Member Moment: Vincent Dong

Film Club
Vincent Dong is a Film Club Member who we interviewed this week. He submitted a group of his favorite film photos to us along with a photo that is part of a specific project he started. Scroll down to see his photos and to read the interview!  

Photograph of a building at night

Photograph looking out windows at night

PL: What got you interested in film photography?

VD: I see film photography as a way to help me make the most of my tendency to be a perfectionist - I can be as deliberate as possible when composing the photograph. It also helps me address the shortcomings of being a perfectionist, by making me accept the end result after the film is exposed, developed and scanned. The limited number of shots per roll and the lack of instant feedback force me to embrace my perfectionism and intentionally place and align each object in the frame to make the most of what is in front of me at that moment.

Photograph of lights outside of window

Photograph of Philadelphia skyline

PL: What type of camera do you shoot with and what kind of film do you usually use?

VD: I alternate between using a Leica M4 and M6. My first roll of film with my new-to-me M4 ended up having severe shutter capping, where large portions of the frame would not be exposed at all. I was initially disappointed and planned to return the malfunctioning camera or get it repaired, but ended up appreciating the shutter capped images and it resulted in the start of my ongoing conceptual project that specifically uses the shutter capping. The second camera is so I can still make traditional photographs without worrying about any camera issues. I mainly have been shooting black and white with HP5 and recently have branched out into shooting color with ColorPlus 200, Cinestill 800t, and Portra 400.

Photograph of a deserted road

Photograph of an open truck in a parking lot

Photograph of table and chairs in parking lot

PL: There are a mix of black and white and color photos within this collection. What are some qualities that you like about both black and white and color film? 

VD: I like the “simplification” of black and white photography, where textures, patterns, and light are the main emphasis. With color film, I am really interested in how colors are captured and reproduced by different film stocks. I am excited to experiment and learn which film stocks are best for different scenes and lighting conditions.

PL: One of your photos is a collage of three images. Can you tell us more about this image and the project? 

VD: I tentatively have titled the collage of three images as “a sequence describing idea”, where I wanted to abstractly represent the different stages of the idea process. The series begins in the lower left and progresses clockwise. At first, the inkling of the idea is internalized and very minimalist. As it develops, the idea becomes more fleshed out and there is a decision point for whether to commit to pursuing the idea or not. Finally, the idea begins to take shape, and while there might be uncertainty of whether the idea will succeed or not, there is a sense of excitement for the unknown and contentment with the idea process itself.

By coincidence, the three images were created in the same order that they are presented, where I first played around with the idea of “completing” the shutter capped images with my own sketches. Using an iPad, I imported the image and sketched over top of the negative space to add in a subject to the image with a touch of surrealism. This idea soon developed into the larger series, culminating with the image on the far right. With each image, I became more comfortable with drawing and began adding more and more details to my sketches, which mirrors the concept of the series itself.

This series of three images is the beginning of a larger project with my shutter capped photographs, where I plan to deliberately frame compositions with the shutter capping in mind. Through experimentation, I have found rough estimates of which portion of the frame is cut off at each shutter speed, so I can begin to train myself to see the world through my viewfinder with this project in mind. 

Photograph of backyard

Photograph of street in Philadelphia

Photograph of front porch

PL: None of your photos include people. Is this an intention choice? If so, why?

VD: I would say it is unintentional. When I go out to take pictures, I either am deliberately going on a photo walk, or stopping to take pictures during my commute if something catches my eye. When I am on a photo walk, I have the time to wait around for spontaneous moments to occur, like when another person’s path perfectly aligns with the composition I have in mind. Otherwise, I just keep the picture simple and take the photo without anyone in it. I do want to branch out into incorporating people into my images, either through street photography or portraiture.

Photograph of a flock of birds in a field

PL: Out of all of these photos, which one is your favorite and why?

VD: My favorite photo is of the flock of birds in my backyard when I returned home to Ohio for the holidays. I am particularly fond of this photo because of the memory it reminds me of. According to my dad, a large number of birds fly around our neighborhood and land in the nearby golf course or fruit trees in our yard during a certain time of the year. That morning, I noticed hundreds of birds flying around our backyard when I was eating my breakfast. I raced to grab my camera to take a picture of these birds, but each time I would go outside, the birds would disappear and be nowhere to be seen! As soon as I returned inside to continue eating my breakfast, the birds would return to view, mocking me in a way. This happened a few more times before I finally was able to take the picture that is seen here. This is my favorite picture because it reminds me of my parents laughing at my struggles with these birds, and the time spent with them during my holiday vacation back home.

Photograph of buildings and sculpture on University of Pennsylvania campus


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!


← Previous post Next post →

Leave a comment