Interview: Cynthia Chung
Photographer Interview: Cynthia Chung
Can you briefly tell us a little about your life, where were you born and raised?
I was born and raised in Queens, New York City. I still currently live here and I love it!
Have you always been a photographer? What was your path to photography and specifically to shooting weddings?
Since I was young, I loved drawing! I always wanted to pursue a career in the arts and studied at specialized art high school in New York City. It was in High School that I was introduced to black and white film photography. I fell in love! I was offered an internship in High School with a leading wedding photographer (also an alumni from my high school) and was introduced to the wedding photography industry! After that internship I was determined to become a wedding photographer and went to college for advertising photography.
Do you remember the first moment or time a camera/photography jumped out at you as something different/interesting/worth pursuing?
Oh yes! I remember very vividly where I decided in my heart that I had enough confidence to pursue photography. I had just finished a class photography show, and after the show my mom took one of mounted prints (a street shot of NYC) and were walking to lunch. A man stopped us in the street, asking about the photograph. He loved and raved about it and told me I really had talent. At the time, I didn't think much of it, but I do think that was the moment where I felt confident in my craft and knew it was something I really had a knack for.
Do you have a style or widely understood approach to shooting weddings ie fine-art, documentary?
I would consider my style to be creative photo-journalistic. I love capturing candids and the atmosphere of what is truly happening-- with a fun and creative approach! I also am known for wedding gifs! It goes hand in hand with the way I shoot! Shooting away with many shots began giving me images to create gifs with! So I began adding gifs for my couples so they get another look into their wedding day in a creative way!
What/who do you look at for visual inspiration? It could be a favourite photographer or blog? movies? etc
I personally love quirky colors and symmetry so I am a huge fan of Wes Anderson!
What would a perfect day shooting a wedding look like for you?
A perfect wedding day would be a fun and laid back day! Where the couple is stress free and the day-of schedule is lined with cushion time! It would give us time to experiment with interesting locations for portraits, laugh and drink with friends and enjoy the party together.
Do you have any sort of routine before a wedding to get yourself into the right frame of mind to achieve that perfect day?
A good night's rest and a balanced breakfast with COFFEE in the morning! :)
Generally speaking, what do you focus on when you are shooting a wedding, by which I mean, what (this could be anything eg your own artistic satisfaction, the couples emotion, people, details) about a wedding is important for you to prioritise while your shoot?
For me personally, the top 3 things I love about wedding days are, detail shots, bride & groom portraits and toasts during reception. I love styling the little gorgeous details, finding interesting locations to photograph the dress or shoes. I love shooting bride & groom portraits- always trying to outdo myself with a creative backdrop and the biggest laugh from the couple, and finally I love, love, love when toasts are given at the reception. I love capturing the tears and laughter that erupts from the bride & groom when people close to them speak about them, their past and their future. Those are the sweetest moments of raw emotion.
I often think peoples experiences of marriages, theirs or their parents, can have an impact on their involvement in working in the world of weddings. Can you explain what weddings mean to you personally?
I myself have been happily married for 6 years, and to find someone to share life with is so beautiful!!! I love everyday of my marriage and I know that others that enter into this new stage in life will be met with something SO wonderful. Imagine getting to have a slumber party with your best friend everyday! Knowing that someone has your back no matter what. I get really excited when I see couples enter into this next stage of life. They are in for a treat!!!!
In the feedback you've received from wedding clients over the years, would there be one word that keeps popping up again and again?
Comfortable! I personally don't love being in front of the camera myself, so the first thing I try to do for my couples is get them COMFORTABLE in front of the camera! If they aren't comfortable, I wont be able to capture the real emotions that spark between them!
Having seen lots of weddings, what would your advice be to a beloved family member if they came to you and said they were getting married and asked for (any) advice on how to approach their wedding day?
My advice to anyone planning a wedding would be: People will give you LOTS of opinions; freely. You don't need to take ANY of them. Stick to your gut, you have to be comfortable with all the pieces to your wedding day.
What three pieces of advice would you give young photographers starting out?
1. Work hard. Nothing comes without hard work and hustling.
2. Customer satisfaction is everything! Go above and beyond- especially in the early stages- but even in the later stages, reputation is always key!
3. Don't give up! Sometimes it may seem like nothing is happening, but don't let that stop you from continuing. Growth comes over time!
How can couples get in touch with you?