Photography

Featured Promo – Kah Poon

Kah Poon

Who printed it?
I printed the photos myself.

Who designed it?
I did the design. Back in college, I studied both graphic design and photography. When I first came to New York after graduation many years ago, I was doing both photo and graphic design. But I needed to focus on just one, so I gave up design. And yet my photos have remained very influenced by graphic design.

Tell me about the images.
I have been shooting for over 15 years. I started with fashion. Portraits came a little later, and I only started shooting dance 6 yrs ago.
In the promo box, I am showcasing all three. I shoot a lot of color as well but for this promo, I only focused on black and white.
I have been consistently told not to mix the genres but to focus on just one. I decided it’s okay to showcase the genres together as long as they reflect the same point of view and style.
For my portraits, I never have the models smile. I like for them to wear a more subdued look. This is just my personal preference.
For my dance work, it is about showcasing their unique abilities, strength, and grace. The dancers are not showing emotion in their faces but through their body language.
Finally, in the fashion pictures, there is still no emotion in the face. I am just trying to just showcase the clothes.

Tell me about your connection to dance?
I was a competitive dancer back in the day. It didn’t occur to me until many years later that I could combine my love of dance with photography. One day I was standing in the nosebleed section of a performance by the New York City Ballet with my wife. I wondered what I would need to do to photograph these beautiful dancers. It was just a passing thought. A little while later, I had the same feeling watching a performance by the Martha Graham dancers. So I befriended one of the dancers. I had a fashion shoot coming up and I convinced the creative director to use dancers instead of models. I was able to invite four dancers from Martha Graham Dance Company to my studio and the rest is history. Since then I have done several shoots with the wonderful Martha Graham dancers. They are disciplined, graceful, and simply a joy to shoot. There is an energy and power there that is quite different than what a photographer would usually find when shooting models. I discovered that combining dance photography with my black and white style had astonishing results. The musculature and shadow brought out things I didn’t plan for. It was thrilling. The dancers bring so much to the shoot and are used to pouring out every ounce of energy they have and leaving it all on the floor. They also bring a unique life experience to the set that makes them quite exciting to work with.

How many did you make?
I have made only 50 so far. They are quite time-consuming to produce. I haven’t sent out any since Covid but I plan to start again soon.

How many times a year do you send out promos?
I send them to a very targeted audience twice a year.

Do you think printed promos are effective for marketing your work?
Absolutely yes. The reaction seems to be very positive. The promo boxes don’t look mass-produced, and the people who receive them seem to appreciate the effort I put into making them. Since photographers no longer send out hard copy portfolio books, everything is viewed on the screen. But having something tangible in your hands creates a special relationship of the body to the images. Online everything is impersonal. But when you hold something small and intimate in your hands, it can change the way you think about the work. It enters your memory differently. Holding an object can be more pleasurable than looking at one.

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