Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Feature Holga Photographer - Ken Ku

 I'd like to introduce you all to Ken Ku.  Ken was the winner of the Self Portrait Challenge that I held on Holga Blog this past summer.  I chose his photo because of its uniqueness - it stood out to me and I could also see that he had been working on a self portrait series with his Holga WPC.  Just a quick glance at his Flickr stream and you will see what a talented photographer he is!  As part of his prize, I interviewed him for my feature photographer series.  Enjoy!



How did you get introduced to your first Holga and how long have you been shooting?

I was introduced to the Holga in college on a class camping trip.  I didn't want to bring my Mamiya RZ67 with me into the desert but wanted the option to shoot medium format so a friend of mine told me about a toy camera that she always uses.  The best part was it also had polaroid accessories!  I immediately ordered two 120S and a polaroid back!  That was in 2005 and during the trip I destroyed one of the cameras (fell down a canyon) but the other came home with me in one piece.  Now the 120S sits as a reminder of what the Holga camera has shown me and since then I have continued to add to my collection with two more 120N, a 120PC, 120WPC, and most recently the 120TLR.



What is it about the Holga that draws you to it? Why do you shoot with it?

For me one of the main reasons that I shoot with the Holga is that it is light, easy to use, and the format in which it shoots.  It is perfect that it shoots in medium format and I absolutely adore square images.  Also the low fidelity of the lens gives the image a quality that is soft, not like the harsh hyper focused reality that people often crave for these days.  Also it takes time to make images, I prefer to shoot in bulb mode, a perfect way to practice patience when making images.  Photography cannot be rushed and it is not something that can be gratified by just the click of the shutter release.  The entire process of making an image is what makes photography enjoyable for me.  From trying to see the image in my head, to translating that into a possibility on film, then capturing that possibility with the camera, developing that moment, and finally printing it.  All of it makes for a good photograph and the Holga is a tool that allows me to make it happen.


Please tell me a bit more about your self portraits. How long have you been doing them and what made you interested in doing them?

I started focusing my photography on self portraits only within the last year.  Prior to that, my main subject was portraits and landscapes/nightscapes.  I never really considered myself to be the subject of my own art.  However last year, I started to take photos of myself.  At first it was because I was in a different country, recovering from back surgery, with not a lot of mobility, the only thing I could photograph was myself.  Then I realized that I was taking a deeper look into myself as an artist.  I was trapped, bound physically, and unable to express it in any other artistic means, my self portraits were a lot of headless and legless shots.  As I started to become more comfortable technically at photographing myself, I started to try to express the emotions that I felt.  The loneliness and frustration of recovering from surgery.  No matter how much support friends and family offer during that time, ultimately, one has to go through that journey alone.  After recovery, I saw a change in my self portraits, they moved towards nudes.  I felt a sense of freedom, I had regained my mobility and I was once again in charge of all my faculties.



What else do you enjoy shooting with your Holga?

I really love using the Holga to do long exposure photography.  Usually I'll use it to make star trails when I go camping or even from my house.  Other times I will use the Holga to make long exposure of the harbour and watch a fishing ship come home.  I try to make even the fishing harbour look beautiful at night.  There is beauty in everything, you just need to know how to see it.

What other cameras do you have in your arsenal?

Aside from all the Holga cameras that I have, I also use a: Hasselblad 1000F, Nikon F5, Nikon F100, SX-70, Daylab Pinhole 4x5, and UWS.

Favourite photo film(s)?

I just adore using expired film (so if anyone reading this has expired film and wants to give it to me, please feel free!)  For both colour and black and white, I typically shoot Kodak films.  My favourite colour negative film is Portra NC.  Transparency is Kodak Ektachrome EPP, unfortunately this film has been discontinued.  I have replaced this with Kodak E100G and E100VS.  For black and white: Kodak TMax and Tri-X are both fantastic and I shoot with these often.  I do also shoot with Ilford Delta films, espeically the 3200, with my Holga though.

Your favourite Holga photo that you've taken? 


There are so many Holga images that I love, but this particular one (above) is my favourite.  I just love how the Holga can capture something so soft yet rich in colour as well as in detail but also lets the imagination run.  This is what I love about Holgas. 


What inspires you?

There are some many things that inspire me.  I try to keep an open mind and let everything around me be absorbed and retained that perhaps sometime in the future it will be the catalyst for a new project.  I have drawn inspiration from Lady Gaga's music, from meditation techniques, mythology, and that has just been the beginning.  I look forward to where it all can lead me in the future for my creative adventures!


Visit Ken at the following sites:

Website: www.kenkuphotography.ca
Email: ken@kenkuphotography.ca
Twitter: @kenkuphoto
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/kc1002
Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/hrhphotography

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