Alexis Marie: I have loved sharing the stories and inspirations of some truly interesting individuals during the InFocus Alumni photography blog series. Are you excited about InFocus 2016? We will soon release the call for submissions and we would love to see your work. For now, I’m pleased to introduce Kevin Tuong.
Some people get their first camera at a young age from a significant family member, and that influence inspires them for the rest of their life to create beautiful photographs. My story is… not remotely close to that. I got my camera three days before my 19th Birthday not from a family member, but from Futureshop. It wasn’t because I’ve always been interested in photography and wanted to learn the art of creating beautiful imagery; instead.. it was simply because it was a “kit” with an extra battery and a bag and it was on sale. How inspirational – I know.
It wasn’t like I wanted a camera because I was interested in photography either, I actually knew little to nothing about photography and didn’t actually care at the time. I just never owned anything more than a shoddy webcam that shot 2 megapixel images before in my life, and felt like having a DSLR was cool. But once I started taking pictures with it, and noticed that “blurry background” effect it had that point and shoots don’t have, it sparked my interest, and that’s when the life-long learning process for me began.
From then on I read tutorials, watched videos, and played around with every effect in Photoshop just to learn what they did and how I could use them (and made some atrocious images because of this). Then one day when photographing a Chinese Opera performance, someone who was an actual photographer saw me struggling in the low-light environment and lent me his on-camera flash. I was hesitant as first because I felt like it was rude to just take someone’s flash, and the fact that I had no idea how to use it. I wasn’t even sure if it was compatible with my camera at the time, simply because I didn’t know how it went on the camera itself. But after playing around with that flash and seeing how it made a difference in the shot, a whole new door was opened for me. Camera gear and accessories… oh what a money draining door that would become.
Of course, gear isn’t everything and a photographer still needs to know what they’re doing in order to maximize that piece of gears potential use. But with each piece of equipment that I acquired, it opened other doors with new techniques I could learn and apply to my photography. I find that photography is a never ending adventure of creative learning. I remember when I first started out, and I saw these images of beautifully done photographs, I wanted to learn how to do it. Then after years of practice and experience, I look back on some of those photographs that once inspired me, and I feel like I’ve caught up to them and can produce photographs of that level. But all that means is that I’ll find new photographs to inspire me, to push me, and to learn from to help better my own photography.
Photography to me is a never ending creative adventure filled with imaginative ideas and fantastical story telling designed to speak to and inspire the viewer. One can never stop learning in photography, there’s always something new and different that we can learn and try for ourselves. Further more, no photographer should ever sit at the top and be “the best”, because the very moment that any person does, that person is no longer learning, and no longer improving, and their art will no longer evolve.