A Spring Story

Around this time every year, I panic. As soon as the leaves start blooming, I start to feel the creative pressure to get out and capture their fleeting beauty. After missing out on spring entirely last year (lockdown will do that), as well as trudging through a tough and harsh winter. I feel like I’m appreciating this spring more than any other I have in my life. Between raising AAIP hate crimes and staggering death tolls, I really just wanted to go out and make something pretty.  So a couple weekends ago, I asked my friend Ann to go out …

Responding to Asian Hate

I grew up in Lexington, Massachusetts or what I like to call “Your suburb’s suburb.” Our claim to fame is that we are the site of the start to the American Revolutionary War. On our town green there’s a flag with an inscription that reads “the Birthplace of Liberty.” There’s a playground less than a mile from there, where I must’ve been around 6 or 7 years old when someone first called me a chink. It was by another little boy on the playground, who was trying to throw me off one of the wooden structures we were climbing on. I …

Books for Burning

I tend to think of my work as fitting into one of three categories: Eye Candy, Mind Candy, or a mix of the two. Most of the work I’ve made in the past decade I think belong in the Eye Candy/mixed camp. This is largely driven by practical considerations, as beauty tends to be an easier sell. However, the Mind Candy side is where I think I make my most compelling, and thought provoking work. This summer I started my first long term Mind Candy project in ten years. I am hand binding 451 little red books, and when I …

Muses and Mystery

Ann is one of my closest friends in New York. Although she might look like a kpop star, she’s actually a doctor finishing her residency. So I basically never see her, because she’s usually too busy saving us from ourselves. So when she asked me to take her picture at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden last weekend, I jumped at the chance. It’s been awhile since I’ve shot any portraiture – surreal or otherwise. Because I started a new labor intensive project in July that I’ve been too busy procrastinating on. So I haven’t been shooting all that much, and when …

World of One: Lost and Found

Lost and Found 2018GicléeImage size (HxW): 24” x 40” | Paper Size (HxW): 30″ x 6″ | Edn 5 While it’s a bit late, today I’m happy to unveil my first World of One entry for 2020 – Lost and Found. This was originally shot in November 2018, but I didn’t finish the composite till just last week. As for the reason why, it’s really quite simple.  I’m an idiot.  I somehow managed to misplace the files for half the rolls I took. Seeing as how I only took two rolls, I couldn’t see how I’d finish the image when …

Seeing the Same but Different

I was hanging out with a couple art friends one night last October, and I mentioned (as an aside to our conversation) that “I know a lot of doctors because you know, I’m Asian.” To which one of them replied “You’re talking to a couple Jews here Johnny.” It’s amazing how our perception of things changes with time. We can look at the exact same picture, and see and feel something completely different depending on our circumstances. When I initially finished Diligentia, I hated it. I felt like it lacked all the technical hallmarks that made a successful World of …

Making Art During a Pandemic – How it Feels to be an Artist on Lockdown

I really don’t want to write about this, because it generally makes me uncomfortable to talk about my money. My father always told me “Never let other people know how much you make or how much you have.” Plus as a single guy, it’s a bad look to admit you’re broke. But I want people to understand, because as a freelancer I know my story isn’t unique. Even before the pandemic cancelled everything, I was already at the end of my rope. I had about $300 to my name coming into March, and many times that in debt. I have …

Solitarius

Solitarius – This seems like an appropriate share for today. Shot in April 2017 featuring the beautiful Nadia, who you might recognize from some of my other photos. This image plays on the same themes as the Stranger (my first Cherry Blossom portrait) such as the line between loneliness and solitude. Around this time every year, I start to get really anxious when the Cherry Blossoms start to bloom. Because every year, I know I have a narrow window to shoot a piece that includes them. These portraits are always challenging, because I essentially have to balance two to three …

World of One: Death of Narcissus

Death of Narcissus is a homage to Hippolyte Bayard’s Self-Portrait as a Drowned Man, one of my favorite early photographs (and one of the world’s first selfies!). While the technical setup for this image has been floating around in my head for years. It wasn’t until I saw this Vox video reminding me of Bayard’s picture, that the inspiration for the narrative came to me. Hippolyte Bayard is a pioneer and inventor of photography in who lived in 19th century France. But he was was overlooked by the French Academy of Sciences in favor of his rival Louis Daguerre, who …