{the interview series} Valerie Chiang

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Hoje trago-vos uma jovem apaixonada por cinema e literatura, que encontrou na fotografia uma forma muito pessoal de se expressar artisticamente. Valerie Chiang tem 19 anos, mas admirando o seu trabalho fotográfico e lendo as suas palavras, ninguém conseguiria adivinhá-lo... apaixonem-se também pelas personagens e cenários de Valerie.

[Este post pertence à rubrica semanal {the interview series}, onde publico uma nova entrevista todas as quartas-feiras, com artistas e bloggers inspiradores que admiro, de acordo com o espírito handmade e um estilo de vida criativo. Tornem-se fãs no facebook e não percam nada!
Por motivos óbvios de extensão e compreensão do texto, tanto pelos entrevistados como pelos potenciais leitores do resto do mundo, a entrevista segue em inglês.]

Today I bring you a young woman in love with film and literature, that found in photography a very personal way to express herself artistically. Valerie Chiang is only 19 years old, but admiring her photographic work and reading her words, no one would have guess it... I welcome you to fall in love with the characters and scenarios created by Valerie.

[This post belongs to the weekly feature {the interview series} where I publish a new interview every wednesday with inspiring artists and bloggers I admire, according to the spirit of handmade and a creative lifestyle. Become a facebook fan and don't miss a bit!]

Valerie Chiang
Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
site | blog | facebook | flickr

1. Let’s pretend we don’t know each other and I’ve never heard about Valerie Chiang. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a 19-year old artist from Raleigh, North Carolina. I am a very private person, and I would love to just spend every day sitting on the shore and watching the ocean. I am also very bad at introducing myself, so I hope this interview will do that for me!

2. You’re so young, but your work looks so mature! I imagine that you already have plans to include photography in your professional path, right? Tell us what are you up to at the moment, are you studying?
Thank you! Yes I do plan to do photography professionally, but at the moment, I am in university for cinema studies. It’s a lot of work and it doesn’t leave me a lot of time for photography while I’m in school, but I am working on a few short films right now so it’s pretty similar to taking still photographs. I really love it, and I hope to work in film someday as well.

3. Your interest in photography started out by chance, when you joined Flickr. How and when did this turned out from a hobby to a creative passion?
It was definitely by chance, and I’m so grateful I discovered photography. It was when I realized I had so much creative freedom in making images that it became a passion. I’ve been a musician for my entire life, and even though a pianist or violinist can offer their interpretations on a piece of music, it isn’t the same as creating something that is your own.

4. You create fine art photography and fashion photography too. Which one gives you more pleasure to do? What are the main differences between the two?
I try to blend the two categories together; I am not sure what defines "fashion photography" these days. I think of it as being able to be very creative with models and costumes and being able to make art without any set limitations. I consider my landscapes to be "art photography" and not "landscapes" because I do manipulate them to give off a certain feeling. And as much as I love photographing nature, people are my favorite subjects.

5. I love the dreamy atmosphere of your Seaside series and the way your Dreamscapes seem to tell a story. How are they born? What inspires you to create these enigmatic compositions?
I love photographing the sea. People say that once you’ve seen one ocean, you’ve seen them all, but I don’t think that’s true. It constantly changes, and it holds so many secrets. So yes, I’m definitely inspired by the ocean, and also by folktales from around the world, nature itself, old photographs, films, and children’s storybook illustrations.

6. Tell us about your interest by fashion photography. What comes first: the model, the clothing, the scenario, the atmosphere you wish to create? Share your creative process with us.
I love this question! The atmosphere and location definitely come first; I spend a lot of time searching for good backgrounds for photographs. I also want all of my photos to have a sense of melancholy and longing, so subdued and subtle colors are very important too. Next comes the model; I love people who aren’t exactly "beautiful", but have that special far-away look in their eyes and the ability to express themselves in a sincere way through their body. I need people who are completely natural in front of the camera; they have to pretend that the camera is not there.

7. Your landscape photos are peaceful, but your characters are somewhat mysterious, with strong personalities – tell us about the challenges of photographing people.
The most challenging thing about working with models is having them act natural and not "pose" for the camera. I believe in sincerity in art. If a model is having trouble conveying what I want, I do what I want the photograph to do: I tell her the story behind the image. I explain to her (or him in the future! I want to work with guys too!) the mood and feelings of the shot. If that doesn’t work, then I wait until she least expects me to snap a photo and take candid shots. Sometimes those turn out the best anyway!

8. I can tell by your words that you’re a passionate by literature, cinema and fine arts. How do these different artistic expressions influence you? Share some of your favorite artists with us.
I love film and literature; I get most of my inspiration from those two art forms. Some of my favourite movie directors include Krystof Kieslowski, Elia Kazan, David Lean, Billy Wilder, Jean-Luc Godard, and Alain Resnais. They all have such unique styles. I get inspired mostly from the composition of the shots and from film stills.

I read prose by Ernest Hemingway, Roland Barthes, Kate Chopin, and poetry by Algernon Charles Swinburne. I also really love writer/artist Chris van Allsburg (the author of The Polar Express & Jumanji). My favourite children’s book of his is The Garden of Abdul Gasazi. It’s brilliant: you should read it if you haven’t already!

As for fine art, I love Edward Hopper. He is definitely my favourite painter. I also enjoy the works of Gustav Klimt, Vilhelm Hammershøi, Milo Winter, and René Magritte.

9. Would you share some useful tips with us, non-photographers, who would like to learn a bit more and make the most of our cameras while traveling or working?
Learn how to use a film camera. That’s a very important step! Film is in many ways much more rewarding than digital photography, especially if you develop the film yourself. It makes photography a more personal process.

Other than that, for tips on traveling, you should absorb your surroundings. Get to know the land, the people, the food, the sights, the sounds, everything! Find everything to be fascinating, and you will take great photographs.

10. Would you give us a glimpse of your working space? Describe it and tell us what you love most about it.
Ah, unfortunately I don’t have a picture of my working space, but I will gladly describe it for you! I work in my bedroom; it’s the brightest room in the house. I have a vintage yellow desk with a beautiful wooden chair with green cushions. This is where I draw, write, and plan out my photo-shoots. I have black and white photographs taped to the wall above and next to my desk (film stills from old movies, photographs by Helmut Newton, and pictures of inspirational people like David Lynch). I have a small record player next to my desk, and just the right amount of old jazz records to keep me company while I muse.

11. Besides photographing, what do you love most doing?
I play the piano. I’ve been learning my entire life and I went to a music conservatory for a year to study the piano before I decided to pursue the visual arts. I also love to read. I haven’t had enough time recently, but I can’t wait to sit down with a good book this winter!

12. You were born in Taiwan and now live in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. How is it like living there? Would you like to live anywhere else one day?
I love Raleigh. I’ve grown to love it; I grew up in a tiny town in northern Michigan, and I moved to North Carolina when I was 10. It was hard for me to leave the house where I spent my childhood. I want to go back to visit someday.

Raleigh is beautiful in its own way though. It has wonderful museums, and my favourite coffee shop in the world is located downtown (Morning Times). Raleigh is also about 2-3 hours away from the beach, and about four hours away from the mountains. It’s the best of both worlds.

I would like to live in England one day, but in the near future, I want to have my own apartment in New York City, maybe in Brooklyn!

13. If you could live in any historical era of your choice, what would it be? Why?
Honestly, even though I love history, I would choose to live as I am. I guess in my fantasies I would live in medieval Europe, but I strongly believe that even though our society today experiences many setbacks, the world is a better place for all people now. I would love to travel back in time, but I am content with where I am now. The past will always be there for me when I’m feeling nostalgic.

14. What advices would you give to someone who would also like to become a photographer?
Take photographs of things or people that you love. You can’t create great art unless you’re really passionate about what you’re doing.

Don’t get sucked into the fierce competition out there in the world. Focus on creating art for yourself, not for other people. Develop your own style and state it loud and clear through your art.

And lastly, never judge yourself based on other photographers! Everyone is so different and unique, you can’t possibly compare your work to another person. Who’s to say they’re better than you?! :)

15. What are your plans for the future? And your most unrealistic dreams?
My most unrealistic dreams include the ability to transform myself into whatever animal or object I want, and being able to live as someone else for a few days. But really, I want to travel the world and photograph people and places, and I want to work in the film industry. I don’t know if those plans will actually happen, but we’ll see!

Now a quick question and answer game so we can find a bit more about you and your tastes! Tell us one:

book: "Once There Was a War" (John Steinbeck)
music: Al Bowlly (one of my favourite jazz musicians)
movie: Paris, Texas (1984 // Wim Wenders)
personality/artist: James Stewart
color: the color of the ocean
object: my record player
animal: the dog
drink: mulled apple cider
food: any kind of soup
season of the year: I cannot choose between summer and winter. I love them both.
travel destination: Israel
piece of clothing: a beautiful vintage sweater
secret: I always cry when a group of people sing Auld Lang Syne in old movies.

Thank you so much for sharing your world of beauty with us Valerie!


  1. amazing interview you've made! beautiful to read & lovely pictures! <3




Ana Pina | blog

All rights reserved | Powered by Blogger