I've always been a huge fan of Twenty One Pilots. There really are no words that can express how excited and terrified I was to be given the opportunity to photograph one of its concerts. Having been to many of its live shows, I had a vague idea of what to expect and the types of photos I wanted to capture. I knew I wanted to get a crowd shot because the audience has always had a huge role in contributing to the live experience at a Twenty One Pilots concert. As soon as I noticed the yellow paper petals falling from above, I turned away from the stage to capture the moment I knew the audience was having. This photo resonated with me because I knew if I wasn't there as a photographer, I would have been in the crowd enjoying the showering petals.
This photo was taken for a PRIME story that critically analyzed problems of UCLA’s Counseling and Psychological Services, so I didn’t want the photo to only focus on the negative side. I hoped to create an image that could show a more positive attitude of the subject and not contribute to any stereotypes. So when the subject leaned over the window to take a rest, I couldn’t help pressing the shutter. The warm background light helped me insert an element of optimism to the otherwise heavy subject matter of the story.
I had only shot soccer a few times before this game, but I played years ago so I was eager to get better at photographing it. During the game I kept moving back and forth between each goal, then I decided to camp out at the goal UCLA was shooting on for a while. Soon after, junior midfielder Viviana Villacorta scored the tie-breaking goal. I’ve always struggled with getting reaction shots, so I immediately swung my camera over to her just in time to capture her team members swarming her on the ground.
I was a little overwhelmed the day I photographed these students because I had a lot going on with attending events and all. But talking with these two subjects, for some odd reason, gave me a little bit of peace. It’s always nice to hear stories from people you’ve come across for the first time and will most likely never see again.
In the summer, I went to India to help report on and take photos for a story about a patent war between UCLA and India for a drug that helps treat late-stage prostate cancer. This photo is of Rupam Borah, a man whose father has late-stage prostate cancer and who could not afford the drug if the patent was approved. We interviewed him in a small chai cafe in Delhi, and after, I photographed him outside. He showed us his favorite photo of his father and I decided to take a photo of the two of them since his father could not be there in person.
I knew I wanted to capture Tiffany Wu in a manner that uniquely presented the beauty and motion of her spins. Before our shoot, I studied photos that used long exposures to make fast movement look whirly. As a former figure skater myself, Wu and I were able to brainstorm the coolest spins to shoot – this move is literally called a ‘’donut spin.’’ Since I was going to be taking photos from a balcony area separated by glass, we had to use hand signals to communicate with each other. It took a few tries, but I was so pleased with the result. While the spin looks incredible in real time, the photograph is mind-boggling. Frozen in time, I am even more amazed by Wu’s flexibility and speed.
My friend and I arrived at the Roebling Avenue block party about an hour into the event. We were looking at the fire from a distance, and were just truly in awe of how wild everyone was. It felt like the wild college experience you see in movies. I didn’t expect to photograph this night for Daily Bruin, but I’m glad I had a decent phone camera to capture this photo.
With there being so few basketball games, my face is usually plastered to the camera viewfinder regardless of if they’re actually playing. What was supposed to be a driving layup for Washington State forward CJ Elleby quickly turned into a weak attempt because of a high-flying contest by sophomore guard Jules Bernard. If I remember correctly, the referees had blown the whistle, which explains why junior guard Chris Smith and redshirt freshman guard Tyger Campbell were watching Bernard still hang in the air.
Tyler, The Creator’s set at his music festival Camp Flog Gnaw was scheduled between three of my favorite artists: The Internet, Juice WRLD and Solange. Since they were all at the same stage, a majority of the first two artists’ acts consisted of me pushing through mosh pits with a 70- to 200-millimeter lens, but thankfully I made it to the very front of the crowd for Tyler’s first song, “IGOR’S THEME.’’ Much of Tyler’s performance consisted of dramatic motions and dance moves, however, the moment he made eye contact with the lens of my camera was the most alluring part of the set for me.
I wanted to get a shot depicting the moment the pitcher threw the ball, but each of my photos were capturing the ball still in his hand or outside the frame. For this photo, I was able to time my capture perfectly and felt relieved to catch the moment right as he threw the pitch.
Photographing the American Music Awards was incredibly daunting, yet incredibly rewarding, especially being one of the only female photographers at the event. This picture of Billie Eilish was taken on the event deck, which was less chaotic than the red carpet. The event offered free food to the press, but I got so caught up in editing photos and waiting for celebrities to come out that I missed my chance to eat anything. This was one of my first times using an external flash, and I didn’t really know how to use it, but luckily I got the hang of it before Eilish came back with her awards.
Sophomore Margzetta Frazier's bar transitions are my favorite part of her routine, and I wanted to expand beyond my typical shots of split jumps and handstands that I've been taking these past four years. At this point, Frazier was flying right under Pauley Pavilion's lights – lights that also happened to spill over the crowd behind her, creating a sharp contrast between her and the crowd. Shooting tight crops is out of my comfort zone – but I'm glad I did so to get this shot.
I’ve always been drawn to photographing protests because it makes me feel close to my home in Hong Kong, which has had ongoing protests for around a year now. I think visual documentation of protests is so important because it lets readers see what’s going on and puts a face to the movement. During this shoot, I remember running around frantically trying to keep up with the march, and seeing the faces of familiar graduate students. It made me realize that even as an undergrad, this movement still concerns us and every individual on UCLA’s campus.
As soon as I saw that this film was called “Pee,’’ I knew I wanted to shoot it in a bathroom. We took some normal portraits in the Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden, and then I popped the question: “Would you guys be willing to shoot in the bathroom in Royce Hall’s basement?’’ Thankfully, and surprisingly, they were. I took this shot while standing on the seat of a toilet, looking into their stall. It showed that we were really in a bathroom, but also showed off how close-knit and creative the group was.
I went to this golf tournament a little nervous, since it was my first sports shoot for Daily Bruin. Andy Bao, another photographer for The Bruin, informed me of all the rules we had to follow, such as only being allowed to take photos after the ball is hit. On top of that, it was pouring rain. We left soaking wet, with only a Target bag protecting my camera. I was very overwhelmed but it ended up being a super rewarding and memorable afternoon.
I took this photo at Davanza’s eatery in Park City, Utah, when 2019-2020 Arts & Entertainment editor Kristin Snyder and I were there for the Sundance Film Festival. We were there primarily to cover the festival but I also wanted to talk to local business employees to get an idea of how they felt about the town changing so drastically for 10 days every year. We ended up talking to Roger Jorgensen, a deliveryman at Davanza’s and a Park City resident, for over an hour, about everything from the beer cans on the walls of the restaurant to the impact of the festival on the residents’ lives and on different industries. I wanted to show Jorgensen in his natural surroundings because it was clear that the restaurant was a place the employees considered home. It was easy to get caught up in the storm of the film festival, but these local businesses and the residents are the people who help keep Park City running all year.
A fellow photographer and I were being given a tour of the Athens Services Sun Valley Materials Recovery Facility. At the time we visited they were processing mixed recycling, which means that the material had not yet been sorted. The machine in this photo uses imaging sensors to identify materials appropriate for a certain recycling stream, and then separates desired items from the rest of the material on the conveyor by shooting targeted blasts of pressurized air at them. There were viewing holes on the side of the machine, and I had the idea to shoot through one because the entire purpose of the shoot was to get an inside look at where recyclables go after leaving UCLA’s campus. What better way to achieve that journalistic goal than to literally look inside a sorting machine?
I remember seeing the sunlight flash through all the colorful signs as the crowd marched. It was hopeful. It was as if we were moving forward. Surrounded by the marchers, I was eager to capture every powerful scene passing by that I didn’t get a chance to read through each sign at the moment. Carolina Nuñez (left) told me she was there for a better future for her kids and her grandkids, which struck a chord with me. Looking back, their messages continue to echo with the issues we face and the solidarity that inspires us these days.
This is Oriana Elizabeth Simon. She took me to the rehearsal room in Kaufman Hall where she choreographs her dances, and we shot this right outside that room. I wanted to capture the strength and thought-provoking nature of her piece at the same place where she spent long hours putting it together.
Everyone in Pauley Pavilion went nuts after UCLA’s buzzer-beater win over Arizona State. I tried my best to chase down some of the big players after the game and managed to squeeze myself into a good position to catch freshman guard/forward Jake Kyman, pictured here, celebrating with the crowd as he made his exit.
I really resonated with junior infielder Delanie Wisz when I took this shot; she was a transfer about to take her first at-bat – and eventually get her first hit – and I was a photojournalist at my first solo sports game. I watched her go up to the plate with anticipation. She stopped, focused on her bat, and took a deep breath. This photo was taken the moment she relaxed her shoulders as she let the breath go and stepped up to the plate.
When this photo was taken, I was huddled around the other photographers and I had the feeling something was going to happen, but I wasn't expecting confetti. Let alone that much confetti. When I saw the avalanche of colorful paper hit the stage, my brain went into pro-photographer mode and I had to find the perfect photo to describe the mania. While this photo definitely isn't perfect, I feel it does a good job portraying how it felt to be there.
Watching the Getty fire, I felt weirdly calm and not very emotional, something I do when I know I’m near danger. I remember wishing I was better equipped so I could join the firefighters, like the Los Angeles Times photographer who was there with me. I asked myself a lot of questions: ‘’Am I in the way of the firefighters? I have press access but don’t have enough safety equipment to get any closer; what are my safety risks? How do I show firefighting without being at the scene of firefighting while also showing the scope of the fire? What other angles are possible in the areas I’m allowed to photograph in? Has the area become dangerous enough to put my safety at risk? Where is the fire spreading? Is it burning any homes? If so, where are they? etc.’’
Before Echosmith even got on stage, I vividly remember standing awkwardly in the pit with other photographers who were all much older and seemingly wiser than I was. It was my first time shooting a concert for Daily Bruin, so I was already pretty nervous. After the first song started, I began to find my own rhythm behind the camera, and was lucky enough to catch this moment between Sydney Sierota and the audience.
I took this photo on Super Tuesday and it already seems strangely historical; primary season has been derailed by the pandemic and former-Vice President Joe Biden has clinched the Democratic nomination with a double-digit polling lead over the incumbent as Black Lives Matter demonstrations continue across the country. I remember squeezing my way through the dense crowd at a small high school in Culver City to find the right angle to take this shot as Biden approached the podium. I wasn’t anticipating the energy and crowd present that night, and three months from that day, I long for that feeling again.
I recall wanting the “golden-hour’’ scene at Janss Steps as the ideal background to showcase the student's self-confidence and entrepreneurial vibe, because she had started an astronomy-themed jewelry business. However, that plan went bust with the sun setting minutes before the shoot had taken place. We were quickly losing natural light, and I had no flash on me. Luckily, it dawned upon me that the Anderson School of Management has an outdoor seating area with some artificial lighting. I hand-held a long-exposure to get a clear shot. This was my second-ever assignment as a staff, and I certainly learned the level of resourcefulness it takes to be a photographer.