Berkeley Hills Shoot by Jean Bai

Claire Taylor was one of the first designers to contact me back early this year. I was thrilled when she told me about a large project she had planned for this summer. 

As a modernist with a love for natural light, I was a little nervous to find that her project was in a craftsman in Berkeley. I was floored when I first saw what she did during our scout and could not wait to shoot it for a full day. It's rare for me to be able to shoot for the length of an entire day, which allows us to find the most ideal lighting for each shot. The results were great and I cannot thank Claire enough for her teamwork.

Two San Jose Shoots by Jean Bai

The last few weeks have gotten quite busy with SF Design Week and my sister's high school graduation to attend. Am currently post-processing two shoots and have two more coming up in the next two weeks. Hanging in there, roughly reaching the 6 month mark of shooting.

Finally found the time to upload some recent photos of Katelyn Gilmour's beautiful bathroom & mud room designs in two different San Jose homes that we shot in one day. 

I love shooting design and architecture, since I don't think there will ever be a day that I'm shooting something the same. These were different from what I'm used to shooting. There was almost no natural light to work with in most of these rooms.

I try to tailor each set of images to the style of the designer's portfolio and their work, whether it uses natural or artificial light. I begin to wonder if I will eventually develop a characteristic style, but am almost believing that versatility may be a good thing as I've learned each client has his or her own tastes.

Oakglen Way Shoot

These were shot in the morning. Katelyn and I worked closely to make sure that the light temperatures in the images matched the vision she had in mind - clean white in the laundry room and warmer, creamier light in the powder room.

Silberman Drive Shoot

These photos of a powder room, mud room and master bath were shot in the afternoon. 

Sandringham Court Shoot by Jean Bai

When shooting neutrals, go for the soft morning light look. There was plenty of light coming through in the kitchen area of this renovation of a craftsman home in Montclair. Architects Kristen Sidell and Rudabeh Pakravan of Sidell Pakravan continued their neutral palette in the bathrooms they renovated throughout the house. The summer light can be quite strong for shooting neutrals, even on a cloudy day such as this one. We worked around it as much as possible by finding times of the day in which the light didn't directly shine in.

Pacific Art League Competition by Jean Bai

Last December, my work was showcased at the APA SF holiday party alongside that of some of my favorite photographers - Paul Turang and Erik Almas. It really galvanized me to pursue photography professionally and I'm really glad I did after these last few months. Many lessons were learned and I think many clients have been pleasantly surprised from taking on some fresh eyes to shoot their work. 

Yesterday night will keep a place in my memories though - I received second place at Pacific Art League's annual photography competition and my work is now exhibited for the first time at a gallery. It's been hard to put my work out there and lot of it has been sitting dormant on my hard drives, but seeing how people react to an image printed on classic baryta paper is inspiring me to get more work submitted and printed. 

Art is meant to be shared. I enjoyed every moment of hearing what people's thoughts were on how I shot the image and what they were looking at. The biggest thanks goes to my friends, old and new, who showed up and gave their support. 

Cartoon Art Museum by Jean Bai

It was a nice change to be shooting architecture for Aetypic Architects + Engineers again after shooting all the residences last month. This project was the Cartoon Art Museum located in North Beach. Big thanks to Summerlea and her crew for working with me to get these shot. 

Washington Ave Shoot by Jean Bai

Jeanne Moeschler of JM.ID in Menlo Park did a wonderful job transforming a young family's traditional two-story in Professorville into a sophisticated, garden-themed home. We shot the living room, dining room, kitchen counter and patio all in two and half hours. Used a combo of flash and natural light for these.

Dublin Residence Shoot by Jean Bai

This shoot with interior designer Celine Coly at Living with Chic was quite the undertaking. Those who believe that shooting products and spaces is easier than shooting people and events have never spent 30 minutes rearranging pillows and chairs to be just right in a photo. To get these results, we timed shooting each room just right and only used natural light.

Beaumont Avenue Powder Room by Jean Bai

One of my favorite things about photography is that no day is ever the same and I never know quite what to expect when someone offers an assignment. This one came from the talented Benni Amadi of Benni Amadi Interiors.

In this case, I was faced with a particularly difficult challenge - a small, but beautifully designed powder room that had no natural light. I brought in my favorite strobe light, bounced flash off the ceiling...all the while having fun explaining the science of capturing light to the owner's young boy who was fascinated that I could control everything from a laptop sitting on the ground.

Commonwealth Avenue Kitchen & Bathroom by Jean Bai

I had so much fun shooting a kitchen and bathroom near the panhandle with Kimberly Ayres in the middle of a storm earlier this month. A secret of many interior photographers is that overcast days can make for the best shoots. The rain clouds really soften the light and the darker skies outside of windows balance with the interiors, so that the exposure a camera takes will need less post-processing.

Kitchen Renovation Shoots by Jean Bai

Denise Maloney, her assistant and I worked hard to capture her two projects in one day - a Danville shoot in the morning and a San Francisco shoot in the afternoon. 

The San Francisco shoot on Treat Avenue had so much natural light that all I really needed were some light diffusers. The Danville shoot (the second set of images) had me running around everywhere setting up extra lights. I have to say - natural light is much easier to shoot, but good light is sometimes hard to come by! 

SFMOMA and the Getty by Jean Bai

Sometimes when you feel like you're getting old, you gotta revisit the places that inspired you as a kid. For me, those two places were the SF MOMA and the Getty.

Got a chance to visit the SFMOMA as part of Judy Walgren's SFAI photo workshop and then flew down that weekend for my sister's birthday party in LA. How could I resist getting inspired by Meier? I got to shoot the Getty for fun one morning, fell in love with the results from my new camera and went back to shoot another afternoon! Here are some shots from the Northern Pavilion.

Montclaire & Alameda Residences by Jean Bai

The weather has been changing so quickly as of late. I definitely though twice about waking up at 6AM to shoot exteriors in the rain, but my client really insisted. We lucked out as the storm stopped for a quick 20 minutes to allow us to shoot. I'm glad we went with the weather and caught the Bay Area essence with all that rain and fog! Here's to taking risks :)

The interiors were shot in a Victorian built in 1903 in Alameda. The owner had an eclectic mix of artwork - cartoons, tribal pieces, graffiti art and 24 pinball machines. The theme of his home was "Golden State." My client and I fell in love with a white tiger painted by a talented graffiti artist - Saute - and had to include a snap with the rest of the portfolio.

Big thanks to 3 Lights Design for entrusting me with your projects!!

Outcamp by Campsyte by Jean Bai

The weather definitely wasn’t on our side for the past two weeks we tried to schedule this. Got to take advantage of our one day of sun during the week and shot a set for Aetypic Architects + Engineer's coworking space in SOMA. Gotta love the slight cloud cover softening the light though.

Indigo Apartment Homes by Jean Bai

My favorite projects to shoot are the ones where the architect has harnessed natural light to the fullest. BDE Architecture did just that with Indigo Apartment Homes here in Redwood City.

I've reinvested my earnings from this year's shoots and purchased a new camera body. Not a bad project to break out the new gear!

Here's a sample of the set I shot on the 3rd floor amenities deck. More is to come in the following weeks.

Loop Optometry by Jean Bai

The last two weeks have been pretty busy. I went on 3 location scouts for projects I'm shooting in March, had two trial shoots for clients, and wrapped up another shoot for Acadia Architecture.

Here are 4 interior shots for Zero Ten Design's Loop Optometry office in SOMA. Most people seem confused to hear that I don't use my own lighting in most shoots. I still rely heavily on Photoshop with bracketed exposures - it's how I grab that natural look in the photos below. It's a bit more stressful, since it relies on working with rapidly changing light during the shoot. I guess the challenge excites me and the results keep me working that way.

It's been a while since I have the pleasure of working with natural light flooding in from the windows. I made the most of it with this immaculate space.

Lot's of thanks to May Szeto and her team at Loop Optometry for allowing us to shoot this space on a Friday afternoon!

Carnation Court Residence by Jean Bai

I am so happy to wrap up this project for Davide Giannella at Acadia Architecture. He did a great job on the exteriors and turned an old Los Altos kitchen and living space into a contemporary space for a young Indian family.

American High School by Jean Bai

This expansion to American High School was aided by Project Frog's building kits. Project Frog partnered with SVA Architects, Rodan Builders and Vanir Construction Management to build this dual two-story building complex for Fremont Unified School District. 

I was thrilled when I first got the assignment - it's my first corporate assignment and it was nerve-racking going into it. The shoot went smoothly with the help of School Secretary Sheri Erickson (a big help with giving me a tour and quickly setting up those lab interiors) and Principal Steven Musto. Giving another shout out to Lloyd Cavalieri of Rodan Builders for staying past sunset to wait and put fencing back up around the courtyard lawn!

Jones St. Bathroom Renovation by Jean Bai

It was great shooting this lovely bathroom and sitting room by Huang Iboshi Architects. Emily and Greg already had the rest of the house photographed and needed some quick snaps of the bathroom and back doorway. I loved how they had mirrors to turn a smaller room into a more spacious well-lit room. It gave a pretty modern spin on an old Victorian house. I had some fun playing with optical illusion to come up with detail shots.

Cowell Lane Shoot by Jean Bai

So excited to finally post images from this wonderful shoot with Johnston Home in Atherton. Lots of beautiful natural light in the morning helped illuminate this guest home.

Exhibition for APA SF's Something Personal Contest by Jean Bai

I didn't know what to expect when I first submitted my photo of a cypress tree back at the end of October. Guess I had some extra time on my hands as a busy tutoring season was winding down and I found some balance to work on photography again. Guess I also felt a bit isolated down here in Redwood City, away from any art scene.

I had made myself a promise during that week I submitted to the contest, committing to making sure I find time to pursue photography again. I guess you could call it a on-and-off relationship I've had with the arts for the last decade, balancing earning money to pursuing what I love. 

It's definitely rewarding seeing my work chosen amongst the top 100 entries submitted to APA San Francisco's annual photo contest. A contest focused on personal work for photographers, the APA Something Personal contest definitely had some strong work from 72 photographers.

Couldn't help but admire the photo of One World Trade Center from Paul Turang down in LA as well as Mitch Tobias's photo of the Yosemite Firefall. For a moment, I definitely felt like I contributed to a great community and I guess that's what I loved best about the night.

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