Posted in graduate school by Kevin Vu on May 29, 2007

Margaret’s smokes and glasses. Elephant & Castle, London.
© Kevin T. Vu

I just dont understand the weather in London. I mean, its june. isn’t it supposed to be warm? i should be wearing a tshirt w/ boardshorts and sandals.  it was quite warm for a while. and then, it just totally changed. supposedly, there’s some arctic wind that happened to come down or something like that. either way, its freaking cold and making it difficult for me to take pictures. its so easy in this weather to just wanna stay at home, have a cup of tea, put on some coltrane and read. but its getting close to the deadline so i dragged myself down to the ‘armpit’ of london. i went to see chris and his girlfriend natalia in the heygate. they’ve been very nice to me. they always offer me a redstripe everytime i come. and its easy to work with them because they just kind of do they’re thing while i’m doing my thing. they also invited me to a roast lunch on sunday. i’m hoping to get natalie to make some jerk chicken cause she’s jamaican and definitely knows how to jerk a chicken. i also worked w/ margaret today. she’s chris neighbor and she’s been living in the heygate since its inception. she’s irish and a talker. i went into her flat and it was like walking back in time. she had old pictures of her family everywhere. her flat had a lot of character to it and it was very visual. she has a lot of stories and can talk your ear off. it was nice to sit down with her and listen to what she had to say.



Posted in graduate school by Kevin Vu on May 28, 2007

Chloe looking for a snack in the fridge. Elephant & Castle, London.
© Kevin T. Vu

Well, the weather was still crap today. But i decided to power through anyways and carry the large format camera around. I headed over to Gemma’s and Jon’s place. For those in my course, i would tell u to check out my elephant blog on the university’s server… i think the picture on there is more interesting. the light wasnt great, but i decided to try it anyways hoping the dynamic range of a 4×5 negative would give me something to work with. sorry for those who dont know the technical jargon. it means pretty much that i was shooting the picture hoping for something to turn out. i was thinking of adding artificial light, but just couldn’t manage to carry everything around. so i decided to leave the lighting kit at marios. i am so grateful for him letting me use his room as a storage space for the 4×5 camera, tripod, and lighting kit. otherwise, i would have to carry that every time all the way up to north london. its hard enough carrying it across the street to the heygate estate. i think i got some decent shots today, fingers crossed. i shot 6 negs. i have 2 more families tomorrow and one of them invited me to sunday roast next sunday. i actually went to get sunday roast today w/ hubert. anyone interested in a cool atmosphere and a decent cheap roast lunch, head over to Tankard’s on walworth road (its right before the mcdonalds). it was recommended to me by chris, one of the guys living in the heygate estate. after all my work today, i went to dinner w/ mario and nuria at the chinese spot across uni. another decent and cheap spot. then we went back to his place for a nice relaxing puff of the hooka. brilliant invention!

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Posted in graduate school, personal by Kevin Vu on May 27, 2007

Marisca giving me a pose. Wapping, London.
© Kevin T. Vu

I went to go help Hubert yesterday at a fashion shoot he was doing. We did it in the old Wapping Power Station. The space was amazing. It’s now been converted into a huge art space with a restaurant. Watching Hubert work with the models was very interesting and helpful. He knows the image that he wants and is very confident in himself. He directs them very well and makes them at ease with such limited time. He gave me a chance to work with a model for a bit, but i found myself very uncomfortable. I just dont think i was very confident in myself. it’s a totally different way of thinking. I’m usually letting things happen in front of me and then i capture it. But with fashion/portrait photography, i have to direct a lot of it which i’m not very good at. I’ve been helping hubert a lot and i’ve been learning a lot from him. i still have a long way to go though.

i also tried to go to the elephant today to do some shots. but this shit weather is killing me. everytime i need the light and weather to be decent, it turns to crap. i’m contemplating of introducing some lights to the environment to get the pictures i want. i dont want to because i feel that would make the image even more artificial/created than it already is since i’m doing portraiture. another problem is if i do introduce lights to the scene, i would have to carry those damn lights. i already have a huge setup with the tripod and large format and do not need a whole lighting kit to carry as well. but i cant do anything when it rains and this damn project is due soon. so we’ll just see how the weather fairs tomorrow and i’ll then decide if i need to go buy an old lady’s stroller to carry everything in.

Simon Norfolk

Posted in graduate school by Kevin Vu on May 23, 2007

We had a talk by Simon Norfolk today and I found it very inspiring. His work is absolutely gorgeous, but there’s a real story behind each image that he makes. And he does it all using landscape photography and a 4×5 large format camera in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan. i just think that’s amazing. I love how he alludes a lot of his work to previous landscape artists. I studied art history and didn’t think it would really help me at all with anything in life. But it has had a huge sway on how i’m thinking through the process of taking pictures. He was very open and generous and even sat down with a couple of us after the talk to discuss questions that we had. I’m thinking i’m leaning towards documentary portraiture, but also wanted to go to conflict zones. I think if Simon is able to do his work in a conflict zone with a large format camera, then i can try to do it with a medium format. All in all, i thought he was very personable and very smart in how he contextualized his images.

Posted in graduate school by Kevin Vu on May 22, 2007

Running to work. Aldwych, London.
© Kevin T. Vu

It’s been a busy weekend. I’m still trying to fine tune my work with the large format camera. With each passing weekend, I’m getting a little better at using it. I wasn’t able to get the camera this weekend because somebody didn’t return the camera. So it was really frustrating considering the time constraints that we have on the Elephant project. Luckily, Paige wasn’t using the one that she checked out so she let me borrow it. The weather has been hard as well since i’m working with natural lighting and the spaces that i’m shooting in is quite dark and small. I was able to hang out with Chris, one of the Heygate residents, and his girlfriend and neighbor. They were really nice and even offered me a beer. I professionally said no, but he just wouldn’t stop insisting. Which meant that i had to give in and drink the beer, not wanting to offend him. I think i got some good shots, but i still need to go back to get the right picture. I haven’t gotten the pictures that i’m envisioning yet from the 4 families so i still need to work at it. luckily, they’re all very nice and patient. I’m thinking i still need one more family to work with. i do have another one lined up, but am really limited in time. working in the large format is fun, but really frustrating considering all the film i’m wasting is costing me an arm and a leg.