Friday, December 30, 2011

Magic: Technical Imperfection

Perfect Imperfection. Holly. Nikon D3/50mm f/1.8D. 1/200th, f/4.0, ISO200.

I'm going to deviate from the script and write about Magic from the perspective of the mindset behind the following image. Yeah that's a mouthful.

There are a lot of things technically wrong about this image. I'm going to reveal every significant detail I can find.

- Composition is off. Too much foreground (or just ground) and not enough headroom for balance. Also it's skewed left.
- The background is completely exposed. Yes it's seamless paper. But usually you're not supposed to reveal the background stands.
- There's a light artifact on the upper right hand corner. No I didn't Photoshop that in. It's an artifact from using my cheap 50mm f/1.8D Nikkor within an ABR800. What you're seeing is some light leakage from the ABR into the lens from inside the ring. I can't explain it any more since I'm not really sure how or why it exists. It's a hundred-dollar lens made in the 90's, what do you expect?
- There's significant vignetting. A perfect lens doesn't vignette. A technically perfect image corrects for vignetting.
- Overexposure in the center. A byproduct of the ABR800. It's a ringflash. I shoot from about the waist-level. So the mid-section is going to come in hotter than the rest of the image because it's closer to the light.
- Motion blur in the hair. No that's not Photoshop either. It's motion blur caused by a slow flash duration (strobe set to lowest power)
- Grain, dust, speckling, scratches? Check, check, check, and check.
- Discoloration in the image. Yup, traditional cross-processed look reminiscent of the faded old-school film.

Other than that, it's a technically perfect picture :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Magic: What You're Looking For

Moments In Between. Holly. D3/50mm. 1/200th, f/5.6, ISO 200.

I keep putting off the Model Interaction post because I realize Magic is predicated on so many underlying elements; all of which precede model interaction. Since these particulars determine the potential outcome of creating Magic, it behooves us to discuss these things first.

The problem with Magic is that everyone defines Magic a little differently. And depending on the concept of the shoot, the same photographer can look for different looks. For example, a look that works well for one concept might not work well for another concept. That being said, there are seemingly universal themes to Magic, elements that I look for in models as well as in the looks I want the models to portray. Simply put (for model tests) I'm trying to create an emotional connection with my audience. In much the same way a magazine editor is trying to capture the attention of the viewership (for greater advertising revenue), I'm trying to evoke an emotion from the viewer.

I suppose that's the bottom line of Magic. Magic isn't about tack-sharp images. It's not about perfectly–posed models. It's not even about shooting the most-beautiful models. Rather, it's about evoking emotions from your audience. Because that's the universal goal isn't it? To change someone's life with a single image. To get them to feel something when they see that image. Because let's face it. An image built upon technical perfection is emotionally hollow. It's a pretty face (facade) with no substance underneath. It's the same criticism surfers invoke when they compare a mass-produced machine-made soulless surfboard from China, to a hand-crafted one-of-a-kind surfboard from a local shaper. They're both surfboards but one of them lacks a soul.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Magic: The Right Model

Revisitation Rights. Ashley. D3/24-70mm f/2.8G. 1/200th, f6.3, ISO400 @48mm.

I was originally going to go straight into Magic: Model Interaction and suddenly realized that the entire premise of Magic rests on a very specific photographer-model interaction with the right model.

Didn't want to hear that? Thought that you could simply throw in a few key ingredients and just make magic with any random model? You and I both wish!

Let's face it, having a ModelMayhem page doesn't make you a model. And likewise, being signed by an agency doesn't make you a good model. And even if you're a working model that books work regularly, that doesn't mean you're a good model. In fact, the obvious elements of modeling (industry standard looks/measurements, being agency-represented, and having experience) are far from the most important element of finding the right model for Magic.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Magic: The Dynamics of Volume Shooting

Covering All Angles. D3/50mm. 1/200, f/4.0, ISO200.

Introduction to Volume Shooting
As the second part of Magic, I want to set the stage with one of the key ingredients; volume shooting.

Volume shooting doesn't mean you shoot willy-nilly and indiscriminately hold down the shutter release button. Rather it's about getting the most frames out of the most usable moments that your model gives you.
Holding down the shutter release button will yield a frame rate limited by your camera's ability to write files to your memory card (after you've filled the buffer). And that's not a very fast frame rate. At best you'll get 1fps, 2fps if you're lucky? And while you're waiting for the memory card to clear each file from the buffer, you're going to miss a lot of potentially magical moments. Instead, you should increase your odds of creating evocative images by being selective about when you increase your shooting volume. This is also known as burst-fire.

But in addition to burst-fire moments, volume shooting should employ a brisk baseline rate of capture. We will explore the dynamics and reasoning behind this later.

Please understand that volume shooting is not a stand-alone concept. It's a shooting style that requires good model interaction, proper model selection, proficiency with lighting, familiarity with dynamic adjustments and more. The goal is that when you pair volume shooting with good preparation and real-time actions, you yield more frames that are emotionally evocative. My goal with this post is to navigate you through the pitfalls of volume shooting and reveal the benefits of volume shooting when performed correctly.
Some Objections to Volume Shooting
But doesn't volume shooting make photographers lazy? Absolutely. If you rely only on volume-shooting and neglect all other preparations, then you will become a lazy photographer. Hell, not only will you become a lazy photographer, you will also be an unprepared photographer. One that has reduced his/her chances at capturing great images. Volume shooting is not a standalone concept. Volume shooting should be combined with great pre-production legwork such as finding the right model, concept, location, storyboard, makeup, wardrobe, etc. It's a small portion of a larger framework; a framework that does not include a predetermined look/concept/pose.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Magic: The Premise

Surrender. Erica. D3/50mm. 1/5000, f/2.2 ISO200.

If you're just starting out in photography, then this post isn't for you. If you're still learning how to light, this post isn't for you either. If you're content with what you're creating, this post also isn't for you.

So who is this post for?

It's specifically for photographers that have experienced what I call "Magic". When things seemingly go right for no "apparent" reason. When you're surprised by the results of the images that you're creating. When the flow between you and the model takes a life of its own. When you capture the essence of raw emotion in a still frame.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Response to Perfectionism, Planning, and Improvisation

Got an email from a workshop photographer about learning impasses.

My photography is at an impasse. My last three photo shoots were expensive failures and I feel I have plateaued creatively. Each shoot was well-planned, but a combination of inexperienced models, a failure to properly articulate my goals, and the pressure from my perfectionist tendencies conspired to produce poor results.

I think many photographers reach this same plateau and either fail to push forward or languish in mediocrity. I want to reach the next level and hope you can help me during our time together. Here are my strengths, photographically, I feel:

· Shoot planning
· Model interaction
· Retouching
· Technical ability

Monday, December 19, 2011

Thursday, December 15, 2011

ASUS PA245Q Review

I'm travel to Taiwan enough to buy a secondary display for permanent use when I'm here. But a couple weeks out of the year does not warrant the purchase of an Eizo CG243W which is what I use in LA.

In haste, I did a quick search and saw good feedback on the ASUS PA245Q ProArt 24.1 and requested its purchase for my arrival and use when I landed in Taipei at the equivalent of USD$575.

The following review is specific to photography-retouching and is very much a comparison with higher-end monitors such as the Eizo CG243W that I use regularly. I have also in the past used a Dell 2405FPW (PVA) and an Eizo S2402W (TN) for the same purposes.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Inspirations. Visions. Mutations.

Statuesquest. Brittany. First frame of the set. This was actually a test shot. A "mistake" if you will.
D3/50mm f/1.8D, 1/200, f5, ISO200.

I was going to break this up into two posts but I think it's really one and the same and explains a lot of things. First of all don't take this the wrong way. There's no right or wrong, it's just "different". I'm about to explain to you the method to my inspirational madness.

The thing is, I don't read blogs, I don't surf YouTube, I don't spend all day on Facebook, I don't partake in forums (anymore), I don't chat online, I don't really read magazines (outside of the 1-2 I had subscriptions to).

I've said this before on my blog but I basically live in a cave. I'm "self-contained". Why? Because I'm easily overwhelmed by visuals. If I surf the web, or read magazines or play on FB etc. I'm bound to get inundated by images and those images usually have me asking, "Why didn't I think of that?" or "I wish I shot that" or "Gosh, that's awesome... my images aren't nearly as good".

Call it self-defense. I keep the outside world, mostly outside.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What's Your Favorite Shot?

I've been asked this question several times so I figure I would answer it here:

I don't have a favorite shot. I don't even remember 1/2 of my shots. Today I have 200GB of unedited images on my drive. Tomorrow I shoot a video. Sunday I shoot a spec-editorial. I look at thousands of pictures everyday of my life and I retouch so many that none of them really make much of an impact.

So to answer your question, I don't have a favorite shot.


I just went 7 days without power. Living in Southern California is pretty great almost all the time. Real earthquakes haven't happened in 20+ years and other than the occasional forest fire and permanent drought, we sit pretty all year every year.

But we (especially the cities near the foothills) just got destroyed by some gale force winds.

I live in Arcadia (between Pasadena and Monrovia)

They said it would be the worst winds in 7-10 years.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Visions, Nudity, and Comfort Zones

From my buddy Maximilian on Facebook,

"I wanted to ask you "how do you go about asking models to break out of their comfort zone and give you emotion/beautiful art" I wanna push the models I work with to give me more emotion then hands on the hip peace sign pictures."

I have so many sentiments on this subject it's not even funny. But first let met get in my rant of the day.

As a male photographer, I feel that we're pretty much all the same. Yes, you, me and every other guy that enjoys seeing a model without her clothes on. Yeah, I said it. It's a universal truth and we can deny it all we want but unless you're gay, as a straight-male photographer you can not deny your appreciation of a naked female model. Hell, even the gay photographers appreciate a naked female model. So pretty much if the photographer is a dude, then he wants to see the model naked.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Control vs. The Uncontrollable

Duck and Model. Nikon D3, 50mm f/1.8D, ISO 3200, 1/250th, f/2.8

I should apologize for the new layout because it's more difficult to navigate. I'm experimenting with this layout as I'm working on my website ( because it is more uniform with my website design.

As I was looking for a specific quote by Richard Avedon, I stumbled across the following:

I think all art is about control - the encounter between control and the uncontrollable. - Richard Avedon

And it gave me the chills thinking about the process by which I walk that fine line between control and the uncontrollable.

If you've read this blog then you know that I've always preached a good technical foundation for every photographer. Learn the ratios, lighting setups, camera settings, etc. You'll need to know these things like the back of your hand so you can improvise.

But art is unpredictable and uncontrollable. When I step onto a shoot, I'm not 100% sure I'm going to get "art". I know for sure I'll get great images, but the magic that transcends ordinary images is transient and hard to create. You might have all the right ingredients and still not be able to create "art".

Friday, November 25, 2011

Trying something new

While it feels like I haven't experimented with shooting anything new in a while, today I had the opportunity to step outside my comfort zone.

There's something to be said about stepping outside your comfort zone. I do this best when I'm comfortable that my mistakes won't come under fire when/if they occur. Which is why I don't experiment when I'm shooting a big production for a paid client. Too risky on all levels.

When do I experiment? On my test shoots. I don't have nearly as much time as I used to, but I test as often as I can to keep my skills current and broaden my skill-sets. Testing allows me to balance my schedule, stay sharp, meet new people, feel the pulse of the industry, practice what I know, find out what I don't know, amongst other wonderful benefits.

I won't go into the specifics of what I tried because that's not the point of this post. The point is that like anyone else, I can fall into a rut and do the same thing over and over again. Fortunately I get bored quickly and usually try something new.

My model today was wonderfully accommodating which allowed me to comfortably be uncomfortable. Like coaxing a turtle out of its shell, I'll stick my neck out if I know the coast is clear.

Below is one of the things I did differently today. Balancing ambient with a shot of strobe lighting creates a dreamy effect that I plan on practicing more in the future. Keep trying new things!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Black Box Marketing

Below is my response with an Internet Brands administrator regarding the EDU content I have on ModelMayhem. We've been discussing the effect of the negative responses on EDU to all the contributors' posts and changes going forward. For reference, many of my posts on MM EDU have been reprinted from this blog. None of them have been adapted for the MM audience. And at the heart of the LUCIMA blog lie personal philosophies, many of which are driving forces in my photography. And with the fledgling MM EDU not fully stating or understanding its own purpose and direction, there has been a disconnect between the content delivered and the feedback received. Below is the resulting discussion:

Friday, November 18, 2011

Workshop Q/A

Monday Mornings. Jordan Daniele.

Here's an excerpt of a conversation I'm having with a future workshop student

I think I would have to do two days with you then, I just have to figure out how to work it into my budget.

I would like to learn how you do your post process work, how you pick a good picture from a great picture, how you retouch, dodge and burn technique, how you network, get noticed, and work with agencies. (west Michigan is more of a wedding photography area) How you interact with the model, how to pick what model to work with for different projects, and how to get published. I would like to spend half the day learning about this with you (would you mind if I bring a recording device to take note, it would be for my own use) the other half I would like to spend shooting with you.

I think the second day (if I can manage it), I would like to spend building my portfolio just shooting indoors and out, with different locations outdoor. I would like to book a second model for this day.

I don't need to learn about setups, lighting, metering or anything that has to do with studio work seeing how I don't own a studio (yet hopefully). I will eventually have to learn, but I feel like I can learn that stuff from local photographers.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fast Glass

I've always hated the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D. For me it was always somewhat hazy and lacked contrast and sharpness.

It's not even the best 50mm that Nikon makes. The f/1.4 opens up even more at 3x the price.

Actually this is actually my second 50mm f/1.8D. My first 50mm, I purchased second-hand and after minimal usage, the aperture stopped responding to electrical commands. The physical blades still opened and closed but it just stopped working properly on my digital body.

Today I pulled out the 50mm f/1.8D. My rationale was that I was tired of the lousy bokeh on the 24-70mm f/2.8G. Great lens. Sharp. Great for zooming. But ugly bokeh. Prime lenses do much better in that department so I decided to pull out the nifty fifty and take it for a spin.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Too many full-layered .TIFs

I keep all my edited images in their full-layered states in the event I want to go back and play around and/or re-edit an image.

Problem is that my file names are usually DSC_XXXX.

Recently I've been encountering the following error message:

Thinking Photoshop was lying to me, I have been saving anyway. Little did I know that I was overwriting existing files. My rationale was, "That's impossible, I just shot this. How could there already be a file with that name on my computer?!?"

Simple, my file names have been used and reused because it only records 4 digits (DSC_XXXX).

So I have recently changed my file name to write DSD_XXXX for new file names that won't recycle at least for a while.


Bekka at Vasquaz Rocks

I've been asked to talk about "tilting".

I had no idea it even had a name. I think "tilting" refers to shooting an image without regards to the horizon being flat and straight. My initial response was that I hadn't thought about it enough to verbalize an intelligent response.

Well, here's my attempt at verbalizing an intelligent response.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Workflow: Retouching and printing II

Yonex Isometric Tour 300. Circa 1995.

This is an addendum to my original post. I've been asked to touch more upon either (or both) of these subjects. Though that post was written over a year ago, it rings truer than ever.

When I played high school badminton for my school in Taipei carbon technologies (like graphite) were finding their way into the racquets we used. The "best" racquets were integrated "unibody" racquets where the handle, shaft, and head were all a single monocoque piece. Traditionally racquets were made of some metal in multiple pieces and then welded together. These "newer" racquets were not only lighter due to their materials but were also lighter without sacrificing structural integrity. For all intents and purposes these racquets were more structurally sound because they were designed as a single piece and not welded together. That being said, traditional welding was pretty good and I wouldn't necessarily bet on an old racquet falling apart at the welds.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Everything that has a beginning has an end...

Nearly two months ago I received a letter at the studio that the property management company was terminating my lease at the current location for LUCIMA Studio. For 20 months I've been operating out of a 1,300 sf. warehouse space in Alhambra that I've called "home". It wasn't anything spectacular but it was the beginning of LUCIMA Studio. While I didn't have any immediate plans to leave, I also knew I wasn't going to be at that location forever. I had purposely signed a 1-year lease at the beginning so I wouldn't get stuck with a long-term contract. At the time I had no idea if I could sustain the cost of the studio...

20 months later I'm not only still here but have signed a 3-year lease for a 2,100 s.f. space. much closer to my house.

Tomorrow I move out of my current space and move into the new studio.

Tonight I reminisce the time spent at the old space.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Scalable Storage and Backup III

OWC Mercury Elite-AL Pro Qx2

Since January/February, I've been running an OWC Mercury Elite-AL Pro Qx2 with 4 Western Digital 1.5TB Caviar Green drives.

The Caviar Greens are not rated for RAID but they are cheap and easily acquired and have served me well so far.

Until last weekend when one of the drives failed. The drive light began to flash and the audible beep came on. I turned off the beep. Reset the box. It came one again. I pulled out the drive, reset the box and still it refused to go away.

Ordered a new drive, put it in. Rebuild light came on, beep went away, flashing drive light went away.

Sent in the old drive to WD and got a (presumably) new one back. You're advised (by Lloyd Chambers) to always keep a spare in case this stuff happens. You don't want to sit around too long without protection. If a second drive fails, there's a high likelihood of data loss. Then you're SOL.

Then your backup solution comes into play. Do you have a backup of that box? What if you get robbed and someone steals the box AND your backup solution? Yeah, both drives at the same time. Highly likely if they're sitting next to each other as mine are.

Always have an off-site backup even if it's a few weeks old. Rotate through so you are protected against "mayhem" as the Allstate guy would say.

If you're curious just do a search for "Scalable Storage" in the search box to your right.

The Revolving Door of Models

Around and around we go. Saint Tropez. September 4, 2011.

I subscribe to the revolving door philosophy for models. Specifically that models come and models go. As a photographer you should never get hung up about a model because there will always be others that can replace her (or him).

This of course doesn't apply to your muse(s).

I'm talking about seeing a model's profile and going gaga over her beauty and then jumping through hoops to shoot her. Tell me, when in the history of mankind has that technique ever worked out well for the one jumping through the hoops? Odds are it (she) isn't worth it. Beyond that, you're selling yourself short and if the model finds out how desperate you are to shoot her she'll lose all respect for you anyway.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Why I rarely use skin-processing techniques anymore...

100% crop of a full-length image I am currently working on. Courtney from Next Models. H3DII/HC 80. 1/250th f/2.8 ISO 200. No skin techniques applied.

Had a conversation with a fellow photographer yesterday and I realized a few things about skin-processing techniques that I wasn't consciously aware of.

Imagenomics Portraiture, frequency-separation, high-pass, even Gaussian Blur all do the same thing... they attempt to make skin more evenly toned through blurring.

This is true of every technique above. Even though you might not know what's happening in Portraiture, it's really just automating the frequency-separation technique and that includes blurring (I use the Surface Blur with frequency-separation).

But what each of these techniques fails to accomplish is to discriminately attack the problem areas. What it does is provides you a more even skin tone across the board (face). And therefore by definition these techniques behave indiscriminately.

The "What if..." game

San Gabriel Canyon Road approximately 3,500ft elevation. iPhone4 HDR'd.

The overarching LUCIMA philosophy that drives my learning is the question, "What if..."

Curiosity perhaps? Maybe. It manifests itself in many different aspects of my life. As an example, I was jogging in the mountains as part of my triathlon training and I kept wanting to see what was around every corner uphill. This caused me to run at least 1.5 miles uphill.

The following day I cycled 20 miles into that mountain. Of course, around every corner was another corner and just more mountain to cycle.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Baggage of Film

Jessica Stam by Mariano Vivanco. Numéro Korea.

People tend to like to comment on conflagratory posts so here's another one that many of you will balk at.

First my personal disclaimer. I didn't really shoot film. Sure I had a 35mm film camera like everyone else. As a kid I had my negatives developed at the local camera store or sometimes at the supermarket. Never spent any time in a dark room.

For me that's worked out just fine.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Way People Respond

This is in response to the feedback I've been getting on ModelMayhem's EDU section. A while back I wrote a blog post about "Blondes do have more fun... in B&W"

My wife manages my MM account these days so I get updates from her frequently about stuff I should know about. Apparently my latest EDU post on MM has created quite the stir!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Product Differentiation

A while back a photographer friend asked me "What differentiates you from other photographers?"

Having just become a full-time photographer long before this question, I replied "I'm not really sure..."

Fast forward many moons later and I can answer this question in a few sentences.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Growth in Workshop Students

One of the things I love seeing is progression in people. As long as you're "falling forward" as my old boss would say, things will be okay. And on that note, I love reading about the successes and progress of the photographers that have come to my workshop. The ones that have been approved by modeling agencies after coming to my workshop, the ones that are creating incredible and powerful images after a lighting course, or even the ones that simply feel like they're on another level after doing a workshop.

It's these little things that validate my role as an educator. I love seeing your new work. I love knowing that I made a difference large or small. So feel free to show off your new images! :)

Looking for Reasons to Say No

Displacement: V8 6.162 L w/ (Eaton) TVS Supercharger & Intercooler
Horsepower: 638 bhp at 6500 rpm
Torque: 604 ft·lb
Bore: 103.25 mm
Stroke: 92.0 mm
Compression: 9.1:1
Supercharger maximum boost: 10.5 psi (0.7 bar)
Redline: 6600 rpm
Brakes front: Brembo 15.5 in (390 mm)
Brakes rear: Brembo 15.0 in (380 mm)
Front/rear balance: 52/48
Curb weight: estimated 3,352 lb (1,520 kg)
0-60 mph: 3.3
Top speed: 205 mph (330 km/h)
Quarter mile time: 11.2
Quarter mile speed: est. 135 mph (217 km/h)
Production: 2000 units per year (estimated)
Price: US$111,120 to US$121,100
Lateral acceleration: 1.10 g
Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1 specs

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What's in a Modeling Agency Image?

I found this on and I thought I would share my response to the question:

So I did a test shoot with model for a model agency last week. They emailed a few comp cards of girls requiring new shots, so the first was done last week.

I felt the shots were lovely and asked for feedback moving foward, but was told this by the agent involved: "I must admit although they are nice shots I don't feel they are quite strong enough for the models folio's I feel they look like "TEST" shots. At this stage I might hold off doing another shoot."

Tip of the day: Mind your Background Exposure

Kate. The Grotto.

Goddamnit. Goddamnit. Goddamnit.

That's what I said today after seeing the images on my camera when I didn't mind my background exposure.

The primary issue is dynamic range. A background with an extreme exposure range usually looks bad. Blown highlights next to dark shadows usually = EPIC FAIL.

The above image of Kate was balanced in-post tremendously to be presentable. In its original state, I almost deleted it. Hell, if it weren't for the fact I captioned it "The Grotto", this image might not even make sense.

The issue as I mentioned is usually dynamic range. To our eyeballs a sun-soaked ocean in the same frame as a shaded piece of rock looks just fine. To the Nikon D3 sensor, it's basically a blown-out patch of white next to a lost patch of black. So if you only mind your subject's exposure (in this case Kate, who has been properly exposed), you're going to wind up with an epic fail on your hands when you get home and find a large blown highlight next to a large black patch of shadow.

Mind your background exposure in capture so you don't wind up cussing yourself out later in post!

My Official Stance on Light Meters

Screen capture from Forrest Gump. Forrest as a boy wearing leg braces to correct his crooked spine.

My relationship with light meters has had more ups and downs than the recent stock market.

When I first started shooting, I shot without a light meter.

Then after reading up on how professionals did things, I bought a Sekonic L-308S.


No thank you AdSense but I will not be flooding my blog with advertisement.

Friday, August 26, 2011

While You Were Sleeping

I haven't found any consistency with capitalizing my titles. Sometimes it feels wrong, particularly when it's a phrase. I think about stupid things like that

Some of my favorite days are ones that I get to sit in front of the computer and just edit. Sadly those days are too few and far between in my life. The last time I spent any significant time in front of my computer was the weekend of July 4th. On Friday July 1st, I met Jay to discuss Kate's video (Project X). We shot Project X all Saturday July 2nd. On July 3rd and 4th I had 2 blissful days of pure editing.

I didn't see a single firework. I didn't go to any parties. In fact I slept early. And I stayed in my office all weekend long.

But the beauty of it all was that I knew that no one was going to bother me for 2 days. My phone was not going to ring. I wasn't going to get any messages or emails about work. I didn't have to do anything for anyone for 2 days. I got 2 days of freedom that I could play catchup and finally get some work done. It was as if the world were on pause and I was the only one in motion.

I miss those days. And it's exactly for that reason that I look forward to holidays and weekends. Not so I can go buck wild but rather so I can work without interruption.

Monday, August 22, 2011


Ernie in the Challenge Stradale. iPhone4 & Camera+.

"Choice. The problem is choice." - Neo

It was the foundation of The Matrix movies. That humans must choose their reality in order to "survive".

It's also the foundation of real life.

This past week, I had a chance to partake in a "bucket list" event. Drive Pacific Coast Highway, down the Californian coast, in a Ferrari with my car enthusiast friends. What made it even better was that one of my friends was purchasing his first Ferrari, something that he'd wanted to do since he was a child. Sharing this event with these individuals was an opportunity that I would not miss. Even though I had a major client to shoot for a day later, I chose to go on this journey.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

There Are No Guarantees

Did I know I would find success as a photographer when I jumped into this field?

Hell no.

But like any major decision, e.g. getting married, having children, buying a house, etc... there simply are no guarantees.

The best you can do is perform your due diligence and hope for the best. The rest is up to Lady Luck.

Of course, hard work, perseverance, and a little bit of talent don't hurt your odds.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

L U C I M A Fashion Photography Business Workshop

Just posted the business workshop details! :) Click on the image for the jump!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

L U C I M A | Kate Compton

Also known internally as Project X ;)

Choosing the Wrong Images

It had to be said.

Not every photographer's eye is as acutely developed as the next.

When Anna Wintour looks through images, she sees things that I might not even consider.

Similarly when I look through images, I judge by a different set of criteria than most others do.

As an example, in my last workshop I saw some amazing images on one photographer's camera as we reviewed them... literally on the back of his camera. Later on however, these same amazing images failed to find their way onto the LUCIMA Workshop Facebook group. Instead the photographer uploaded other images. Much to my chagrin these images he chose instead paled in comparison to the ones that I saw on the day of the workshop.

Monday, August 15, 2011

LUCIMA Business Photography Workshop

I've been wanting to do this workshop for a long time and I'm currently putting together the presentation material on it and it's a doozie! :)

Seriously, who says "It's a doozie!" anymore???

And what the hell's a doozie?

Apparently it comes from a reference to the Deusenburg automobile which in its day was one of the biggest and most impressive cars on the road. Doozie is short for Deusenburg. Reference.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


The days get longer and more drawn out with the things that I do and it leaves me blog-less. This bodes poorly for the future of this blog but here's a snapshot into my life.

I was sitting with a client yesterday and when I clicked on some edited images from Lr to show, the images suddenly shifted to a transformed, wrong color, whacky corrupted version of the original file. No amount of restarting, rebooting, etc. would do the trick. Even the full TIFF files with all the layers intact were corrupt. Backups were NOT made of these files most likely because they were corrupt and even if the backups were made, the backups themselves would be bad too.

What happened?

Monday, July 25, 2011

LUCIMA Workshop Facebook Group

I'd like to invite you all to the LUCIMA Workshop group over at Facebook. It's an open group so you can peruse the images that we created this past weekend in addition to the workshops in the past.

It all started in April for our Las Vegas workshop but I figured we could showcase these images for current and future workshop photographers to enjoy!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

There's Something Sterile about Technical Perfection

You've heard it before but I will attempt to explain it.

Digital cameras produce "sterile" images.

When you say sterile. I think impotence. Not in the ED sort of way but more like spaying or neutering for animals.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Resilience vs. Adaptation (or lack thereof)

Here's a riddle: What kind of person gets food poisoning on three separate occasions from eating the same exact thing each time?

The answer? Someone who is incredibly resilient or incredibly stupid.

I originally titled this post "Resilience vs. Stupidity" but I realized I wasn't arguing in the favor of stupidity. Admittedly, I am the person in the riddle above. I ingested a Costco hot dog on 3 separate occasions, each time resulting in food poisoning that produced high fever, body aches, nausea, loss of appetite, chills, dehydration... the usual. I would tack vomiting to the list but dry heaving doesn't count. I can't ever seem to barf anything up :)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tip of the day: Managing Difficult People

I've been thinking about this for a few days and it's an experience every experienced photographer has endured at some point in their journeys.

Difficult people. Whether they be stylists or models (because usually it's the stylist or it's the model). And yes you can quote me on that :) Difficult people need to be managed.

Let's break it down. Why are difficult people

Winds of Change

5 posts in June.

That's pitiful. Really.

But if you've been following me on flickr (click any of the images on the photostream above) you'll see that I've been

A better way to describe how I feel is

Things are changing around here and the LUCIMA brand as well as the studio is incorporating new pieces to expand
our ability to be recognized as a photography powerhouse (for lack of a better expression). Lots of moving parts and modularity allows for me to think of the LUCIMA brand as a machine that is constantly being upgraded to perform well, better.

And of course as all of this happens I'm bound to experience to growing pains. It's been stressful sitting in front of the computer because it seems like I can't make a dent in the workload. I finally had a chance to write down all the things I have on my plate and I had to categorize the items on the list because without breaking things down the list began looking unusually long and extensive.

As things reveal themselves to me, I expect to reveal them to... in due time ;)

I sometimes wonder whether it's a matter of perspective. Perhaps things are a lot more comfortable than I think it's just that I choose to my circumstance as uncomfortable and challenging. Whether or not that's true, the reality remains that I'm having trouble falling asleep which is for me always an indication of higher levels of stress.

I sure miss Hawaii right about now :)

And while this is totally beside the point, I've decided to run the 2012 New York City Ironman Triathlon. I figured, my life wasn't nearly complicated and challenging enough so I really ought to do more. Yay me. Hooray for intelligent decision making.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Perverse Reality of Fashion

I'd been discussing with a model about weight versus my archetype of the perfect model and wanted to share with you my views.

When I got into fashion photography I didn't sign up for creating body disorder issues. I'm a health-conscious person. I exercise a lot and believe in well-being.

That being said, I can't apologize for the ideals that I adhere to and the archetype of model that I use. And often times these ideals "don't exist"; in other words, in real life the girls I shoot don't look exactly like my images. Whether it be the flawlessness of their skin or the incredible length of their legs or the size of their waist, I subscribe to an archetype that does not truly exist (or does very rarely)... Hence, ideals ;)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Must have dexterity

There are a lot of jobs that require dexterity. Athletes, artists, and musicians alike all require some level of dexterity to excel at their occupation... unless you play soccer and you're not a goalie but you know what I mean :)

In the jobs I've held in the past, I've never needed dexterity. I've always worked in an office. Peter Drucker called us "knowledge workers" in that we used our knowledge and our brains to produce services/services and/or facilitate the production of goods/services.

Photography requiring dexterity? Not so much. Anything with an opposable thumb can hold and push buttons.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Decisive Moment

Found this on Matthew Jordan Smith's blog and have been listening to this in the background while working/editing. What a gem!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Tomorrow's Beauty Workshop

This will be the second time that I'm teaching beauty. The more I think about traditional beauty, the more I realize that it's not just a genre of photography (that's a subset of fashion) but it's a whole mindset of photography. I believe the biggest topic for tomorrow's workshop is:

How do you
create beauty?

Of course there's the obvious. Find a great model, have a spanking concept, of course an incredible makeup artist like Kathleen Ty and then great lighting and voila!

But then there's all the little things that underly beauty... like how do you make a model
feel beautiful? How do you interact with a model to give her confidence while getting the looks that you need? Those are things that I will hopefully reveal during the workshop tomorrow. It'll be the first time that workshop photographers get to see me in action working with a model that I have never worked with before. Those first steps and interactions are filled with subtleties... all of which matter.

Looking forward to seeing you guys tomorrow! It's going to be a blast! :)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What's in an image?

Las Vegas Workshop. Anneliese, Bekka, Brett, and Kaley. D3/24-70mm/SB-800.

I always say, "A technically perfect image is
just that... technically perfect"

Emphasis on the "just".

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Your move Phamiya!

Holy mother of 200 megapixels Hasselblad!

I'm officially impressed by Hasselblad.

Friday, May 27, 2011

You know you're good-looking when...

Yeah, I'm breaking my cardinal rule about this being a "talking blog" but it's my blog, I'll do what I want.

I had the opportunity to shoot Raina Hein again and Raina is without a doubt one of the most beautiful models I have ever shot. How good-looking you ask? Well, so good-looking that I thought I'd put together a "You know you're good-looking when..." list:

Thursday, May 26, 2011

on Modeling Experience

Disclaimer: If you don't find this funny, then you should stop reading this blog immediately ;)

I was putting together some video for something else and I got into a discussion about models with "modeling experience" with my wife Catherine. The following is my take on the discussion :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Growth II

My boss Dave used to say "When they say they have 20 years of sales experience it's really just 1 year repeated 20 times".

He was referring to the way most people stop growing after they feel like they've "gotten the hang of things".

Now, I don't think he meant it literally. It's nearly impossible to rinse and repeat a single year 20 times over. I think what he was getting at was that salespeople (people in general) are resistant to change and therefore don't grow. And it's not unique to salespeople nor is it really that surprising. People like what they know. They like familiarity. They like routine. They don't like surprises. And they don't like change. Growth means change. Change is hard.

But growth and change can easily separate the boys from the men.

But I know far too many people regardless of profession that stagnate and repeat 1 year of experience 20 times over...

Of course as time passes and you generate revenue with the "routines" it's hard to break tradition and reinvent yourself. Sometimes reinventing yourself can feel like you're reinventing the wheel especially when you have a recipe for current success. Then you start asking yourself, "If it ain't broke why fix it?" And though it may be increasingly difficult to find time throughout the day to teach yourself a new trick, it's paramount to continuous success.

For example, I've been trying to learn FCP7 (Final Cut Pro 7) for a while now and it's difficult to set aside any time to just learn. Things aren't the same anymore. Definitely not like when I was learning Photoshop where 1) I could just spend days at a time on the computer and 2) upload my newbie-unpolished (but unscrutinuzed) crap out there for people to see. But I still feel that adding this skill-set to my repertoire is important so it's still on my to-learn list. Ultimately I feel it makes me a better photographer and definitely provides me a rekindled source of inspiration. The point is I understand how hard it is as a working pro to set aside time to "reinvent yourself".

But I am constantly evaluating and re-evaluating my game plan. Who knows when RED will shoot 20MP at 1/1000th shutter speeds and high ISO :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tip of the day: O P [ ]

That's where my left hand resides 90% of the time I'm retouching. These are the shortcuts that I use regularly off the top of my head. This is my hand positioning but it might not work for you.

Stylus has OPTION bound to front button
Stylus has CMD Z (undo) bound to back button

O - Dodge/burn tool (holding the OPTION key when dodge tool is selected is burn)
[ - Decrease brush size and cycles through options
] - Increase brush size and cycles through options
CMD + (thumb and middle finger) - Zoom in
CMD - (thumb and middle finger) - Zoom out
J (with pinky) - Healing brush
OPTION [ (stylus OPTION) - Navigate layer below
OPTION ] (stylus OPTION) - Navigate layer above
B (big reach with pinky) - Brush tool
L - Lasso tool
M (with pinky) - Marquee tool

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Please don't confuse honesty with malice

I have about 15-20 files open in Photoshop but I need to address this for my own sake.

Please don't confuse honesty with malice... you can just as easily convey what you want to say without hurting the person's feelings.

Especially when that person is

Monday, May 16, 2011

Captivating, Emotional, Connections

I am trying to develop an emotion or feel through my images... to be honest [my images are] – boring – uncaptivating & unemotional – I would love any direction you could give me. One things that became obvious to me – is that I need to spend more time talking to the models ... & less time shooting. Maybe also be a bit more focused in the shots I want. I almost never find out any sort of backstory about the model, find music that may change the mood or expression ... so, incorporating elements like this may be a step in the right direction.

Got an email from Justin that I've been meaning to answer for weeks now and interestingly, I was asked similar if not the same questions from a photographer at my Calumet workshop today.

Actually within this question are a series of questions that I'm just going to answer and in shotgun-fashion, hope that I hit a/the target.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

My taste in models

Regarding something specific in this post... I don't know if you ever described this in another blog post or not (I suppose I could look harder..), but I am very curious what your preferred model aesthetic is you speak of. Of course we all know tall and slender with a nice face. But every photographer has a taste in women that really speaks to them, whether it be their features, expressions or general aura. Although sometimes I suppose it's hard to put a finger on it. I'm hoping you will elaborate on your definable taste in subjects... :)

What a great question! While I should be working on the many shoots that I am now backlogged, I'm going to spend some time and elaborate on a truly intelligent question that ironically has never been asked. Perhaps it's the difference that of a female perspective?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

AlienBees, Flashtubes, Solder, Explosions, Customer Service

I've managed to melt 2 flashtubes from my B1600.

Not sure why or how exactly on the first one, but the second one probably melted because of speed.

Literally the legs of the flashtubes have melted right off the soldering points.

So like any good DIYer I resoldered them back together.

The first one exploded immediately.

The second one lasted a while before blowing melting solder chunks into my softbox and melting parts of the baffle and outer screen.

No I didn't use high-temp solder.

They probably exploded because when the connection isn't solid, the current has to arc over and "jump" thus causing a loud crack and in some cases small explosions.

They told me not to resolder the flashtubes. I just didn't listen :)

It's time to send in the B1600 for maintenance. Might be something wrong with this unit.

Or there might be something wrong with me :)

You know what the insane thing about all of this is? I told Joe, Kimberly, and the rest of team at Paul C. Buff and they have taken the initiative to examine these units. Even when I've told them that I'm at fault. They even sent me a $50 gift certificate for my grief. Unbelievable!

So, I misuse the products (shooting too fast), disobey direct orders (resoldering myself), blow shit up (B1600 in softbox), and get rewarded with a gift certificate. And they want to service the units on warranty?

Well, sorry Apple. PCB is now on the top of my list as far as good customer service is concerned!

Friday, May 6, 2011


What I found really interesting is posing of your models. Ive got a little problem with that. Your poses look absolutely naturally. And here goes my question :) Do you show to your models how you want them to pose? Or is it that they just move and flow in front of camera. Sorry for that question, but Im really interested how it "works".

The answer for me is usually B. Flow.

Let me preface this by saying that if you have a storyboard with specific looks, then what I'm about to say does not apply.

But if you're shooting tests without specific concepts/ideas as I so often do, then posing the model can become a hindrance on the flow of shoot.

Let me take a step back and describe what I believe are the two schools of thought when it comes to posing.

1. Be totally specific. Leave nothing to random chance. Execute a single specific pose to perfection with minor adjustments frame after frame until you nail it.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

How much should I charge?, is it normal that photographers won't get paid for photo shoots? How does payment between photographers and models work? Do you ever pay models for working for you?

It depends.

If you're Mario Testino, you never pay models. They pay you.

If you're Joe Blow, you'll probably pay models.

Simply put, your shoot is only worth as much as what someone else is willing to pay. Determining how much your shoots are worth is paramount to maximizing your returns.

Specifically I'm referring to paid tests.

Is it normal to not get paid for tests? Often with agencies if you're starting out, you're not going to get paid. And if you're not working with agencies, then you don't have the clout to demand payment from the average model.

But it depends. If you are established and you are a reputable photographer that has been shooting with agencies for a long time, you can even get agencies to send you paid work.

The question is: Is there a legitimately good reason for someone pay you? Do you offer a service that can't be rendered elsewhere and better and free?

For me, the models pay me. Sometimes I do unpaid testing for agencies. The only times I pay models are during my workshops where they render a service that is an overhead cost for paid work.

So if your model doesn't accept your shoot at $30, then he/she is simply saying "I don't think you're worth $30".

Monday, May 2, 2011

Tip of the day: When NOT to convert to B&W

As much as I like B&W images. There are a few instances when it's a terrible idea to go B&W with your color image.

Assuming that you're shooting color RAWs. Which you should. You should never shoot B&W JPGs. Or even JPGs unless you are Ken Rockwell, then you get to do whatever the hell you want because the laws of physics don't apply to you :)

So back to when you shouldn't convert to B&W.

Simple. Don't convert to B&W when your original image looks better in color.

Las Vegas Workshop Facebook Group

I've been slow to put up the results from Las Vegas but here is the Facebook group! :)

Friday, April 29, 2011

How to get this look?

Only the title changes but the questions remain the same :)

part one here :)

Monday, April 25, 2011


The purpose of this post is to remind myself that this journey is one of self-discovery. If you don't acknowledge the self-discovery in the journey, you're seriously short-changing yourself.

Seriously. Short-changing. Yourself.

The harder the endeavor. The more you'll learn about yourself. The flip-side is you'll never learn anything about yourself doing anything easy. Doing the same mundane routine over and over again yields zero, and I repeat z-e-r-o gains in the self-discovery department. Hell, it probably yields zero gains in
any department.

Who cares about self-discovery?

Well, I do. And you should too if you value personal growth. But if not, feel free to stop reading here. I'll help you by breaking this blog post up here and forcing you to click "more" if you want to proceed :)

Friday, April 22, 2011


This past weekend in Las Vegas I fielded many questions about the business aspects behind photography. So much so that I didn't have nearly enough time to discuss all the elements of fashion editorial shoots. With that said however, I'd rather address the issues of the masses rather than force-feed topics that may not get as much interest. So I happily obliged in talking shop.

The nature of the business-related questions that I answered in Las Vegas stemmed from an overall curiosity of doing photography for a living. I found several photographers asking, "Are you making enough to survive comfortably?" and "Is photography a potentially viable business?" and "Is this a sustainable means of earning a living?"

My answer (in the workshop) was firstly, yes. But that you'd have to be able to endure the ugliness of entrepreneurship to survive and those tests determines one's success. Upon more thought, I've boiled it down to simpler terms:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I'm here... still recovering from LV

Pretty much says it all, I'm still digesting all the events and definitely all the pictures that we took at the castle :)

All in due time!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Impress Me

I get lots of messages/emails/etc. so here's a short list (though not exhaustive) list of things that impress me when I receive a message:

1. When you address me by my name e.g. Dear Charles, Dear Mr. Lucima, etc. You get docked points for just writing, "Hi," and then going into your message. Wanna know why? Because that
screams "I don't know or care what your name is and I copied and pasted this entire message including the header from another message"

2. Big bonus points for knowing my real last name. But not longer since I am publicly announcing this here.

3. Proper grammar and spelling. I pride myself on my edumacashun and beeing abel to spel gud.

Can't believe I'm going to Vegas in 2 days...

Admittedly I haven't finished my presentations. I plan on finishing them up tomorrow though.

We're sitting 2 days out from Las Vegas.

Part of the reason I've been delaying the end of the presentation is because there are lots of little things happening lately. I've been testing again which is nice since I hadn't been testing for over a month or so.

One of the main reasons I've been delaying the presentations is because I feel like a lot of ideas have come together that needed time to brew in the pot before I put them together in the presentation. I have a much different (probably matured) take on shooting fashion/editorial than I did before and those experiences needed time to cook before consumption.

Overall I'm really excited. Things will really ramp up quickly tomorrow and Friday and by the time Saturday hits we'll be running full stride. Everything's in motion and tomorrow we'll solidify the remaining moving pieces. Hope to document the entire event with pictures and some video.

Weather looks to cooperate with us. It'll be nearly 90's in Las Vegas this weekend.

Imagine that :)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

More Vegas Preview! :)

As promised ;)

Tip of the day: Displaying and Reviewing in B&W

If it's a good picture in B&W, then it's a good picture.

I've gotten into the habit of displaying and reviewing most of my images in monochrome. Most cameras have this function. You still shoot RAW but you display in B&W. This is particularly useful to analyze light. By removing the color aspect of the image, you simplify it down to luminosity.

This allows me to focus on the lighting and see images more clearly for what they are. Try it :)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Seeing Light

As I create the presentation for the Las Vegas Fashion/Editorial workshop I have pulled several slides from my previous workshops. There is a consistency in the thematic nature of what I teach and understandably lots of it revolves around light.

So part of the Las Vegas workshop will include a "walkabout" where we explore different parts of the house just to see light so we may understand light so that we may ultimately manipulate light.

No cameras allowed. Just lightmeters and eyeballs. I might even say no to the lightmeters.

Before lighting becomes second nature, before you can get into capturing the "feel" of a moment, you should make sure you're fundamentals are well rooted with a solid understanding of the technical nature of photography.

And let's face it, photography is highly technical. Those that say it's not are delusional or gifted or delusionally gifted or giftedly delusional. Your choice.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Internship: Specifics

I've been actively interviewing a few potential candidates for the internship openings and I've come to a few clear conclusions about what I want and what I don't want as well as some general notes:

Everything that has a beginning has an end. For every position there will be a clear start and end date. This keeps everyone on track and focused without any uncertainty about the finite length of the term. This allows me to know when your assistance to me ends and when we need to transition out your responsibilities. This also allows us an overview of how to work towards a specific goal for your development. If and when a long-term paid position opens up we will end your internship and bring you onboard full-time in that capacity.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

LUCIMA + Calumet Photographic

The ink is still drying but starting May I'll be teaching workshops through Calumet Photographic here in Los Angeles. The first couple workshops will be:

Beauty Photography: Prep-Capture-Post
Working with Modeling Agencies

I am very excited to see how these couple workshops turn out especially because the Beauty Photography: Prep-Capture-Post workshop is a "new" topic that I haven't taught before (though arguably what I know most about). I am very excited to work with the Calumet team and they've been nothing but solid and responsive thus far!

Hope to see you all at the workshops :)

Tell me what you can do???

I remember this conversation Cory (my ex-coworker) had with a Dell customer service representative while we were driving to lunch. He had ordered a laptop that was scheduled to arrive before his MBA classes at Anderson (UCLA) began but there was a part specific to the LED backlight that was backordered and therefore his laptop was not going to arrive in time.

He was furious. I think he even paid for expedited shipping.

The CSR didn't have any answers and did not provide any options.

At the height of his fury Cory said something I'll never forget, "Stop telling me what you can't do and start telling me what you can do!"

That's a great motto to live by.

Conversation with an Intern

I recently had a conversation with a potential intern. She is a makeup artist/hair stylist that is soon graduating from school and possibly seeking an internship. I had a brief conversation with her and the main points of the conversation were:

-Does not want to work in a salon
-Wants to travel the world
-Loves photoshoots

The great thing about this candidate is that she is a great PA, is a part-time model (and a good-looking one at that), AND does makeup and hair. Seems like a perfect fit, no?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

I Need an Intern/Assistant

Like the title says, I need an intern/assistant.

I'm primarily looking for students that are enrolled in school and seeking internships either for the summer or for the year. Yes, the kind that requires documentation by the employer. Non-student assistants can apply but I'm looking for a long-term apprentice.

When I started on this photography journey, I couldn't foresee how much of my time would be spent
not doing photography. Time spent networking either online, email, phone or in person. Time spent location scouting. Time spent filing my business license, taxes, invoices, and expenses. Time spent creating marketing campaigns to promote my workshops. Time spent creating the agendas for my workshops. Time spent coordinating shoots. Time spent in Home Depot. Time spent getting in line waiting for pizza at Costcos.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Las Vegas Workshop Update: Wardobe and Models

Here are some of the options that one of the stylists is bringing. Yes, we'll have 2 stylists. There's also a small possibility that we might also run out to the strip after hours and do some night photography.

Secondly, we're looking at 4-6 models right now. Currently there are only 8 photographers. That's 2 or 1.5 photographers per model. Stay tuned for more details! :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Beauty Retouch Tutorial

Jaydn. Hasselblad H3DII-31. 1/500th f/11 ISO @210mm.

Beauty Retouch Tutorial from Charles LUCIMA on Vimeo.

This is a tutorial for a basic beauty retouch. In the 18 minutes of the video I quickly go over my basic beauty techniques:

-dodge and burn
-healing brush
-clone stamping (w/ different blend modes)
-selective highlights

Something Bad is About to Happen...

Something bad is about to happen. Actually something bad has to happen. Why? Because too many good things are happening. And that just ain't right. I shouldn't find myself smiling idiotically over nothing at 1 o'clock in the morning.

The irony is that I have never felt this way. I've never been the kind of person who gets uneasy when things go right. I've always felt like I deserved it. Or that they go well because I work hard for it and that it's the culmination of a lot of small successes.

So I don't quite understand why I feel like I'm getting "lucky"?