Friday 31 March 2017

Local Love | Photographer Aileen Choi

Aileen Choi photographed by Meghan Bustard
Vancouver has so many young talented photographers and everyday I practically discover someone new on Instagram. It was through instagram that I met Aileen Choi. When we first connected through Instagram, it was through her digital design account. It was only through us chatting that I learned Aileen was primarily a local wedding photographer. As I am a naturally curious person, I wasted no time in finding her photography account. 

Since photography is so diverse and extremely subjective, every photographer that I feature on Pink Tea Latte will have its own focus. Aileen has decided to give us some insight on being new to the industry as well as how her style has developed to what it is today. 

This past 2016 wedding season, Aileen was the second shooter for the highly acclaimed, practically an instagram celebrity, Rachel Barkman. It was Rachel's work that helped foster an interest in wedding photography for Aileen. It is difficult to miss the parallels between their pictures, as Rachel has been a mentor for Aileen. 

Aileen's interest in photography first proliferated in high school with her little point point and shoot. Gosh how many of you remember begging your parents for a small little digital camera because it was the cool thing to have! We had a moment of bonding as we reminisced about the good ol days before cell phone cameras became really good. 

After completing high school, Aileen enrolled at Emily Carr with photography as her major. During her four years at Emily Carr, Aileen discovered her photography style. After graduating this past spring, April 2016, Aileen began her professional career as a wedding photographer - Aileen Choi Photo ! Of course, Aileen has long traded in her point and shoot for two Canon 6D's and three prime lenses: 35 mm (wider frame for more range), 50 mm (a favourite amongst all photographers) and the 85 mm (closer focal length). 

I asked Aileen how she would describe her style:

"just trying to keep it real - haha, it's true though!"

Aileen's pictures are distinct and really do stand apart from the more backlit bright white photos. Her goal is to capture real people and real life. She achieves her images by keeping the colours solid and rich and not being afraid of keeping her blacks truly black. 

To achieve her signature style in her pictures, Aileen has shared some of the key aspects in her photos that has unintentionally formed her signature style:

Overcast or even a rainy day - Cameras do not see the world as our eyes do. A bright sunny day creates dark shadows and ultimately causing the picture to be over exposed. An overcast day is Aileen's ideal setting for a photoshoot as it makes for even lighting in pictures. Another advantage of shooting on an overcast day is that it gives skin an almost air brushed look - every girl likes to hear that!

Underexposing the picture - By lowering the exposure, the colours retain their richness making for a more vivid picture. It also helps bring out the detail in the background. 

Post production - Since the pictures are shot underexposed, a lot of detail can be lost; therefore, Aileen puts the shadows at 100% (lightning) which helps bring back all the lost detail. To keep the depth in her pictures, Aileen darkens the blacks creating a bigger contrast which helps the other colours pop. 

Point of focus - A good picture will show movement, a great picture will convey emotion and life. When Aileen is working with her clients, she always makes it a point to focus on the connection between the subjects. 

I love Aileen's pictures as they honestly embody everything Pacific West Coast! I adore the use of spruce and cedar trees as a background and her subjects often wearing lots of plaid and cute toques. Also, her shooting style is perfect for Vancouver as our Fall, Winter and the beginning of Spring can be quite grey with a lot of rainy wet days. 

"Of course, there are a million things that we wish we knew when we first start an unknown path, but I think the few things that stands out to me, and things that I have to constantly remind myself of is to be open minded and to always be willing to learn and evolve. It's easy to get comfortable in what you're doing at the moment, but it's important to get out of your comfort zone - that's when you improve." 

I am excited to see what the future holds for Aileen and her photography career. Aileen is still very young both in age and in her career as a photographer, so I would keep an eye on this young lady as she grows a photographer. I hope to be in front of her lens sometime this summer! 

Do check out Aileen's work either on or instagram @aileenchoiphoto .


All images, unless otherwise stated, were taken by Aileen Choi. 

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