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Quinn Chen Phang recently saw his work on display at the Photographic Resource Center as part of the center’s 2024 student show. Phang, a second-year Media Arts student, chose the photo “I Can’t Sleep” to display for the show. CAMD had a chance to talk with him about his experience.

Can you tell me a little bit about how this photo project came to be? 

This was a part of the final project within my Introduction to Photography class, where I had to develop and present a series of 8-10 images that underlined a meaningful concept which binds them together. My images were all portraits of close friends and family that aimed to capture the journey of individuals as they descend into a state of complete immersion in technology, illustrating the pervasive impact of our digital age on human connection and appreciation for the tangible world. Through meticulously crafted scenarios and emphasis placed on light from the screens, as well as desaturation of the images, each photograph portrays the unsettling reality of individuals isolating themselves within the confines of their devices. 

How did your CAMD classes help you when it came to working on this project? 

My CAMD classes, specifically the Introduction to Photography course, essentially introduced me to the fundamentals inherent to visual and creative storytelling. During the course of the project, I was also able to present my working ideas to my class and gain constructive criticism from my peers. Moreover, it was within the supplementary Photo Tools course that I fortified my repertoire with a comprehensive set of creative techniques tailored specifically to photographic manipulation and editing. Through absorbing information about visual elements, I realized the pivotal role that visually compelling compositions play in eliciting emotive responses and conveying narrative depth. This project served as the demonstration of the basic technical, editing, and presentation skills that I honed throughout my coursework. 

Did you learn anything surprising in the making of this project and having it displayed at the PRC? 

During the making of the project, I was surprised at how much I had to learn to adapt and be more open-minded to accidents when photographing. In one of my images, I shook the camera on accident, and it produced a disorienting effect in the photo. I loved that photo and the disoriented look ended up becoming a thematic motif I tried to echo throughout subsequent photographs within the project. Deviations such as these became moments of discovery, guiding my experimentation and shaping the project’s evolution. Moreover, with regards to working on framing the print, I was in awe at how many hours were dedicated to meticulously cleansing the glass surfaces and preparing the frame to ensure the image was ready to be displayed. 

What are you most excited to continue working on next semester/next year? 

I’m most excited to continue building up my portfolio and working on my website. I know I will have plenty of opportunity through next semester to go out and explore, practicing photographing in my free time. I also look forward to taking advantage of the resources provided at the Shillman Production Studios to gain experience with industry-level photography and lighting equipment.