Peugeot 208 t16 Pikes Peak Morning Prep

Being in the element and photographing on location can be a tricky affair. Even more so when you need Mother Nature on your side and you’re trekking 9000+ feet of elevation! While I was preparing to shoot the Pikes Peak Test Run I had to pack some key essentials and, as I mentioned in my previous Blog, also mentally and physically prepare myself.

Here are my 5 key pieces to make my Early Morning Shoot, and I do mean Early Morning-3am, a bit easier for my body.

1. Wicking Base Layer Shirt – Shooting started around wee morning hours of 3am. Dressing in layers help to keep your body warm and comfy yet also makes it easy to stay cool by peeling off the layers as it warms up like an onion. It all starts with a wicking shirt as your base layer. A shirt that has the capability of wicking- Absorb or draw off (liquid). I personally like the ones from The North Face and Under Armour.

2. Various Munchies & Amp food (Energy food for me: Almonds, A couple Granola Bars, Smart Water, Unsalted and No Sugared Organic Trail Mix {no need to sugar shock or have salt dehydrate your body}, Bananas, Apples and if I need something sweet but natural small pieces of Dark Chocolate) and of course Liters of Water –Need to keep over hydrated. Drink about 2 bottles before even heading out…and leave ample time to relieve yourself!

3. Cross Training Shoes – Hiking boots might be a better option for some, but I feel most comfortable with my Nike Cross Trainers as they’re fairly light, provide a great amount of stability and pretty much match all of my workout and outdoor clothes. Yes Ladies, us men do look at our wardrobes too-We don’t need you clowning on us any more than you already do for looking like fools.

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4. Radios – To keep in contact with your Shooting or Production Team (if you have one). If you don’t have a team it’s still a good idea to have one to tap into an Emergency Channel in the event you need it and you have no cell phone signal. And for those thinking that radios are a thing of the ancient past and still wanting to rely on cell phones, if you saw the title above, the word mountain is in there, the possibility of you being lost in an abyss without cellular signals is a pretty fair chance!

5. Stretches -Or for those like my wife-Yoga. Yes, you read that right. The movements you do before and after working out are what I’m referring to. You need to stretch your muscles for all the movements they will be doing-even the ones you haven’t thought of. Walking may not seem like much but at high altitudes with lower levels of oxygen, for extended amounts of time and moving over long distances, the long steps you have to make while walking takes a toll on your body, specifically your muscles and your lungs. Imagine this-Your standing on the side of the mountain swapping out batteries, drop it and while bending over to pick it up feel extremely nauseous, like you want to faint and there is a shot that you want to capture about to take place in less than 60 seconds. Now you feel like crap both mentally and physically not to mention you most likely blew your shot because you’re recovering from your exhaustion over picking up a freakin’ camera battery! That would suck. This has a little more to do with what I spoke about in the previous blog on being in shape and working out and I tie it in here with the stretches and yoga as one of the things you learn to do and put into practice when you incorporate this into your daily routine is breathe control. You learn how to relax when you’re stressing out and in a rush. You learn when and how to properly breathe slower or faster. You condition your body over time so that when you finally meet the elements it automatically knows what to do-you don’t have to think about it and definitely don’t overact or overexert yourself.

6. Bonus: Patience – This ties into point 5. Don’t rush to a spot so quickly. I have a 3 Year Old Tot at home and think back to her bedtime stories as I type this. Think about the “Tortoise and the Hare”. Plan out the shots you want-or at least try to anticipate them in order to be where you need to be when you need to be there. You might be a little slower in getting there but if you plan to be there and take your time getting there-pace yourself I don’t mean Sloth mode, you’ll be where you need to be (unless it’s some crazy unplanned action shot and well, you just better pray and hit the shutter). Also, there’s lots of loose gravel on the ground and when trekking at high grades while carrying an equipment bag on your back you don’t wanna go tumbling down the mountain side, I for sure as hell don’t.

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Here’s the first in line of a new video segment that I’m putting out for all you photog and DIY geeks like myself. I’m calling it a pretty obvious and self explanatory name, Construct. All of the segments in the Construct series will consist of fairly straight forward weekend DIY’s, hacks and shortcuts. For this particular project, I’m showing off how to craft an ir Blaster. For those that don’t know, an ir Blaster basically acts as a wireless shutter release for your camera. This should work for a variety of camera manufacturers (i.e. Nikon, Canon, Sony, Pentax, Fuji). Check out the video with more details right after the break.



Here’s the shopping list you’ll need while rummaging through your garage and hitting up your local nerd synagogue-Radio Shack:

2 x infrared LEDs (950nm)
3.5mm headphone jack
Sandpaper
Crazy Glue
Soldering Iron

A couple of pointers when putting this homemade ir Blaster together:

  • For the 3.5mm headphone jack, you’re going to use just the positive terminals from the left and right channel. As for the negative terminal, you can just trim it off but make sure it does not come into contact with any of the positive terminals as it will render your ir Blaster useless.
  • According to the internet gods, the infrared LEDS would need to be wired in a reverse parallel fashion. I’ve never heard of reverse parallel but I’m not going to call up my 8th grade science teacher to try and confirm this so called reverse parallel shenanigan. So, for LED #1, the positive lead(+) should go to the left channel and the negative lead(-) should go to the right channel of the headphone jack. As for LED #2, the positive lead should go to the right channel and the negative lead(-) should go to the left channel.
  • If you want the LEDs to sit flush to each other, just stroke a little sand paper to make them fit all nice and cozy.

I haven’t had a chance to try the ir Blaster on a variety of phones but I’m currently rockin’ a Motorola Atrix 4g with Cyanogenmod which worked fine-most of you out there have a far better Android or iPhone so you should be fine. As for actual trigger performance and camera response, it worked really well. I hit my limit for the maximum distance I was able to trigger the camera from at around the 8 foot range. With that said, this isn’t the Holy Grail of wireless shutter release gadgets that’s going to allow you to go out and replace your Pocket Wizards with but for a mere $10 and an hour of your time, it can serve you very well if you’re in a pinch and if you don’t need the extended range.

Have any questions? Post it down below.


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Being a Professional Photographer is so much more than just pressing a button and capturing a shot. I’m constantly in the elements, being submerged in my subject and living that lifestyle. Just as photographers spend a large amount of time on what type of camera equipment they have and constructing the “right arsenal” I believe in investing just as much time into prepping your physical and mental well-being. We maintain our gear; we need to maintain our mind and body too.

Concentrating on my Physical State, Mental State is later. By no means am I a model! Frankly, if I could have pictures of me taken all the time from my shoulders up that would be awesome-I always get compliments on my smile and the faces I make. However, that’s not the case. And although, I’m not a model, I realize that I should photograph well and even more importantly, project the lifestyle that I sell constantly through my photography. As I said, I’m no model, so when I say this I don’t mean that if I shoot models I myself have to be a model but I do mean that I should be healthy, in shape and decently put together.

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When I was younger I did not have to put as much effort into working out and staying in shape as I do now. I used to play sports and run and that was pretty much it. As I got older and went onto college my wife, who I was dating at the time, and I would work out and run together. And let’s face it, being Asian I was just naturally thin and had a high metabolism. Then we got married, my wife got pregnant and we had our beautiful daughter. I don’t know what happened after Sharonne got pregnant but I inexplicably began to gain weight alongside her. Lifting weights shifted to lifting bottles and jogging morphed to sprinting to the bathroom so my daughter didn’t have a potty accident on herself and I’d have to clean it up. I was slowly losing touch with my physical state being in the green zone. As a matter of fact it was so far into red that green was on the opposite side of the color wheel! But the most important thing that I noticed was that it began to not only affect my personal physical state but also my professional physical state. Yes, I’m throwing myself under the bus and possibly my wife too…

As a photographer I’m constantly moving around on a shoot. It could be the smallest thing as crouching down several times to get a low hanging shot. You know what that crouching motion is- A SQUAT. Do that 50-60 times from different angles with a camera in your hand, so keeping your center of balance is even more crucial, while shooting multiple items over a couple hours and see how you feel 6 hours after the end of the shoot! I realized at that point I needed to hit the gym again and get myself back in shape, if not for the sake of my internal organs and self perspective, for my professional work. Funny thing is it really is the smallest things that make or break you. You would think it would be me having to run a little chasing after skateboarders to get a shot or moving stuff around like a mad man on a car shoot. But it was those little squats that worked unused, dormant muscles really made say “Ohhh,” and not in a good way.

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Over the past couple months I’ve done a detox, started stretching, practicing Yoga, lifting weights and created a workout regiment for myself that does not include lifting Lego blocks. It’s even more comical that looking back at it now, the whole “lifestyle” thing that I’m preaching (and practicing), when incorporated into your “lifestyle” it’s not as hard or impossible to fit in as you think. What I do, what I shoot really is my lifestyle and because of that makes it easier to get done. Find your inner Chi and you will be taken to a place of balance and self fulfillment!


As we walk through life we experience events made up of both failures and accomplishments. I’m pretty convinced that somewhere floating in orbit there exist an individual timeline for each of us made up of several hash marks with footnotes pointing to those individual events. I imagine that they indicate the moments that we encounter along our journey-the first time you road a roller coaster, the feeling you had while drinking your Mom’s chicken noodle soup when you were sick or in my case Pho, walking into a lousy job, passing gas on a date and then watching your date try really hard to pretend they didn’t notice, seeing snow for the first time, failing a test, your first kiss-both the nervous feeling you get beforehand and the after affect high, a first place ribbon, quitting your corporate job to follow your passion in photography and start your own business-which is what I did, capturing an awesome photo that you thought was just another photo but becomes revered, you get the picture-pun intended. Sometimes these moments in the ebb and flow of life are so awesome we want to lock them up in a time capsule and never forget them, other moments we wish the hash tags didn’t exist and hope that no one, especially our selves, remembers them.

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But should we want to forget any of these moments? It seems in life people only want the “good” and not the “bad”. So in the business world you find business owners, especially artist, only wanting the “successes” and none of the “failures”. Even in our lowest of lows, you know the ones we sometimes feel we will never get out of, should we ever want to forget them? Aren’t those the ones that make the journey worth traveling? I definitely didn’t like the moments of doubt or the self questions of “Am I good enough?”; but I don’t look at those moments necessarily as failures but rather serious learning moments in which we see what to do and definitely what not to do.

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The decision to begin my journey wasn’t easy. My passion for photography has always been very present, the longing to have my own company has been an ambition and goal of mine for as long as I can remember but jumping ship at my corporate job and the uncertainty of the future was daunting, especially with a wife and new born daughter to support. It was odd, I had so many supporters cheering me at the onset of the journey and just as many Nay Sayers. Some thought I was crazy and my wife Sharonne, even crazier for supporting me. I didn’t take the first step blindly. I sat down, wrote out all the important things to solidify and make permanent, like a business plan, budget, timeline and a marketing plan-they all got trashed!!! All the business and marketing majors reading this are gasping out of horror and the artist are like “yeah!” But you have to remember there is usually a derailing (giant squid) factor that if you overcome during your expedition will become an extraordinary enlightenment. For me it was trashing the structured “business plan and marketing plans” and realizing it was okay to let my clients, my audience the world see me. Plain old me, amazingly that’s what people like. Taking photos, capturing images that reflect what and how I see the world and everything in it. I believe that is what the heart of a business plan for a photographer should like, then comes the structuring of the business.

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My business was started because of my family with my muse being our daughter. It took all the faith I have in God, the love and support from Sharonne (who is also my agent rep) and a lot of money from our bank accounts! There were days where I would stare at the phone wondering why it didn’t ring, why people weren’t banging at my door. Then came nights when I didn’t want to tell Sharonne that I was second guessing my decision. But through it all I always kept taking photos to stay on my ‘A’ game both technically and creatively. In all the posting of photos, social media, blogging, sending out promo e-mailers & mailers, making calls, you sometimes wonder are your efforts in vain? Does anyone avain read your Facebook posts? The real question: Is your bait that’s out there on the line going to reel in the right folks? That’s what I meant about being yourself. If your fish are potential clients, ad agencies, or publications then your bait better be the real deal and not a plastic lure. Look to the work of others for inspiration but make what you do yours so that you inspire others. You will never know your efforts until you get the call, if you get a call at all. Until then, you have to make sure, that you’re not only showing great work but awesome character. One might think that it’s only when you reach great success that everything you do or have done will be dissected, analyzed, washed and repeated. But I believe it happens along the journey. Sometimes you’re doing it yourself and a lot of times it’s an unknown person in the crowd waiting to buy a ticket to sit in your audience. Staying true to yourself, your art and your brand, that’s what people are attracted to. Just like hanging out with the someone with the cool, confident but chill personality those eyes in the business world watching you as an artist want the same thing. Someone who’s more than just awesome at taking photos but easy to work or collaborate with. Some of my best clients have come from FB or another social media entity. Whether it was them reaching out to me or me giving them a call.

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No one can ever predict where they will ultimately end up, but I’m absolutely certain that you have a say in steering the car and your attitude along the way. The only thing you can do is believe and no matter if you’re working at a temp job or a “dead end job” for the time being, you make sure that you’re continuously creating kick ass work. Hopefully you don’t stop when you ultimately get to where you were headed on your journey. I want to surpass that! It’s a bizarre yet scary feeling. My journey has been as the path has forced me to knock on doors that weren’t open; push through faint gaps and come out of the shadows to create a defined characteristic of myself. Starting a new journey that has no defined or definite path is usually viewed as foolish but you always have hear stories of those foolish decisions leading to amazing journeys that open up to new ideas of hope and happiness, ultimately leading to your purpose. My “foolish” expedition into photography would be one.

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So that’s a little snippet of my journey so far and some images how I’ve built Nam Phan Photography. This May marks our Two Year Anniversary and it has been an awesome walk. Just remember, when you think you’re alone with no plan-or a plan that gets trashed, someone is watching you. Just maintain a strong character, keep rockin’ out creativity and your efforts will be rewarded.

Concavo Wheels Audi A5/S5


I was riding out with my brother in downtown one night and I received an unexpected Facebook message through my phone asking, “Hey are you down doing a photoshoot with an Audi?” I love cars and I love photography, so you know that I’m always down to fuse awesomeness. The shoot was for Concavo Wheels showing off a set of 20×10.5 Concavo CW-12 with BC coilovers holding  the ultra clean white Audi A5 from peeling the pavement. The shoot took place in the extended evening near the Tampa International Airport just right outside the taxiway. In my previous blog I touched on the importance of post production and how it has it’s place in Photography-specifically Commercial and Lifestyle Photography. Well for this, the stress points are natural lighting and location. Realtors use that term ‘Location, Location, Location”, well that should be in the the photographers manual as well. Whenever I’m out, believe it or not, I’m scouting locations and taking mental notes. I look at the sun and the lighting that the area gets, shadows are important too-more on that later. So, pick an awesome location that’s relevant to the visual message you (or your client) want to convey to your audience, think of the style and setting of the shoot and you’ll see what it does for the photo and the subject.

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You can view the full set and the wheels lineup offering from Concavo: http://concavowheels.com/portfolio/audi-a5-on-cw-12/


I honestly don’t know what drove me to do this, but a few weeks back I decided to rehash my photos from a shoot I did around June ’11 (Oh and if you want to view the suspect image, its right here -> http://namphan813.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/mg_7402.jpg).

Looking back, I couldn’t believe that I would release this one particular photo. I’m not speaking about the composition or accuracy in settings of the shot, I’m speaking in terms of the post production. So I did a re-edit of the jpeg file from my old blog and here’s my 2013 take on it..

What was I thinking back in 2011? I released the photo pretty much as is, my thoughts? I wish I could tell you, but I really don’t remember. Maturing in the fields of photography I dabble in and refining my post production skills over time has brought me to another level in my aesthetic for design philosophy. What do I mean by this? It’s simple…but complicated, so I’ll make it simple. Instead of treating them as two separate talents (which I know they are) I realized that they are married. I had to master both of them or find someone to marry (other than Sharonne) that was the other half. The two are actually one-given the circumstances require them. I’ll state that I do believe that a photographer should be able to capture a shot, composition and accuracy wise, from the beginning-in other words, pre-Photoshop. However, depending on the genre(s) of photography you shoot in, the post production process is greatly needed and I have found myself with a greater appreciation of it. There are a lot of shots I take where Photoshop is not needed and I refuse it because of the “feel” that I’m looking for. Which brings me to my point. Being a commercial and lifestyle photographer I photograph a couple different genres and love all of them. However, I have come to learn and experience, that a photographer is not just a person with a camera pushing a button who then hands their files over the the retoucher or graphic designer. A photographer is a script writer, a producer and a director. This applies to all fields of photography especially commercial and lifestyle-used for commercial use. You have to be able to see the big picture in order to capture the one in front of you. If I have a client I have to see the picture before it is even captured. Depending on what the end use of the images you have to be able to determine how to shoot the photo in the present for what it is going to be used for in the future. Sometimes that requires some crazy epic photoshoping of the images shot on set and a lot of times it doesn’t. Nevertheless, I have to be open to my clients needs, the creativity of the project and my vision as a photographer. Most of all I have to keep the integrity of the image and the artistry of the project.

Looking back on all the images that I have had both the honor and pleasure of capturing, I remember the most important things of all, gratitude and humility. My appreciation for the results of the hard work I have invested into learning and pushing myself towards the edge of the earth for that enrichment of wisdom leads to talent. But without the pieces and moments that make up of our lives, what would I have to capture.

Geez, I have come a long way! 🙂


Thank you again everybody for supporting and coming out to the Open Invite Photowalk. Even though the traffic was a bit rough getting to the park and the announcement of the event was fairly short notice, I felt this is a great start to cultivating relationships with other individuals of just hanging out, sharing photos and enjoying the great city of Tampa.. This is a first of many photowalks I’m planning to do throughout the year so if you missed out yesterday, don’t worry.

Sadly, I have to run out to another event today but will be back to post more photos from the photowalk so I leave you with this:

If you have an itch to throw a photowalk in your town or community, I encourage you to give it a try and get to know some of your neighbors in your community.


A lot of local camera wielding individuals asked, “why don’t you ever post any of your excursions/shoots where I could tag along and see how you work?” So, I decided to turn my personal street photography project into an open invite photowalk to give everyone a free opportunity to see what it takes to walk the mean streets of Tampa. To tell you the truth, its not all that mean other than the occasional tourist that don’t know what is the main purpose of a crosswalk.

Oh, so date and time; it’s this Friday, the 22nd of February at 5pm in Curtis Hixon Park. Wear a decent set of walking shoes as I’m going where ever the wind and my mind takes me. This session is just going to be an hour long. If you can’t make it, don’t fret! I’m planning to throw more Open Invite Photowalks in the near future as I announced this idea a bit late to the world. It’s open to anyone and everyone; from the guy that just picked up a camera with that tax refund check to the other fellow that blew his 401k on pro camera equipment. The idea behind the open invite photowalk is like an open house. I’m still working but it’s more relaxed, get to know some new folks and learn a couple tricks along the way.

Hope to see you there!

P.S: Don’t forget to follow me on facebook too!


Easy Release app for Andorid and iOS

Oh, apps, what would I do without you. Without apps and health insurance, modern civilization would be on the verge of social unrest. ANARCHY!! Outside of the highly cocaine addiction of the Angry Birds series, I generally don’t recommend a whole bunch of apps for the general/professional photographers other than this one: Easy Release.

Granted, it has been a while since I even opened Easy Release but it is one of those measures you should have on your iDevice and/or Android as it is like stashing a $10 dollar bill in your sock drawer for those rough Ramon Noodles days.

As the name suggest, this app provides a paperless and near effortless workflow to create model and property releases. With this app, you can collect the usual data such as name, address, phone, email, ability to attach a reference photo, and capture signatures from the model or client. Once you collect everything, Easy Release have the ability to output the final product via PDF and email the appropriate file to the model.

Sure, this app can’t do it all as totally replacing extensive contracts especially if you’re working with clients such as Nike or Sony, as we all know somewhere there is just an office floor with teams of lawyers wanting to quadruple check anything that would require a signature. With that said, if you ever need to do a last second casting with a bystander to fill-in for a no-show, this app can clear those hurdles with a quick collection of information and a sloppy signature.

Yes, this app will make you life a bit neater but your clients and models will also appreciate the convince and ease without having the responsibility to tote around a sheet of paper for their records.

All the stuff I mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg as you can do much more such as adding custom fields, store a variety of addendum, backup to iCloud but the strongest part is it’s guts and it is all baked into Easy Release. This app alone is approved from the big wigs of stock photography such as Getty, iStock and Alamy, just to name a few.

This app is currently $9.99 for Android and iOS.

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/app/easy-release-model-release/id360835268?mt=8
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.applicationgap.easyrelease&hl=en


Sometimes its best to stay out of dark alleys.