BTS of ‘The American Dream’ by Kaitlyn Pham
I was assigned a task which was to tell a story in only 24 frames, with no post editing — Only edits were to be made manually in camera. Orson Welles once said, ”The enemy of art is the absence of limitations“, and I wholeheartedly believe that. I have always felt stuck in my own creative and personal endeavors, as there never was a limit. Sky was the limit. And with that, it’s easy to get lost in not confined to a box — Sometimes, us creatives need a box to reel us back in to pin point all the ideas we’ve ever had floating around in our brains. So that’s why this project was fun for me.
I always felt that pictures could tell a thousand words, but never have I tried to compose some sort of narrative or art of storytelling through a sequence of pictures. Knowing when to capture with a fast or slow shutter speed, wide or narrow aperture, high or low ISO, to really focus on what picture you are trying to paint.
I am heavily into street photography and documentary filmmaking, as there is already a story there to tell — it’s just up to YOU to tell it correctly. There is so much to learn from those you walk by everyday, and I wanted to highlight one of those faces in my project, that in which being my immigrant father, Tuan Pham.
There was not a single doubt in my mind on whether I should capture in black in white or not. I knew it had to be black in white. Not only is there a seriousness and tone set with black and white, but the beauty of mastering the striking contrast between highlight and shadows is what drew me towards it.
I knew I wanted to capture some sort of ‘day in the life’ of my father, but sequencing the images was hard. I got stuck at some point, and really started to overthink the order in which the photos were to follow. My friend Diego gave me some good advice, which was to print out each frame and sequence the images physically. This really helped me a lot. When I saw each image laid out on the ground, with some music playing in the background, i was really able to connect the dots from picture to picture.
All in all, I am extremely proud of the end result in how it all turned out. On one hand, it was incredibly hard to capture my dad in some of the most vulnerable moments, but on the other, I am glad I was able to capture these memories of my father and what he represents. I do not the storyline to end — I will continue to help tell his story in the best way I know how.