Catching Up on 2015

Wow - I let a half of a year pass by without updating my website - time just gets shorter as you age! So what's happened since my last post? Been to Europe twice - other than that, things were pretty much business as usual as a freelancer. Before I cross the Atlantic again, here are few notes about 2015:

Thanks to all my patrons I continue to work with ever since my graduation from The Art Institute of Portland, and the new clients I've had the chance to collaborate with this year. Made more Yelp business profile videos (I've probably completed about 250 of them by now!), Zillow videos, dog training videos for Hannah the Pet Society, yoga video for YogaUOnline, portraits & event photography, and various other projects.

It's been a year since I finally signed up to have a Yelp page for my business and am pleased to have served happy clients. Read the reviews at:

Commissioned by Yelp

Now on to my "moonlight" gigs as a music site contributor. 


Pickathon - first fest I didn't actually work it - was a guest of Happyness but festival has used some photos for their social media marketing. Click to see gallery

Flow Festival photos and report for Consequence of Sound

Green Man Festival photos for Consequence of Sound

Vegan Beer & Food Festival photos (yes, it had a stage with live music) for Vortex Magazine

Pitchfork Paris for Consequence of Sound



Christopher Owens - He and his bandmates let me invade their space from their unloading to nightcap. Was originally going to be photos only but I ended up writing a little journal: "8.5 hours with Christopher Owens" over at The 405


Mew is one of my favorite bands, and I finally had the chance to meet them at Green Man Festival in Wales. It was a brief portrait shoot session, but I was so nervous! When their tour bus rolled into Portland couple of months later, I gathered my courage to request for off stage time. But once again, my nerves got the best of me during the interview (seems the more I've done, the more uncomfortable I am with them, feeling contrived. We were trying to do action-based profile but didn't have the time). You can read the interview over at The 405 but think my review of the show is better (Portland Mercury). 


I've been a longtime fan of Girls Names. I first met them at The Great Escape festival in Brighton, UK (May 2013). The Northern Irish band seem to be on tour all the time, but they have yet to make it to my neck of the woods. Luckily, my most recent trip to Europe allowed me to catch them in Spain and in Italy (click the country for photos, YouTube for some concert videos). 


You can check out some travel photos over at Flickr

That's all for now; maybe this year, this hermit will do a better job. And hoping to produce more creative projects!

Why I No Longer Write, Yet I Need To Write

My first love was the visual arts. Ever since I could recall, I was drawing on anything and with anything I could find, which was usually a pencil and scraps of paper, provided by our scarce life in Korea. Much has changed since then; adapting to the American life... I no longer even doodle these days, overtaken by my interest in music.

As a teeanger in a small town, Midwest, I couldn't get enough of what we called "alternative" or "college" music. With the age of Internet yet to fully integrate into our life and chance to see any act live equaling to nil, making music videos, shooting concerts, and writing about my favorite artists were dreams that dissipated with the fold back of my eyelids in the morning. 

For the last 5 years and 9 months, I've been living out my childhood fantasy of capturing some of my favorite musicians through the lens and combination of keys. I built up my resume and portfolio thinking I want to work in the music industry. After reaching the zenith of my "music journalist career" last year, the chasms started to seep in; with the rise and fall of music blogs and the ever-expanding competition in the market, I just didn't get excited about the whole thing anymore. The countless music sites were pretty much posting the same news and very few quality work filtered through that were worth the time out of this hectic modern life. Recognizing my limits, I didn't want to add to the ever-expanding noise if I had nothing original to say. That's why I no longer write music bogs.

After ceasing on news posts this year, I went back to just shooting concerts. And every once in awhile, I'll write out of an innate urge. And I'm pretty certain, no other show of 2015 could affect as much as Sufjan Stevens' profound performance earlier this month. Unable to package it internally, my fingers translated the signals streaming out of my babbling mind, while experiencing sort of a sub-dream virtual reality into the artist's time capsule. My words doesn't do justice but perhaps I also wrote to offset my shortcoming in the photographic dept. (some technical issues) that was the only glitch in otherwise the most perfect Monday. Thus, why I felt the need to write.

Review and pics at The 405.


Sufjan Stevens at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland (08 June 2015)

WANT (noun)

Everyone has a want. Sometimes you have to choose between what you want or what someone else wants. But of course, most of us would prefer that want doesn't elicit a choice. While this may sound like a prelude to some philosophical musing, it's actually in reference to a recent Zillow video shoot. 

Our solar system's star reflected and refracted on a bright spring afternoon in Happy Valley, OR. The client wanted her interview shot against the distant green rolling hills. If I had placed her in the sun, the light spilled and wrapped in most awkward way. If I positioned her in the shade, the lighting would be even and flattering. But that picturesque backdrop would appear to be overexposed. The 500 watt light (illuminating the client's face), was no match for the luminosity of our sun. So how do I give the client what she want?

I took a photo of the background and planned to composite in After Effects. I knew the post work would not justify the budget, and I could have easily told the client that there's nothing I can do about the blown out background. But I would have felt incompetent - a failure and I wouldn't get what I want: the satisfaction of giving the client what they want. Oh but I didn't have After Effects at that time, and the edit is due within 48 hours from the shoot. So I made a mask in Photoshop and layered it over the video in Premiere. To compensate for the fine tuning that keyframing in After Effects would have allowed, I had to make the mask a bit blurry in the edges as well as the background itself and still keep it little bit overexposed so it didn't compete with the subject in the foreground.

The result isn't perfect, but for the time limit, I was content. The client has no idea about the process, but it didn't matter because she was happy with the result. So in the end, we both got what we wanted.

April Low and High

This month has been highlighted by two events, each stimulating different part of my psyche.

On April 7 2014, my best friend left me all too soon. Ever since our mother gained a full custody of us, cats have been a major part of my life. About 14 years ago, my mother purchased two white persian kittens who were brothers. One yellow-eyed and the other pale-blue-eyed. They lived with me through my various residences until I moved to Portland in 2004. The cats then made their home at my mother's office. I was always drawn to blue eyes, he had a very unique personality. After 5 years in Portland, I brought blue eyes back with me after a Christmas visit. 

I renamed the snow angel Sigur, after the Icelandic band because he reminded me of pristine icy beauty and serenity of the Nordics. From the moment he set his paws into my dwelling in Portland, Sigur made himself at home, as if he had always belonged here - with me. And we lived almost happily ever after until he was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism in the fall of 2013. Obvious treatment was to up the protein intake to get some more meat on him but then the next test showed that his kidney was failing. It was a catch-22 where there was no cure to treat both diseases. Sig's kidney deteriorated within a season. When he no longer had enough life to even drink water, I had to let him go. The way Sig buried his face in my womb on that cold, metallic table at the vet, as we waited for his shot of death... something about how it unfolded forever haunts me. And ever since Sigur left me, I am forever changed where my emotion has been altered or reprogrammed. He was the best thing that had ever happened to me. 

In putting together a video to mark Sigur's passing, I regret that I did not capture more memories through the lens.

The following week fulfilled a dream that I never thought would come to pass. Ride is perhaps my favorite band from the nineties, and I was not in a position to catch them live before they ceased. When I had interviewed Ride's singer/guitarist Mark Gardner couple of years ago, he declared that they'll never get back together... oh what is that saying: "never say never"? I thought I had to sell my kidney to finance a trip to UK to see the reunited Ride but thanks to Coachella, they scheduled few dates in California. Flying to San Francisco was one of the cheapest pilgrimage I've made to see a live show because my sister lives there (free lodging).

Not that I could compare, but it seemed the two decades was like yesterday. Ride still looked young enough that I didn't have to rely on nostalgia. But something intangible from the years past enveloped me as I drifted in the swaths of swirling music at The Warfield. Bonus was that Eagulls were the opening band. The minus was that I dropped my iPhone in water little before the show - so I could not share my experience via Instagram. But that was probably a good thing - to be without a smartphone for 3 days and navigate the streets of San Francisco the old way - by asking people for directions like back in the nineties!

You can see photos and my brief review written in a zombie state over at Consequence of SoundI made a photo slide as well - my first from a live show and made me see things that I had missed just going through stills; it's missing a story! Well, every project is a learning process, otherwise what's the use - right?

My First Maternity Shoot

In my desire to do everything once, I had the chance to do my first-ever pregnancy photos with my earth angel for natural medicine, Kevi. After monitoring the ever-changing weather, our chosen date cleared the rain and the clouds for our shoot at Mt. Tabor. I am constantly learning and was fortunate to have Kevi as my model who was carrying her first child with such a ease at about 38 weeks. She won't be practicing her healing magic for few weeks but you can learn about her services here. 

Thanks to Ronit of Ronit Photo for the assistance.

more samples on Flickr 

more samples on Flickr 

The Night Before Spring

Time has brought us already into the middle of the third month of 2015 and at the end of winter. I've enjoyed many beautiful sunrises and sunsets in the winter-less Portland. Maybe it's the weather but I've decided to be less of a music journalist and produce more videos and photos. I'll still be shooting shows now and maybe write about them like when Patti Smith came to town and I was the only person allowed to shoot! And I still want to be a otur photographer.

Patti Smith at Crystal Ballroom 

Patti Smith at Crystal Ballroom 

I am on my third year making Yelp business profile videos under contract with SmartShoot and now they have kicked off videos for Zillow. I love doing these - meeting people from all walks of life and learning new things with each shoot. So those are my main gigs at the moment but looking to produce projects that have more time in the budget versus 48 hours to shoot and edit videos that limits my artistic background.

While I've been doing photography more than twice as longer than videos, only recently started to focus more on commercial shots - portraits, architecture, food, pets, etc... contact for specials! Until next time, here's a shot of my most favorited Flickr photo of this year so far and one of those beautiful sunrises:

dusk at Overlook Park

dusk at Overlook Park

dawn at my place - yes, that's Mt. Hood!

dawn at my place - yes, that's Mt. Hood!

Favorite Concerts 2014

This year, I am only doing one year-end list because I haven't had the time to listen to enough albums in its entirety, too scattered to recall singles and other lists that are popular... so can only do one on live performances because I can actually recall how it feels. They are singular and tangible experience unlike listening to recorded music over and over.

Note: since I don't often have the luxury of witnessing entire sets at festivals, very few from made this list. All shows were in Portland unless noted and in chronological order. There were many more faves but decided to narrow down to these - time, time time! Click on the links to see/read more.

The Orwells, Twin Peaks at Star Theater (March 26): This show was pure romp of rock - it may have been ugly and sloppy at times but sure got my money's (if I had paid) worth of entertainment. 


Future Islands at Doug Fir (April 5): This was the first time I experienced their live set, and the first of three times I caught them this year. The other two at FYF and Musicfest NW. I suppose the so sold out small venue intimacy and energy exceeded the festival experience. 


TOY at Doug Fir Lounge (April 29): I couldn't believe the day finally came where I got to see TOY! Their perfect blend of lush pop and psych rock is heavenly on the record and even more so live.


The Horrors, Austin Psych Fest (May 3): These Brits have come a long way since I first saw them in Portland in 2009; they came out of their coffins (not that I didn't like their goth period). From the moment The Horrors entered the stage that night to the last reverberation of the final note, they had me hypnotized. 


Eagulls at Doug Fir (June 2): This show is probably more memorable for the 24 hours following the set. It was a pleasure to see the UK punk band I first caught in Brighton in my home turf but to share a bottle of whiskey... oh how sweet is the pain!


Dean Wareham at Bunk Bar (June 26)How unjust it seemed for an influential musician like Wareham to play in one of the tiniest venue in town. But he played with humility and the crowd gave every support their cells could muster.


Foxygen at Pickathon (August 1,3): My first Foxygen experience and I freakin' loved it. They were the only act that I caught both of their sets in its entirety. While some reviewers found their performance to be slipshod, but it is what it is - glam psych rock by the young and the restless. And what a blast!


Christopher Owens at Great American Music Hall, San Francisco (October 11): Owens' US tour concluded in his hometown, and he gave a grand performance that was part gospel, part country, and part pop for an exquisite experience that one usually expects from icons. 


Iceage at Elbo Room, San Francisco (October 31): Thought it was a good idea to spend the Halloween not dressed up and go see the dissident Danes at an iconic venue. For almost a month afterwards, big blue bruises reminded me that it really was a punk show and it was so good.

Slowdive at Crystal Ballroom (November 10): The main reason I decided to attend FYF in LA was to catch Slowdive. Unfortunately, I didn't have the luxury to witness more than 4 songs before rushing to my next assignment at the most chaotic music festival of all time. Fortunately, I returned from my fall trip in time to catch the whole show in Portland. It was ethereal and beyond. Sob.


Jacco Gardner: I caught this Dutch musician at three festivals (Austin Psych Fest, FYF, Bumbershoot) and two shows at Mississippi Studios, and it's difficult to say which one was the best set, but the most memorable one was at Bumbershoot because I did a behind the scene mini doc and there were kittens and puppis.

Happy Holidays

I wasn't going to make a video card this year but after looking at a Photoshop file I created to make a holiday card, thought it would be pretty simple and quick to make one. So here it is and of course, Sigur is the star. I wish more than anything he was still here with me - a one in a billion cat.

Unicorn Dreams at Project Pabst

It was only about couple of months ago when I heard that the ultimate beer that unites all starving creatives and non-creatives, PBR (well, I prefer Stiegl) was putting on a music festival as form of a love letter to Portland - their biggest market. I was neither thrilled nor uninterested. If I was in town, I'd do it and would be good to see how the inaugural event goes. But the main draw for me was the unicorn on its poster. I dreamt that they would have a giant unicorn at the site, and it came true! 

Project Pabst was one of the most enjoyable music festival experience. The setting, the weather, the lax schedule, and maybe because it was 21 and over. We were promised free PBRs but somehow OLCC got in the way. No one realized that they could abide the law by selling the cans to us, press members, for a quarter. But I'm going to stop here and let my pictures do the "talking" and read the review from the editor-in-chief of Consequence of Sound who flew in from Chicago (I think mainly because of Tears for Fears).

You can also see the gallery via Flickr.

Blog #1: Jacco Gardner at Bumbershoot

Well this is the first blog entry on the new site.  With all the social media sites, it's probably repetitive so just want to tell you about the latest video I completed that has flared up my insomniac streak.

At the beginning of this month, I spent a day at Bumbershoot fest in Seattle with Jacco Gardner. It was my first attempt at shooting a behind the scenes style with musician at a festival. Needless to say, I learned a lot from my shortcomings but also had so much fun.

It may not look like much but check out the result of my 30+ hrs of work at or watch it below - the animals really made the day!