“I've been looking so long at these pictures of you
That I almost believe that they're real
I've been living so long with my pictures of you
That I almost believe that the pictures
Are all I can feel”
A collage is not just a grade school project involving magazine scraps and Elmer’s glue, though that’s what it brings to mind for most people. It can be anything that’s pieced together to make a whole. A finished photo is a collage, one comprised of all the details within the space it captures. However, it’s very easy for the details to get lost in an overall shot. When I zoom in on those details, I find the pictures tell a different and more intimate story. They enhance the subject’s beauty and bring the space to life. It’s all about context, really. By focusing on a doorknob, I can capture its intricacy and show details that might go unnoticed at a casual glance. Suddenly, the doorknob’s shapes and textures are thrown into sharp relief, and I’ve created a piece of art that can stand on its own. I can assemble those details into different forms and different collages in order to alter or enhance the story that needs to be told.
Photography—creating the photo as opposed to just taking it—is a process that automates everything that you put into the image (a blue sky for example) and the things that you take out (such as an outlet or a radiator). These elements contribute to the final product—the collage. Collaging also happens in the post-production world, when you edit an image, cover up details, or even delete a photo from a series.
I myself am also a collage. Places I’ve been, foods I’ve eaten, people I’ve met, and stories I’ve heard: They’re all the little pieces that make up my whole. I wouldn’t be me if I weren’t a Vietnamese-born refugee who grew up in New York, studied photography in San Francisco, and settled in Raleigh as an interior and exterior photographer. These factors make up the texture of my life. They make up my personal collage.
One of the great things about a collage is that you can choose what to make prominent or stand out. You can minimize some things and highlight others until your collage takes the shape and style you desire. Then you find your glue (whether that’s love, passion, talent, ambition, family, or a combination of those things) and make it stick. I love the concept of collages both professionally and personally, as they allow me to appreciate something in its entirety as while also celebrating its individual components.
Contact Catherine Nguyen Photography today and let’s discover your collage together!