Meet The Film Shooter — Kent Wang [Interview #02]

 

In a few sentences or one, who is Kent Wang?

I’m a freelance photographer based in Sydney (for now) but I spent most of my working life in the advertising world as a media planner. I switched lanes about three years ago when I decided that sitting at a desk 8 hours a day was not helping me fuel my creative drive. Now I’m proud to say that I click buttons for a living and I am probably at my desk for almost twice the amount of time now.

Mamiya RB67, Kodak Tri-X 400; Stockton Sand Dunes — Photo by @dylvnk

 

How and when did you get started with film photography? and what drives you to continue shooting film?

My first film camera was a little plastic La Sardina that I purchased from a small Lomography store in Japan to capture my time studying there. I didn’t know too much about film but I enjoyed seeing how raw the photos were. The high contrast, light leaks, and softness were all reminiscent of a blurry memory - like fragments of a dream. At the time, Instagram was still in its infancy in Japan but I saw it as a blessing to freely take photos for myself. It gave me back the time to live in those moments free from distractions.

Even now, the joy of waiting for the film to develop still gives me the same kick. I honestly don’t think that will be going away anytime soon. The process of loading a fresh roll of film or adjusting the camera dials for a spontaneous moment is meticulous by nature but that is what makes it so rewarding.

La Sardina, Lomography 400

 

You have just been notified of an impromptu photoshoot to be shot on film and given 15 minutes to pack, what do you pack in your camera kit?

Quick! When was the last time I changed the batteries? Check the fridge! How many rolls do I have left? And where did I put that darn light meter??

Putting the pre-shoot madness aside, my entourage would consist of the Mamiya RZ67 Pro II, Contax T2 for behind the scenes, and a whole bunch of Portra 400.

Mamiya RZ67 Pro II, Kodak Portra 400; Model @bbbonsoy 

 

You are a mixed medium photographer in that you use both digital and film in your work. What drives your choice and approach to use film over digital in your professional and/or personal work? Do you tend to bring both film and digital formats on shoots or prefer one over the other?

I live by the philosophy “it is better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it” which makes me a serial overpacker. So often when I travel, I take both my digital and film gear which you can imagine becomes a bit of a burden. But generally for fleeting moments on the street or with people, I think film creates the truest representation of what I’m feeling or seeing at the time. Even with the imperfections like out of focus shots or camera shake, I find that there is always an atmosphere with film that can’t be replicated through the digital medium.

On the other hand, landscapes and commercial work has mostly always been digital but more recently, I’ve been trying to make the transition to shooting everything purely on film. Sure, it might break the bank but I would rather that than my back!

Mamiya RZ67 II, Kodak Tri-X 400; Model @isabellagwild

 

Your portrait work shows a very natural connection between you and the subject. What's your process to capture moments like these? Do you tend to connect with people easily?

Believe it or not, I’m a total stress head. I also see myself as rather shy when it comes to meeting new people. But I find that talking through my thought processes and bouncing ideas with the person I’m shooting with really helps in building rapport. So more often than not, the banter to shoot ratio ends up being about 70/30. It also helped that several of my friends were kind enough to model for me when I first started, so the idea of keeping things chill and relaxed has always been a mantra of mine.

At the end of the day, I think a true collaboration is inclusive of the creative ideas from both parties, as each model would have their own style and I would have my own vision. So I try to involve their ideas in the process as much as possible to genuinely exude a feeling or mood that is unique with every shoot. 

[Top] Mamiya RZ67 Pro II, Fujifilm Pro 400H; Model @mia.circosta
[Bottom] Mamiya RZ67 Pro II, Kodak Portra 400 & 800; Model @taylashaw

 

What would be an ultimate goal or dream project you wish to achieve in your photography work? and what has been a favourite project of yours to date?

I love nothing more than my hikes and the great outdoors. I feel like a kid all over again when I’m out and about, so I try to make a conscious effort every year to travel and visit someplace new. I would be ecstatic if I had a chance to work with an adventure brand like Patagonia or to shoot and ride with the legends over at Rapha.

For my favourite project, I was lucky in my first few months of freelancing to land a gig (with a bit of luck from a friend) for Nixon Watches and their new Adidas line. It was a massive boost for me since it taught me the wonders of fashion editorial photography. It also had the perfect balance of commercial and portrait work where it didn’t feel like a job at all. If I am able to somehow build a portfolio of brands that align with my interests, that would be the end goal for me.

[Left] Contax T2, Fujifilm Superia Premium 400; Poon Hill, Nepal
[Right] Contax T2, Kodak Portra 400; Patagonia, Argentina

 

How have you kept creative during COVID? and can you share with us something, new or old, you picked up during this time that have kept you sane?

I actually picked up my first medium format camera during COVID. That completely changed the photography game for me. Luckily Sydney has its fair share of talented film photographers and I’ve been fortunate enough to connect with and learn from them through small meets.

I also recently started cycling which has been a whole lot of fun. These days, I spend most of my weekends trying to find new bike routes to explore and discovering little nooks around my neighbourhood. If there are any cycling enthusiasts out there up for a photoride, holler at me!

 

Apart from your work and photography, what else brings you joy?

In my downtime, I indulge in movies like no tomorrow and I have a few favourites (mostly romance/comedies) that I would constantly rewatch. I find that they would speak to me differently with each viewing depending on what’s happening in my life at the time. Sometimes I would even try to translate those same storytelling elements through my personal work. I think in an alternate universe where I hadn’t pursued photography, I’d be in the film industry somewhere perhaps as a cinematographer or director.

Contax T2, Cinistill 800T; Tokyo, Japan; Model @ksefonta 

 

Lastly, let's end with a favourite image you took from the last film roll you developed and tell us the story behind it!

I was on my way home one afternoon when something came over me and I felt compelled to take some time out for myself (which sadly enough I don't often do). I drove to this hill that wasn’t too far from my home to catch a glimpse of the sunset against the city skyline but I ended up taking a snap of this couple instead. Technically speaking, the photo itself isn’t exactly groundbreaking but what I love about it is its simplicity - a calming moment between two people completely enamoured of each other in their own world.

Contax T2, Ilford HP5 400; Sydney, Australia

 

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Connect with Kent!

Instagram: @tinydepartures

Website: https://tinydepartures.com/

 

About "Meet The Film Shooter" 

This series aims to bring spotlight to a diverse backgrounds of film shooters and simply just our way to connect with members in the film community on a more personal level!

We hope you enjoyed this series as much as we have enjoyed curating them! For more "Meet The Film Shooter" articles, click here.

 

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