The Shadow photographers #2: FiatFlux (Justin Kwon)


In these series I hope to introduce some of the most compelling street (and non-street) photographers who have inspired me to start or keep shooting. The double entendre is that Street photographers tend to experiment with and work with available light (which tend to be shadows), and also tend to stay hidden out of “popular” photographers (dominated by studio photographers, landscape photographers, etc). I hope that you will enjoy discovering these hidden talents as much as I do. Remember, there is always a street photographer near you, somewhere…

Today I have the honor of introducing to you a friend of mine, FiatFlux (or, Justin). Although not strictly defined as a street photographer in a traditional sense (i.e. people), I see a lot of elements of street photography in his photos that inspire me- timing, coloring, and juxtaposition. A very interesting character, and a Pentax gear geek, we get a peek into the mind that loves to toy with the latest in digital developing.

Q. What got you started in Photography?

A. a gift from my dad. Back in high school, my dad bought me a film slr… I think it was pentax mz-60 or something… don’t quite remember… didn’t shoot much since films can be quite costly and didn’t really like going to photo huts a lot… so it kinda phased out… went back to guitars, other instruments, and music.

Then I came to Berkeley. First year, the usual. A lot of drinking and playing games in the dorms. Then second year, decided to pick up something new. So I decided to pick up a dslr. Bought a used Pentax K100d and it started there.

Q. What subjects do you like to photograph most? What interests/inspires you when you’re out shooting?

A. Anything that happened to be around me. Events that I’m involved in, parties that I am at, taking a day off at the SF piers, etc. As much as I like studio shots, I like to mettle with the viewfinder as little as possible.

Anything that seems interesting at the moment, I’ll take a picture of it. That’s the beauty of digital cameras. Don’t have to be frugal with shots. You can take many photos as you want without worrying about getting another film.

Q. What is your philosophy behind your creative process when shooting/developing photos? Any rules you abide by?

A. Stay as far as possible from the project. Don’t mess with or try to adjust/arrange it.  From there, go as crazy as you can. Once I take the shot in the natural state, I like to tweak it around. Lightroom ftw. Different white balance, saturation, highlights, etc etc. You can come up with a photo that has totally different vibe/ambiance to it. If you don’t like it, just reset it and start again. Of course, there is also a chance I like the photo without any adjustments, then just keep it the way it is. It’s all personal preferences.

Q. You cross-process (color) your photos in a very interesting way. Any reason for this? Fondness for vintage colors much?

A. I like messing around with everything. People, photographs, magic tricks, poker, etc. It just seems more interesting to me. Or more dramatic?… I don’t have any specific reason for it. I just do it.

Q. How do you identify with the phrase “street photography?” Or do you not? And either way, why?

A. I generally think everything in a VERY simple manners. It tends to get rid of overthinking and complicating it in my own head. So, street photography = photos taken on the streets. Not in studios, or film sets. Just on the streets. How and/or What the photographer sees the world around him/her at that moment. So I guess I do take street photography. But I rather not try to think about it. That would be me classifying it and then it would get defined and stuck in that mentality, blah blah blah. You get the idea.

Q. What gear do you use?

A. Pentax. With a lot of old school manual lenses. Yes, I know. PENTAX? Why??? I had Pentax Film SLR so I just naturally went on with it. A lot of my friends do have Canon, and others Nikons. I’m definitely the minority in that category. But as many Pentax users will tell you, its color tones have something about it that other brands just don’t have. Many do jump over to Canon and Nikon for full-frame. But they either keep the original Pentax as a sub-camera or do get rid of it but end up missing that color tones. Eventually, they come back or buy another one. It’s a strange relationship. Plus, I love the older manual lenses. Yes, I have to manually focus every shot, but you get used to it rather quickly. Then it becomes just more fun and forces you to really focus on the viewfinder to get what you want.

Q. You seem to like photographing food a lot. Why?

A. I’m a meanie, so to speak. or a jerk/asshole to be precise. I like to mess with people, just because I can. Not in any harmful way, but in ways that are amusing… probably just to me.

Apart from being a jerk, I like eating good food. I yelp and google around to find good food that people around me don’t know about, or only few know about. I go eat the food, take pictures of the food, edit them to make ‘em look more delicious, then upload them. When it’s 10pm. To make people hungry and just to tease/torture them with delicious food.

And no, I’m not joking.

Q. Any interesting episodes/happenings from your shootings if any?

A. I bought an OLD but a rare lens but it had a considerable amount of dusts/particles. There weren’t any shops that I could go to clean the lens because it was old and there wasn’t any shops that knew how to deal with the particular lens. Ended having to look up online for the blue prints of that lens, and tried to clean the lens myself. Long story short, it worked. It took me a whole weekend. Had few mini heart attacks. Not a pleasant memory. Lesson of the story – Don’t try to clean/fix lenses yourself. Find a shop that can do it for you. If you can’t, just use the lens as is. It will save you a lot of time, effect and stress.

Q. Anything you want to share/advertise (website, twitter, portfolio, etc.)

A. facebook: /fiatflux

Twitter: @fiatflux88

Thanks for reading this post…

As always, talk to me on twitter, or like me on Facebook to keep up with the latest Shadow Photographers.



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