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Show Thanks, Give Hope – Los Angeles Portrait Photographer

Hi all!  This is my first post after our vacation.

I could be sharing tons of beautiful images from the trip.  In fact, I just finished making a 2013 calendar with a few “hand-picked” images.  However, the day before Thanksgiving, I would like to share a story.

We were in Big Sur, California (yes, it’s kind of out-of-character for us to stay in the US for vacation, and I will explain in a separate post, if you really want to know why).  I’ve learned about the Bixby Bridge and seen it in images and videos.  In fact, it’s one of the videos with Bixby Bridge basking in the golden sunset that raised my interest in traveling the area.

As we drove along the coast, the photographer in me was looking for various angles to present “the bridge”, making stops constantly.  When we pulled into this one vista area, a colorfully decorated van caught my eyes – oh yeah, I’m a person of colors and my eyes get attracted by them.  First a cheerful lady, then the wheel chair and a gentleman rolled out of the car door.

The curious cat in me would not let me pass the opportunity to learn their stories.  So, it starts with someting like “You must be Steve…”.  Turns out Steve has been diagnosed with ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.  The couple was from Georgia and traveling the West.  They’d been on the road for a week or so and was planning on getting back home for Thanksgiving.

Knowing the devastating impact of ALS on the patients and their loved ones, I was touched by the cheerfulness of the couple and offered to take a picture for them.  I wanted them to have a document of this memory at a beautiful place that they’ve spent time together.  At that moment, I knew I wanted to write about them and proceeded to get permission to take a photograph of them with my camera.

As I gave instructions to the location and the angle, the wheel chair that Steve was in (and operated by him) was moving faster than I could catch up with.  Impressive agility, Steve! 🙂

They are the perfect models for my photography!  The couple was grinning from ear to ear and did not need any instructions for smiling.  🙂
©Jean (Jiaying) Huang
We then purchased shirts from them to help raise awareness to ALS.  So the next time you see me sport a pink t-shirt with big beard on it (neither pink, nor beard is my thing under normal circumstances :-)), you’ll know it’s Steve on the shirt.

Before heading on with our trip, I had to ask the lady’s name.  You know what, her name is Hope.  Hope for Steve, what a good match!

Now, here’s my ask for all my good-hearted friends out there.  I know you’ve saved up for the Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  Maybe a small portion can go to help Hope and Steve?  Maybe as you are sitting around dinner table with your loved ones tomorrow, you could share this post/their story and encourage them to help out as well?  On a day that we count our blessings, giving to others will complete the circle.

A little more tid bits about Hope and Steve (click here to learn more of their stories):
– Hope and Steve got married after Steve was diagnosed with ALS.
– Hope recently quit her job since leaving Steve at home to take care of himself when she had to travel for work was too painful for her.
– One admirable quality of the couple – they do not let the difficulties in life stop them from living their lives.

So, please, give hope this Thanksgiving by clicking on this van below:

©Jean (Jiaying) Huang 

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Left, Right, Left, Right … – Los Angeles Street Photographer

Let’s be honest.  I was not there to “plant” such a shot.

I was attracted by the building – its texture, colors, and style … – as I always am.  Turns out it is where a popular restaurant is.  So on an early Saturday afternoon, while I was looking for a composition to my heart’s content, these people came marching down the street.  

Left, right, left, right …

Look at the races, genders and outfit styles (formal/informal, Western/Eastern, tight/flowy? :-))  all juxtaposed on top of the richness of the building.

My heart and eye (yeah, only one open :-)) both made me press the shutter.

©Jean (Jiaying) Huang


Really, What Are You All Looking At? – Los Angeles Street Photographer

Alright, I’ve been keeping this from you for a while, a while that’s long enough for me to hold the secrets without getting some “internal infection”. 🙂

Remember I posted about my encounter with the Amish the other day?  And I said a good photographer ought to tell a story with her photographs?  Well, I only told half the story there and here’s what I consider “complete”.

So, can you answer my question in the title now?  Give your interpretation of what was going on in the Comments section below.

©Jean (Jiaying) Huang


What Are You All Looking At? – Los Angeles Street Photographer

By no means would I dub myself a “street photographer”.  But if you know me well, you’d know that I was drawn to photography by the uniqueness and the beauty that’s prevalent in our lives.  

These Amish caught my attention when I was doing nothing but looking for trouble to shoot (can we call it “trouble-shooting”?).  I mean, they are already unique in their own rights.  And spotting Amish in a train station is one step up on “uniqueness”.  Wouldn’t you expect to see them travel in horse-drawn carriages?

Anyway, it’s said that a good photograph tells a story.  So what story is behind this image?

©Jean (Jiaying) Huang 


Curiosity Follows me Wherever I Travel to – Los Angeles Fine Art Photographer

I don’t know if it makes sense – me and curiosity are twins that are not related by blood.  Whenever I travel, far or near, she follows me.  On my recent trip to Taiwan, she found her way to my luggage and felt so in her element poking around after arrival.  When I realized it, my good conscience wouldn’t let me leave her in an unfamiliar land. 🙂

So I followed her around, not wanting to let her out of my sight.  And here’s a “teaser” of what we experienced in the historical town of Beipu (北埔) in Hsinchu County:
©Jean (Jiaying) Huang ©Jean (Jiaying) Huang
Would you like to join us in our adventure?  I’d share more in my travel blog if you’d like.


Life is in the Moments, Celebrate It! – Los Angeles Custom Portrait Photographer

Life is in the moments that we live in.  This has been my belief and the exact reason that got me started doing portrait photography.  Now, it may sound biased coming from a photographer.  But people, do whatever it makes sense to you to capture the beautiful moments that we may (most likely) not be able to “go back” and retrieve.

Yesterday, I ran into a gentleman.  Upon learning that I’m a photographer, he shared the thought that he’s been wanting to do a family portraiture now that his parents are not getting any younger.  I love meeting people like this as it shows that they are passionate about their lives and that they are living and breathing the moments.

In the (sort of) modernistic world that we exist in, we tend to get buried in the “busy-ness” and forget why we are doing all the tasks on the to-do list.  The next thing we know, our kids have left the home and our parents are leaving (or have left) this world.  We wonder where our lives went and we have nothing tangible to refer back to.

Life is like water in a river.  It flows right by us whether we pay attention to it or not.  So take a moment out of your life, from time to time, to stop and dip your toes in the water, make a splash or even take a bath, if you’d so feel like it. 🙂  As I always say, life won’t wait.  So starting today, smell it, taste it, feel it…

My parents had a big wedding anniversary (to avoid the risk of aging myself, I choose to not disclose the total number of years).  Like any couple of that generation, they’ve been through a lot.  I thought it’d be nice to document this milestone in their lives together with a nice portraiture.  In my mind, it’d be a gift that when they look upon 20 or 30 years from now, it brings them right back to where we are today.  I hope this nice canvas gallery wrap has done just that – simple, elegant and memorable.  It’s sitting beautifully on my parents’ living room wall.

What memory would you capture for your loved ones this holiday season, or anytime of the year?

©Jean (Jiaying) Huang
P.S. Excuse me for putting mosaic on my parents’ eyes.  They are MY parents and, I know, I’m being selfish. 🙂
P.P.S. Did you know that this was a typical pose for wedding picture at the time that my parents got married? 


The sign of any fresh start is exciting – Los Angeles Photographer

I’m a big believer in maximizing the utility of anything before putting it back to the environment.  Needless to say, I recycle papers and reuse plastic bags, etc.  Once in a while, when I use vegetables in the kitchen, I’d imagine the possibilities of growing them in my garden.  Therefore, I save seeds.

©Jean (Jiaying) Huang

The other day, I remembered some that I kept since last year.  Not thinking much of the season, I planted them and was instantly rewarded with the nice little faces of these sprouts.  How cute they are (remember, I’m a photographer that sees cuteness or beauty in most anything)?  

Do I remember what I planted?  No.  Would I worry if I’d get fruits from them?  Not really, although it’ll be nice.  I don’t worry about the end results as much as I want to enjoy the process and make sure to put in the due effort (Hey, I “single-handedly” brought these lives into this world.  I’d need to be responsible.).  With anything, I believe that if I do enough of right things, the positive energy will go around and eventually come as rewards as I least expect it.

What do you think?  Would love to hear your thoughts.

P.S. I am curious though how this plant will turn out to be.  I know it’s a squash type.  So, would it be a pumpkin, a cucumber, a winter melon or something else that I happened to stash the seeds away last year?  Anybody with a green thumb can tell? 🙂


What Part of History Did This Image Capture? – Los Angeles Fine Art Photographer

I guess we’d all agree that at the flickering of shutter, one split second of history is captured.  As I was processing one image taken at the village of Hongcun, China, one with a history of 900 years, my initial intention was to present to my audience a historical setting where life carried on in those hundreds-year old houses, around the water.  Yet, interestingly, the same life still goes on in the same buildings by the same (amazingly unpolluted) water.  So, which part of history did this image capture?  The one that was lived through by our ancestors?  Or the one that we are living now?

Copyright Jean (Jiaying) Huang

Wouldn’t this image make a beautiful decoration to your home, bringing peacefulness to your daily life?  It would look awesome on your wall when processed on a piece of aluminum (i.e., metal print).  Please contact me if you are interested in more details.Please visit here for more images that are perfect for your home.For more information about the amazing Hongcun and the surrounding area, please visit my travel blog.

Do you know your lifetime dream(s)? – Los Angeles Portrait and Fine-Art Photographer

I still remember in the days of my corporate life, I’d say things like “when I retire, I would …”.  It seemed that I was saving the best things in life until my “golden years”.  It seemed as if the life before retirement was supposed to be lacking, and suffering through it was part of the “package” that came with life.

©Jean (Jiaying) HuangWell, things do not always go with plans and who would have known that I could change?  I changed, way before I reached retirement age.  Somewhere along the line, I started looking within to search for happiness and contentment.  So today, when I read the blog post “Before I Die – What is Important to You” by public installation artist, designer, urban planner, and co-founder of Civic Center  Candy Chang, I felt a sense of relief.  As I tried to reflect on the things that I wanted to achieve over the years, I am happy that I did not wait for a “perfect time” to act on them.

We may be able to plan our retirement; we won’t know when our last day is in this world.  So what’s on your list the things that you always wanted to do and yet life gets in the way?  Since waiting does not seem to be a good option, make plans to start allowing room to act on your “dreams”.  

So what my dream life was like years ago, you may ask.  I wanted to lead a creative life and travel around the world.  And today, far ahead of my supposed “retirement age”, I am creating as a photographer and oil painter (and many other ways of creating to come), and my passion for travel has taken me to many corners of the world.  And yet, what’s more fulfilling is that I’m able to contribute to a positive life experience to my clients by bringing beauty to their lives or reminding them of such beauty.  I wouldn’t have asked for my life any other way.

So today, allow yourself 5 minutes of your busy life to sit down and complete this sentence: “Before I die, I want to ____________”.  Look forward to your sharing!

P.S. As I was deep in the drafting of this post, a friend that hasn’t called for years rang.  As you would’ve expected, she was shocked (to say the least) at my changes.  It’ll be interesting to find out her husband’s reaction when she tells him first thing back home.  Hehe…


Spring at Descanso Gardens (Part 2) – Los Angeles Photographer

Spring is such an exciting season.  The nature has waken up from its dormant condition and everything seems to be alive, including me.

Meeting nature at its best, my camera couldn’t be happier – it wouldn’t stop blinking. 🙂

Check out the beautiful flower field:

©Jean (Jiaying) Huang

©Jean (Jiaying) Huang

©Jean (Jiaying) Huang

©Jean (Jiaying) Huang

I’m sure my camera is not alone in exhilarating.  Oh, how I wish I can join this little girl:

©Jean (Jiaying) Huang

or be as elegant and colorful as this young lady:

©Jean (Jiaying) Huang

And you know I won’t give up an opportunity when there is a Japanese Garden:

©Jean (Jiaying) Huang

Let’s celebrate life, even if it’s the small things that are offered.

P.S. For Part 1 of the Descanso Gardens series, please click here

P.P.S. Any image in the Fine Art Photography category can be purchased to adorn your beautiful home.  Please contact me for sizes and presentation options.  Many ready to hang solutions to be recommended.