Rachel Zoe fashion event at Holt Renfrew - Vancouver, BC | ©Tiffany Alonzo

Holt Renfrew Vancouver hosted a fashion event for fashion designer and celebrity stylist, Rachel Zoe, on August 9, 2012. Before her public appearance, Zoe was in a private area of Holt where she met with fashion media for interviews and photo ops.

During her public event, local Vancouver models strutted the runway in Zoe's Fall 2012 designs, which reflected her love for London's 60s and 70s Rock era.

Rachel Zoe fashion event at Holt Renfrew - Vancouver, BC | ©Tiffany Alonzo

I decided to photograph the event in black and white with grain to give it a behind the scenes vintage feel. Besides, every other photographer was photographing the event in color and in the same typical way, so why not do something different :)  Unlike Victoria Beckham's event, Zoe did not mingle with the public afterwards.

Rachel Zoe at Holt Renfrew - Vancouver, BC | ©Tiffany Alonzo 

Rachel Zoe at Holt Renfrew - Vancouver, BC | ©Tiffany Alonzo

Rachel Zoe at Holt Renfrew - Vancouver, BC | ©Tiffany Alonzo

Rachel Zoe fashion event at Holt Renfrew - Vancouver, BC | ©Tiffany Alonzo

Rachel Zoe fashion event at Holt Renfrew - Vancouver, BC | ©Tiffany Alonzo

Rachel Zoe fashion event at Holt Renfrew - Vancouver, BC | ©Tiffany Alonzo

Rachel Zoe fashion event at Holt Renfrew - Vancouver, BC | ©Tiffany Alonzo

Rachel Zoe fashion event at Holt Renfrew - Vancouver, BC | ©Tiffany Alonzo

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Victoria Beckham at Holt Renfrew - Vancouver, BC | ©Tiffany Alonzo

Holt Renfrew Vancouver hosted a private fashion event for celebrity fashion designer, Victoria Beckham, on June 15, 2012.  This was not an event for the public, but Victoria was going to make a quick photo op appearance before moving on to the event. 

I showed up early and waited along side other early birds. As time went on, a large crowd of fans accumulated while photographers and  videographers filled the media pit.  Victoria was late, but she kept everyone up to date via Twitter. 
Now that she was hours late, some media decided she wasn't worth the wait and left.  However, the fans didn't care. Once she arrived, Victoria stood in her signature pose for her photo op for about two minutes, then walked off. Media complained about this, but I guess they didn't get the memo that she was there for a private event and the photo op went exactly as it was supposed to. To be honest, what else did they expect from a private event?

Victoria Beckham at Holt Renfrew - Vancouver, BC | ©Tiffany Alonzo

Once off the platform, Victoria mingled with fans who waited hours to see her. She talked and joked, took photos with fans, gave out hugs and signed autographs. This is the part that media outlets *forgot* to mention in their articles.  

It was chaos as Victoria was lead through the crowd by her body guards.  Contradicting her usual straight-faced red carpet facial expression, Victoria was very smiley, down-to-earth and funny. When she was beside me, she looked into my camera and gave a shy smile. Unfortunately, my arm was bumped by the crowd and the photo came out blurry. Someone had a puppy with them and it completely stole her attention as she gave it baby talk and hugs. 

When Victoria and I were taking a photo together, the crowd bumped into me once again. She asked if the photo turned out and I said it was blurry. Surprisingly, she asked to take another one. We took another photo and her body guard was telling her she had to keep moving. She asked if the photo was okay and I said yes, then she moved on. She also signed my copy of her book, "That Extra Half An Inch". 

I was really surprised at how down-to-earth Victoria was with everyone and the time she took for them (even apologizing for being so late). Like I mentioned before, this was a private event and she did not have to mingle with fans, it was her choice to do so. And yes, she looks exactly like she does on TV and in magazines; tiny, beautiful and fashionable.

Victoria Beckham at Holt Renfrew with Tiffany Alonzo - Vancouver, BC | ©Tiffany Alonzo

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When I first started out in photography, there weren't really any photographers willing to hand out any advice. I don't blame them, photography has some stiff competition, especially now. However, I know what it's like to just be starting out and not have a damn clue as to what to do next. I've received a lot of questions over the years about photography and I decided to acknowledge them in this blog post.

Not only am I posting answers to questions but also advice on subjects that are important and never asked.

What do you love to photograph? What are you great at photographing? A lot of problems beginners and hobbyists have is that they try to be great at photographing everything, from landscapes to models. Or they try to be great at what they think they should be great at. For example, if wedding photography becomes the new fad it doesn't mean you have to jump on the band wagon too. Know what you're good at and what fuels your creativity and put your energy towards it.

So you've got yourself a DSLR camera, this means your images are going to be amazing. Wrong. The camera has all the capabilities of taking a great photo, but it's the person using it that really creates it. Take the time to learn and build confidence. Don't discourage yourself, keep practicing and learn from those trial and errors.

After years behind the camera, I'm still learning new things. That's the thing with photography, there's always something to learn and new to try.

An online photography forum is a great place to have strangers honestly (and sometimes brutally) critique your work and possibly give you pointers. Posting your images on Facebook is fun, but let's get real, everyone on there is a friend or family member. If your image sucks, no one will be honest with you.

With books, YouTube and Google, learning is at our finger tips and easily accessible. I'm a self-taught photographer, but that doesn't mean I'm against going to school or taking classes. It is completely up to the individual and how they prefer to learn.

If you do attend school or classes, keep in mind that in the end of it all, this does not certify you as a professional photographer. You may know the technicalities of the camera but you've got no real experience under your belt. Sorry, those images you took of your niece don't count. No one wants to pay a photographer who doesn't have proper experience or a portfolio. Assist local photographers and start doing some small jobs for free in order to gain on-set experience. You will be building your portfolio and gaining contacts/clients as you go along.

Apprenticing is a great way to get hands-on experience. Research photographers who's work you admire and contact them asking if they would apprentice you or if you can assist them on set of a photo shoot. If they decline, that's alright, ask another!

It's extremely easy these days to get your work out to the public. First of all, we all know nothing beats good old word-of-mouth advertising! The more clients you work with the more people will know you and recommend you to others. Just starting out? Photograph family and friends! They'd be more than happy to get your work out there. It also helps to have your business name or logo on web-sized images that are viewed on sites like Facebook.

The next best thing is having a Facebook Page. The great thing about Facebook Pages are that they are interactive with clients and potential clients, every time you have an update all of your followers will see it, it's extremely easy to use and upload images and best of all.. it's FREE. Almost everyone has Facebook, so it's a great marketing tool.

It's also important to update your Facebook Page to keep your audience engaged. I learned this hard way by not touching mine for months! This led to people leaving the Page and even sending me emails asking if I'm still a photographer!

Portfolio's will differ depending on what market you are in. However, all portfolio's should contain your best images. Don't use too many images of the same subject. The beginning and end of your portfolio should showcase your strongest work.

Do you have a portfolio showing your range as a photographer? Have you done enough work to call it experience? Do you have people who are willing to pay you?  If the answer to all of those is yes, start charging for your time.  However, don't think you should be getting paid the same amount as the photographer who has been at this for years. Google other photographers who are at your caliber (be realistic) and see how much they are charging. This will give you a good idea of where you should start.

Keep in mind that photographers are becoming a dime a dozen these days, so you may have to aim your prices a little lower than expected at first.

Again, depending on your market, you may want to try signing with an agency after you've built up a bit of a client list.

Depending on your market, you may not even need a business name, your legal name is just fine. However, many photographers in portrait photography like having a business name. When you find your business name, make sure no one is already using it and that you absolutely love it. It would suck if you ended up hating it after you've branded yourself under that name.

Now that you want to start being paid it's time to get your business license. These are pretty easy to obtain and allow you to legally be paid for your business. If you have a personal studio or you're working from home, make sure your location allows this type of business to be conducted.

Every photographer offers different packages to their clients. This also depends on your market. Offer what you feel is fair and comfortable for you and what you are being paid. Google other photographers in your market and in your caliber (again, be realistic) to give you an idea.

Be kind to yourself and allow yourself to learn and grow as a photographer. If you haven't gotten to the caliber you expected, keep trying! Everything in life takes effort and your passion for photography is no exception. Don't compare your work to the work of others, compare it to your own previous work and watch how you're improving. Click here for a previous post I made on growing as a photographer.

Any questions? Feel free to send me an email here.


Whether it's in person or online, there have been many questions I've been asked over the years. So, I decided to post the top four personal questions I've been asked for you Curious George's out there.

1. How did you start?
I finally made the decision to get behind the lens when my then fiance (now husband) asked me, "What do you want to do in life?"

Who knew it could be that simple? I purchased a camera and just went for it. I practiced on people I knew and after one month I got my first photo shoot together. Probably wasn't such a good idea, since I didn't really know what I was doing, but it was a TFCD (Time For Compact Disc) shoot and it seemed that everyone involved wanted the experience. The model for the day was Sisi Wang (Canada's Next Top Model), who I found in my list of "friends" on MySpace. After that, I just kept putting together little photo shoots to gain more experience and contacts. I admit, it was easier for me considering I'm a female and already had some contacts through modelling.

2. Did you go to school for photography?
No, I taught myself what I know through trial and error and books. Mostly trial and error. I don't have anything against going to school, I just enjoy learning on my own.

3. Where do you get your models, stylists, make-up artist, etc?
Through networking and agencies.

4. Do you take apprenticeships?
I've never done this although it's something I'm frequently asked by photography students. Being a self-taught photographer, I don't feel there is anything I can really teach a student who is in school. However, the more shoots I'm doing, the more I feel like I need an assistant at times, so this may change. Doesn't hurt to give a student the experience of being on set of a photo shoot.

Have a question? Email me here.