Food Porn: Eat Well LA Shoot

i had so much fun shooting these food photos of eat well LA recently for gilt city. i’m pretty happy with how they turned out. i mean, i was basically drooling. if you live in LA, this meal delivery service is worth checking out. for a busy person, this is far healthier than picking up fast food or microwaving a frozen burrito. or, if you’re like me and fail at cooking pasta (nobody told me linguine has a longer cooking time than spaghetti), this is a cheaper option than eating out every day.

eat well LA

eat well LA

eat well LA

eat well LA

the salad was one of the freshest and tastiest i’ve had. the beats added a nice texture and sweetness.

eat well LA

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The Thermals: LA Gig, New Album, Vinyl Reissues

shooting a band that you last saw while in high school* can really make a person feel old. while i did experience a tinge of age induced panic at their recent LA show at the echoplex, the thermals quickly pushed that aside with an euphoric, nostalgic high. something about those frenzied guitar hooks, steady baselines and crashing cymbals dissolves the bullshit around you. these are the songs that you shout out while driving, in the shower, while cooking, whenthefuckever.

the thermals @ echoplex, LA 3/18/13

last month, the thermals reissued limited edition, colored vinyl of their classic discography on sub pop recordsmore parts per millionfuckin’ a, and the body, the blood, the machine —  all three albums still hold up and are definitely worth their replay value. they also have a new record, desperate ground, out april 16th but you can actually buy the album now on saddle creek records and you’ll be able to download it instantly before the release date. they’ll also ship it from their online store right when you buy it.

when i heard my old favorites at the echoplex show last month, i couldn’t help but close my eyes and just smile even after all these years. whenever i had a bad day or felt like someone tried to crush my spirit, the thermals’ video for “a pillar of salt” cheered me up. it picked me right up and i felt ready to conquer the world and just wreck havoc. we’re young only once, after all. we shouldn’t be afraid to take risks even if it means potential failure. their songs charge you up to be different and take action for what you believe in. this is not meek music. this is music that makes you want to speak up, do something, and live.

i covered their los angeles show for prefix. you can see more photos here. so much crowd surfing madness. :]

the thermals @ echoplex, LA 3/18/13

the thermals @ echoplex, LA 3/18/13

the thermals @ echoplex, LA 3/18/13

*one of my favorites was probably when they played with cursive and chin up chin up. such a good lineup. i caught the san francisco show at the fillmore, i believe.

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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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darwin deez @ the echo

FACT: it’s impossible to attend a darwin deez show without cracking a smile.

could be those mid-set dance routines and those quirky but sweet lyrics– they’re just what you need on a friday night after a looooonnng week.

usually i walk to the echo since it’s in my neighborhood but *le gasp* it was raining in los angeles that night. when i got there, it was clear that the show was definitely sold out. the entry line at the echo stretched out to the bridge.

darwin deez @ the echo, LA 3/8/13

thankfully, i was the first person in the guest list line so i got a proper spot near the stage. check out the full gallery up on prefix.

darwin deez @ the echo, LA 3/8/13

darwin deez @ the echo, LA 3/8/13

darwin deez @ the echo, LA 3/8/13

darwin deez @ the echo, LA 3/8/13

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Cold War Kids @ KCRW’s Berkeley Street Studio

KCRW puts on these private, intimate studio sessions at Apogee Berkeley Street Studio. I nearly bursted with joy when I covered Local Natives back in December in the small space. A few days ago, Cold War Kids dropped by the studio to preview tracks off their upcoming album, Dear Miss Lonelyhearts. Like everyone and their mom, I’ve been in love with them since hearing the dangerous rattling of maracas at the start of “We Used To Vacation” and those oh so soulful vocals.

Check out my photos and recap of the night over at Prefix Magazine. :]

Cold War Kids @ KCRW's Berkeley Street Studio, Santa Monica

I can’t get their latest single, “Miracle Mile” out of my head. It’s so hopeful and wild.

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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.

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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.”

Photo on 3-3-13 at 10.20 PM

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:

fat cow

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.

fat cow

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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Getting Lost at LA Art Book Fair

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Last weekend, Printed Matter presented the first annual LA Art Book Fair at The Geffen Contemporary/MOCA. The fair took place across three days and I stopped by on Sunday to check it out.

The massive fair featured 220 international publishers and artists. In addition to a photography section, there was an entire room dedicated to zines. Definitely fun to explore and get lost in. There was cute, neon gaffer tape on the floor and walls in some sections to guide people through the huge fair. It was really nice to bump into people I hadn’t seen in a while like my old boss, Cat, at the Lucie Foundation. :]

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Disney’s Paperman + Death of Romance in the Digital Age

Disney released their Oscar nominated animated short, Paperman, on YouTube earlier this week. If this mini-love story doesn’t tug at your heart strings, I’d wager you’re a robot (and not the adorable Wall-E kind). The short consists of traditional hand drawings and computer generated graphics. Though the black and white cityscapes are set in Manhattan, it reminds me a lot of historic downtown Los Angeles.

I love this short but it makes me think about the death of romance in the digital age. What are the odds you’re going to even notice someone while walking down the street or on a train platform if everyone is glued to their smartphone? Who knows, maybe eye contact will be reinforced once Google’s augmented reality glasses come out.

As mentioned on Mashable, the absence of paper use in offices makes throwing a paper airplane less applicable. Gone are the days of handwritten love letters. Emails and texts aren’t quite the same. Sure, you can painstakingly craft a nice text with all the cute emojis but imagine trying to seal a message with a kiss. You’re gonna get lipstick on your expensive device. That’s a pain to clean.

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