The Music to Life Series

May 1, 2015 When I’m Away – Conceptual Photography by Jimmy Bui Posted In: The Colourist

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Music to Life Song of the Week: When I’m Away by The Colourist

Indie band, The Colourist, came up with the song “When I’m Away” while they were on tour, and it totally resonated with me. I’m always traveling for work, and I can’t stand more than one day away from my family. When I’m away, I’m constantly thinking about my wife and daughter and there’s nothing more that I want then to go home to see them. So, for this conceptual image, I thought it would be cool to use a bunch of old Polaroids and vintage suitcases and just toss them in the air. It’s a representation of how chaotic my traveling is and I just love how it came out.

Katie Bozner, the 2013 Miss American Teenager winner, has been following my Music to Life series for a bit a time and wanted to volunteer for my series. She fit perfectly for this concept. Rosa Gutierrez did her hair and make up and my friend Jermaine assisted with lighting.

girl sitting with vintage camera in sunset field with suitcases flying conceptual photography by jimmy bui

When I’m away, you’ll be all I ever think about
When I come home, you’ll be all I ever talk about
When I’m away, you’ll sing this song as you think of me
When I’m away, I’m away, will you wait for me

lyrics by The Colourist

Conceptual Photography – How I Shot It

When it comes to conceptual shoots on a budget, you pretty much have to be a master planner. Borrowing props, pulling favors, and accommodating everyone’s schedules is all part of a good shoot. I borrowed the suitcases from my mother-in-law, and she always has cool vintage things that I can borrow. We shot at the Hidden Valley Nature Center in Norco, Ca, and I asked nicely for permission to shoot there before hand. I wanted to be able to overpower the sun with a good on location strobe, so I made sure we did the shoot during a weekend when I would have the equipment available. As a side note, I sometimes rent high end lighting equipment when I shoot weddings. This one weekend, I rented two Profoto B1 on-location strobes, and to maximize my use with them, I scheduled this conceptual shoot the same weekend.

girl sitting on suitcase in middle of field with vintage camera at sunset portrait photography by jimmy bui

So, what we did first was shoot Katie in natural light. I didn’t use the strobes for this shot as I was planning on using it for another picture. Golden hour, hands down, produces the best natural light and I absolutely wanted to take advantage of it. Next, my friend Jermaine grabbed a few different suitcases and tossed them in the air. We did this a few times and I just plugged in those suitcases on top of the base image in Photoshop. Katie was behind the scenes holding the lighting equipment.

behind the scenes jimmy bui conceptual photography

The shooting process took only about 20 minutes, and after we were done, we did some more pictures with Katie in a different dress, and we took full advantage of the Profoto B1.

girl in wedding dress standing in field at sunset with tiara katie bozner portrait photography by jimmy bui

Play “When I’m Away”

Check out my previous images in this post.If you’re interested in shooting a Music to Life series image, message me at and don’t forget to visit my website and follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Thank you so much! 


When I’m Away – The Colourist

Katie Bozner

Make Up & Hair:
Rosa Gutierrez

Jermaine Lightburn

Canon 5D Mark III

Sigma 50mm f1.4 Art

1/400 sec; f/2.5; iso 100

Profoto B1


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Jimmy Bui

I am a wedding and conceptual portrait photographer based in Southern California. When I'm not shooting weddings, or planning my next weekly photo for my Music to Life series, you may find me at Disneyland or the zoo spending time with my beautiful wife and daughter.
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