Sera Petras: Baby Dashiell

I’ve always been a fan of Sera Petras’ work, and had the pleasure of meeting her a couple of years ago at a FIND workshop I attended in DC.  Alex was also at the workshop, and is an amazing photographer as well.

Photographers photographing photographers is always fun.  But to see photos by Sera of Alex and her husband and their little baby is just the best.

Beautiful work!


See more of Sera’s work   WEBSITE  | FACEBOOK | INSTAGRAM




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Sera Petras - Thanks so much for this sweet feature of Alex and her family! I LOVED working with them on this in their home in DC. Such tender moments.

The Three Basic Components of a Photograph

Some of you may already know, besides teaching Embrace The Grain Workshop online, I also teach Arts and Humanities classes weekly to middle school and high school students.  In the class, I teach art and architecture theories and apply them to our study of historic and classic to modern masters such as Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Dali, as well as architectures such as Parthenon, Pantheon, Phoenix Hall,  The White House and many more.  Seriously, I can geek out on art and architecture all day every day!  So naturally, I think it would be fun to share with you what I learned about arts, and how I apply what I learned in my photography work.

The Three Basic Components of a Photograph (Art)

Since the beginning of times, people have been making and creating arts.  Whether it’s on a wall in a cave or on a piece of stretched canvas, the basic components of art are the same:  Subject, Form and Content.

1. Subject – The “Who” or “What”

The main subject of a photograph can be a person, an object, a theme or an idea.  When we photograph our children at play, the subject of that image is pretty obvious, the children.  However, the subject can also be an unrecognizable object that the photographer use to represent an idea instead of a thing.  Regardless of the genre of photography, a photograph can not be complete without a subject, and it can not interpreted based on the subject alone but with the purpose the subject serves in a photograph as a whole.


Image Credit: Sandra Coan Photography


2. Form – The “How”

In the components of a photography, the word “Form” is refer to how the composition is arranged and organized in a photograph.  Beside the basic rules of thirds, golden ratio and golden triangle, the form component also includes elements of art (line, shape, form, color, texture, value and space) and principles of art (pattern, rhythm, movement, balance, unity, contrast and emphasis).  The photographer’s choices of elements and how he/she arranges them (principles) “forms” how we perceive the subject (or an idea) of a photograph.

©Joyce C. Kang-000024320021001

Image Credit: Joyce Kang Photography


3. Content – The “Why”

The content is the message that the artist or the photographer is trying to communicate with the viewer.  It can simply be a statement, but it can also be an emotion, an expression or a mood.  Surely, it would be ideal if the viewer interprets the content of a photograph as the photographer had intended to communicate.  However, with the vastly different cultural and experience differences will often affect how a viewer “sees” a photograph.  Naturally, people tend to relate to contents that are familiar and recognizable.

©Joyce C. Kang 2013-SRkang000729-R1-E024001

Image Credit: Joyce Kang Photography


A successful photograph should be able to combine all 3 components (subject, form and content) seamlessly so that the components can not be separated or be interpreted apart from each other.   This unity of the components should contain nothing that’s distracting or unnecessary.  Just like a well made automobile, all parts must work together and without void to operate properly and without fail.  Let’s look at our own work today with an critical eye, are you successfully using all 3 components in your work?



Image Credit: Heather Chang Photography

Sandra Coan Photography: Family Photos on Film

Image Credit: Sandra Coan Photography


Reference: Ocvirk, Otto G. “Introduction.” Art Fundamentals: Theory and Practice. 11th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2009. 10-12. Print.

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let us talk about personal project

Let us talk about personal project today!

I am curious:  How many of you who are professional photographers devote your time into personal projects?

I personally am a HUGE advocate of personal projects!  Personal project allows me to be “free”.  I know it sounds so cliché, but I am pretty sure you know what I mean!

When I was actively taking clients, I needed these projects to be my creative outlet.  I felt bored shooting the same poses and using the same basic ideas for every. single. session.   Photography became merely formulaic.  It felt almost robotic; it’s like checking off the list.  I was creatively uninspired and utterly unmotivated!

This year, I devoted my time in couple of personal projects:

1. Film Daily – a 365 project shot entirely on film

I am working on this one with the help of two my dear friends in film, Heather Chang and Jen Golay, both are 365 project veterans.  I have previously started a 365 but quit in the first month!  I knew I needed some friends to “spur” me along.  Besides, these two constantly challenge and inspire me to get out of my comfort zone and shoot.

©Joyce C. Kang-000023170009001 let us talk about personal project

©Joyce C. Kang-000057070033001 let us talk about personal project

2. Non-family – a project consists of images without my own family/kids

Seriously, I have stacks upon stacks of negatives full of my family and kids up to my elbows at the moment (actually this should be another personal project to get the negative organized)!  I marvel at the masters such as Cartier-Bresson and Maier who shot amazing street scenes, and people who shot landscape so beautifully.  I want to learn how to be in that “decisive moment” and be “on” when the situation presents itself.

©Joyce C. Kang-000024300038001 let us talk about personal project

©Joyce C. Kang-000010300010001 let us talk about personal project

3. Print! Print! Print!

After the dead external hard drive fiasco a few months ago, I learned that printing my work is the only way I can preserve the memory tangibly.

©Joyce C. Kang-000028640005001 let us talk about personal project

I would love to hear what you do to keep yourself creatively inspired besides client work and sessions.   Maybe you even can shed some light for me and Little Bellows fan on some fun project ideas!  Perhaps getting out of your comfort zone is just what you needed.  How about learning to shoot film?  My workshop Embrace The Grain is opened for register today!  See more details HERE.

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