Tell us a bit about your approach to the work you do, your time in the business and a few personal facts about you.
I think of the sessions I offer as carefully curated experiences rather than photo shoots, and the natural rhythms of these adventures help shape the storyline. Growing up, my dad created many photo ops on weekend adventures with me, so I learned to explore with him from early on. Naturally, wandering and taking pictures got in my blood, but it wasn’t until I had kids of my own that I started to practice and appreciate this form of storytelling. I officially launched LUMA PHOTOGRAPHY two summers ago, and in the beginning, I really didn’t have a clear vision or a particular style in mind. The more I dove into the business, however, the more clarity I found in my approach. As I was slowly figuring out my brand, I couldn’t help but notice how much my dad had influenced me, both in the way I live and the way I work. I live in San Francisco with my husband and two young boys, ages five and three. Thanks to the mild climate, we spend most of our days outside. Inspired by my own adventures with my dad, I often take my boys out to explore new places without doing too much research first. I guess I just love the thrill of spontaneous trips! But, I’ve learned to always pack food! I use some of my venturing out with the boys as location scouting for future shoots, but I also just enjoy discovering things with them. They’ve taught me to look at the world in a fresh perspective. So, the way I approach my work is hugely influenced by my lifestyle.
What makes you the most nervous during a session?
I have been shooting family sessions for a while, but this year, I branched out to add couple sessions, and I’m finding that naturally beautiful poses are hard to achieve. Kids are generally unpretentious, but for adults, it’s hard for us to suddenly suppress our self-consciousness, especially when we are in front of the camera. I think I’m most nervous when I feel like I’ve run out of ideas to help the couple relax.
What about this session was most memorable?
I’d seen pictures of this beautiful Tennessee Valley Coastal Trail in Marin County, just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, but neither I nor Vanessa and Shane had hiked it. The 3.6-mile roundtrip hike was full of beautiful surprises, from the fog-draped mountain tops to lush green valleys that greeted us along the way to the dark rocky beach and whale bones that welcomed us at the end of the hike. All of us were in awe of this place. The most memorable moment for me, however, was when I walked closer to Vanessa and Shane from taking some pull back shots, they had started to climb up the cliffside. I had forgotten that Shane enjoys rock climbing, and it suddenly dawned on me that they are truly savoring this experience!
Were there any hurdles?
In the beginning, we had a little bit of trouble finding the trailhead due to the GPS and lack of reception, but we eventually found it.
Your best photographer/session advice?
During our sessions, I am as much interested in getting to know my clients and finding out their individual stories as I am with creating beautiful images. I think our job is an incredible gift. We don’t just preserve memories, we help make them. My best advice is to invest in people: be yourself, get to know your clients, focus on building a relationship, and your session will be more genuine and memorable.
What is one goal for your business?
One of my goals for the business this year is to book engagements and eventually small and intimate weddings.
What gear was used to achieve these?
I shot this session with my Nikon D610, 50mm 1.8 for freelensing, and 24mm 1.8.
Any presets used or hand editing?
I used Tribe Archipelago Summit 05 as my starting point, then tweaked it to fit my style. I hand edited the few black and white images.
ABOUT THE ARTIST :
Hello! I’m Yiqian Barba, owner of LUMA PHOTOGRAPHY. My passion is to document honest and artful imagery for the adventurous at heart. I know you are wondering how to pronounce my name, so let’s get that out of the way! Yi is pronounced ee as in see, and qian is simply chen (ee – chen). Hope this helps! I live in the beautiful and diverse city of San Francisco with my husband and two boys. City living is not without its challenges, but the community we have found here is like none other.
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