Which is your favorite?


Hey guys, I’m submitting my works to the B+W Photographer of the Year contest, just to see if I can make it =P

Here’s the hard part: I can only choose 3. Which are your favorite 3?

The little girl who could

Boy, Pondering

Lost in the City of Light

The Children of Light 2


The Coming of Age


Just Married

Into Forgetfulness


Float Me Away

Bubbles or Kiss

They Live in Another World

A Fragile Bond

Let’s go on an adventure

Still Life with Boy on Wall

Il Bruno, Il Macho

Thanks so much!


As always, please comment below, like, or tweet! The more the merrier!

The Shadow Photographers #3: Oracio


Today I’m pleased to introduce to you Oracio Alvarado. A street photographer-based out of LA, Oracio has been both a fellow photo-talk buddy and street photography enthusiast. I first met Oracio through a Google hangout and through the exchange of facebook information, we were both acquainted.  Since then he has provided a lot of advice and has reviewed a lot of the content I’ve posted up here. Oracio doesn’t heavily edit or process his photos, but leaves much of the work to the camera. Rather, he focuses on interesting subjects and depends on them to make (or break) the photo. Without further ado, I introduce Oracio Alvarado.


Q. What got you into photography?

Ever since I was young I have always been interested in painting, drawing, sculpting, but photography always seemed to call to me more. When I was around six years old I got my hands on my first camera, a Kodak Hawkeye Instamatic Camera, that was the point I realized I really enjoyed getting out of the house and just shooting photographs.

Film photography, at the time, gave me a sense of surprise since you wouldn’t be able to see the results of what you photographed for sometimes weeks at a time. Not having a quick view at the photograph I took helped me to develop an eye for composition and a “feel” about when to take the shot. Learning to shoot on film has definitely helped me out in the long run. I am by no means an expert and still have a lot to learn.

Q. How would you classify your style?

My style of street photography would be considered, “Classic.” I’m not an in your face type of photographer. I tend to stand back and look at a situation or scene. My goal is to capture a moment in time that speaks to me. The main factor about being a classic street photographer is about being able to take a scene and use composition to make the shot amazing.

Q. What’s your philosophy of street photography?

I’m not sure if I really have a philosophy regarding street photography, but I have a quote I created to explain what I do.

“I move like a ghost, in and out of peoples lives, capturing fleeting moments with my camera.”

Q. As an avid user of the Fuji X100 and the iPhone, what do you feel are different advantages and disadvantages of each platform?

As photographer Chase Jarvis says, “The best camera is the one you have with you.”

That being said, the Fuji X100 is a decent camera for street photography, but one the disadvantages that camera is the auto focus speed is terrible. While zone focusing is an option, I prefer to let the camera focus for me so I don’t have to think about it. Since the X100 is so slow at focusing, there have been many lost shots. Auto focus aside, the camera takes excellent photos. It’s also nice to carry around and shoot people with since it’s such a retro and small camera, it doesn’t scare people when you point it at them. The X100 is also great in low light situations. You can crank up the ISO and you will get nice shots with hardly any noise.

As far as the iPhone camera goes, it’s just great having a device with you all the time that can take some amazing photographs. The pros about using an iPhone is that you can use countless mobile photography applications to help you take a good shot, process it and share it on the fly. One has to remember that the iPhone is still a phone and the camera is not great in low light situations, nor capturing scenes with a lot of movement; pictures tend to come out blurry.

Q. What was the most interesting project/photo shoot you’ve had?

There really haven’t been any interesting projects or photo shoots that I’ve had yet. I’m ready and willing to take on something that will leave a lasting impression.

Q. Any interesting episodes from street shooting? (doesn’t have to be photography related)

One of the most interesting things to come out of shooting street photography is meeting so many new people; from other photographers to random people on the street. There is definitely a nice community of street photographers all around the globe. Having the ability to talk to them, compare our work, and most importantly getting feedback from them has been incredible.

Q. I saw your occupy LA shots. What was it like shooting in that atmosphere? Do you feel like your photos do it justice?

Shooting at Occupy LA was definitely a great experience. It’s one thing to listen to the media portray the Occupy movement, but it’s a whole different thing to actually go to the protest site and see what’s really going on. Occupy LA was a very peaceful event compared to other cities around the US. There were different classes about politics, money, agriculture, etc. going on around the protest site. It was great to see that people weren’t just there to waste time, but to make a change.

When I first arrived at Occupy LA I thought that people would be bothered by someone taking their photo, but that wasn’t the case. The photos I took at Occupy LA were just a way to document what was going on inside the protest site. I think as far as that goes the photos did it justice, but I’m sure there could have been more that could have been photographed.

Q. You shoot mostly in black and white for your street photography (X100), is there a reason for that?

I actually shoot all  my photos with the FujiFilm X100 in color and during the post-process I decide if I am going to keep the photograph in color or convert it to black and white. I will usually leave a photoraph in color if there’s some story that is being told by the color in the photo.

As far as the reason why I convert my photographs into black and while it’s all about feel. I love the look and feel of black and white images. They tend to have a more classic/vintage look to them. There are also amazing black and grey tones that can be brought out in a photograph that help it tell a better story.

Q. What gear do you use?

I’m currently using the FujiFilm X100, Nikon D7000 and my trusty iPhone. For street photography I stick to the FujiFilm X100 because it’s less intimidating to the people I photography than the larger Nikon D7000.

Q. What advice would you give budding photographers?

Take your camera with you everywhere you go.  Shoot, shoot, shoot and shoot.  Lean how to use your camera (read that manual). Also, learn to compose your shots and eventually you will do it without even thinking. Once you get that down, you can focus on learning everything else.

You can find all my social media links at http://about.me/oracio.


As usual, Comment, Like, and Follow for the latest updates!


Welcome to Tenerife– the Enchanted Capital of the Canary Islands (And its dark side)


From the Dragon tree, to the bustling Puerto de la Cruz, to the architecture of Castillo de San Andrés, Tenerife is a magical, strange, and raw setting of a variety of inhabitants– animals and tourists alike. I immediately felt at home (being from Hawaii) stepping on the volcanic earth and the windy currents near the beach. Off I set with my Fujifilm X100.

But it wasn’t quite what I expected.

The Tenerife/Canary Islands portrayed by the tourism industry shows only a small portion of the island– where the hotels and resorts are clustered together. In the image above, “Guia de Isora” represents the region where a large majority of the hotels lie.

Don’t be fooled– there’s a good reason why the hotels are here. It’s away from the bustle of the City Capital, Santa Cruz. It also probably meant less money to spend on real estate.

There was plenty to take pictures of– kids, families, more kids, and more families. Something about the air of “vacation” makes for interesting photos of kids, who somehow seem to enjoy the time better than the parents who planned the entire thing (who, by the way, make for extremely boring photos). The kids there were extremely cooperative, and I was vying with some paid photographers for photos of the kids there.

Children, I always find, are fascinating subjects. They are never reluctant to show their emotions and express them to their fullest extent. I learnt this through several dangerous encounters with angry Italian and British parents who thought I had misguided intentions. (Rest assured, they are wrong.)

(Interestingly enough, the parents of the child above were upset at the fact that I would use their child’s photo for commercial profit, and assured them I was not making money off of the photo and gave them my contact information.)

But what about the rest of the island, you may ask?

Ironically many come to the island to escape bad weather, but that’s exactly what we ran into when we got on an acquaintance’s motorboat. But there I saw the true complexion of Tenerife– untamed, wild, and organic– a breathing island with hundreds of birds and fish.

This man, who drove the boat for us, explained that hotels consume 80% of the fish on the island caught by fisherman, driving down supply at an alarming rate. In response, the island has strict fishing policies and require licenses to go catch fish, and have made fish nurseries/underwater farms to meet demand.

The capital of Santa Cruz was also a fascinating site. The fisherman explained that although largely gentrified by past Spaniards, a large majority consisted of natives who had stayed when many moved to the mainland of Spain back in the 19th century. Due to cruel treatment, there was a lot of blood spilt back then. The inhabitants, and their photos, suddenly looked a lot darker.

Street photography is much more meaningful when you layer history on top of the photos. This trip taught me that lesson in a somewhat bittersweet way– unfortunately nurturing slight disdain for the way the hotel lay sparkling like a cheap diamond on a beautiful ring, or a glittery, airy prostitute in a five-star hotel. Wait a minute, that analogy is ironic…

What do you think of hotels, and resort spots around the world? Am I the only who feels this way?

For more photos of Tenerife and to judge yourself, visit www.phillipehan.com. And as always, talk to me! Comment below, or follow me @Phantasyphoto. Or find me on Facebook.


3 Ways Film Changed My Life


“Gorgonic” -by Phillipe Han

Shoot, chimp, shoot, chimp, switch to macro mode, shoot shoot, chimp. This used to be my routine as I emptied out my 8GB memory card on my Fujifilm X100. I thought I couldn’t be happier– I was wrong. Maybe I could be happier.

One uncontented day I came across Eric Kim’s blog post on why you should shoot street photography in film. I went through the list and then convinced myself that I needed to get myself a film camera.

After trading away my X100 for a Leica M6, I was overwhelmed. I won’t make the story longer than it should be.

1. Film made me realize how scarce a true “decisive moment” is.

Us digital shutterbugs are used to shooting away, with an unlimited roll as far as the Gigabytes can see. But after countless hours tiring myself on Lightroom, I realized something– I take way too many useless and unfeeling photos.

Photos of people walking on the street.

Meaningless juxtapositions of billboards next to people.

Cold, unmeaningful, stale stares.

With only 36 exposures per film (and, let’s face it, most of us aren’t diligent enough to carry around a Bikkuri Fujifilm Film case), you’re limited to what’s left on the film, usually less than 36.

As trite as this may sound, this forced me to look at the world from a different perspective. It made me more daring, forcing me to think, “I have to get that shot”, whereas I would have taken at least 50 different pictures to get to the same shot with my DSLR or Fujifilm X100.

This means framing without the cropping. That’s it.

2. Film processing is obscenely expensive.

At least in America. Maybe one day I’ll dare to develop my own photos.

3. Film photography is beautiful precisely because you make mistakes shooting.

Before some of the nice folks on Eric Kim’s facebook page pointed me to the ISO 1600 setting, I experimented with different ISO’s because I literally didn’t know what ISO I had to be shooting at. I tried the Sunny 16 rule (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunny_16) on my DSLR and I realized it was a rule of thumb that allowed reasonable exposures– not excellent ones. I didn’t know what shutter speeds were the “right” speeds to shoot at, so I ended up horribly underexposing my photos, or overflooding them with too much light.

But it was beautiful.

I will upload them later, but I realized that DSLRs try to meter exactly what the “correct” exposure is for each photo.

Photographs, while sometimes better with a perfect exposure (think– studio, or portraits), benefit from the human touch– the imperfection that makes us wonder what’s wrong with the photo.

Look at this photo from Linda Stokes, a photographer from my G+ network:

“February 18th, 2012” -by Linda Stokes

(Source: https://plus.google.com/photos/109501436364165187027/albums/5710684596314086593)

Maybe the exposure was intentional, maybe it wasn’t. But one thing for sure is that if you had aimed a DSLR at that crane, it would’ve thrown flash at the crane, making for an ugly, “correctly” exposed photo. The way this shadow was executed, with a bit of thinking, made it a piece more poignant and worth much brooding over.

Back in 2009, I used to shoot at f/1.4 only, being a newbie to the DSLR world. I shot this photo below in Barcelona, but only after accidentally flipping the shutter speed from 1/320 to 1/1000:


“One Day in Barcelona” -by Phillipe Han

The result was that it didn’t capture as much of the colors as I had intended, but I liked it. This moment, as trivial as it sounds, remains an important very dear to my shutterbug heart.

Lesson learned: let’s keep a human touch to all we shoot, even behind the cold wiring of an LCD.

Maybe I’m wrong, maybe not.


This blog won’t be a simple “how to” or “Shoot X in 10 steps” blog. I won’t pretend to know everything about photography, because I’m far from it and still learning. But I will share my honest, down-to-earth opinions. I want to meet and talk with as many other people as possible, so talk to me.

How did film change your life?


Talk to me on Twitter @phantasyphoto.

Invite me to G+ Hangouts.

Critique my work on 500px.

Agree to disagree with me in this blog.

Thanks for reading, now let me go develop some film.