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Contrast

Published by Catherine Nguyen

 

“I think taking calculated risk is necessary to move forward in life. If you always do the safe thing or take the path that is well worn, you run the risk of spending your life wondering, ‘What If.’”

– Cat Nguyen

 

These words were captured in a recent article by VoyageRaleigh where I was asked to share parts of my story in the hopes of inspiring others to continue forward with their goals.  During the last six months, I have opened up more about the details of my personal and professional journey, receiving incredible support and care from so many. The responses have made me really think about the concept of contrast.  In the photography world, contrast is about tone, “specifically the relationship between the darkest and brightest parts of an image.”  Your eye is drawn to that relationship and your mind is amazed by it.

In life, contrast is about comparing extremes.  As we all know, light cannot exist without dark.  Soft cannot exist without hard.  Compassion cannot exist without suffering. So, I look at my life opportunities knowing that the awesome would not be as appreciated if it were not for the challenges.

Had I always played it safe I have no doubt I would not be living the life I was meant to live. Yes, I struggled. And yes, there were times when I questioned all of my choices, but I look back and am so thankful for the contrasts that came my way.  My career was headed in a corporate direction until I decided to go back to school at the age of 30 and study Fine Arts. Contrast. A New Yorker most of my life, I left the East Coast for a much different lifestyle in Northern California. Contrast. After making room for several of these contrasts in my life, I realized that being bolder in your choices can definitely make you more interesting and helps you appreciate your success that much more.

Having contrast in your interior and architectural photography also allows for a bolder approach in your stylistic choices, resulting in a finished product with more depth and texture.  Contrast exists in all components from lighting and texture to color and style.  You can have subtle contrasts like a monochromatic room or color contrast like a vivid color against a textured pattern.  Even something as simple as an accent piece can do amazing things. I am always impressed when the effects of contrast enhance an image and really make the photo pop! 

Here are some examples of how I have used contrast in a wide array of styles and spaces:

I am not saying that contrast is easy.  Quite the opposite.  Contrast goes against what is comfortable and familiar but gives so much at the end of the day.  It makes itself the focal point and pulls you in to the story.  I cannot image my photography, or even my life, without it.