5 & 3/4 QUESTIONS
1. Describe yourself and your work.
I’m an introverted extrovert, always wanting to be around other people, but wanting to stay on the fringes, observing and documenting what I see. My need to document everything is almost a compulsion I can’t control, and it serves as an asset when it comes to my photography work. My work is generally very observational, quiet, clean, and precise. I’m not much of a shoot-from-the-hip type of photographer because I prefer to take my time when composing.
2. How did you get started?
I got really into photography back in 2001, during my junior year in college when I was studying abroad in Prague. At the time, digital cameras weren’t widely available or affordable, so I had a cheap point-and-shoot film camera that I would load with Ilford black-and-white film. I regularly went out to take photos early in the morning before the streets were filled with people, and I came home at the end of the semester with a binder full of enlarged prints of my favorite images.
After seeing those images, some family friends loaned me their film SLR and encouraged me to learn photography properly, so I enrolled in a black-and-white darkroom class during my last semester of undergrad. A few years later, as a poor grad student who couldn’t really afford to shoot film, I picked up a point-and-shoot digital camera and started teaching myself, using the Internet and online forums. That’s where I picked up the bulk of my knowledge, and the rest has progressed from there.
3. What piece of work best represents you and why?
Probably this self portrait [below] because it shows a quiet calm.
4. What are you into currently?
After more than five years of being iPhone-only on Instagram, and then a year of sharing images from my Leica Q, I recently decided to reach back into my archives of medium-format film shots and share those online. I’ve been sharing a backlog of portraits taken on my Hasselblad cameras over the years. I’m also deep into editing images I took when I was shooting for a nonprofit in Tanzania a few weeks ago.
5. What are three things you’ve learned that young creatives should know?
1. Despite what it may look like, no one really has it all figured out. We’re all still finding our way, and that’s normal—so don’t get discouraged if you’re still seeking yours.
2. What they say about practice making perfect is true.
3. Don’t underestimate the importance of batch-processing.
August 25, 2017
Photograph of Pei Ketron: Alice Gao
Other photographs: Pei Ketron