Hey! My name is Calvin Chiu and I am New York-born but New Jersey-raised!
How long have you been taking pictures?
I ordered my first camera on January 30th, 2017 (just looked this up on eBay, lmao).
When did you get into photography and why?
Here’s the interesting thing… I first bought a camera to make videos because my brother wanted me to help out with an automotive feature page that he was forming. If that didn’t make it obvious enough, I started shooting cars as opposed to people, which is what I do now.
What would you say your style is and has it changed throughout the years? If so why?
Oh geez, I feel like my style changes day-by-day. Right now my page is filled with clean portraits of people in various locations. Some of my shots are predictable, whereas others are more surreal, dynamic, and interesting. I recently had a heart-to-heart with myself and decided that I want to start making moves towards becoming an artist as opposed to simply a photographer.
To me, being a photographer entails just “documenting” what is there and visible to the naked eye. To create art is to create something new. It’s a chance for the artist to change things up and provide a different perspective on something in such a way that the audience is captivated because that perspective is not one that their minds would naturally gravitate towards.
How do you approach a shoot? Do you pre-plan or is it a click and run?
I start by analysing the model’s portfolio and figuring out which shots look the most flattering. Then, I start coming up with specific shots that I want to take (these ideas usually pop into my head while I’m driving). My next step is to plan outfits and do location scouting (THANK YOU GOOGLE MAPS!!!). I’m pretty good at thinking of ideas on the spot though, so I’m always open to improvising during the shoot. I just come prepared with shots and looks in mind.
Is there an end goal you’re trying to achieve with your images, be it an aesthetic or story?
Honestly, I just want to wow my audience and make them stare. Telling a story is nice, but I don’t claim to be a storyteller. I just want to produce images that people HAVE to look at and cannot take their eyes off of. I want them to lean in closer or pinch & zoom to peep the details. I want other photographers to look at the shot and analyse the lighting so that they can recreate similar images.
Do you have an influences you can share?
I am influenced largely by Instagram, music, and the books that I read.
Is there such a thing as a bad photograph?
Oh yeah absolutely there is such a thing as a bad photograph, but then again it is really up to the audience.
Are you looking for a career in photography or are you just having fun?
DEFINITELY! How could I not want a career in photography? It would be one of my biggest accomplishments to escape the chains of corporate America and work for myself!
Which social media platforms do you use and why?
I use Instagram and YouTube. Instagram has been my main platform for a year now, but I am transitioning
over to YouTube because I want to utilize my personality. Personality isn’t really something that Instagram
gets across very well. Plus, I love to make friends and talk to people, so YouTube is the perfect medium for
Which photographers do you mainly follow on social media?
@coleman_henry ;) But on the real, I can’t think of anyone that really stands out that much. Everyone has nice styles, but my inspiration comes from a mixture of all of them so they all blend together to me.
What are your thoughts on mobile photography versus DSLR / mirrorless?
I fully understand that mobile phones cannot keep up with mirrorless cameras at their max. I’m team Sony so I won’t mention the other camera companies or camera types here lol, but it’s important to note that equipment is not the end all be all of photography. There are so many other factors that play a much more important role into the making of an incredible photo. These important factors are much more dependent upon the photographer and their skillset as opposed to the capabilities of the camera itself. Plus, through great engineering, smartphones can now shoot RAW photos and can even give you a simulated shallow depth of field. It’s only a matter of time before high-end cameras are reserved primarily for professional work.
What’s your main go to camera, lenses and how did you make that choice?
SONY DUHHHHH!!! I shoot with the Sony A7III (two of them to be exact) and I’m also rocking the 35mm f1.4 and 85mm f1.4, both from Sony. I used to shoot with a Sony A7RIII but have since found that the A7III supports my workflow much better. I shoot with 35mm and 85mm lenses because they both give me different but interesting perspectives. The 50mm is dead to me because it looks too much like reality, which goes against my mission to provide a different perspective through my images. The 85mm is great because it gives great image compression, but can be limiting at times because of the long focal length. This is where the 35mm comes into play – it’s a semi-wide angle lens that is great for portraiture as well. I love it because it allows me to move around my subject as I wish.
What is your dream location to shoot at?
A penthouse villa on top of a mountain, overlooking a tropical forest where there is consistently fog on one
side and clear blue skies on the other. However, the villa MUST have an infinity pool, a jacuzzi, and an
endless supply of Cheetos.
Describe your favourite picture and how you captured it?
My favourite picture is also the one that went viral. It’s the blue and yellow picture of the Asianmodel laying
down on the ground with a butterfly on her finger. I came into the shoot knowing that that was going to be
my money shot, and I had already scouted out the perfect location for it, that was taken in the bicycle lane
outside of a mall in the FiDi area, NYC. I knew that I wanted a very strong leading line and two sides to
the background (one side with a tall building and one side with open sky), so all I had to do was walk to the
spot and take the picture. Pre-planning can yield great results.
In three words how would you describe your photography?
“Dope Stuff Bro”
How do you feel about better quality cameras being put into smart phones?
I’m all for it.
What are your thoughts on expensive cameras? Do you think they create better images?.
Expensive cameras are crucial for producing top-notch quality work, although there is obviously a point of diminishing returns. Within the next 3-5 years, smartphone cameras (along with the software) will be able to replace the need for entry-level consumer cameras and even intermediate-level cameras.