Bridging dreams, reality, and insecurities together, MA Fashion Photography graduate Celia Tang has created a minimal but moving project that reflects on many issues centred around global youth today and a sense of belonging. The Taiwan-raised artist was pursuing a career in advertising design only six years ago before switching paths and plying her skills into photography. Her style still pays homage to design and objects, outlining how her advertising backdrop has helped crave her aesthetic. We sat down with Celia to discuss her processes, Wes Anderson and what’s in her kit bag.
Hi Celia, can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into photography?
It all started 8 years ago, when I was 16, studying advertising design when I got my first DSLR from my dad. The camera was a magical tool to freeze a moment. I focused more on documentary and the technical part back to them. For my bachelor, I studied visual communication design, I used cameras increasingly to complete my creative projects, especially towards my final year. While studying design, photography was my favourite class of the time. It helped me realise my imagination, sometimes it created even more than that.
What makes an image interesting to you?
I would say colours, that is the first thing catching my eyes, and then the creative, like props and styling etc. I like images that include something unconventional, that can easily make me impressed and think, ‘Wow, I never thought this can be used like that.’
Do you have a photography muse or idol?
Wes Anderson and Tim Walker are artists I admire very much, and there are more of them in different genres of photography. Usually, my ideas for photography are inspired by my life and what happens in the world, but their works directly influence my aesthetic.
Is there an image that played a significant role in making you want to be a photographer?
It might sound a bit arrogant, but my image from my first personal photography project ‘The Bubbles’ (the same name as my Final Major Project). It is an honour to be featured on VSCO, they wrote an article introducing the project, and I wasn’t expecting that. It was the encouragement I needed to continue studying photography and push myself into being a photographer.
What made you want to study at LCF and move to London?
Before applying I did some research for photography courses in London, and LCF is one of the few which closely relates to fashion, and there are many opportunities for collaboration with like-minded creatives in the college. Also it has a good reputation and connection to the industry.
How would you describe your style and work?
Minimal and colourful. Some people said it is relaxing to look at my work, I think that’s quite true, maybe silence is the closest word.
What was the idea behind your ‘The Bubbles’ shoot?
It was about exploring and representing the feeling of being ‘lost’ among young adults. ‘The Bubble’ is metaphorical: dream on the inside and reality is your outside, separating them is the membrane of bubble. The reality presses on the membrane eventually makes it burst, aware of what reality can do against our futile protection of our dream. It is insecurities that create doubt and in the end, lost.
What is your kit box…
A DSLR, a 35mm film camera, two Polaroid cameras, a supported speedlight, and some fabric and film.
You seem to explore images with visual art over identity, culture, and fashion. What attracted you to these styles?
To be honest, I didn’t really understand fashion before studying at LCF. Surely everyone has their answer to ‘what is fashion?’ Mine was just a general superficial one. Through reading and research at LCF, I’ve become obsessed with these style, I realised that there is so much to fashion, and that it isn’t only a trend. I like how people dress to show who they are, how culture influences what people wear and what meaning they give to clothes. All these things really interest me and I would like to explore them further.
Can you tell us about your photography process? Do you have any rules and what makes a good shoot?
I am afraid I can’t answer this question very well because I don’t really have a process and it depends on many factors and different requirements. The only thing I need to make sure in every shoot is that I have to communicate the right feeling that my clients or collaborators want. A good shoot only exists in my mind, there isn’t a way a confirm or create a ‘good shoot’. It is very personal and sometimes it is just about preference.
What is the favourite image you’ve ever shoot and why?
Well, I don’t have one, I have two actually, and there are very different. One is from ‘The Bubbles’ and another is from a collaboration with Helena Raywood from MA Fashion Journalism. The reason why I like the image from ‘The Bubbles’ is that it truly captures the shoot I had in mind. I like the atmosphere created by the lighting, garments and the model’s expression. I also like how the bubble interacts with the photo, it is simple but interesting. I also like the GIFs produced as they fit with the project completely. Playing loops is like getting lost and stuck in a place. The photo from the collaboration is one of my favourite in recent years. The colours and the composition build a strong visual. Also, it was a very relaxing shoot, the models are all Helena’s friends, and the clothes are all from her wardrobe, I enjoyed shooting with them and I am glad how the photos turn out.
What role does social media now play in photography?
Social media is now what influences the world and allows people to have a higher standard of visual images. Social media is also a tool that allows the world to see how many creatives there are, making high-quality images in new and interesting ways for people to enjoy. The definition of a photographer might be getting broader, but social media also keeps the door open and gives people a chance to see what can professionally produced. I like the idea of sharing good work, but sometimes artists care too much about the number of the followers and likes, it causes change in their approach just to become popular and get more likes. I think it is important for artists to keep their faith and continue with the art they started with.
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