Rising fast in commercial photography and far from “main stream fashion”, Howard Huang discusses creativity
Taiwan-born, Hawaiian-raised, New York-based photographer Howard Huang impressive array of out-of-mainstream imagery has made him a popular entertainment photographer. He’s shooting constantly for artists such as Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, Flo Rida, Wiz Khalifaa and many many others. We spoke to Howard to get an insight from his unique creative perspective.
Production Paradise: Back in San Francisco Academy of Art University when you were first amazed with the process of photography, where did you see your boundaries as a professional? What was the main hill to climb?
Howard Huang: Back in those days I hadn’t the foggiest idea about my own direction with photography, it was mostly the feeling of being interested in fashion. There was supposed to be a business side of photography, but we never encountered it. The vital challenge was to do photography and survive in the big apple at the same time. The other story was that to survive my “vital challenge” meant to break into a very specific type of crowd. I had a certain picture in my head staring at me like fashion photographer Steven Meisel, but my far from “main stream fashion” style for the entertainment / Hip-Hop world was steering my career on another direction.
Production Paradise: Do you believe in art for art, survival of non-commercial photography?
Howard Huang: L’art pour l’art is a beautiful and idealistic concept, unfortunately the real world makes true peace ideal and a great goal, but not realistic. The thing is not to discriminate commercial work from the one that is just for visualizing your own souls´ inspiration flashes, so art stays the same art even though it was paid to influence someones´ mind.
Production Paradise: Where does your creativity derive from and what is that keeps you motivated?
Howard Huang: As a kid I wanted to be a painter or illustrator. Later on I found that I don’t have that kind of skill, but I do have the vision and ideas, so here is where I ended up with photography as my medium of choice. There is the huge and breathtaking city around me to be constantly inspired, as well as other forms of art like anime and paintings. I am particulary in love with the lighting in Rembrandt’s paintings.
Production Paradise: The world in which creative people reside is very different from that of non-creatives. How would you describe it from the inside?
Howard Huang: Creatives are mostly out of schedule, so they may seem to have a totally different timing and overall rhythm. But it is not that different from people you pass by while heading to the office. I believe we all have creativity inside of us. Some people nurture their creativity and become professional in the field and some people choose other paths and it kind of gets buried. But when they start digging, learn, and practice, they become more of the “creative type” even if they didn’t think they had it in them. We are all inside some sort of box. Creative people just live inside a bigger box with doors that open to other boxes.
Production Paradise: Your images are have been described as moody, does that represent your own personality?
Howard Huang: I do like some darker art and I am attracted to dramatic matters, but overall I would not consider myself moody, moreover I am pretty contented and easy going.
Production Paradise: Would you share some of your professional tips with our audience of interested minds?
Howard Huang: There are many approaches and techniques in photography, but most importantly is focus. I don’t mean just to focus your lens so the image is sharp. I mean also the focus of your shot. The focus of your idea, and staying in focus with your passion and everything you are doing.
Production Paradise: Could share an example of your creative process?
Howard Huang: This is kind of my process. I sketch out my idea and then shoot it. But I don’t sketch that well.
Production Paradise: “Taiwan-born, Hawaiian-raised, New York-based” sounds like immortality juice. Do you feel that you will ever get old?
Howard Huang: Immortality? I don’t think so. My body feels a little older now (can’t stay up all night and party like when I was in my 20’s) and need to work out just to stay sort of healthy. I can’t eat just anything now, but other than that I feel pretty young. I don’t think I am old. Just more sophisticated. I don’t think I am young but I have a childish spirit. Ha-ha!
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