Q&A with Kitty Chou

The title of the show is "The Accidental Photographer." Why did you want to describe the show and yourself this way?
I call myself “The Accidental Photographer” because many images I captured can never be re-captured the same way again. It was purely by chance or accident that I come upon them at the right place and at the right moment. As a result of this “chance-y” element, I always carry a camera with me whenever I go out. I never pre-determine what images I want to capture.

I also never thought I would be recognized as a photographer and have my own solo show – so in that way I am also an “accidental photographer.” However, I’m not a photographer with commercial pursuits – for me photography is very personal, something I use to express myself. If I did it commercially, then I’d lose that part of it.

How did you get interested in photography?
By chance, I came upon an exhibition of Henri Cartier Bresson at the Museum of Modern Art in New York nearly 20 years ago. I was very impressed and inspired by how Bresson captured his subjects at the right moment. So I started to take photos to see if I could do something similar. Timing is everything – it’s all about learning when to click. I started with film, but then transitioned to digital photography about nine years ago. Digital photography is great – you can see the results immediately, it’s less expensive and more portable, especially when I travel.

Many of the photographs in the show verge on the abstract. Why does this style/approach appeal to you?
I take pictures of anything – people, scenery, nature, objects, whatever is before me that I find interesting. I never stage anything. I just happen to come across it. I don’t consciously set out to create abstract images – it’s just how I like to frame what I see. I do like to capture a different detail or angle of everyday objects. For example, the image “Metamorphosis” - the photograph of the fern, I wanted to express the evolution of its interesting texture (which I never noticed before) and the shape of the new bud sprouting.

I always feel that beauty is everywhere around us, we just have to stop and look.

My approach to photography is I never crop or alter my photos after I press the shutter – I’m a purist in that sense. A photograph may look better after it’s been Photoshopped, but for me, it loses its authenticity.

How does your photography inform your interior design practice and vice versa?
With my photography everything is very organic. It happens to be there and I just frame and capture it. For me, photography offers more freedom – I shoot whatever I want. With interior design, everything is staged and much more controlled. I have to think about functions and the client’s needs – there are more limitations.

And, of course, photography exists on a two dimensional plane, and interior design deals with a three dimensional space. Nonetheless, they both allow me to explore composition, line, form, texture, color, and feeling. Both are satisfying artistically, just in very different ways.

Phyllis Greer