5 Asian Pacific American Photographers Share Their Journeys as Artists

All images used with permission, lead image by Andrew Kung.

In celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we spoke with five of the top photographers of APA descent working in the industry today. Their specialties range from automotive, commercial, documentary, lifestyle, music, and weddings. We asked them one simple question, “How far have you come as an artist since you first began your journey as a photographer?” Here are their stories:

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How To: An Introduction to Street Style Dance Photography

Dance photography is absolutely gorgeous; how do you get into it?

It’s quite easy for many photographers to scroll their Instagram feed and double tap any dance photography they see. The reason why is because it’s all pretty magical. Like everyone in the photography community says and does though, everyone wants to do it. But how? To figure this out, we talked to photographer Kien Quan and Omar Robles–arguably two of the bigger dance photographers on Instagram. In two separate interviews, we took a look at their work and asked for digestible quotes to help out other photographers.

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Inside the Photographer’s Mind: Kien Quan

Photographer Kien Quan joined us on Inside the Photographer’s Mind to talk about his dance photography.

We had our first dance photographer recently on Inside the Photographer’s Mind as Kien Quan graced us with his presence. Kien started out as a dancer and then decided that he wanted to get into photography. As Kien explains, he always goes about stuff the hard way. So he got a camera, lights, looked up tutorials, and then got into capturing his friends in his dance crew. From there, he networked with other dancers and did the same thing.

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Dance Photographer Kien Quan Is Our Next Guest on Inside the Photographer’s Mind

Get into the mind of how dance photographer Kien Quan creates his images

Based in New York City, Kien Quan is a commercial/lifestyle photographer specializing in capturing dance and movement. With over 10 years of experience in dance, he seeks to “elevate the imagery of the art form through visual storytelling.” We’ve featured Kien a few years back as he experimented with dance photography and smoke bombs. So on July 11th at 5pm EST, The Phoblographer’s Chris Gampat and photographer Kien Quan will sit down at the Adorama Event Space to a studio audience for a live Facebook broadcast. Please join us! You can sign up via Eventbrite right here!

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Shooting Dancers and Colored Smoke Bombs Under NYC

Smoked 5

All images by Kien Quan. Used with permission.

Kien Quan is a NYC-based action photographer who specializes in capturing urban street dancers.  In fact, dance is the way that he got into photography. He used to be a competitive break dancer and this resulted in him travelling a lot. Because of that, be bought a camera and eventually learned how to use it.

“Originally, I documented dance events and shot my friends for fun. Most of the time I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.” Kien tells us. “Because I was naturally curious, I read online tutorials and created my own ‘homework’ to figure out how to use a camera.”

Kien found that creating and directing a shoot such as portraiture gave him the freedom to create something from start to finish. “There’s something satisfying about choosing your background, picking the lighting, and directing the talent in comparison to showing up somewhere and just clicking the button at the right time.”

One day though, Kien was inspired by a video on the Anarchist Cookbook. “I made smoke bombs during my childhood so I wanted to revisit my inner pyromaniac tendencies.” says Kien. At the same time he started to gain interest in Urban Exploration. When he put the ideas together, it was just a matter of convincing dancers to follow him down there.

“Dancers are naturally curious so it wasn’t very difficult to convince them to come explore.”

When shooting the series, Kien tells us that his biggest concern was one of the talent doing a flip and twisting his ankles due to uneven gravel. In fact, they wanted to keep shooting but figured that with smoke bombs creating smoke that came out of the sewer grates that someone would get a bit too curious.

This isn’t the end of the series, as Kien says that there is more to come. Images from the series are after the jump.

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