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Paul Phung's Phenomenal Photos

Using dark lights and atmospheric smoke, this Leeds uni graduate will be embarking on his next solo project, Black Magic Part II

It would be unfair to say photographer Paul Phung merely shoots experimental and documentary style images. His photographs are much more than arty day-to-day encounters – they are magical, intriguing and have a beautiful quality. Not bad for a 23-year-old Leeds College of Art graduate. His “night and smoke project” is eerie and atmospheric but also extremely striking. Smoke has been used by numerous photographers, but Phung’s is so effective that Elena Gallen asked him to photograph her surreal SS ’10 ‘Sacred Geometry Collection’ using his signature style. His personal collection has also been featured to sublime effect in the ‘Black Magic’ zine, made by Workshop studio and sold in Magma. His visual diary, despite being more every day, still manages to enchant whether taken on a routine commute or at lunch. Definitely one to watch, Paul Phung is a young Ryan McGinley in the making.

Dazed Digital: What is the underlying theme to your work?
Paul Phung: 'The Unknown'.
DD: What do you want viewers to feel from your photographs?
Paul Phung: As with many photographers I think your work represents yourself, there is definitely a form of your personality within your images. I want the viewer to have a feeling of who I am, in some cases I try to direct my subject as if I was on the other side of the lens. A few people have told me my recent images remind them of horror films, the cinematic aesthetic is something I have been working on during my post-production.
DD: What and where do you most like to shoot?
Paul Phung: In the woods near my house, it is one of those settings where you think - this would be perfect for a horror film or a chase scene. There are small open spaces where the light just falls perfectly to the floor, I haven’t used this area to its full potential as of yet but I’m waiting for the weather to be good to me. My friends once told me of this place that apparently is in the middle of the forest and has a perfect circle of trees. It sounds pretty strange but quite interesting, maybe I will find this place one day!
DD: What do you most like to shoot?
Paul Phung: In my wildest dreams I’d most like to photograph Evan Rachel Wood and Michael Pitt in the desert.
DD: If your ‘Black Magic’ project were a song what would it be?
Paul Phung: >>>>▲<<<< by †‡† Or IxC999 by White Ring
DD: Out of all of your photographs, which is your favourite and why?
Paul Phung: I’m not sure I would use the word 'favourite’ but the photograph I feel most proud of is from my current project I’m working on ‘Black Magic Part 2’. This will probably change but the photograph is currently named after its location, ‘Ilkley Moors’, it’s exactly the opening image I wanted to set the scene for the project. ‘Black Magic’ was the beginning and this project will be the becoming.
DD: Who is your best photographer and which of their photographs is your favourite?
Paul Phung: These past few months I have been inspired more by visual and moving image artists, although I always look at photographers I couldn’t really say I have a favourite or a favourite photograph. Miroslav Tichy is quite inspiring at the moment and I always check back to see what new work Alison Scarpulla and Ellen Rogers is doing. Christian Boltanski has always been a reference point towards my work.
DD: What would be your dream job?
Paul Phung: To be commissioned enough to travel the world and produce new work. I would love, one day, to create a short film to go along with one of my photographic projects.

DD: What are you working on at the moment?

Paul Phung: As I mentioned, I am working on Part 2 of Black Magic and also on small projects for several fashion magazines and design companies. However, my aim is to work full time for a creative fashion magazine with like minded people, this is something I’m currently working extremely hard for.
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