Sigma Theta Psi Multicultural Sorority @ SJSU

ISM joined the active members of Sigma Theta Psi Multicultural Sorority, the founding Chapter at San Jose State University, to capture their chapter pictures.  Kristine was the photographer for the day and she had a great time with all of the lovely ladies from Sigma Theta Psi at the Rose Garden. 

There are a few familiar faces in the group, like Alia Tull whose Senior Portraits we captured earlier this year, also our very own ISM team member Tori Green, followed by the many faces that you could've recognized from the USFC Info Night Fall 2015, USFC Info Night Fall 2014, or the USFC Info Night Spring 2014.  

And of course every good photo shoot isn't complete without a wardrobe malfunction or two. 

Written by Olivia Azevedo

Senior Portraits: Alia Tull


Spartan Alia Tull has reached yet another important milestone in her life with her fast approaching graduation from San Jose State University, and she wants to go out in style. So, she came to us for her senior portraits and announcements.

Alia is a proud member of the Class of 2015 and is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in  Political Science with an Emphasis in Thought and Theory. We know her personally, though, as she and Tori are sorority sisters. Chardé Walker, a woman we like to call our poster child (she's featured on a canvas on a wall in our office), is Alia's pledge mom. Even better, Alia herself actually makes an appearance in our USFC Info Night videos (click here to see the latest one), so this is one grad we're excited for.

In charge of this shoot was ISM's Kristine Lee, taking on the role of lead photographer. Meanwhile, Tori came as an assistant, handling the reflector, and Alia's grandmother even tagged along to provide some levity and pose for a few photos herself.

The group's first stop was the Municipal Rose Garden in Downtown San Jose. It was a cold, brisk morning and the grass was wet with dew, but Alia took it like a champ in her wedges. She was ready to model, and despite the fact that the roses weren't entirely in bloom, Alia's smile was radiant enough to make you forget about flowers. Excited and joyful, the idea of jumping in the fountain even crossed her mind.

The fun continued as the ladies continued on to the San Jose State campus with Alia's grandmother cracking jokes the whole way. It was a bit of a challenge to capture the immensity of the SJSU sign, but we love the contrast the blue provided. After that, Tower Hall served as a perfect backdrop for Alia's model walk. Her subtle outfit change made the look all the more fierce. We couldn't be happier with how the portraits turned out.

And so it seems with Alia as well, as she chose her favorite photos for Allen to turn into a graduation announcement. Check it out (along with a gallery of some of our favorite images) below!

Congratulations to Alia and all the graduates of the Class of 2015!

Written by Danika Lam

Senior Portraits: Cameron Juarez

The only way to describe this senior portrait session is super relaxed and chill. Cameron Juarez from Pioneer High School was such a cool guy to work with and it seemed almost impossible to get a bad picture of him. He had a great smile and a cooperative attitude, and we were able to get a ton of good shots of him in no time at all.

To start off the shoot, Allen and Tori showed up at Almaden Lake Park in San Jose to scope out a variety of good locations before Cameron actually arrived. When he did, the team got to work and made some magic happen.

If you take a look at the gallery of photos from this shoot, you'll notice how we really took advantage of the subtle golden glow that dusk provided us with. It was about 7:30 in the afternoon and the sun was about to set, allowing for some gorgeous reflections off the water and great colors in the backdrop. When we usually have a problem with the sun's erratic behavior and blinding light, this time, our only problem with the sun was when it went down. Such is the benefit of late afternoon photo shoots.

All in all, it was a fun time. Cameron was able to open up to the camera, and it was like he was modeling for a magazine. His mom was one of the nicest people and seemed really excited about receiving the finished product. Take a look at what's in store for them below!

Written by Danika Lam

Senior Portraits: Michelle Taikeff

This past week, Tori, Allen, and I set out to for Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park with Pioneer High School's Michelle Taikeff to take her senior portraits. In one word, we'd all describe this shoot as an adventure. From pulling in and out of sketchy turnouts with huge blind spots on Highway 9 to constantly yelling "car!" while we were trying to take photos in the middle of the road, this day had it all. Tori and I were even lucky enough to have a run-in with some treacherous stinging nettle. While my forearm just tingled for the rest of the day, I'd have to say Tori got the brunt of the pain, with her leg stinging and swelling.

And from all this? Absolutely stunning photos. Michelle was a fantastic model. In fact, you'd almost think she was a professional, and as a result, her senior portraits are truly beautiful. Supplemented by the gorgeous backdrops, each photo shines with natural grace. We already know: her friends and family are going to love them.

Click through the gallery below to see the full range of photos we shot and edited.

Written by Danika Lam

Senior Portraits: Michael Youssef

Pioneer High School's Michael Youssef had his senior portrait photo shoot early this morning at Alum Rock Park in San Jose. On location were Allen, Tori, and myself. Without the need for much exploration, we easily found several spots for good photos, nice backdrops and all. Michael himself, while not a professional model, seemed perfectly comfortable in front of the camera and Allen had no trouble getting some really great shots. Overall, it was a very mellow shoot, as even the sun was cooperating with us, hiding behind the clouds. And the results were spectacular, as you can see in the gallery below.

Above: A few behind the scenes photos I took while on the shoot
Below: A gallery of some of the best shots of Michael, professionally edited

Written by Danika Lam

A Father's Day Photo Shoot

Father's Day is fast approaching, and everyone's scrambling to find their dad the perfect gift. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Megan Richofsky and her siblings, who became models for a day so they could surprise their dad with beautiful family portraits.

Allen and Tori met up with the Richofsky family at Almaden Lake Park in the late afternoon in order to take advantage of the perfect lighting that rolls around just before sunset. At first, however, the lighting was a bit tricky. Being early summer, the sun was high in the sky, so the crew had to seek out shadier areas to get some good shots. On the hunt for different locations, they came across a wooden bridge that served as a nice backdrop. It looked great in the photos, but it was a little too rickety for Tori's taste. So of course, Allen took it upon himself to scare her as much as possible, making the old wood creak left and right. To shake things up even more, the police decided to show up at the start of the shoot to report that somebody had brought a shot gun into the park. This shoot was clearly anything but uneventful.

Meanwhile, the subjects of this shoot were having a blast. The camaraderie between the siblings was evident and they were having a great time posing for photos. It almost seemed like they were more interested in making funny faces for the camera rather than sitting for genuine photos. But in between all the laughs and silly poses, Allen and Tori were able to capture some beautiful photos. The sun finally came around and the lighting was perfect. Even little Robert, who got a little camera shy towards the end, was able to bring out his inner model. Take a look at the gallery below to see some of the photos one lucky dad will be receiving this Father's Day.

Some of the best shots from the day

A few outtakes and behind the scenes photos

Written by Danika Lam

A Family Surprise in San Francisco

This surprise turned out perfect!

After weeks of debating what to get my mom for Christmas, I finally came up with the idea to FINALLY give my mom family photos. But my biggest dilemma was who would take the pictures and how would I get us all together in such a short amount of time. 

Allen immediately agreed to take the pictures, so next I just had to get my family together without giving the surprise away to my mom. My little brother actually had time to take the pictures, so that task was done. The last task was to get my mom up to San Francisco with her hair and makeup all done. Thank God for good people like Toodie who did my mom's hair and makeup, flawlessly. Without her this task would've been a lot harder to do before a certain time.

After that was done, it was time to meet Allen and my little brother in Union Square. I walked my mom across the street with her eyes closed and walked her up the stairs. Once she opened them she saw my little brother and Allen, immediately she bursted into tears. (Had to get her to stop so she wouldn't ruin her makeup.) 

For our family portraits I wanted the big Christmas tree behind us through the majority of the shots with a combination of all three of us, to two of us, and then single shots. Allen pulled this off amazingly! We were also able to go around other spots of San Francisco where Allen came up with ideas for us that I would have never thought of. I'm so happy he was able to do this for me on such short notice. Check out some of the photos below!

Written by Tori Green

Couples' Portraits: Tori & Derek

Ivory Sky Media's very own Tori Green modeled for us in a couples' portraits photo shoot with none other than Derek Mems (also known as Dshyne Phresh).

Allen was more than happy to be their photographer for the day, so one morning the trio headed over to San Francisco for a few hours of posing and smiling for the camera. Specifically, they chose Clarion Alley as their location, a place known for its creative artwork in the form of graffiti murals. When they arrived, it was mostly empty but for a few others taking pictures of the artwork. The sky overhead was overcast and it was a bit chilly at the start of the shoot. Regardless of the weather, however, the three were able to capture some really cool shots.

They started in the alley, where Allen photographed Tori and Derek just interacting, having fun, and being themselves. It was here that the couple was in there first outfit, which Derek was able to pick out. Their wardrobe changed as they left the alley, and the two brought out their inner sports fans. Tori's all about the Raiders and Derek backs up the Broncos. Between the two of them, they know everything there is about what's happening in the football world. This definitely shines through in their pictures. And it was in these sports-oriented outfits that Allen was also able to take his favorite photos of the shoot. Having left the alley, they simply wandered around the surrounding area, exploring the Mission District of San Francisco. They stumbled across a random park in the middle of an industrial area and found a grungy garage door to pose in front of. The whole thing was very impromptu and all three of them just went with the flow and had fun with it.

After just a few hours, Allen had gotten some really good shots that turned out to be real crowd-pleasers. Tori and Derek loved them and so did their family and friends. Looking back on it, Tori says that it was "a little weird" to be in front of the camera rather than behind it, but she and Derek are both extremely happy with how the photos turned out. You can view some of them in the gallery below.

Written by Danika Lam