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Window or Aisle

Window or Aisle?

Window or Aisle: Tracy Zhang

June 27, 2012

Travel, Window or Aisle, Tracy Zhang

I often wonder what do people think about me when they see the title ‘Travel Photographer’ next to my name. People tend to think I’ve been running this jetset kind of life (sometimes it is true), living on suitcases (sometimes it takes me more than a week to unpack, just because I’m so busy with other things) or working for National Geographic (not yet). I must admit I had the same thoughts when I saw these two words next to Tracy Zhang‘s name.

Tracy commented on one of my posts few weeks ago, when I was featured in Dabble Magazine, and I got curious about her. I checked out her beautiful website and was so impressed by the number of places she has visited and shot. Some of them are on my ‘to-go’ list as well; Shanghai or Cuba to name a few. The more I looked into her website and blog, the more I got curious. And then I realized she is only 21! What a great portfolio for such a young age. I can’t even start to imagine where she few years from now! I can only say ‘World, Hold On!’ and see what Tracy has to offer.

Tracy is currently Traveling in North Europe. I managed to get hold of her to share some of her information and photographs while she was sitting in a cozy coffee-bar in Copenhagen on the canal. (Yes, can be the life of a Travel photographer). I’m really excited to feature Tracy today and I hope you enjoy same as I did.

Thanks Tracy!

Where are you from? I was born in Beijing China and lived there for 11 years before moving to Vancouver Canada with my parents. Sometimes I tell people I’m from Vancouver and other times I say I’m from Beijing. I have a Canadian passport but my roots are in Asia. Both places are unique and beautiful in their own right, and I consider both home.

Where did you study photography? I didn’t study photography in college or university. When I was in high school, I took a film photography course because I needed an Arts credit to graduate and I had heard that the teacher who taught the class gave very little homework. But that course was the pivotal point for me. Through it, I learned to develop my own negatives and positives, and became really interested in photography. I have been completely self-taught since.

What made you want to learn it?  At the time, the film photography course at my school was the last one  my high school ever taught, everything shifted to digital photography the year after. I took the course on a whim because I thought it would be an easy class, but I became hooked on photography because I loved being in the dark room. I used to spend hours in there, hunched over the enlarger and standing over the chemical trays. I was fascinated by the way the photographs would appear, almost out of nowhere, on the photo paper.

If you weren’t a photographer what would you do? I’ve always wanted to work in advertising and make creative and memorable ads, the kind they play in the Super Bowl and gets people talking. Well, I might still have time to change careers!

Where do you get your inspiration from? The places I travel to inspire me. Every destination is different, with its own mix of culture, food, and people. I try to open up all my senses to really soak up the essence of every place and incorporate that into my photographs.

How do you usually approach a new project?  My projects are usually location-based; I start with my own emotions and thoughts toward the place. This usually happens at my hotel room or in a local coffee shop. I need solitude for this. I think about how I feel about my destination, usually writing a few words down to remind myself. These words then become the central theme of that project and my starting point.

What are you working on right now? Prior to this year, I was still shooting portraits and fashion. Since I transitioned into travel photography exclusively only earlier this year, I’m working on getting more of my travel photography work seen, which involves traveling a lot and then finding time in between to edit my work and get it out to editors. I just spent a month traveling through China and I’m making my way through Scandinavia right now. I’ll be working on getting more work from these trips out to publications in the coming months.

Window or Aisle? Window, always. You never know what might be out there.

Travel, Photography, Tracy Zhang

Travel, Photography, Tracy Zhang

Travel, Photography, Tracy Zhang

Travel, Photography, Tracy Zhang

Travel, Photography, Tracy Zhang

Travel, Photography, Tracy Zhang

Travel, Photography, Tracy Zhang

Travel, Photography, Tracy Zhang

Window or Aisle?

Window or Aisle: Juliette Charvet

June 12, 2012

window or Aisle, Travel, Portraits

I know Juliette for over a year now.

We first met in a Food Photography’s weekend class at ICP. I think we both had the same camera (Nikon D90) and we worked together on some assignments. Since then we made it as a habit to meet each other once in a while, ALWAYS  in a Le Pain Quotidien somewhere in the city (I think we almost covered all the branches in NY) and catch up about our recent or up-coming travels plans or the photography projects we both have in line. (yes, these images of mine were taken by Juliette during one of our Summer Session over a drink in the Lower East Side)

I think it was because of Juliette that I got the courage to travel by myself to Vietnam, as Juliette used to live in Hanoi few years ago. And maybe she got the idea to visit Tokyo because of my recent trip there. In any case, I find Juliette a vibrant photographer who is passionate about travel as much as I do. For my column Window or Aisle, Juliette chose to focus on Black and White portraits; ‘I thought it would add a B&W touch to your blog -haha!- and also thought it would be nice to show that travel photography is also about portraits and how you can travel even in your own neighborhood’ she wrote me, and I couldn’t agree more.

As I write these words I happen to be in Paris, waiting for Juliette’s first exhibit to kick in. The exhibit ‘NY Figures’ will be showing on June 14 till July 28 in Le Village Royal. If you happen to be in Paris on that time, don’t miss Juliette’s exhibition.

Thanks Juliette!

Where are you from? I am a French photographer. I grew up in France and I now live in New York.

Where did you study photography ? Like a lot of photographers I guess, I learned the fundamentals of photography from my father. I studied journalism and in 2001, I traveled to Beirut and perfected my skills at the news agency AFP’s photo service. This is where I learned how to shoot digital. Since I moved to New York, more than 7 years ago, I have been involved with the International Center of Photography, first as a student and now as a Teachers’ Assistant.

What made you want to learn it? I have always wanted to catch and frame certain moments, faces, looks and situations. It’s when I traveled to the US for the first time as a teenager, that I first realized that photography could allow me to take a step back and a certain distance with reality. By taking a picture I could literally “freeze” my surroundings.

If you weren’t a photographer, what would you do? I would be a wine maker and oenologist, maybe in the South of France or in Italy. I LOVE wine!

Where do you get your inspiration from? I get my inspiration from the places I travel to. Different people, atmospheres, lights, streets, landscapes, architecture, that make each place unique. That’s what I try to capture.

How do you usually approach a new project?   For me, the usual approach is to look at my environment with wonderment and to let me get “surprised” by a subject, a situation, an idea. Then I start working from there.

What are you working on right now? I am completing a series called ‘Faces of the Lower East Side’. It’s a series of portraits I started to shoot last summer in my neighborhood, the lower east side of manhattan. I have been leaving in this neighborhood  for 7 years and have been witnessing the recent evolution of the neighborhood. Gentrification is slowly forcing out low-income families of all ethnic backgrounds. One day I realized that the deli down my building was closed and that I won’t see the Pakistani owner and his nice face any more. That is when I decided to start this series, in order to document my neighbors, the people who live on my block, in my street, who are the faces of the Lower East Side. Taking these pictures make me travel in my own neighborhood. It is a journey through places and time: people from Cuba, Porto Rico, Jewish people, Chinese, young hipsters…

Window or Aisle?  Window definitely! I want to see what is going on down under. But you don’t want to seat next to me as I will constantly go back and forth, I can not seat still in a plane! I am too impatient and cannot wait to arrive to the next place.

window or aisle, Travel, Juliette Charvet