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We recommend John Yao of SimplyTwo for the fantastic experience he fashions and the memorable photos he creates. We scheduled an engagement session with John in early March of 2015. The planning process was extremely fun and John was on board from the start with all our hare-brained ideas. When a rainy day threatened to jeopardize our shoot, John showed himself as the man with a plan in any situation! He strategized to move the majority of our shoot indoors, and once the rain let up, he took us outside to some spectacular spots.
Throughout the session, John is your best fressional = best friend + professional. He keeps the mood fun and his mind in constant motion, resulting in no dull moments. We were impressed with his ability to direct our movements and poses, all the while keeping us feeling very natural. Additionally, John possesses a (metaphorical) 3rd eye in seeing the beautiful in something incredibly mundane. For example, as we were driving to the airport for a shoot, John asked us to pull over to a seemingly random gravel and grass patch. We looked at our surroundings and thought, "We look like we're in a dump!" But lo and behold, as John clicked away on his camera, he turned the scene from drab to fab when he gave us a peek what was on his camera screen. We enjoyed watching a master work his craft.
When deciding on a photographer, we wanted to choose someone who would produce photos we would be proud to show to our grandchildren. We can confidently say John's work fulfilled this hope. Thank you John for a wonderful day and many precious memories.
NUTSHELL: HIRE JOHN!! *** This is coming from someone who does a lot of her own photography and was tempted to clone herself and shoot her own wedding. ***
I have been following John's work closely for the last ten years. Being a photographer and artist myself, I have seen a lot of different styles out there, and John's is the only one that stuck with me this long. This is the essence of John's work that truly makes it special: it's clean, elegant, and timeless. You will love his work the first time you see it, but you will love it even more over the coming weeks, months, and years. Some photographers' work dazzles you at first glance but fades away in memory; not so with John's. You will want to look at his photos over and over again for their flawlessly bright colors, brilliant creativity, and authenticity of emotion.
John is a true Artist in every sense of the word, and he knows his craft so well that he accomplishes nothing short of magic. We had the pleasure of doing an all-day engagement shoot with John, and he somehow made a pitch-dark park look like a fairy tale kingdom, just to name one example. John is a wizard with his camera, and my single piece of advice is to trust his vision completely. We printed many of our engagement shoot photos to use at our wedding reception, and our guests loved them so much that a few even stole our photos to take home without our permission! In this age when everyone seems to have nice engagement photos, it really attests to the unique quality of John's work that people so desperately wanted to keep those prints.
John is a ninja on the day of the wedding. I seriously can't remember seeing him once during the entire ceremony, but later in our guests' photos, I saw John in practically all of them, working to get the best shots from every corner and angle. He blends seamlessly into your day and makes everything as stress-free as possible. He was worth every penny.
Don't worry about the money. You won't regret it.
We first heard about John and SimplyTwo Photography from our friends. Many of whom had worked with John for their engagement shoots, and absolutely loved his work! We followed his blog for months, and couldn't agree more! John's attention to detail, and focus on natural lighting really brings out the fullness in everyone's expressions. John was amazing to work with, and his patience knows no bounds. He literally spent the entire day with us as we drove from LA to San Diego, and he went along with all of our ideas (and we had a LOT of ideas!). Always open to new locations and various poses, John is extremely flexible, providing great feedback and coordination. My fiance and I aren't typically photogenic, but John really made us feel comfortable and be ourselves in front of the camera. John is a true professional, and knows how to capture the magic of every moment. These are by far, the best pictures I have ever had the privilege of owning, and I will definitely recommend SimplyTwo to everyone I know. We can't wait to share these pictures with all of our family, friends, and wedding guests! You will not be disappointed!!
Do it! You know you want him!
Despite the drought here in California, all the momentous events of our relationship seem to be associated with a little sprinkle, starting from our very first date. This has been quite unfortunate for 2 people who hate getting wet. After all, who doesn't enjoy blue skies and sunshine?
That being said, I am so glad John Yao talked us into doing our engagement session in the rain. We had such a great experience with John and his flip flops, yes, flip flops, out hiking Eaton Canyon and downtown LA through an intermittent down pour. He was personable and made us feel at ease the entire time. Our photos turned out even better than we expected. It was exactly as he said, the rain brings out all the colors and reflections that you can't capture otherwise.
The day of the wedding was also wonderful. John was so professional and prompt. He kept shooting even though some of his camera lenses were stolen halfway through the day. All my friends and family were impressed with the photos. I could not be happier with him as our photographer and would recommend him 100%.
Yvonne and Martin :)
I am extremely picky when it comes to photography due to my profession, so naturally I had a difficult time deciding on a photographer. I reviewed dozens of portfolios, but somehow I kept coming back to John's website. His work is not only clean, sharp, and vibrant with amazing lighting, but the couples' important emotional moments and fun times are well captured through John's lenses as well. Every photo is well composed with perfect skin tone.
Communication with John was prompt and easy throughout the whole process. When we met up with him, he was like a long lost friend - very easy going, funny and patient. I was surprised that he remembered all of his clients' names when I randomly mentioned a few of his previous shoots. His personality reflects in his work. He made us very comfortable in front of the camera during both our engagement shoot and wedding day. He came early and stayed late for our wedding just because he wanted to try out a few creative night shots. He is a true ARTIST! We had numerous compliments on our engagement photos from our family and friends. We've seen part of the wedding photos so far, and all we can say is "WOW! AMAZING!" We can't wait to see the rest!
Hire John for your big day! You won't regret it!
SimplyTwo is A.W.E.S.O.M.E. Planning for the biggest and most expensive party of your lifetime is soooo stressful, but John takes away that aspect for you. Photographs are arguably the most important part of the wedding, though you can argue with me whether the dress or the flowers are ;) But think about it – the whole day/night passes by very quickly as you are caught up in the moment. As well, you may be obsessing over every detail of the logistics, and you can miss seeing some people or certain parts of the party. I actually didn’t get to see my guestbook/escort card table setup because we were on a time crunch! Having these photos helped me relive it all from my guests’ point of view. Even better, John edits each photo “by hand” (none of those fancy photoshop filters “applied to all” or whatever). Plus, communication is prompt and easy – he is willing to communicate by any method you prefer.
Bonus! - He's featured in magazines! Who wouldn't want the bragging rights associated with that?
Another bonus! - Since dealing with vendors is primarily about "business", there is often a lack of a personal touch to it. Not with John - by the end of it all, you may just want to make him part of your wedding party!
How John Amazed Us:
1) Mastering light - John can see the unseen and shoot beyond the world in front of us. It was 10pm, so dark we couldn’t see our feet, but John assured us that the brown building behind us will look great in the crappy street lights. I gave him my crazy person eye stare, but secretly trusted him. Yup, it mysteriously lit up like the white house. I soon realized that John was so one with his camera, he had the darkness under control. Despite horrible lighting conditions, our night photos were incredible. What you see is not what you get, it’s better. I once made the mistake of asking him why he didn't have a fancy umbrella thingy, to which he politely answered that as long as you understand the science of light, you don't need tools to manipulate it. The force is strong with this one.
2) Committing to his work - Speaking of late night photos, John spent ALL DAY with us on our engagement shoot. I greedily wanted to hit up 6 locations but was ready to give up on at least 2. Nope. Got all 6! Our wedding venue was a challenge, it was a yacht at noon; harsh sun, moving vessel, constant changes, confined spaces, yay! My wedding coordinator suggested that John meet up with her to go over scenic places and the nooks and crannies of the yacht. He got on the next appointment and knew the yacht inside & out. WHO DOES THAT!?!? This is going beyond the call of duty.
3) Capturing real moments - My wedding day went by so fast I felt like I missed out on the important details. Thank God John was there because he caught what we missed. John was also the reason why we did not get a videographer because there would have been split seconds of awesomeness that the video would have zoomed past; tiny, stolen glances, awkward and crazy poses of the garter catch, and the way your sweet old dad looks at you from afar as you embrace your husband. I missed those moments, and i even missed them on the home videos, but I found them in John's photos.
John is the epitome of a professional photographer. From initial communication to finished product (pictures turned out awesome), he was always helpful and flexible. The great thing about John isn't that he just takes great pictures for you, but you really get to know him as a friend and brother.
We highly recommend Simply Two Photography. You can trust John Yao to produce unique and beautiful photographs for you. You can also look forward to a photography experience full of laughter and joy- qualities that will not only come out in your pictures, but will help to make your engagement/wedding day unforgettable.
A few things that made John Yao stand out:
1) He addresses all concerns in a timely and detailed manner: After the initial email contact, John Yao continued to answer my questions over emails and phone calls (75+ correspondences). I appreciated just how friendly and encouraging he was whenever I brought up a concern.
2) He is personable, and listens to your needs/wants: Once we got to meet for our creative engagement session, John Yao took charge by giving us specific instructions with how to stand, where to look, etc. To help us relax, he would give us feedback so we knew what worked. Once Sam and I got the hang out if, the creative session began to flow naturally. Like a team, we all came up with ideas for poses, and managed to create some on-the-spot ideas to make the shots unique and fun.
3) He believes in creating beautiful photos, and is open to trying new/inventive things to make it happen: In addition to having strong technical skills and a strong work ethic, it was clear that John Yao had a lot of fun with this work. We were both willing to try new ideas, and this made both sessions (engagement and wedding day) enjoyable and exciting.
The final products blew away our expectations! Aside from great technique, we believe the distinguishing quality that made the photos stand out is John's ability to capture our emotions of joy and love. John understands how uncomfortable taking photos can be (just as we were in the beginning). He works with you so that you can relax and ultimately have fun. The results are priceless.
5 star rating, no regrets! Thank you John for memories that we will treasure for a lifetime!
I first fell in love with SimplyTwo Photography 3 years ago when one of my friends shared her engagement pictures with us online. The pictures were vibrant with color (but not so overdone that they came out tacky), focused on the couple (at times and on objects when it was appropriate) and just overall gorgeous. In the three years after I was exposed to those pictures, there were no other engagement/wedding pictures from others (in magazines and from friends) whose pictures even caught my eye. I knew John's work was special and exactly what I wanted as my keepsake for my once-in-a-lifetime life event.
When we started planning our wedding, we made sure to have SimplyTwo as our first vendor (even before choosing our venue and picking our wedding date--weird, right?). John is super responsive (he'll even respond when you're brainstorming late at night), incredibly easy to work with (it felt like we were having pictures taken by a friend), and he made sure he got EVERY shot I wanted and as well as the ones he wanted. I have no complaints. Even my parents were very impressed with his work (and it's not easy to impress them). If I could compensate him more for his work, I would.
Wedding photography is not cheap, but it's what you get to keep forever so you should definitely invest in a photographer whose work is to your liking. SimplyTwo Photography is simply the easiest decision to make for your photography needs. You won't regret it.
Thank you for everything, John!
John Yao of SimplyTwo Photography is a man of respectable talent. Having been an avid follower of his work for many years, I knew that his calendar fills up quickly so I booked him months before I even got engaged (without telling my fiancé!).
My fiancé and I were very nervous for our engagement session but with John’s guidance, we warmed up and started to feel more comfortable and at ease so our shots became more natural. We spent the whole day shooting in different locations and we were both amazed at how much fun we were having. It felt like we were hanging out with an old-time friend. One thing I've learned during the shoot is that John possesses an ability to capture raw, brilliant shots. He'd show us the most recent shot on his camera screen and it would blow our minds. He has a keen eye that can find beauty in the most ordinary spaces (like making a playground look like a backdrop in Napa) and his composition skills are exceptional. As an artist, he is always pushing his limits and continually experimenting. That's mainly the reason why all of his sets are unique to his clients no matter how many times he's shot those same locations.
John has a very relaxed personality about him and his motto is that not only is he your photographer, but also your friend, and I couldn't agree more. On our wedding day, John arrived early to scout the area for the best locations (something I had not expected but nevertheless appreciated!). He brought with him a kind and lighthearted demeanor that made our wedding party feel very relaxed. But he also had a sense of professionalism that kept us on schedule. He was on top of everything!
Our family and friends have complimented us tremendously on our photos. We know that hiring John was the best decision we made for our wedding. Without hesitation, we give John our highest regard and recommendation. You will not be disappointed!
John is simply the best. In my line of work, I've had the privilege of working with a lot of different photographers on a variety of marketing, print and web jobs. My, now wife, brought Simply Two to my attention for our wedding and I was blown away by the quality of the work. On our first meeting we really nerded out of photography, lenses, technique and approach. We both knew he was our guy and signed a contract on the spot. Fast forward a year after an Engagement and Wedding shoot and I am even more impressed with John both for his technique and how much love he puts into his work. He may be the most talented of all the photographers I've ever worked with. Best of all was John's personality. He really works hard and does so with an incredibly positive and infectiously optimistic attitude. John shoots weddings for a living but during our two shoots I could tell that he was constantly trying to push the envelope and shoot things in new ways with different techniques. I can tell he is the type of person who constantly strives to do more and shoot better and that makes him both a great photographer and equally great person.
As a business, Simply Two is all John. He admittedly tries not to shoot wedding week after week so he can give his clients a lot of time and attention. So when you book Simplytwo you get John and only John. His site is full of his work and that of his usual second shooter Chris, who was equally delightful to work with. On a technical level, I was very impressed with a lot of the compositing and layering affects John did, in particular for our engagement shoot. For a lot of the sparkler and lighting effects he did required a lot of compositing and photoshop work that I wasn't expecting. Again, this is beyond what your typical wedding shoot would do, very impressive. The day after the wedding, he sent over a teaser of a shot from the wedding. Amazing...simply amazing!
If you want AMAZING and WORRY FREE photography, then John @ SimplyTwo will not disappoint!!! I was one of those really indecisive brides, don't know which theme, what to wear, which venue, what favors/flavors/flowers etc...but when we met John at our initial appointment...by the end of the meeting, we left a deposit to secure our wedding date. That is how professional, but yet very familiar he made us feel. We loved our engagement photos, something that I kept going back to look at again and again. Our wedding day came and went in a flash, John was there throughout the whole time never in your way, but you will catch a glimpse of him off the side or on the floor to try and capture all the moments . We haven't seen our wedding day photos yet, but base off our engagement photos, there is nothing for me to worry about as I know he will deliver nothing but stunning photos. Cannot thank him enough on how easy and comfortable he made our big day.
Before I started any wedding planning, I knew photography was the main item I wanted to splurge on. Memories get fuzzy after a while, great pictures will last forever! After much research, I went with John- and I'm extremely glad I did. The reason I chose to go with SimplyTwo is pretty simple: a lot of wedding photographers I looked at have photos where the couples are placed in awkward positions, and a lot of "candid" ones seem very staged and not natural. In all of John's photos, the couples look relax, shots look natural, and he captures the happiness and love beautifully.
John was very responsive- from the first email we sent, to scheduling our engagement shoot (because of bad weather conditions, he took the time to do our shoot the weekend before his own wedding!), and to the wedding day itself. He was able to answer all our questions and listened to all our suggestions. I'm not a very creative person when it comes to posing for pictures, and was worried about the engagement shoot. John gave us a few pointers at the beginning and put us at ease, and we can definitely feel it get easier by moment. Within a week, we had a handful of edited previews to share with family and friends, which was awesome!
On the wedding day itself, he was with our wedding party the whole day. Both bridesmaids and groomsmen enjoyed hanging out with him. He's cracking jokes and making conversation during down time, and all business and professionalism when it's go time. He was on top of everything, and definitely took the reins very well when it came to directing both shots and people.
One awesome power (among many) that John possesses is the ability to find a location I wouldn't glance at twice, and manage to get beautiful pictures out of it. He also utilizes lighting extremely well. He is full of tons creative ideas too!
If you can budget it, I would highly recommend going with SimplyTwo!
My wife and I were extremely blessed to have John Yao do our engagement photo shoot and capture our wedding. The first thing that struck us about John as we worked with him was his creative genius. He would scan the location we were in to get ideas for different shots. As he explained what he was seeing, I often found myself surprised because I just wasn't able to see what he saw. But once he took a few shots, he would show us what he had captured, and it absolutely blew us away. He quickly gained our trust. We also loved that so many of the shots that John took were so unique from what we were used to seeing from engagement or wedding photos. We've had so many people tell us that our wedding photos are the best that they have seen. John is also extremely personable. We hit it off right away and that helped us to feel more comfortable and natural during the shoot. He knew exactly when to give us cues to help us figure out where to put our hands or which direction to look, but it never felt forced or awkward. More than anything, what blew us away about John was his commitment and dedication to us. Our wedding was in Chicago, and there happened to be a situation the day before our wedding that forced both airports in Chicago to cancel all flights. John's flight was affected by this which needless to say, was a stressful situation. Without going into all the details, John spent the whole day at the airport trying to find a alternate flight, several of them which got cancelled, until he was finally able to find a flight to St. Louis that arrived at midnight. He took that flight and drove a rental car up to Chicago to get there the morning of our wedding on absolutely no sleep. Despite all of that, he was just as enthusiastic and professional about his work as he always is. If it's not obvious at this point, John Yao is the guy you want to hire for your wedding. Seriously...you won't be disappointed.
John was sooo much fun to work with. We definately made the right choice in investing in a good photographer. For the brides who are still searching for the perfect photographer, your search ends here. He is amazing!!!
Our engagement and wedding photos were absolute perfection. John really has the "eye" for photography and always manages to get the best angles and shots. We spent an entire day with him for our engagement shoot starting at our condo in Anaheim to San Juan Capistrano to Dana Point to Laguna Beach to Fullerton. His energy, willingness to go along with all our ideas and laid back personality made the day so much fun. It felt like we were doing a day trip around Orange County chillaxing with John. We had coordinated a list of shots I had wanted for our wedding day and John captured everything we asked for. He was punctual and always responsive to questions we had. My whole wedding party felt at ease with him right away and they all enjoyed taking pictures with him.
After looking at all my engagement and wedding shots, I can honestly say there is not one picture that I dislike. Our biggest challenge was picking the ones we wanted to print and make into a book since every shot was awesome. All of our friends and family love the pictures and praised John for his attention to detail. Their first reaction to the pictures was usually "WOW!!!" When comparing my pictures to friends who hired less expensive photographers, you can totally tell the difference in the quality and shots that you get. Yes its definately an investment to have John as your photographer but hes worth every penny! Pictures last a lifetime and I'm sooooo happy we were able to have John capture our special moment. I highly recommend SimplyTwo!!!