MeiXing Hunt-Babcock is a Film Club Member whose work has been featured in both of our University Student Shows. This year one of her images won third place for the Student Award! The photos we have seen her submit to these shows have always intrigued us so we decided to get to know her a little better and see a larger selection of her work.
PL: What got you interested in photography?
MHB: I grew up in a life of images. My mother filled our walls with her photographs and I was always mesmerized by the idea of a glimpse of another reality. I’m an international adoptee, and my life up to my adoption was chronicled in photos. I don’t remember my life before what it is now and I don’t have anyone who can remember for me. All I have is the album made by my orphanage of the first two years of my life. I’ve always loved the narrative power of photography, and I love that photography gives me the ability to tell a story.
PL: What type of camera do you shoot with and what kind of film do you usually use?
MHB: When I work digital I use a mirrorless Fujifilm xT-3, and my own film camera is a 35mm Asahi Pentax. However, I have a strong bias towards a larger negative, and Drexel’s photography department has lent me the gorgeous medium format Hasselblad 500c/m and the opportunity to use a ShenHao 4x5 view camera – with Kodak Tri-X 400TX, both 120 and 4x5 sheet film.
PL: This collection of images features both film and digital photographs. What are some qualities that you like about both?
MHB: I love shooting film. I love everything about the process: the way it forces you to slow down and think; the technical nuances of understanding light; the ritual and respect needed in developing and processing; and the control you have while printing. The quality of light captured and the incredible minute detail of medium and large format really breathes life into an image. …I guess I can appreciate a digital world as well… the convenience is not lost on me.
PL: Many of your photos are in black and white. What do you like about black and white photography vs color?
MHB: I’ve learned how to appreciate black and white so much throughout my coursework so far. The range of tones really sells the story of an image. I love the ability to create drama with contrast, or soften the feelings with a world in middle gray. I believe that at times, the choice of black and white transports the image into a different reality in a way. However, other times photographs thrive in color and that's just what’s necessary to tell the story I want to tell.
PL: A group of photos you shared are all cropped in a similar way and capture people falling. Can you tell us a bit more about this series?
MHB: That series, “The Four Disgracers,” I just finished up last term in my studio lighting course. The only requirement of the project was that we had to demonstrate an understanding of lighting techniques. For my project, I did a series of figures and forms based on a renaissance era tetralogy of prints by Hendrick Goltzius in 1588. The stories are from Greek mythology: Icarus, Phaeton, Ixion, and Tantalus. Each "features a hero who tried to enter the realm of the gods and was punished for their hubris” (The Met).
PL: Many of your photos capture people. What do you like about photographing people? What is challenging about it?
MHB: I find lots of inspiration from the narrative of my dreams, most of which happen in a removed perspective – like I’m watching a movie. I look to recreate these stories with my images, and the raw emotions of people help to illustrate what’s in my head. Sometimes it’s challenging having to direct a scene when I only have a slight feeling to go off of, but I think the collaboration of my ideas and how my model is also interpreting them really helps cement the final photograph.
Every day, Club Members take exceptional pictures. If you are not a Film Club Member yet what are you waiting for? Join today to support the photo community in Philly and to start saving money on film processing!
Mary Hunt-Miller - April 14, 2023
Mei Xing. Your images are truly beautiful and amazing! Congratulations on your 3rd place award!