Josh's Photo Blog

May 28, 2010


Filed under: Uncategorized, updates — Tags: — joshuaps @ 10:08 pm

Graduation was pretty anticlimactic for me. I think that it (and the college experience) have been hyped up so much that it’s pretty easy to get disappointed, especially with today’s economic conditions. Lots of time and energy goes into making you feel special and unique, even though you’re surrounded by literally thousands of other people with the same degree and qualifications as you.

I honestly can’t say I felt any different before and right after I walked across that stage to get my diploma. My parents, though, were another story. I really think that graduations are for them more than for us, to make them feel like something enormous has been accomplished and to give a sense of closure to their child’s youth. A lot of people (myself included) celebrate their graduation, but sometimes I feel that to do so is kind of like giving Obama the Nobel Peace Prize – a little premature, and based more on the promise of what will be accomplished rather than what has actually been done.

It was quite a hectic day, and I might not have fully grasped its importance. There are lots of people I saw then that I probably won’t see for a very long time, if at all. But I’m certainly no stranger to moving around, and I am sure most of my classmates feel the same way.

After here, I’m off to China and the Philippines for a month, and then to San Diego in July to start up my new job.


May 7, 2010

Not long for this town…

Filed under: travel, Uncategorized, updates — Tags: , , , , — joshuaps @ 4:40 am

As some of you may already know, I’m going to be moving to San Diego for work in July. It’s been an amazing four (well, 3,5) years in LA and I’m a little sad to be leaving such an interesting place.

I’m going to be quite mobile over the next 2 months, with stops in 3 national parks, Beijing, Shanghai and Manila, among other places. Rest assured that I’ll continue to post as best I can while on the road

April 10, 2010

Around Town

Filed under: Shoots, updates — Tags: , — joshuaps @ 4:37 am

Haven’t shot around as much as I’d like due to the job search, but I’ve managed to squeeze some stuff in and do some exploring.

Below, production stills from a friend’s short film shoot.

February 25, 2010

Thoughts on Social Networking

Filed under: updates — joshuaps @ 4:54 am

I was recently asked to provide my thoughts on social networking and how it might be used as a practical tool on both a personal and an institutional level. I’ve done so below, and welcome any comments or thoughts. For those of you reading on Facebook, please comment on the main blog.

I’ll start out by defining what social media is, as I see the catchphrase thrown around so often that I feel it’s lost much of its meaning. Social media is, on a fundamental level, the ability to quickly, easily and affordably make and share content to a wide range of people. The Internet is the key component in making social media work, of course – it gives anyone with an Internet connection and a webcam an opportunity to become a mass media outlet, something that used to require a huge investment of time and money, and that hence was limited to outlets like newspapers, TV stations and movie studios. This same universal access makes it much more of a 2-way medium than traditional mass media – if everyone has a voice, people are able to react to what they hear, and people do this online in an unprecedented way. Comments, reactions and counter-videos allow social media to take on a meaning and life that goes far beyond the original video, blog post or status update, and it is this kind of interactivity that is crucial to a social media campaign’s success.

Above, David Choi, a Youtube celebrity, self-documents his presence at a live performance. The Internet is giving the average person the potential to reach mass audiences in an unprecedented way

Knowing all this, there are numerous practical applications for social media tools. I have used social media as a tool in the past, and continue to use it, in order to build relationships and trust between parties. At my past internship with Donald Norris Photography, I created a series of viral videos for the studio. We knew from the start that we didn’t want to use the videos to sell directly – nobody goes on Youtube to watch ads, unless they’ve shown on the SuperBowl, and we obviously didn’t have the resources for that. We decided instead to create an instructional series of videos, with the aim of establishing Don’s expertise in photography, being entertaining and, above all, showing that he was a real, human being – someone who’s fun to be around, willing to help out and not too pretentious.

The lessons I learned from working with Don on these videos are also highly applicable to other fields like politics, where trust-building and sensing trends are vital to success. The success of Barack Obama’s social media campaign in getting the youth vote is one well-studied example here, but I will be using a more local example here: the 4th District of Los Angeles, which encompasses a broad range of communities ranging from San Pedro to Palos Verdes to Manhattan Beach and others. The demographics of the region (which skews young – most people are between 20 and 44 years old) suggest that many residents of the 4th District already use social media to make or listen into messages. By taking advantage of this demographic’s adeptness with the medium, it is possible to allow those affected by government’s actions to present their sides themselves. As an example, one could take a recent arts project announced for Manhattan Beach, where the county could give access to inexpensive Flip Mino camcorders to allow the project’s stakeholders (community members, the artists and local residents, among others) to breathe life into the story by documenting the project’s effects on them and show how it is affecting the community. In a time where people are more skeptical of large organizations than ever, initiatives that give a degree of trust and an impression of impartiality can be used to make institutions like government more personal, interesting and transparent.

Photos and video copyright 2010 Joshua Sy

February 24, 2010

Upcoming Travel Photography Workshops

Filed under: news, Uncategorized, updates — Tags: , , , , — joshuaps @ 5:24 am

For those of you who are interested in learning more about photography in general, and the stories and concepts behind some of my photographs, I will be holding two upcoming travel photography workshops in March: a FREE 2-hour workshop in Los Angeles and an extended 6-hour workshop in Manila. Information below:

The Big Trip:

Fundamentals of a Successful Photo Excursion

Los Angeles:

Sunday, March 7, 12:00-2:00 PM

Location: USC Campus, TBA

Free Workshop


Saturday, March 20, 2010 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Manila Polo Club Saddle Room

Workshop Fee: PHP 3,000

Join travel photographer Joshua Sy as he shares his insights on travel photography, acquired from 4 years of photography experience across 5 continents. This workshop will teach intermediate-level photographers the key elements to making your next “Big Trip” – the long excursions into distant lands that yield amazing photographic opportunities – a success. We will discuss everything from pre-planning to on-the-ground shooting to post processing.

About the Instructor

Joshua Sy is a Los Angeles-based freelance photographer. Since getting his start in photography at age 18, he has photographed scenes of life in over a dozen countries in Southeast Asia, the United States, Europe and northern Africa. His coverage of natural disasters and rallies in the Philippines placed him in the finals for the SportsShooter Student Photographer of the Year for 2008; his portrait work placed in the Top 20 at the 2008 Hearst Photojournalism Awards.

For more information, contact Joshua at

For reservations (Manila workshop), contact Ms. Jo De Leon at 0917-537-4359

The Manila workshop includes free lunch and “merienda” (snacks)

February 22, 2010

A Week’s Worth

Filed under: updates — Tags: , , , , , , , — joshuaps @ 4:40 am

Above: Favorites from a portable studio at The Bicycle Bread Company giving table

Below: Chinese New Year in Chinatown, Los Angeles

Not pictured: 7 rolls of 120 slide film from this and last week that I still need to get developed

November 24, 2009

Paris Life

Filed under: travel, updates — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — joshuaps @ 12:22 am

Things are getting hectic out here as far as schoolwork/job searching/Christmas planning goes, which is why I’ve not been 100% current with my blogging. I’ve yet to begin editing from a trip I went on this weekend, but here are some shots from Paris to tide y’all over in the meantime.

August 7, 2009

Manhattan Beach Views

Filed under: friends, travel, updates — joshuaps @ 5:30 am

This was my childhood home. I’m all moved out of the USC area, and now I’m back here for a little bit before I head back to Asia.

I’m definitely not the only person who goes out to enjoy these views. I was surprised at how many people were out here, even on a weekday.

On a whim, I went out to shoot the sunset at Manhattan Beach with my buddy Mike, who has the good fortune to live literally within a stone’s throw of one of the most amazing sunsets on Earth.

Not pictured: how close my gear came to being soaked in salt water for the third time in 10 days. Those waves are vicious, and I’m happy to be tall and be able to stand in them without getting my camera wet

August 3, 2009

Long Beach Dragonboat Race, 8/1-8/2

Filed under: news, Stories, Uncategorized, updates — Tags: , , , , , , , — joshuaps @ 6:21 am

In addition to being a photographer and a college student, I also paddle regularly with USC’s Dragonboat team and, over the summer, with the Killer Guppies (KG) team based out of Long Beach.

“What the &$!@ is Dragonboat?!”, you ask?

Fortunately, many people did (and do), so I made a short video to explain the sport.

Both the USC and KG teams were in the Long Beach tournament last weekend, along with teams all over the place, from high schoolers to a team from China, where the sport originated. I got a lot of time on the water racing, but with so many teams racing, there’s plenty of downtime, which I used to shoot the sport and my team.

The sport’s very team-oriented – it’s a big boat and you can’t get it into the water by yourself, let alone get it across a finish line in any reasonable time. The emphasis is on precision and timing over strength and speed, though those count for a lot as well.

The teams that do this sport are all over the place age-wise – there are the younger high school and college teams that are light, high-octane and have massive amounts of energy, and the independent and corporate teams, which tend to skew older, but aren’t any weaker. With the Killer Guppies, I paddle alongside people a decade or two older than me – and struggle to keep up!

The nice thing about Long Beach (aside from being home turf) is that you can get closer to the boats than you can in some other tournaments – the water is very shallow and, if you’re careful, you can wade in off the beach and be maybe 15-20 yards away from a boat.

A standard race set is 500 meters, and most teams finish in 2:30 or less. That can seem like an eternity, though, especially if the current is strong and teams struggle to keep the boats aligned at the start line and during the race.

After the finish, of course, comes the celebration. Competition is very friendly, and at the end of the day everyone passes the fives around. Most people are friends with people on some other team, so it’s a pretty tightly-knit community.

Because I’m studying abroad in France in the coming semester, I’m going to have to take a hiatus from paddling (no Dragonboat in Paris, and I’d like to take the time to travel and shoot some more, in any case). It was good to be able to go out with a bang this weekend and get some paddling time in.

July 2, 2009

Updates/Cool Things to Check Out

Filed under: updates — joshuaps @ 3:54 am

Some quick bites about what’s going on with me photographically:

1. In case you haven’t heard, I’m starting a Photo Q&A section for the blog. E-mail your photography-related questions to joshuaps (at), Facebook me or leave a comment on this post. The deadline is Sunday, July 5 for the first round, and the question will get answered by the next Sunday of the week.

2. I’ve broken ground on a documentary multimedia slideshow project (photos+audio) about an up-and-coming musician in LA. I’ll post updates as they come, but I’m pretty excited about the direction this is going in.

3. Some amazing videos: – amazing video documentary of a homeless veteran who brings his community together through photography

A man’s life in 42 seconds:

Last Day Dream [HD] from Chris Milk on Vimeo.

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