I have recently come across the creative work of NYC photographer Que Duong who has truly inspired me with his unique style and perspective. Que began in the fashion and beauty industry working in content creation and has since launched himself to the status of creative director, sharing compelling and sometimes edgy stories through his creative photography. Read on to catch my recent chat with this impressive, creative photographer.
Jacquin: Hi Que! You mention that your main source of inspiration is “the anticipation of life’s normally overlooked moments.” How do you manifest this in your work?
Que: We often look for the “big boom” in our day. In contrast, I look for the small moment such as drinking tea and creating “the big boom” around these thoughts and moments.
Jacquin: Your photography has great energy and an exciting perspective. How do you begin to visualize and conceptualize your compositions in your photography?
Que: Majority of my concepts originate on my current mood at the time. I embrace all the spectrum of emotions whether it is sad or joy - it helps me create a story to tell. From that point, I researched the symbolism and metaphors. I translate those emotions and use it as starting point to create my compositions and content.
Jacquin: What was your inspiration for "The New Band"? Is there a message behind these works? "The New Band" actually reminds me of a 1940s photo of historical Chicago by Russell Lee. I love this photo series, Que and really all of your works!
Que: Visually, my inspirations were from the vinyl covers of music groups. In term of the underlining message, I wanted to tell a story of the daily lives of the Brooklyn kids; to showcase the beauty of the simple moments such as sitting on the stoop with your friends, standing on the corner waiting for the bus, or going to church. Overall, the message I wanted to convey and bring to attention is "black is beautiful" – ‘til this today, it is still one of my favorite shoots!
Jacquin: How do you go about choosing the models for your shoots? (random, search for them, or you know them personally)
Que: Majority of the times I have casting calls. This allows me to use models that fit the concept.
Jacquin: How does your cultural background or surroundings influence your work?
Que: My cultural background and surroundings are extremely influential in my work. I am a Vietnamese kid raised New Orleans, a city that is surrounded by Jazz and magic! This colorful city often serves as a color palette for my work. I enjoy and draw energy from our laid-back attitudes and philosophies. It helps me conceptualize the simplest stories.
Jacquin: Are there any events or experiences in your life that have impacted your career as a photographer?
Que: Yes, social media! When I first started out, I was solely focused on fashion. Since then, I came to find my love for lifestyles and still life photography. This started out with my first job with Revlon – creating their social media content.
Jacquin: What type of projects are you most looking forward to as you move forward as a photographer and artist?
Que: Right now, I am working on cinematography and getting back into my painting (a passion of mine). I am looking to doing more creative direction.
Jacquin: You create uniquely artistic self-portraits. Do your self-portraits function as a means of self-representation, or do you regard yourself more as a character telling a story? (Check out one of Que's self-portraits below.)
Que: My self-portraits are mirror reflections of who I am. It is my way of writing my autobiography in a creative way, haha.
Jacquin: What would the perfect day be like for you?
Que: A perfect day for me would be waking up on a sunny Saturday’s morning, watering my plants while drinking Vietnamese coffee and jamming to 80’s pop (my go-to song is When in Rome – The Promise). Start with a trip down to Union Squares to buy more plants and have lunch in Chinatown. I would commute back to my cozy Harlem apartment and binge watch old shows on TV while I edit photos. Wrap up my day with a candle lit night and dancing to old school r&b tunes.
Follow Que Duong's photography and creative direction through his website or via his inspirational Instagram page.