Welcome to the very first installment of In The Making! ITM will be an ongoing series of casual, conversational style pieces featuring people from all walks of life engaged in all sorts of things. What they all have in common with each other is they’re creating something to share with the world. Through many different perspectives, ITM will explore themes of personal growth, mindset, discipline, the nature of creativity, inspiration, overcoming challenges, and staying motivated.
The goal of ITM is to encourage people to actively make time to do things they are passionate about, and in the process, continue learning and growing. As more people provide value by doing what they love, the world can only grow richer. I hope you enjoy seeing how others go about their craft and that it inspires you to get out there and create.
It’s with great pleasure that I present our first guest Paul Huynh, a Melbourne-based photographer and filmmaker. I randomly stumbled upon his Instagram account late one night and his aesthetic instantly drew me in. Long story short, I sent him some stickers which he very generously offered to slap and shoot around Melbourne. I asked him if he was interested in sharing some thoughts on life, his work and how he approaches creativity, and this is the result!
Who are you, where are you from, and what do you do?
My name is Paul Huynh and I’m a freelance photographer and filmmaker from Melbourne. I’m a part of a video production company called 76M. We produce music videos, films and documentaries. In my spare time, I love shooting anything from street and landscape to music and dance.
When did you get into photography and how did you find yourself doing it?
About six years ago, I went through a transitional stage where I started to ask myself what I wanted out of life. I wasn’t sure yet, but I knew that I wasn’t happy with where I was and that I wanted to experience something new.
I dropped out of university and bought myself a one-way ticket to Kuala Lumpur to backpack around Asia. I figured it’d be a once in a lifetime trip, so I scored myself a second-hand point and shoot Canon from Gumtree to document it. During the trip, I discovered my passion for photography which taught me to see the world through different eyes and how to appreciate the present moment. It became a language through which I could tell visual stories, capturing moments and their emotions.
What do you try to convey through your work?
I like to explore the relationship between humans and nature in my work - the point where they intertwine and become entangled. There’s a lost narrative that we take for granted about our connection to and dependence on the environment. This concept weaves into the idea of impermanence. More specifically, the impermanence of humans and the societies we build. People tend to forget that once humans die off, nature will still be there, in whatever state we leave it in, to reclaim it as its own. We should try to take care of it in whatever way we can.
These photos of the overgrown cars were taken in a back alley behind some beautiful terraced houses in the suburbs. I wanted to convey the relationship between the abandoned object and its natural surroundings.
How would you describe your style?
That’s a tough one! I guess style derives from what inspires you. So, mine is likely to be a mix of photographers and filmmakers I find inspiring. There are a few local photographers like Frankie Fresco, Neal Walters, Ed Mason, and a U.S filmmaker Carl Bird, that have unique styles I enjoy. Fresco has a real talent for telling gritty stories from the streets, Neal and Ed have an incredible ability for showcasing the raw human experience and Carl is a master of ambience. I like to combine different aspects of street and ambience in my work to unravel the stories behind what I’m shooting and present it as best as I can. Not sure if that’s a style per se, but I generally try and keep it in the back of my mind when out and about.
Where do you find inspiration?
I find a lot of inspiration from documentaries and film. One of my favourites is Ron Fricke’s Samsara. It’s a visually stunning documentary that puts on display some of the most remarkable phenomena on the planet. I also take inspiration from reading books, being in the outdoors, interacting with humans and animals alike, and podcasts like Russell Brand’s Under the Skin and Philosophize This by Stephen West.
What are some of the biggest challenges you've faced with photography and how did you overcome/are you overcoming them?
I think for me the biggest challenge I had to overcome was myself. I was afraid of straying off the beaten path. For a long while, I was concerned about securing a stable job, making an income, and doing all that stuff that’s instilled into kids ‘growing up’ to become ‘productive’ members of society. However, with time, and encouragement from my partner, I began to realign my goals and prioritise creative work. It’s opened up a new world and way of thinking for me, and since I made the decision to pursue the life I wanted, I’ve been lucky enough to work on some amazing projects, learn new skills, meet super talented people and create life-long memories. It wasn’t an easy transition. It’s taken a lot of time and patience, but it’s been real!
Any advice for people starting out or thinking of dabbling in photography?
There are a couple things I would say. Get out and learn the fundamentals of your craft. Dive in deep and learn everything you can! You have an unlimited resource in the palm of your hand. More specific to photography, lighting, composition and the exposure triangle are important places to start. Try to not be distracted by gear. It’s only good for excusing laziness (trust me!). Most importantly, don’t let anyone hold you back from pursuing your dreams. In the words of Adrian Fitipaldes: "Follow your heart, chase your dreams and do what makes you happy. Life is too short to live any other way."
Is there anything else you want to add about you, your work, or photography in general?
Just a quick plug to a short film we shot for Melbourne artist Jordan B Dennis’ EP that’s gonna drop 12th September. Keep an eye out!