Artist Interview: Yu-Chen Chiu
This week’s winner in the 2010 Portfolio Project is Yu-Chen Chiu, a New York-based photographer. Her winning photo, Map is an interesting play of light that gives the viewer the jolt of a chance encounter of the eyes.
- For the first question, I guess I’d just ask you to tell me the story behind the photo you submitted. Can you talk about it a bit?
- Sure. “Map” is one of my favorite reflection images I took. It was taken around the Union Square while I was strolling in the city. I really drown into reflections because for me, it serves as symbols of the known and unknown; the lost and found, and the shifting nature of identity, which are the things I am very interested in. It was originally shot in 35 mm color film and I decided to experiment with it and converted into black and white. And it came out really nice because the black and white gives the depth of the subject.
- Could you say something more about your interest in reflections? Have you been shooting them for long? Has your conceptual appreciation of them adapted itself smoothly to different subject matters?
- I didn’t realized I was into reflections until one day when I started to edit my photos, and I found there’s one thing that appears on my images often, which is reflections. I would say it is a subconscious choice and I didn’t force myself to envision the images that has the reflection elements in them. It’s funny, for some reason I always can find something that triggers me to capture through the reflections and it just comes naturally to be part of the elements in my projects.
- That’s interesting, that a prominent theme can develop without your conscious engineering. Now that you’ve sort of grabbed onto it as a working concept, what do you look for for your new shots? Do you have an idea of what the image will look like reflected, or do you just wander until one strikes you in the right way?
- I seldom set up idea for the subject I want to capture. One thing is because my subject is mainly candid street photos, and you never know what’s gonna to get today. Of course I will have some broad ideas, like where I want to explore, what will be cool to capture, but they are not the guildline. The other important thing is I treat every photoshoot opportunity as a journey and I enjoy the unexpected happenings because these are the inspirations and triggers for me to capture the moments. And even though I didn’t think about reflections but there’s always a few images that contains reflection elements in one trip shooting.
- That makes sense. Now, is there a certain mindset you have to get yourself into to be receptive to these unexpected happenings and inspirations? Do you have a “zone” you get into?
- Well I guess I have a build-in trigger in my head so I don’t really have to switch myself into a different mode when it comes to unexpected happenings and inspirations. I am a curious person and I love adventures. I am always ready.
- You said earlier that ‘Map’ was originally taken on 35mm film. Do you always shoot on film, or do you shoot digital as well?
- I always shoot in film. I tried to switch to digital but it seldom came out the way I expected it to be. I would say 90% of the time I shoot in film, black and white. Except when it’s a editorial or wedding occasions that I need to see the results right away. And recently I started to explore iPhonegraphy. So it will be the other exception. The texture of film is just different. And even some people say Photoshop can do anything, even make the digital image look like film, like make it grainy like or other film-like effects, but it still looks different.
- I agree. Do you have any initial impressions of your explorations of iPhone photography? How does that sort of point-and-click method jive with your normal, film-centered way of doing things?
- I was suspicious about it at the beginning. But because I mainly do street candid shots, so there’s certain occasion that I don’t feel comfortable to pull out my camera. I don’t want them to aware of it and became unnatural. I started to find other solutions, and iPhone is one of my new findings. It gives me more flexibility for certain demanding occasion or lighting conditions, and there are many apps that can capture the way I want it to be, and the new iPhone finally upgrade its camera, which is a good news. And of course its focus feature, which is a way to give an image depth. But I still carry my camera with me most of the time.
- Right, not a replacement so much as a different thing altogether. Alright, well I think that wraps it up from my side. Do you have anything else you’d like to add?
- Not really I think you covered them all. But it would be nice if you could let the viewers know that my website will come to live this weekend that would be great! (Website here)
- Alright, well thank you very much Yu-Chen, I really appreciate you taking the time.
- It was really pleasant to talk with you, and thanks again for providing this opportunity and making it happen!
- Our pleasure. Take care.
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