Maggie Catalyst


Bethany Black











I got to shoot with Hanna last week! She's a dancer at Visceral Dance in Chicago and runs her own dance company called Integrity Dance Company.

These photos are my second edits, since halfway through editing the first time I didn't feel satisfied with the colors as they were too cool and blue and vibrant.

I admired how muscular Hanna was, and wanted the warm tones in these images to emphasize the gracefulness of her silhouette and have the shadow lines point out the strength of her dancer body. With the rest of the image in a red tone, the blue of her leotard stood out more from the rest of the environment.

Hanna jumped a lot for these photos, and even climbed a lamp post for me. In retrospect, I should have sought out a frame first and then have Hanna do the physical work of climbing or jumping because I'm sure it gets tiring no matter how athletic you are. I appreciated all that Hanna was willing to do for the shots and I'm looking forward to planning another shoot with her soon to try out some other ideas. :)

Enjoy these photos of Hanna


I shot with Maggie in San Diego and it was one of my favorite shoots yet!

Some things I learned from this shoot:

  • Do poses around what your model is wearing. We were going to take headshots of Maggie. For some reason, I asked her to climb monkey bars in her dress, and we got photos of her dress going up towards her waist. Whoopsies. 
  • Distinguish your background. I asked Maggie to squat in front of a dark wall that had no lighting in the background. The photo ended up looking moody, which is also nice, but as I was editing, I realized that I can distinguish my background and foreground better by having lights in the background as well.
  • Spend more time shooting and less time walking around. I liked this photoshoot because we didn't walk around so much looking for a location, which meant I had more time to actually shoot and get photos! It helps to keep a running list of locations that inspire you, that look good, that have good lighting, and go to those locations when you have a shoot in mind. Location scouting is something I'm working on, and I keep a separate Instagram for reference of inspiration for shoot ideas.

Some things I enjoyed about this shoot:

  • Maggie is active. During most of the shoot, she just did her own thing as I stayed back and took photos. She was willing to jump and climb monkey bars, and just picked up a basketball and started playing with it later on. She also made suggestions of things she could possibly do for the shoot, and the whole process was pleasant and enjoyable. It didn't feel like working at all, and it didn't once feel like the model was telling me what to take pictures of (lmao like dafuq you said?) It felt like I was hanging out with a friend and taking candid photos of the cute moments. 
  • Maggie looks interesting. This sounds funny, and I'm laughing a little to myself as I write this, but hear me out. So, there are some people out there who tend to look the same in all of their pictures, no matter what you ask them to do. Whether it's tilting their head at a certain angle or positioning their lips and teeth the same way, it's like they have a go-to face and freeze as soon as they look into a camera lens. Well, Maggie looks interesting because she looks so different from many angles and has so many different expressions. It was so nice just watching Maggie be herself and for me to capture those lovely faces. She doesn't try to look interesting, she just does. Nam sayin? I laik it.
  • It was my first shoot outside of Chicago! It's good to get out of your comfort zone and reach out to people. Some people will ignore you, some people will politely decline, and some may not even reply, but you will quickly get over it the more you experience it. I'm currently putting more effort into putting myself out there more often, and no's mean less to me than when I first started asking people for shoots. The more no's you hear, the faster you will get to a yes.

Doing this photoshoot with Maggie was super fun and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Maggie better while visiting her during my San Diego vacation. She's so kind, smart, and interesting as a person, and I'm really glad I got to know her a little bit better this time. Thanks for such a lovely shoot and time in SD, Maggie! <3 <3

Enjoy these photos of Maggie!

La Jolla

Steve legit calls it 'La Jol-la'. We went there for a day last week during our vacation to San Diego.

My intention for this trip was to relax and work on personal branding but I didn't get done what I intended to because I ended up having so much fun actually DOING things.

Our first full day in San Diego, we woke up to a lovely view in the Sheraton hotel near the Marina Bay. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast in the club lounge, strolled around the bay during which I sent WeChat pics to my parents, explored the hotel amenities, hit up the gym for about an hour, then we showered and headed off for La Jolla. I also sat cross-legged on a chair and did my makeup outside on the balcony of our hotel room while sipping my Starbucks coffee and it felt so luxurious. :3

We had lunch at a taco place that was highly rated on Yelp on our way to La Jolla. At La Jolla, we checked out the Children's Pool, which is a quiet area of the beach where we read somewhere that we'd see seals! So we went there but didn't see any seals, so we drove maybe half a mile north on the coast to where we saw SO MANY SEALS. It also smelled like a seafood market and there was smelly, white seagull poop everywhere. The seals barked and frolicked in the sand.

I also took the time to fly my drone -- video on my YouTube channel coming next week!

We spent the rest of our trip in San Diego relaxing at the beach, scouting cold brews on draft around the city, jogging 8 miles together, getting sunburned, checking out Ralphs, Target, and Ross together at 11pm, brainstorming how to get the most nutritious and healthy food on a low budget and then cooking delicious food at our lovely AirBnB, driving around town, spending time with each other, and I even scheduled a photoshoot with a classmate whom I wish I could have gotten to know better sooner (photos coming next week).

This trip was surely rejuvenating for our minds and our relationship with each other. Enjoy these photos from La Jolla! Some were taken by Steve. ;)

More photos from our San Diego trip to come on my personal Instagram @hellokarixhuang.

Once Upon A Pumpkin // Maggie

It's almost time for Fall! It's my favorite season because of the cool weather and smell. I love feeling the cool air and the smell of leaves. I love cuddling up in blankets or going for a stroll on a sunny fall morning watching others bustle around to start school and other activities again after summer. 

For this shoot, I incorporated a fall-esque feeling with trees, the color orange, and fall-esque lighting (a bit muted, a little warm and cool) in these photos of Maggie.

Maggie is a Chicago-based dietician with a background in PR who also runs a blog called Once Upon a Pumpkin that talks about everything related to pumpkins! She makes delicious-looking pumpkin-themed flatlays on her Instagram @onceuponapumpkin and shares her new finds of pumpkin-related goodies from around the city. 

Enjoy these photos of Maggie!


It's Friday! I've been on a roll with scheduling posts, so here's another one!

I learned a lot from this shoot. For one, I wore a watch to keep better track of time. Two, I tried out different kinds of instructions for Rocky. 'Look that way' or 'think about this' or 'pretend this' works differently with different people, and I'm still searching for how to give better posing instructions. I also experienced the model suggesting places to shoot at, which made me think on my feet about whether that location would work with what I had in mind or not. For example, Rocky has a special area in the trees that she likes to hang out in, and I had trouble finding a way to incorporate that tree into a shot I felt compelled to edit. The sunlight wasn't hitting the way I wanted it to, and the background was too distracting for my taste. I realized that I don't have to say yes to everything the model requests, even if they are the model and the point of this shoot was to get pictures of the model. However, I find it more favorable to work on shots where I will enjoy editing later on.

After I started editing this shoot, I came across a new method of using color during post-processing: color gradients! You might notice these shots have a lot more color tone than my previous ones, and I'm glad I tried out this look. Color gradients aren't so bad.

Enjoy this shoot of Rocky!