Hunter | Baby (1st Birthday) Session by Anthony Nguyen

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Hunter's perfect "cap" to his Year in the Life collection - from newborn to six month and now his first birthday session! What a gorgeous smile, looking dapper on the lakefront! Moving out to the west coast, Hunter and Mom and Dad wanted a session to capture the essence of Chicago. Lake Michigan and our fantastic skyline view from Olive Park provided the perfect backdrop.

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I had to bring the family to Molly's Cupcakes to finish the session. Cozy and fun location, plus the cupcakes are always delicious! 

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Michelle + Kevin | Wedding by Anthony Nguyen

Two hearts in love need no words.
— Marceline Desbordes-Valmore

Congratulations to Michelle + Kevin on their beautiful wedding! An absolutely gorgeous, wonderful couple, I was honored to be invited by Michelle + Kevin to tell the story of their wedding day. I knew it would be fantastic, as I had so much fun capturing both Kevin's surprise proposal at the Chicago Botanic Gardens and their Olive Park engagement session. From the party bus shenanigans to the traditional Korean pae baek to a sparkler send-off, Michelle + Kevin's wedding was full of love and passion.

Thank you Michelle + Kevin for allowing me to capture your wedding day. All the best in the next chapter of your wonderful love story!

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Details
Venue: First United Methodist Church of Arlington Heights (Ceremony)
            Metropolis Ballroom (reception)
Stylist & MUA: Diem Angie Co.
Florals:
Ceremony Musician: Heavenly Harmony
DJ & Reception Music: Admit One DJ

Moana | Cosplay by Anthony Nguyen

I am Moana of Motusi. You will board my boat and restore the heart to Tafiti.
— Moana

Once again it was my pleasure to collaborate with Dancing Imperial (IG, Facebook) on this shoot. It was a cooler summer day and local advisories about the rough wave conditions on the lake kept most people away. Fortunately for us, the wind whipped waves added to Lake Michigan's cosplay/transformation into the Pacific Ocean! A perfect backdrop to Moana.

YoRHa No. 2 Type B | Cosplay by Anthony Nguyen

Everything that lives is designed to end. We are perpetually trapped...in a never-ending spiral of life and death
— 2B from NieR: Automata

The creativity in the cosplay community is inspiring. As I continue to expand my portfolio to include more cosplay, I look forward to seeing these creative influences appear in some of my other work!
 

Laura of Xanvai Cosplay, whom I photographed recently as Devil Mercy from Overwatch, was a pleasure to work with as usual. When I found out that Laura would be bringing her YoRHa 2B cosplay to ACEN (Anime Central) in Chicago, well I had to make some time for it! Generally, I have come to prefer, if possible, to do cosplay sessions outside of the overall hectic convention scene - even offsite during show weekend. While logistically easier to be at a convention, the hectic schedules can create issues. Laura was gracious enough to come downtown and make it happen!

As for the cosplay, this one is YoRHa No. 2 Type B, or 2B. She is the protagonist in the videogame NieR:Automata. An android created by surviving humans to battle machines that have invaded Earth, 2B has various weapons for battle, but her sword is the one with which most gamers and cosplayers are familiar.

The rest of the gallery can be found here.


Technical details. I wanted to try an infinity look because Laura's cosplay was monochromatic in color scheme. I felt the contrast would look nice in studio. Used one monolight in a 48" octabox as the key light on camera left, smaller reflector as fill, and two monolights on the backdrop. Most of the images were with my Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II AF-S around 100-110mm. I kept mainly to f/5.6 to f/7.1 for the session since I really wanted to keep her costume in focus.

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For the outdoor session, we went to a more industrial area for the dystopian look (as in the game). The gravel and overgrown vegetation at the site was a perfect backdrop! Most of the outdoor shots were under natural light (cloudy day, nature's ultimate softobx) with some images relying on a speedlight in a smaller, portable softbox. The weather and wind took a turn for the worst, but we managed to grab a few images outdoors.

Hunter | Baby (6 month) Session by Anthony Nguyen

Hunter at his 6 month baby session. What a gorgeous smile and obviously he was much more active than his newborn session! Completely at ease, especially with some of his closest and favorite "friends" in the session with him. We're rapidly approaching his first birthday this summer and I can't wait to capture those memories for Hunter and his family!


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Technical details. Again I shot this session pretty wide open keeping it around f/1.4 to 2.8. I prefer creamy bokeh for most of my images. Of course if there is a background element that is integral to the story I'm telling for a particular image then I'll stop down for the sharp depth of field.

This home has massive windows and those created fantastic catchlights. A catchlight is a light source that causes a highlight in a subject's eye in an image. This adds some "life" to the eyes by giving a sense of depth and dimension. Position the subject so that they are either directly looking at the window or the window is letting in light to one side of the face. 


Courtney + Shaun | Maternity by Anthony Nguyen

What a fun time had during this in-home maternity session! Wonderfully large windows that let in a lot of natural light, plus fantastic decorating scheme, contemplated the neutral color palette Courtney and Shaun selected.


Technical - In-home sessions, when the outdoors is not cooperating - and on this particular day, it was chilly and windy, not a good combination for an expectant mother - are my preference over in-studio sessions. The home provides a level of comfort and familiarity for the family, so that when we start the session the family can be in a relaxed state. I always recommend that clients stay with neutral solid colors - patterns tend to distract from the focus of the image - the family. Another thing I look for in my sessions are items around the home that highlight the home setting, whether a book or a comfortable pillow. 


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Snow White in the Enchanted Forest by Anthony Nguyen

Not much snow in Chicago this past winter. I was fortunate enough to be available for a cosplay session to take advantage of a small snowstorm that came through the area in early March. From blowing snow to rays of light peeking through the clouds, we managed to put together a fantastic Snow White themed session. Thanks to Kitty for her quintessential Snow White (as well as for putting up with the cold and snow)!


Technical - For this session, I used my Nikon D750 with three lenses - Sigma ART 35mm 1.4, Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G, and Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 ED VR II. Although I brought portable lighting, the conditions weren't conducive to me trying to set up and get images of Kitty. Besides, as most photographers will say, a cloudy day won't ruin a session (unless you're aiming for blue skies) because it's a naturally large softbox! I kept the session from about f/1.4 through f/4.0 - I prefer shooting wide open and for the session it was perfect, as the woods became more fantasy-like with the snow and shallow depth of field. Looking forward to heading back out there sometime this spring or summer just to get a different vibe to a session!


Model: Kitty Wolf (of Princesscapades Princess Parties)
Location: Caldwell Woods
 

C2E2 2017 | Cosplay by Anthony Nguyen

Here are some images from various cosplay sessions during C2E2 2017. Convention hall sessions can be a challenge because of the crowds, varied lighting, and general "convention center" background. Luckily the McCormick Place Convention Center down by the Chicago lakefront has awesome large windows. I brought my portable softbox kit as the main light, a second barely diffused flash as a fill light, and the sun as the rim light (or the second flash instead) depending on the time of the session.

Really enjoyed these sessions and looking forward to more cosplay photography!

Moana

Moana

Genji

Genji

Devil Mercy

Devil Mercy


Technical details. For the images, I shot wide open to blow out the background to my liking - it was a convention center\hotel and partial city skyline that frankly did not look as appealing (nor did I want distinct details appearing in the background). Found a nice "quiet" area with less foot traffic to avoid the random passerby or photobombing the image. Primarily used the Sigma ART 35mm 1.4 and Nikkor 85mm 1.8G for these as they open up nicely. 


Models:
Moana - Dancing Imperial (IG, Facebook)
Genji (Overwatch) - Kay (IG)
Devil Mercy (Overwatch) - Xanvai Cosplay (IG, Facebook)

Event: Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) 2017
Location: McCormick Place Chicago

 


May the 4th | Geek Life by Anthony Nguyen

May the 4th be with you!

Here are some images from a C2E2 2017 cosplay session recently. I know I haven't added to the blog in some time, hopefully that will change soon. I do find the cosplay sessions quite rewarding as a creative addition to my wedding, baby, and portrait work. Look for more cosplay sessions here, as I am working my way through getting the images ready for viewing.

As for this wonderful Disney Star Wars mashup group - from Snow White to Reyfiki to Darth Jafar - I had a blast! Looking forward to more creative outputs like this! The full collection of images can be viewed here

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Suzanne + Pedro: Historia de amor | Wedding at Public Chicago by Anthony Nguyen

When two souls...have finally found each other...a union, fiery and pure as they themselves...begins on earth and continues forever in heaven.
— Victor Hugo

Congratulations to Suzanne + Pedro for their beautiful wedding at one of the chic Gold Coast luxury hotels: the Public Chicago. Suzanne + Pedro were such a fun-loving couple during their Olive Park engagement session that I knew their wedding day would be equally fantastic - and was it! From including their beloved dog Lilly to la hora loca completing the night, Suzanne + Pedro's wedding was full of love and passion.

Thank you Suzanne + Pedro for allowing me to capture your wedding day. All the best in the next chapter of your wonderful love story!

Slideshow music: Mi Ancla by Mindy Gledhill

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An engraved message on the inner band of Pedro's ring from Suzanne - "El amor de mi vida."

Love these images of Suzanne before we head out for The Reveal.

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Lilly looks at Suzanne adoringly.

Pedro looks dashing.

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The Reveal.

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I love this image in the main lobby of the hotel - a gorgeous couple!

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Emotions walking down the aisle.

La Hora Loca!

Last dance of the night and the couple looks fabulous.

A kiss to end the night.

Details
Venue: Public Chicago
Day-of-coordinating: Dee McCord from I Do Events Chicagoland
Stylist & MUA: Patricia Fardon
Florals:
Ceremony Musician: Michael Kleinerman
DJ & Reception Music: Carlos Avila from A-List DJs

 

 

Astronaut or Virtuoso or Writer? | Newborn Session (Preview) by Anthony Nguyen

Adorable baby boy - 14 days old and quite the set of lungs! Although you wouldn't be able to tell from these sneak peek images! I can't wait to share more images, which will tell the story behind the title. Such a fun and easy-going family. The parents chose my Year in the Life collection so I'll be seeing this little guy for a few more sessions over the next year. More adventures to come!

Suzanne + Pedro | Engagement Session at Olive Park by Anthony Nguyen

Such a gorgeous and fun-loving couple! Suzanne + Pedro wanted an engagement session here in Chicago to reflect what she described as "Latin Romanticism." The weather had been a little touch-and-go during the week leading up to the session, but fortunately the rain predicted for the day didn't happen.

Even though Suzanne + Pedro had a previous engagement session with another photographer down in Miami, they wanted a session here in Chicago to commemorate the significance of the City in their lives. I believe all couples should consider an engagement or couples session with their wedding photographer before the wedding. It's a less stressful photographic experience for all involved. Plus they get to experience any of my quirks!

Both graduates of Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, Suzanne + Pedro met at a Latino Law Students Association (LLSA) dance. Keeping this in mind, we discussed telling their love story in three parts with images reflecting three different moments in their romance. The story would unfold at Olive Park by the Lake, Northwestern University School of Law, Union Station, and Buckingham Fountain.


The Meeting

Suzanne mentioned first meeting Pedro at a LLSA event/dance - so I was not surprised that when I asked them to embrace they naturally began to dance!

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After graduation, Pedro moved back to Florida for a year, which set up the next chapter in their love story.


The Departure

I love Union Station - it offers such a dramatic setting for engagement or wedding photography.

Outside you have the symmetry of the columns...

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...and inside you have a large open space and the wooden benches that give off that classic transportation hub vibe!

Suzanne + Pedro were so enthusiastic about acting out the moments of their love story - they naturally fell into what Suzanne referred to as the "telenovela" personas.

While the adage is absence makes the heart grow fonder, nothing fans the flames of passion more than anticipation of a lover's return.


The Passion

Olive Park has such great views of the Chicago skyline! Plenty of open spaces and benches to lounge. The park was pretty quiet and we were basically the only ones in the observation area.

We wrapped up the session at Buckingham Fountain. I love the Fountain at night because the Fountain's lights and the lit up city make for a stunning backdrop to any image. A gorgeous end to a fun filled day!

Thank you Suzanne + Pedro for allowing me to tell your love story! I'm looking forward to your wedding day!

Michelle + Kevin | Surprise Proposal at Chicago Botanic Garden by Anthony Nguyen

What a fantastic and lovely couple! On a gorgeous sunny day Kevin surprised Michelle and proposed to her at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

He planned the surprise proposal (along with coordination by his sister who flew into town for the occasion) under the ruse of a family photo session .

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The Japanese Garden was selected as the spot for popping the question and Kevin invited some of their friends to hide nearby for the post-proposal celebration. We took our time heading to the spot - my fault really - as there are so many areas of the Garden perfect for photographs!

When we arrived near the Japanese Garden, I mentioned to Michelle and Kevin that they should rest and proceeded to scope out the area. I had arranged with Kevin to have "camera technical difficulties" as the catchphrase for him to know when everything was in order for capturing the moment. We proceeded to take some photos and then my camera developed its "difficulties." Kevin turned to Michelle, my camera moved back up, and as you can see, Michelle's expression was priceless.

Michelle said yes!

Thank you Michelle and Kevin for allowing me to share in the moment! Congratulations!

May the Fourth be with you! by Anthony Nguyen

                                                                                        This is not the droid you're looking for.                                                                                       (photo geeks - 85mm, f/1.8, 1/125, ISO 100)

                                                                                        This is not the droid you're looking for.
                                                                                      (photo geeks - 85mm, f/1.8, 1/125, ISO 100)

May 4th celebrates a movie (and merchandise) franchise you might have heard of in passing - Star Wars.

I mentioned the other day that my blogs wouldn't all be about photography, at least the technical side, so it makes sense that my first post after my introduction is about a bunch of rebellious kids raging against their elders. Star Wars is special to me, not because it's a coming-of-age story (Luke) or redemption story (Han). Nor did it necessarily give a young boy (me) a glimpse into the vastness of the universe (or galaxy).

It was pretty much about the spaceships and lasers. That went pew pew. Plus the odd assortment of aliens. Sure, as a I grew older some aspects of the franchise began to fray at the edges - especially the strange mish-mash of ideas and imagery that Lucas used to ground his universe with recognizable elements of ours. But enough - at that point in time those thoughts were far away. On this day, let's just observe the cultural phenomena that is Star Wars. 

Now this doesn't mean I'll be observing "Revenge of the Fifth" tomorrow. 

Instead I'll just end this post with some photos related to Star Wars (more here). Enjoy!

                                                                                                        (105mm, f/3.5, 1/125, ISO 160)

                                                          (58mm, f/2.8, 1/640, ISO 100)

                                                          (58mm, f/2.8, 1/640, ISO 100)

                                                       (105mm, f/4.0, 1/100, ISO 100)

                                                       (105mm, f/4.0, 1/100, ISO 100)

 

 

Ready. Set. Go. by Anthony Nguyen

 

Welcome to iteration number three of my photography website! They say that the third time's the charm, right? Please forgive the dust and din while I put on the finishing touches over the next few weeks. In refreshing the look of my website, I wanted to arrange my various photographic interests to make it easier to find.

As to the purpose of this blog - if you have explored the new website you will notice that I didn't tell you much about "who i am." My images may tell you how I see the world, but besides my passion for telling stories through photographs, this blog is the most natural outlet to let you discover what shapes me and in turn my photographic style. Plus, if I stick to photography topics only, it might be too boring (for me) to write on a consistent basis. Maybe it'll be a post (photography related or not) about the Chicago streets or my adventures at a comic convention or Star Wars vs. Star Trek. I'd like to use this as a journal. Or just a forum for me to wax philosophic about what I ate for lunch. All accompanied by some image or another.

On the website you'll find some of my personal projects in "the light fantastic." You'll also find galleries on geek life (cosplay and pop culture) in all its glory or travels to exotic locales (or not). So please drop by as often as you'd like.

Who knows what you may read on a weekly basis? But that's the fun part of it all!