Female Film Photographers You Should Know: Tracy Dong
Tracy Dong is a talented film photographer and artist from Vancouver, Canada, currently based in San Francisco, California. Her work focuses on evoking emotion and longing through her warm hues and delicately captured images.
♦ How would you introduce yourself to someone who just met you?
I’m Tracy Dong, 25 years old from Vancouver, Canada and have been living in America the past 6 years. Now based in San Francisco.
♦ What is the memory that you most fondly remember from your childhood?
I used to film random things around the house, and of myself with a VHS camcorder. I would pretend that I’m creating my own TV show or documentary about my everyday life as an 8 year old. I remember it so fondly because I am only realising now that photography and cinematography is more than just a hobby to me.
♦ Who were the most influential people during your teens and how did they influence you?
I hate to admit it, but magazines like Seventeen, and Teen Vogue influenced me growing up. That later refined into the likes of Vanity Fair and Harper’s Bazaar. I was deeply fond of Canadian Model Coco Rocha’s ability to adapt her modelling expressions to any emotion, style or setting. She is such a confident and elegant woman. I also appreciate Annie Leibovitz’s intimate and engaging look and feel she eloquently conveys in her portraits.
♦ How did you get in the world of analogue photography?
I was introduced to it at a young age from my parents’ old camcorders and cameras. I was always coming in and out of the hobby as the look of film always intrigued me, but the procedure and cost was difficult to withstand as an adolescent. The love for it truly ignited this year when I learned to appreciate the process of creating an image; the camera, the type of film you use, camera settings, time of day, the subject, and development. Film taught me to be mindful about every little detail when taking a photo, and in turn, mindful about everyday things in life as well. Most of all, waiting for my film to develop is one of the best things I look forward to.
♦How would you describe the photography you do? What is your work focused on?
I am in the early stages of finding my voice, but I would say that my photography is centred around evoking feeling – whether it is joy, nostalgia, or sadness. I want my audience to resonate with my images and to remember a time, place, or emotion they once had, whether it be landscape, portrait, or street photography. I am inspired by warm hues, simplistic yet colourful tones, intriguing and unusual angles.
♦ Are you working on any photographic project at the moment?
Right now I am working on a project focusing on portrait photography of strangers I meet during my travels. It is a gutsy thing to do and ask “hey can I take your portrait?” to a complete stranger, but I find that once you strike up a meaningful conversation, there is a connection that entails that maybe we are all not really strangers. Particularly during this unique time, we are all going through this pandemic together, some struggles different than others. The project would explore the diversity of challenges we face, but the feelings we endure that we can all understand, and how we overcome or embrace the feeling.
♦ Is there any photographic project that you would like to do but have not done yet?
I’d really like to start moving my photography to medium format and take mainly portraits. I’d like to be more involved with back-drop creation and working with props to use with my subject. I would also like to do more street photography. I feel like it’s an exciting way to shoot as I only have a minute or second to capture a movement or expression from a cluster of strangers, but it is magical to see the outcome.
♦ Which camera and which film do you use the most in your photography and why?
I currently use a Pentax MX, it’s compact so that I can carry it everywhere, and I love that the shutter is crisp and the viewfinder gives me a ton of space to work with. I mainly use Kodak Portra 400 film for its warmth and vibrancy of colors.
♦ Who are your biggest influences?
I am deeply inspired by Alfonso Cuaron’s filmmaking. The black and white film of Roma felt like it took you back in time, but the angles were so daring and unique that you felt present in the film. I also am inspired by film photographers Renell Medrano, Luke Gilford, and Joel Meyerowitz
♦ What’s the best advice you would give yourself when you started in the world of film photography?
Take as many shots as you can as that is the only way you learn, and enjoy the process!
Find more about Tracy Dong’s Work👇