If you had to describe your overall photographic vision in 25 words or less, what words would you choose?
Dark, moody, simplicity that seeks to refresh how we interpret our surroundings.
Who are three of your favorite photographers, and, more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how you approach your own photography?
I love to interpret his works as if I am listening to music, a rhyme in which all of its elements fall into exactly the right place to create a masterpiece. He has a razor sharp clarity to his vision and always executes his images carefully to make sure every element is perfectly in its exact position. His work really has very little to do with what or how we are supposed to shoot, but rather more to how to use the subject before our eyes to symbolize and materialize the vision of our minds.
After viewing countless images over these past few years, I have a growing tendency to punch the contrast of my images to their limit to make them look more “appealing.” Well … Jeff’s images always remind me to do the opposite. I love how low profile his images are to my eyes, how they almost feel like listening to an echo coming from nowhere. His images express that kind of effortlessness to allow the tones to work harmoniously, which reminds me to slow down my pace and think more carefully about what I am looking for.
Her images are classic—which reminds me why I started my black and white journey in the first place. I love how she uses simple subjects to tell a story to her viewers, something I seldom encounter from others. Her images show the creative mind how to use simple subjects and transcend them in order to transform them into art.
What artistic influences, outside of photography, have had a significant influence on how you approach your photography (for example, painters, filmmakers, musicians, poets, etc.)?
Music. It’s the easiest access in my life. I listen to music all the time, even when I am travelling. I think there are similarities between music and photography, with their low keys, mid tones, high keys and how they transcend from one to another to create a beautiful rhyme / rhythm.
What are your thoughts about trying to find the best gear possible versus working on making the best possible image with the gear you already have?
Regardless of what gear we are using, it is always the final image that matters.
How would you define fine art? Is it just a label?
One of the reasons I fell in love with photography is that it allows us to see things in a way without using too many words or labels. I am not sure whether we need to label some images as fine art and others as not. After all, every photographer expresses some value and their subjective perspective through their works. It doesn’t have a right or wrong; all that matters is whether we like it or not. When we tend to frame some images into certain characteristics that we believe are good, then we limit ourselves from seeing something beyond that.
If you had to come up with one very important lesson that you think every photographer needs to learn, what would it be?
We should always remind ourselves why we fell in love with photography in the first place. Let that feeling of excitement and curiosity rest within our heart forever– like the first time we held our first DSLR or produced the first images that we were proud to share with others. With the massive quantity of images shared on the internet every day, something within us that was, at first, refreshing in the first place starts to feel tasteless and numb. We risk feeling doubt and insecurity about ourselves as we question whether our work is following the “right track.”
What are your thoughts about the benefits of online sharing? Are there any particular social media or image sharing sites you prefer or do not prefer?
I do not particularly prefer or not prefer any specific social media or image sharing sites. I think each of them has their own place and uniqueness. Online sharing is perhaps one of the main shifts we deal with today. Now we view most of the images we encounter in pixels and on monitors or LCD from many different brands and technologies. Sometimes we notice our image looks sharper on one display and notice they don’t look as good as expected. While it provide us conveniences and allows us to have a wider range of viewers, there are disadvantages and problems. For example, many place too much emphasis on “faves” and “likes” when deciding the quality of an image. While it definitely helps to generate higher exposure for your image in this international platform, deep within ourselves we know such concerns take us away from why we love photography in the very first place. As a result, the initial purpose of sharing suddenly becomes a race to
fulfill a hunger for self-recognition. However, this doesn’t mean one should stop posting the images on those websites. Rather, one should have a deep understanding that these are just the rules of a game, rules which are subjective, impermanent, and replaceable. It is better to learn to become one’s own good critic in order to better evaluate our own works and dig deeper into our senses so that we can better learn to grow.
What photographic cliché or common photography question, if any, irritates you the most?
I can’t remember the last time I felt irritated by a question thrown at me by others. Perhaps I feel a bit annoyed when people give me too much concern about the technical aspect of my images like what type of gear I am using or what setting of exposure and shutter speed I used for the images. While I don’t mind sharing this technical information with those who are interested,
I know that creating the final image consists of much more effort and process than that.
If you were stranded on an island, and you could have one camera, one lens, one filter, one tripod, two books, and ten CDs, what would they be and why?
(1) 10% Happier by Dan Harris
Sometimes I feel there are similarities between a photographer and a yogi.
(2) The Fault of Our Stars by John Green
The theory about “how much love and approval from others is enough for us so
that we feel we matter” is interesting for me.
Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography in the future or any specific goals that you wish to achieve?
I will keep working on what I am doing now. I believe there are still many aspects I can improve in my photography, especially in black and white. I
follow my heart to where the photography is leading me. I am also interested in shooting time-lapse or hyperlapse which I started experimenting with a
Is there any specific place that you would like to visit to take photos?
I would love to travel to Japan in the future. Japan has that kind of atmosphere I am looking for– a mixture of old and modern elements in the landscape, which is quite amazing to me.
Is there anything else you wish to add?
Thank very much, Nathan for giving me an opportunity to participate in this spotlight.
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