About Thai Chu

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write: thai@alivebyshooting.com

follow: @thaimychu

I am an independent photographer and storyteller shooting from San Francisco, California. My work is an extension of my training in Social Psychology where I spent 8 years researching how thinking and behavior differ across cultures. I continue to reflect on humans as a function of their social environment as a photographer, contrasting modern society with unseen cultures and bringing awareness to the quiet lives of those without representation.

I also pair my passion for storytelling as the Founder of Listen for a Change, a 501(c)(3) storytelling event on topics of social justice.


How come photographers don't list their pricing?

This common practice can be frustrating if you're shopping around, however, finding a  photography is not like shopping for running shoes where it's simply one product with a price you can compare. Photographers offer wildly different packages from one to the next, and each shoot has many variables (number of people, location, formality, children, add-on fees). All this said, I do have a basic pricing sheet. It just requires me hearing a bit more from you first.

Do you have any hidden fees?

Absolutely not. What I quote is all you'll pay. No add-ons. No travel. No extra fees per digital file.

How do I print my photos?

Once the photos are ready, you'll receive a link to on online folder where your photos will live forever for you to view, download, share, and order prints directly online. You can always download the whole digital album and create your own print products.

How long before I get my photos? Will I see proofs first?

For most family and headshot sessions, 2-3 days, a week at most. Sessions with young kids and babies take a bit longer since there are more photos to sort. It's part of the photographer's process to sort through the best photos so you won't need to review any proofs.

For weddings, 2-3 weeks, a month at most. You will have an opt-in option to review proofs and choose the ones you like, however be warned that there can be thousands of photos.

Do you offer any discounts?

Yes! I offer 25% off for referred or repeat clients. I believe everybody deserve access to keep their memories, so I offer 40% off for families in financial need or nonprofit organizations.

Can you "Photoshop" me?

If you woke up with a pimple or your kid has a scratch that you'd rather not remember forever, I can certainly remove those small blemishes. I believe in capturing people's beauty as they are at that point in time. To that end, I have a policy against lightening skin, removing wrinkles, or "taking you down a size." 

What happens if I don't like my photos?

I strive to ensure you'll love your photos, but if you feel like the majority of my work did not capture your best side, we can reschedule a shorter pick-up shoot.

How far in advance should I book a photoshoot?

I recommend 6-months out if you're getting married. For most other shoots, it just depends on my availability.   

What happens if it rains?

Clouds and sparse rain can be a nice dramatic touch. I will shoot if you will show. But if the weather is not cooperating or someone isn't feeling well, we can always reschedule. Weddings are a different story, and you'll be asked to refer to the contract.

How much editing do you do? 

I like to call it "enhanced natural." I'll edit for lighting, contrast, and colors, but I won't turn your blue eyes into Skittles or green screen in a new background.

How much posing and direction is there?

My favorite part of the process is getting to know my clients and drawing out the natural relationships and expressions between them, so I usually mix in some posed shots with prompts to have you connect with each other and the camera. I want the photoshoot to be a memorable experience itself. 

What should I wear?

Proper fashion is critical to have you pop out in the photos in the most flattering light. There's a lot of variation in personal style, but this is a good general rule of thumb:
Wear muted, solids with similar tones that go nicely together. Sleeves and long pants keep the focus on the skin on your face. Keep jewelry and hair minimalistic. Plan haircuts a week before to let it grow in.

How do I choose a location?

It depends on weather, season, and whether you have kids or not. We'll work together to decide a meaningful location that makes sense for you. Feel free to look at my portfolio for sample locations.

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