KENNETH LI

Interview by Anita Hofschneider

Ken is a Sophomore concentrating in Economics with a secondary field in Film Studies. This fall he took Introduction to Photography with Carlin Wing. It was his first photo class.

Anita Hofschneider: What would you say is the theme of your project?

Kenneth Li: I started out with street photography. I wanted a stronger focus, and the photos I found most interesting were photos of couples. I like the interactions between them and how you get a glimpse of what their relationship is like through the moment you capture in the photo. You can note details that you wouldn’t normally notice.

AH: Why did you choose this theme for your project?

KL: A couple of years ago I went to a photography exhibit in Pasadena and found picture of myself in the exhibit. When I took this class I thought it was interesting to think about what will happen to the photos in the future. I also just like street photography because it seems more of a natural form of photography as opposed to photos you set up.

AH: What sort of photography have you done in the past?

KL: Before this class, I hadn’t done any photography. This was my first art class ever.

AH: I can see some similarities to Garry Winegrand and similarities to Henri Cartier-Bresson. Were you inspired by any photographers in particular?

KL: Not really. If I had to pick an influence it would be film. I really admire the Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai, who directed the film In the Mood for Love as well as other really colorful and intimate portraits of city environments. I’m thinking of pursuing Film Studies as a secondary, and I wanted to deal with the still image before dealing with movement.

AH: Did you see the photos you were taking as part of a film or part of a story?

KL: I like to use the picture as a vehicle to make my own story about these people. The photo doesn’t tell a story but it gives you something to start with. You wonder where these people were before and where they are going. The most interesting thing I found about photography from this class is that it really does capture moments that are never replicated again. It reminds me of a quote from the movie Blade Runner: “All those moments will be lost like tears and rain.”

AH: Street photography can be difficult because people can get really uncomfortable in front of cameras. Photographing strangers can be creepy. Was this a challenge for you? How did you deal with it?

KL: I usually set up my camera ahead of time and sling it around me. Sometimes when I see the couple I want to shoot, I pretend to shoot something else. Most of the time people don’t notice the camera, especially if they’re with someone else. One thing I struggled over was the fact that I felt like the images I was producing for this project could have been done with a regular point and shoot camera. A point and shoot camera is smaller and allows you to take a lot of pictures. I had to learn to work with a larger camera.

AH: Any final comments?

KL: I wanted these pictures to be as realistic as possible. I want the viewer to imagine himself or herself on that street walking by these people.

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