Behind The Lens: Kevin J. Hsia


Some time ago, I got the pleasure of making the acquaintance of  a talented local photographer with a firm identity in himself and a great view on life. Name? Kevin J. Hsia, a political science and english major at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a freelance photographer working under his own name. While emerging into the fashion scene, his work has been seen in local online magazines and blogs and is continually collaborating with other artists and production companies by adding his own techniques and twists. He’s one of those individuals with a really interesting vibe and his demeanor and artwork are both representative of each other.

Upon meeting him, I couldn’t help but admire his taste in personal style dressed in faded jeans, a plaid lumber-jack shirt layered with a cardigan, and suede moccasins. Immediately, I wanted to know more not just about his artwork, but what he’s thinking while behind the lens. For Kevin, he started off taking pictures because he wanted to capture his life on campus and thought that using a digital camera was the way to go. Soon after finding his dad’s old Nikon, he discovered using film was a much better choice. Nowadays, he’s always on the go with a camera in his pocket sometimes just walking the streets of the city to capture his shots namely in Wicker Park and Logan Square or down by Lake Shore Drive. Also happening to be quite the road-tripper, he travels to different places within the country as well as overseas.

It’s exceedingly transparent where Kevin finds his inspiration. It’s normally a combination of nature, vintage settings, music scenes, and an alluring muse that keeps popping up in most of his pictures whom he labels as SJA, the initials to her full name. There’s a sense of comfort and a soft and intrinsic aura to his images, like a calling to go back to your roots and explore or as if it brings you back to a time and place when you were growing up as a kid. Rarely does he take pictures of architecture or objects without their being an organic or singular feel to it. His work ethic revolves around capturing moments, so there’s always a story behind everyone of his images that you can relate to or will contemplate over whether it be the stance of an object, the drunken stupor of friends during loft parties, or the way SJA looks at you behind her arms. His images have the ability to draw you in.

His advice to beginners? Start with film. With digital, you have the ability to take shots one after the other to get that “perfect” still, but with film you have only one shot if not a limited amount, which you won’t be able to see the results of until after they are processed. With that restriction, you can make adjustments to get an even better photograph next time. Similar to the minimal chances you get to capture an opportunity in reality, you can either nail the shot on the first try or realize later that you had been out of  focus and can tweak your settings for the future. Only once you perceive your actions later can you grow as a person accordingly. An artistic metaphor from Kevin’s philosophy on photography and life.

You can view more Kevin’s work HERE.

Support Local Talent! Be sure to Like him on Facebook, follow his Tumblr, and check out his flickr for the latest updates from his camera.

If you’re a music fiend, he also DJs! Check out his SoundCloud for his latest mixes.

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