Each week we select and profile a photographer from our #SFGuide community on Instagram. We believe these photographers capture the everlasting beauty of San Francisco and the Bay Area. For a chance to be featured on our Instagram feed — or here on 49Miles.com — tag your photos with #SFGuide.
This week we’re featuring Tony Ly (@teisbe) as our featured photographer. Scroll down to view more of Tony’s work and learn more about what inspires him as a Bay Area creative.
#SFGuide Photographer Profile
Name: Tony Ly
Profession: Senior Art Director @ Razorfish
Place of Birth: Oakland
Current City: San Francisco
Something you’d like viewers to know about you: I’m a B-boy, and I love to surf.
What is your favorite spot to shoot in San Francisco, and why?
I’ve been making a point to shoot downtown a lot during the commute. Capturing fleeting moments of the hustle and bustle allows me to see the gut of the city. Also, it’s the perfect time for street photography.
When and why did you take up photography?
Being a design/crux creative, photography allows me to be an artist. It also gives me a reason to travel the world. For me, it was a natural progression from people watching.
What do you love about photography?
There are so many things I love about photography. I guess the one reason I love photography is, it allows me to capture moments in time. It evokes emotions and inspires people to look at things differently. It’s a great tool to tell stories rather quickly.
How do you decide what to shoot?
I wander around and allow the shot to find me… the moment passes pretty quickly, so I make sure I know my equipment well and act swiftly. Sometimes I find a place with good lighting or composition and wait for my subject to appear since I shoot mostly natural light.
What’s your favorite part about going out to shoot?
The excitement and the sense of adventure I get every time. For some reason, photography makes me feel alive. It feels great when you capture those “had to be there” moments.
Which location did you have the most difficulty getting to, and how did you do it?
One time I drove down to Scorpion Bay in San Juanico, Southern Baja California with a friend. We drove down the wrong road and got stuck. Luckily there were two amigos who just so happened to be there. They help me push my truck, and we were able to make it to the beach by sunset.
What is your dream shot?
I have so many… My next photography travels will take me to Tibet. Golden hour is my favorite time to shoot. Don’t have a shot in mind; I will know once I get there.
What is your favorite app to use for photo editing on the go, and what are your top 3 favorite filters?
On the go, I am using Lightroom mobile app (FREE, iOS & Android). I have my presets in Lightroom desktop version. My favorite Lightroom preset is Ektar 100++ film by VSCO; that’s what I mostly shoot analog with.
How do Instagram and the #SFGuide community inspire you?
Instagram is a great tool to get my work out and to connect with people all over the world. There were many times I flew into a city and connected with local photographers through the app. #SFGuide is great to see and connect with people in San Francisco.
What are your favorite settings in your idea shot?
It varies in different shots; I mostly shoot in AV mode. For street stuff, I jump around from 1600-800 iso,
Lens: Canon 24-70 2.8 L ii is my go-to. Lately, I’ve been running around with the 40mm 2.8 Pancake around the city. It’s Super light, and I love the way it feels in my hand.
Shutter Speed: Varies
ISO: 1600 mostly
White Balance: Auto
Focus (Manual / Auto): Auto
Image Format (RAW / JPEG): RAW
What advice would you give to new or rising photographers that you wish you had received when you first started?
Just keep shooting and find your style. Start with full frame if you got the bucks. Once you get yourself a decent setup, spend your money on trips over buying a new lens you think you will need. You don’t need much to take good photos.
What do you love about living in the San Francisco Bay Area?
I love that I can drive 2-3 hours in any direction to be in nature. I love the diversity here. I’ve lived in NY and LA, and I can truly say SF is the best place to live for me. Mostly I love the access we have to our beautiful coastline. The Ocean saved me in so many ways.