Photo by May Pham

This is one of Pham’s favorite pieces. “I really like taking portraits of strangers because there is always that underlying mystery of who exactly they are and how they are feeling,” Pham said.

Creativity amid uncertainty: May Pham

March 15, 2021

In this edition of “Creativity amid uncertainty” our featured artist is junior May Pham. Pham is a street photographer with a specific interest in street portraiture and documentary-style photography.

This photo was captured in June 2020 during a BLM protest. “Usually, the media is bombarded with stereotypical pictures of protests — violence and anger in the air, so I took this picture to show a more positive side of protests and how people were empowering and uplifting each other in such a hard time,” Pham said (Photo by May Pham)



Q: What inspired you to start photography?

A: My mom’s closest friend is an amazing freelance photographer (her name is Josephine Huong Giang) and she inspired me to do photography. I have always been a visual person and have always grown fond of looking at paintings and pictures growing up. I remember coming to her house in which every wall is filled from floor to ceiling with her pictures from around the world. It was like living in a gallery and it made me fall in love with photography and just how captivating the medium of art can be. Then I picked it up for fun in 8th grade with my iPod touch and the rest is history.

This photo was taken the day after Biden was elected president. Pham says that the “view really showed a farewell to a presidency — the sign being blurry and all — while [the man] was wearing a mask to signify a new presidency.” (Photo by May Pham)

Q: How has your art helped you cope during quarantine?

A: Photography has always been my outlet for creativity so in this time of pandemic when everyone’s restricted to their house, it has given me something productive to do. I usually do street photography, but since the lockdown I’ve been messing around with my camera and have created some very random yet interesting photos in the comfort of my own bedroom.

Q: Do you look up to any photographers?

A: I have way too many icons that it’s hard to choose. My friends and teachers are my first icons. Being surrounded by their creativity and being able to see how they always seek to improve themselves and improve me has really pushed me to be a better photographer (shoutout to Stevie, Walker, and Mr. Kempner). Besides them, my icons are mostly photographers from the social reform eras like Lewis Hine, Jacob Riis, and maybe also Vivian Maier.

Q: How would you describe your style of photography?

This is a terrific example of Pham’s documentary photography. “This was taken at BLM plaza the day after the 2020 Election results. When this Trump supporter showed up, I thought I would capture how the crowds react the moment they saw him walking in and dancing among others without masks,” Pham said. (Photo by May Pham)

A: My photography is a lot of street and documentary photography. I really love capturing raw moments in life and try to show events for what they are with my photos. Thus, I tend to just roam freely on the streets and wait for interesting moments to capture. Street portraiture is specifically really fun and I love doing it a lot because I get to interact with a lot of new and fascinating people and their stories. When I do take portraits, I try not to pose them and just tell them to do whatever they want; sometimes they look straight at the camera; other times they pretend like I’m nonexistent. I also really love photojournalism so I do pick up documentary projects from time to time as well.

Check out her instagram to see more of her work!


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