While some photographers may get their pleasure in portraiture and street photography, Grace Chen (Instagram) is more about taking full on experiences and expressing them in a single photo. Grace has been shooting for almost 10 years now, and combines her love of traveling and exploring with her love of photography. Recently named one of Adobe’s Rising Stars of 2018, Grace originally hails from San Francisco and both the travel and photo bug bit her while studying abroad. We asked her a few quick questions about what she’s up after being named a Rising Star.
Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you got into photography.
Grace: I bought my first entry level DSLR in 2010 right before I studied abroad in South Korea. Prior to that, I’ve always had an old point and shoot where I would photograph random things throughout my daily life. For this specific trip, I wanted to document my experiences in a new country and also focus on improving my photography skills.
Phoblographer: What made you want to seriously, creatively get into it?
Grace: Ever since my first trip abroad, I caught the travel bug. With the rise of social media, especially Instagram and Facebook, there was finally a streamlined outlet to publish photos and experiences for friends, family, and the entire world. It was also a great inspiration to discover other fellow travelers and follow their journey. Though I’ve been taking photos since 2010, I only started using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop about 3 years ago. I gradually learned the ins and outs from tutorials on the Adobe website and also YouTube. Ultimately, travel has pushed me to photograph and create content that I am proud to share with the world and hopefully inspire more to do the same.
Phoblographer: Where do you feel you pull your inspiration from these days?
Grace: For travel inspiration, I discover the beautiful corners of the world through Instagram. Most of the travel and wanderlust pages that I follow are also incredible photographers. In addition to doing the typical sightseeing activities of a destination (which I do enjoy very much), I also try to add something more adventurous. Every destination is different, but if there’s a high mountain to climb or a deep dive to see a wreck, I would add those to my list. I try not to limit myself to a specific category of photography because I want my to document my experiences, so I take photos of everything ranging from landscapes to astrophotography and wildlife. It all depends on my next travel destination.
Phoblographer: Tell us about a big project that you’re in the middle of working on right now.
Grace: I am traveling full time and one of my long term goals is to visit all 195 (+) countries. It won’t happen within the next few years but hopefully throughout my lifetime! So I guess that makes it a lifelong project.
Currently, I am working towards climbing the seven summits of the world. The Seven Summits are the highest mountains of each of the seven continents. I just finished Mt. Kilimanjaro this past July and I am attempting to summit Aconcagua in February and Mt. Elbrus in the summer of 2019. I will be working on a photo journey of these mountains.
Phoblographer: Where do you see yourself a year from now as a photographer? Got any plans?
Grace: A year from now, I am hoping that I will have successfully completed 3 of the 7 summits with photos to complement my journey! On Mt. Kilimanjaro, the most beautiful time of the day is at night, where you are above the clouds and the Milky Way just shines right outside your tent with the summit in the distance. One of my biggest weaknesses is photographing in the cold, especially at nighttime for astrophotography. Despite that, I am definitely planning to do astrophotography on all of the treks!