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Fang Tong's amazing work shows how much passion one can put in photography. Her images border on the surreal yet hold back enough to keep them firmly in the real world. Her photos provoke audiences into creating a narrative out of cinematic pictures. Maybe there is no clearly defined story behind the scene, but there is a strong mood and atmosphere throughout the whole image. The imaginary world is strangely familiar while the narrative arc takes audiences on a hyper-visual ride through people's subconsciousness. She loves this balance between the real and the surreal that pulls her audiences into her world. Discover more about this great artist photographer. Thanks to Yvette Depaepe for leading the interview.
Briefly tell us about yourself, your hobbies and other jobs. I am a Chinese-born Canadian, living in Vancouver BC. Other than photography, I do some on-line gaming design work.
How has your history and life experiences affected your photography? I studied Fine Art in school, I worked in the oil painting and sculpture field in early my career. I think that the traditional art background has a strong affect on my photography.
What first attracted you to photography? When I started to do photography, I found that this was the way to continue my creative passion. Describe your overall photographic vision. I think that my photographic vision is more subjective compared to most photographers. Why are you so drawn by cinematic style photography? I love the mood and creating certain atmospheres in my photography, I love that there is some kind of story behind the scenes. I like to bring some imaginations to the audiences.
What is more important to you, the mood,/story behind your images or the technical perfection? For me, they are all important. First, it is good to have some technique for photography and post-processing. Life experiences are a very important inspiration for a photographer to create the stories/mood.
Do you prepare carefully the locations where you are intending to photograph? Yes, when I am outside or travel on the road, there are always some images in my head when I see an interesting location that might be used for future shoots. When I do have a photo shoot location chosen, I will usually go there several times to check the lighting and angles, and I will take some snap shots to prepare sketches for the photo shoot.
What gear do you use (camera, lenses, bag)? Nikon D810, Nikon 24-70mm lens, Nikon 50mm lens. What software do you use to process your images? I use Photoshop CS5. Can you tell us something more about your work flow? First I have some theme in my head, then I will finalize the location and choose models. After several times visiting the location, I draw some sketches. In the sketches, there are many details including light settings, camera angles, model positions and outfits. It depends on the series. Some I just need one day to shoot; some may take several months. What is your most important advice to a beginner in cinematic style photography and how do you get started? If the photographer wants to do cinematic style photography, my advice is that before the photo shoot, you must do a lot of preparation work. You must think about all the details and imagine that possibly something unexpected may happen during the photo shoot, so you have plans to solve them if they occur.
Who are your favorite photographers and more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how you approach your own photography? Because of my fine art background, there are photographers and painters inspire my work. My favorite photographers: Gregory Crewdson and Eugenio Recuenco. My favorite painters: Edward Hopper and David Hockney.