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30 Snapshots: Kristin & Johnny's Wedding by Amanda Liew

Over the 4th of July weekend, I had the beautiful opportunity of being a "witness" in Johnny & Kristin's wedding. Throughout the festivities in New York, Kristin asked me if I could take some snapshots behind the scenes - candids to capture the fun spirit, spontaneous moments, and beautiful friendships that were there to celebrate this union. While the professional photography was done by the fantastic duo that is With Love & Embers (check out their engagement session of K&J here), I had so much fun riling up the other witnesses and family members to relax, have fun, and get weird. 

Question for all you photographers out there - what is your best method for digitizing film photography? I've tried taking photographs of the photographs with my DSLR before, but found that cumbersome. This time around, I tried using my HP F4400 scanner. The resolution of the Fujifilm itself is relatively low, but it almost seems that the scanner is making it worse. I welcome any tips or advice!

Ethereal Light in Bushwick: Sarah Jane Shanks Collaboration [Part 2] by Amanda Liew

  This is Part 2 of my collaboration with the life-loving Sarah Jane Shanks! To see Part I please click here.

For Part 2, I'm showing you guys the photos from the incredible rooftop of this apartment we used in Bushwick! The wind was blowing hard and it was a lot colder than it looks, but we laughed our whole way through, played with the breeze as much as possible, and witnessed swatches of colors appear in the sunset behind us. I had so much fun experimenting with light out on the rooftop and in the interior shots in Part 1. It's incredible how just the slightest of movements, the tiniest of blockings, can completely change how a photo comes out. Soft hues versus sharp contrasts are all possible. While normally I would try to be editing the colors of my photos to remove any "unnatural" hues, I actually loved the shades cast on Sarah Jane as the sun set and sought to capture them even more. 20150403_0280_ALiew_SJShanks Collab 20150403_0311_ALiew_SJShanks Collab 20150403_0328_ALiew_SJShanks Collab 20150403_0331_ALiew_SJShanks Collab 20150403_0339_ALiew_SJShanks Collab 20150403_0343_ALiew_SJShanks Collab 20150403_0345_ALiew_SJShanks Collab 20150403_0351_ALiew_SJShanks Collab 20150403_0353_ALiew_SJShanks Collab 20150403_0358_ALiew_SJShanks Collab 20150403_0366_ALiew_SJShanks Collab20150403_0373_ALiew_SJShanks Collab

Ethereal Light in Bushwick: Sarah Jane Shanks Collaboration [Part 1] by Amanda Liew

Collaborating with other artists has become one of my favorite things to do as a photographer - whether it's working with the members of The Photograph Collective to come up with a new project or working with fashion bloggers, I love the teamwork, new ideas, reflective questions, and joint visions that go into collaborations. So when Sarah Jane Shanks reached out to me ever so sweetly with a request to collaborate for one of her upcoming projects, I jumped at the opportunity. We met up for breakfast early one morning to get to know each other better and how we could match what she wanted with how I preferred to shoot. We used a Pinterest board to brainstorm the looks we were interested in capturing, and it became clear we wanted light to play a large role in all of our photos. She came up with the brilliant idea of getting a space for us at an artist's loft in Bushwick that had unique furniture, plenty of light and an incredible rooftop. Armed with a few flowing outfits, 4 ft flower sticks, and an adventurous spirit, Sarah Jane came ready to turn our vision into a reality.

I can't even begin to describe how much fun I had during this shoot! I snapped a couple of hundred photos, moved furniture around, taped a blanket to a wall, chased the light, watched the sun set in the background, and just had the time of our lives. We tried some things that didn't work, but found other things that worked surprisingly well. I am so happy with how these photos turned out!

Another aspect of this collaboration that was quite interesting was our discussion of payment. I've been thinking about what photography means to me and how to balance the "value" of my photography. On one hand, I feel that the minute I start accepting payments for my photography, I will lose a love for it. I find so much creative refuge in shooting and blogging and don't want to have the stress of having clients & expectations on time frames for delivery. On the other hand, I don't want to devalue my time & effort for photography. For this collaboration alone, I probably spent 12-15 hours total in between meetings, brainstorming, traveling, shooting, editing, formatting, delivering, etc. Fortunately, for this time around, Sarah Jane and I found a beautiful solution that she would donate to my roommate Krista's missions trip in lieu of paying me for my services. I think that this solution addresses both of my concerns so appropriately - I'm not doing it completely for "free," but I am placing a value on my work as well!

Keep your eyes out for Part 2 of my collaboration with Sarah Jane soon!

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The Exquisite Experience of Ladurée SOHO by Amanda Liew

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  I always joke that I had the worst first macaron experience. I had never tasted one before, but my friend Madeline insisted that we make a trek to this special shop that was the "best in Paris." We walked into Ladurée, and I was instantly overwhelmed by the beautiful dainty pastries and decor. When I finally made it through the line and tried one for myself, I couldn't believe I had lived 20 years of my life without this amazing delicacy. How are there so many textures in one bite? How does this rose macaron taste like a rose smells?! Sadly, when I returned to the US and happily bought myself a macaron to enjoy my new favorite dessert, I was sorely disappointed. Shells were crackly, creams were wrong, sizes were all over the place! Oh, the horror! I was a macaron snob. Fortunately, moving to New York City has quickly remedied that situation for me because there are not only one, but two Ladurées here. The one in the Upper East Side is perfect for your grab-and-go for a walk in the park, whereas the SOHO location offers the perfect spot for the ultimate girl brunch.

In anticipation for her move to the West Coast, my dear friend Cameron made the effort to come into the city just to get one last hurrah before thousands of miles would separate us. I knew instantly that this called for an exquisite and grand experience of total indulgence. Surprisingly, I was able to make a 1pm reservation on Open Table just a few days in advance. To make things even better, I had accumulated enough points for a gift certificate (note: you have to get this mailed to you, you can't use the app) which meant that we would be spending it all on extra desserts, rather than comping our bill.

We were early to our reservation, but they were able to seat us right away. We inquired about the patio seating, and while that does not open until May, they graciously seated us at the table along the windows for plenty of gorgeous sunshine. The back room was truly incredible! Unfortunately my fixed lens wasn't able to take it all in, but even my iPhone 6 shot captures it quite well.

Laduree Interior

To start, we each ordered a pot of tea (for me, black tea with lavender) and they came with the sweetest little "L" napkins for the handles. 20150410_0010_AmandaLiew_Laduree

We then decided to split one sweet and one savory, ordering the original french toast and the eggs benedict. The waitress made a point of emphasizing that the benedict was done in a "french style" which we didn't fully comprehend at first, but then realized the simplicity of it once it came out. The french toast was pretty incredible - the bread was dense and the maple syrup was flavorful rather than just sweet. The eggs benedict itself was simple and very, very small, but tasty. The poached eggs were cooked just right, and I was guilty of sneaking some of the table bread to dip more in the hollandaise sauce once I finished. 20150410_0015_AmandaLiew_Laduree 20150410_0018_AmandaLiew_Laduree 20150410_0019_AmandaLiew_Laduree

When it finally came time to dessert, I was horrified to realize that my stomach was a little fuller than expected. Nevertheless, we tried our hardest to ignore the sensation and championed on as planned (I'm dedicated to a good meal in case you can't tell...) Keeping it simple, Cameron ordered two macarons: salted caramel and chocolate. For those of you unfamiliar with Ladurée's macarons, the tiny dessert somehow manages to have three layers: there is a perfect crispy shell, a chewy layer at the interior of the cookies, and then a delicate soft cream or jam filling. In other words, it's incredible.20150410_0020_AmandaLiew_Laduree

For my dessert, I opted for a favorite: Saint-Honoré Rose. The magnificent creation is a puff pastry filled with the impossible-to-exist rose petal cream and raspberry compote, topped with a rose frosting. Sitting on top of the bottom layer, is a giant stack of more rose petal cream and mini versions of the base pastry sitting on top! Insane. I had eaten this dessert once before at the Upper East Side location, and was a tad bit disappointed to find that this one wasn't quite as good. It seemed that they had refrigerated the pastry a little too long and it lost a bit of its light flakiness. Nevertheless, the cream and compote were still irresistible.20150410_0023_AmandaLiew_Laduree

 

Overall, it was a truly wonderful experience. I had previously read reviews that the service was terrible, but we didn't encounter that at all. To the contrary, all the tables around us seemed to receive professional and courteous service.For the full experience, I recommend trying to get seated in the back room as it is much lovelier than the others. While small portions, the entrees themselves were quite affordable. The desserts, of course, are a given. Laduree with CameronAll food shots and Cameron's portrait are taken on a Nikon D3100 50mm. All photos capturing the room are taken on an iPhone 6.