Los Angeles, California
Image © Angela So
Edge of Seventeen
First Place – Self Promotion / Personal
ASMP: What was your inspiration for taking this photo/video?
Angela So: My inspiration was the historic rock music scene of Sunset Blvd in Los Angeles, during the time when musicians and fans put the Troubadour, Roxy and Rainbow Room on the map. I wanted to depict not only the gritty, glam, seductive and outrageous vibe that spawned from 70s and 80s rock but also evoke the rebellious attitude of a young person coming of age in that iconic era. My vision got into motion when I saw the handiwork of friend, local designer and rock musician Chad Cherry. Chad’s style was perfect for this shoot and a one-of-a-kind leather jacket he reconstructed is featured in this photo. Everything came together when Aston Models in Beverly Hills connected with me with new male model who coincidentally was also a rock musician.
ASMP: What type of setting do you prefer?
AS: I started my professional photography shooting in studio, with backdrops and studio lighting, so that is a space I am more comfortable in. Lately, I’ve been doing more on location and outdoor shoots. I like challenging myself creatively so I’ll put myself in places where background, lighting and circumstances are not always controlled.
ASMP: Is there anything unique about your style or approach?
AS: I’m still developing my style and still trying out new approaches. Many styles intrigue me and I try to make it a goal to experiment when I can. That said, I lean toward a bold and clean style with more emphasis on form and color. I love fairly close up portraits as they feel intimate to me. I strive to create a strong connection between the viewer and the subject.
ASMP: What type of lighting did you use for this image, series or video?
AS: I used a one-light set up — Elin Chrom D-Lite RX 4 strobe with a Westcott silver-lined umbrella.
ASMP: How long have you been shooting this type of photography?
AS: I have been shooting portraits as a professional since 2017. Prior to 2017, I primarily shot landscapes and architecture as an amateur.
ASMP: What other photographers’ or artists’ work inspires you?
AS: I’m inspired by all types of photography, from landscapes to street to people to wildlife. I have a fear of getting stuck in one perspective or one approach. The different perspectives contribute to my skills and to opening my mind. As far as portrait artists, I am very drawn to work by Ben Hassett, Jan Welters, Lindsay Adler, Mario Testino, Sequoia Emmanuelle and Laretta Houston — I love their expressions of color and drama; each photo is a statement, sometimes raw sometimes shocking. I’m sure I’m missing a few others. I’m also blessed to have been mentored by Art Streiber and Scott Robert Lim, two phenomenal portrait photographers I’ve learned so much from.
ASMP: When did you join ASMP and what do you find most valuable about your membership?
AS: I joined in 2017 when I started shooting professionally. I enjoy networking with other photographers and ASMP’s variety of educational offerings. Photography is both an art and a business and having opportunities to learn both realms from experts and peers has been invaluable. I also enjoy being able to participate in and volunteer for events through ASMP.
ASMP: What kind of gear do you use?
AS: I currently shoot with a Nikon D810. I generally use Nikkor prime lenses, specifically the 85 mm 1.8 and 50 mm 1.4. I find myself using those lenses quite a bit, even for events and weddings; I love their sharpness, beautiful bokeh and quality in low light. As I’ve started shooting more on location and outdoors, I’ve been using Godox AD200 flashes with portable modifiers and softboxes, a video light and my Nikon speedlight as they are easy to travel with. I like my equipment simple, lightweight and quick to set up. As a petite photographer, I also usually carry a step stool!
ASMP: What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started your career as a photographer?
AS: That you don’t need the most expensive equipment or the most equipment to capture or create compelling imagery. It is at once inspiring and intimidating to see all the fantastic photos out there. I began my career very focused on the ‘how tos’ of photography so that I could create similar results. While there is definitely proper equipment and technical skill at work, I’ve learned more importantly that there is a vision. Some of the best words of wisdom I received is that great photography is in the archer, not the arrow. Honing and stretching my artistic vision is a big part of my growth now.
ASMP: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself and/or your work? Go ahead, surprise us with something unique and unusual.
AS: My 12 year old pug Romy likes to sit next to all my models when I’m shooting in studio. So Romy has been incorporated in quite a few professional and BTS shots and has built a nice little model fan base. I want to learn how to shoot astro/night sky photography. And I love old cameras. I have a refurbished Polaroid Sun 600 as well as a vintage Yashica Mat-124 given to me as a gift that one day I’d like to figure out how to shoot with. Looking next for a classic cult status film camera.