My name is Cham Phan. I got into photography when I took a film photography class in high school in 2006. Have been in love ever since. I lost my vision shooting fashion, and when I recovered, this was the only way I could continue to use a camera safely.I have been shooting for 15 years. In my first ten years, I was focused on fashion photography, but after going blind during a shoot when my blood vessels ruptured due to undiagnosed diabetes, I had to make a change.
Editor’s Note: This interview has been slightly edited for clarity when reading.
I switched to infrared landscapes after hanging up the camera for a couple years. The fact that IR works when the sun is directly overhead was the one key difference in the process that made it so I could safely shoot again. Shooting golden hour is incredibly difficult with how damaged my eyes are.
My identity has changed dramatically during my journey. I used to rely on a team and models, talent, and designers to create an image. In the fashion world, you are expected to move a million miles a minute, and that was not sustainable. Since switching gears to landscape, Photography has become a meditative slow-paced form of therapy. I would lean towards being a creator than a documenter due to the nature of my landscapes being surreal.
I always look for intersections of nature and man-made. My end frame guides every decision. I look for lines that tell a story. I like to frame my subjects almost uncomfortably and always shot as low as possible for a larger feel. The most peaceful aspect of the process is lining up the frame then waiting for the clouds to land exactly where they need to be. It’s a waiting game and requires patience and focus. If I can shoot next to a body of water, even better.
It’s therapy for me. Photography is my way to get in touch with nature and exist outside of time in a tranquil state.
Since my photos are all digital, I do false color processing to push the colors to fit the mood that I am in. This is my set of photos from my recent trip to Cozumel. I hope to do more shoots for Tourism boards and hotel/resort groups.
Annie Leibovitz was one of my biggest influences. Listening to her talk about her 1 on 1 process to get people to open up for portraits really helped me evolve as a director. Photography allows me to show the world how I would like to see it.
For Infrared photography, I use a Fujifilm XT3 with 3 lenses: 23mm f2, 50mm f2 and 35mm f1.4
I also shoot with the GFX 100 system using the GF 45mm and GF 63mm.
For my street photography work, I shoot with a Leica M240 and a TTartisans 35mm f1.4. Both natural light and artificial light are used by me, because all light can be beautiful.
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