It’s all about imagination

Conceptual photographer John Kam explores themes of storytelling through surreal images

28 Mar 2019 / 11:32 H.

JOHN KAM’S photographs are freakish, out of this world, and surreal – and that is exactly the point. These exaggerated images are to evoke viewers’ reactions as a means of storytelling.

The 23-year-old advertising student and food photographer, is known by his Instagram handle @cvpturesjohn.

He said: “I find conceptual photography to have more of an allowance and freedom to portray stories visually.”

Indeed, conceptual photography allows the creator to illustrate an idea, or rather to conceptualise and stage a false reality of an entirely imaginative narrative around fictional identities.

When did you develop your interest in photography?

“I developed my interest in photography when I got my first iPhone 5S back in 2013, and [after the creation of] Instagram, I was fascinated by the grid template and [the] Instagram aesthetics.

“But getting into conceptual photography was more of a coincidence.

“I wasn’t in the scene back then because I was doing food photography, but after joining several photography meet-ups, I was introduced to so many amazing photographers and models [that allowed me] to expand my social network.”

What are some key elements of your photography, whether conceptually or aesthetically?

“Telling stories is my interest when it comes to taking photos, especially conceptual photography.

“I tend to stick with a story, then gradually start to compile inspirations that make sense so that I am able to tell the audience my narratives.

“I would say the key elements are the subjects, and the high-contrast, dramatic colour schemes, which I find to be very fun for the eyes.”

Where do you look for inspiration?

“I’m often inspired by my family and friends, and my life experiences.

“ Sometimes I’m also inspired by social issues but it gets complicated because it requires a lot of research and time.

“I’ll then conceptualise these ideas, then interpret them into visuals.”

What are some emotions you want people to feel, or messages you want to convey when they look at your work?

“My main goal is to entertain my audiences and to capture their attention.

“For example, when I’m photographing drag queens, I want to capture their individuality and uniqueness.

“So if my audience notices my work and appreciates its content, as well as what goes behind these images, then I think I’ve achieved my goal.”

Moving forward, how do you hope you’ll continue to grow as a photographer?

“I want to grow as a conceptual photographer, where I am able to influence people.

I would like to hold photo exhibitions or at least create content that [touches] on major social issues and changes the public’s mindset for the better.

“By doing that, I hope to create a more friendly and accepting environment for all people who are different.”

As a relatively new conceptual photographer, what are your thoughts about the conceptual photography scene?

“There’s a demand for conceptual photography, but people in the scene do it as a hobby and not as a profession ... perhaps they can’t see how this ‘hobby’ would grow in near future.

“Which is why I think we should take it more seriously, because when the genre itself is so niche, then obviously there’s a tremendous potential to how it can progress and advance as an art form.”

Do you have any projects in the pipeline?

“I’m working on a series called Skindeep, it is a sequel to Skintight which I completed last August.

I’ll touch on more social issues that need to be addressed, and some personal stories, while continuing to push the boundaries of my photography style.”

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