glazed short rib, and malt chocolate pot au crème. oh my gawd. voilà, some obligatory food porn:

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fat cow
i absolutely love shooting food but it can be challenging. for interior/exterior shots, i typically bring a tripod and remote to shoot with a low shutter speed. that way i can capture the vibrant activity of the space in a low light, nighttime setting. also, the slow shutter speed means any type of movement will be blurred which is perfect for masking diner’s faces. after all, you don’t ever want to feature someone without a release form or disturb a patron.

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i was slightly intimidated shooting this particular restaurant since it was in a very crowded space and i knew curious eyes watched as i worked. the grove is a busy outdoor shopping center. though i’m a pretty shy person in some situations, when it comes to work and photography, you just have to zone out all the distractions and focus on the task at hand. usually i get so excited about the food (chefs are fucking genius artists) and creating a good image that i naturally lose consciousness of anything else.

food porn aside, another gilt shoot i really enjoyed this month was xtend barre. i can already sense my asian metabolism betraying me these days so if i ever get myself to exercise on a regular basis, i think i’d do barre classes. i mean, what girl doesn’t want to pretend they’re a ballerina while getting fit? the people that run xtend barre on melrose were extremely friendly and nice so i’d definitely recommend them if you’re in the area.

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besides these shoots for gilt, i’m now the house photographer for a monthly comedy series in los angeles called super serious show. i’ll write another post for that because man, it’s just a little too silly to follow up behind barre and food photos.

work at the digital media agency has been grueling because we’re in the final stretch of launching a redesigned app for a major hair product line on multiple mobile platforms. there have been late nights and countless spreadsheets. generally though, it’s been a busy but incredible month.

so yeah, K.O. february. you’ve swung some punches out of left field but you’re a fool if you think you can take me down. whenever i’m stressed or presented challenges, i think of these lyrics by le tigre:

and if you ever wanna try your hand at forcing my suicide just know i’ve only begun
and if you ever wanna try your hand at forcing my suicide come on and try to kill me off!

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