There are many successful and creative photographers, but the rare ones that are able to make an impact in the people that they have encountered are the difference maker. He or she who possesses this uncanny intuition in freezing time to capture the perfections of an inaudible laughter frozen in time that screams of forever happiness, to a portrait on prom night immortalizing the fountain of youth that was, to as simple as a grin or a smile that can be cherished through the end of time; these are the evanescent moments that these true artist can do with a click of a finger. One that comes to mind, and a friend of Hmoodle is Andrew Xiong.
Hmoodle: Give our readers a quick introduction.
Andrew: My name is Andrew L. Xiong. I am a professional wedding, portraits, and event
photographer based out of Minneapolis, MN.
Hmoodle: How long have you been doing this professionally, and what inspired you get into the photography field?
Andrew: I have been shooting professionally since 2011 but I have always excelled in the arts since elementary school and been interested in the visual graphic art and photography for as long as I can remember. So in college, besides taking my core business classes, I also took a bunch of elective arts related classes and one of them happened to be photography.
Now we are talking about back in the late 90’s, so during that time we were shooting with the old film Minolta cameras and developing our photos in the dark room for our class assignments; which were fun in their own ways compared to nowadays using Lightroom and Photoshop to process our images. This photography class and all the art classes that I have taken along the way to this point is what really gave me a strong foundation for my current photography, from understanding about good composition to the relationship between ISO, shutter, aperture, and the many more that can bore you all. Also, along with taking a few lighting classes locally, as well as the countless hours of reading books and magazines, and watching videos on photography and lighting.
Hmoodle: Can you describe the maturation process of your first photograph to the current photographs you take now?
Andrew: It has changed a lot in many ways, but also some ways they have stayed the same. By that I mean I was just shooting with natural lighting mostly in the first couple years of photography because I guess it’s a natural progression for most photographers as well; to now, having mastered lighting and I can shoot in basically any lighting condition from a strobe to natural light. Also, I have tried to shoot other subjects such as nature, sports, and everything else, but eventually gravitated back toward shooting portraits, weddings and events. I love shooting things that tend to have a story to them, such as portrait theme based or real life events of a wedding or some type of event such as nightlife.
Hmoodle: Being in the field for quite some times now, what do you see as the biggest obstacles for new photographers coming into this field?
Andrew: Well I think that anyone can buy the most current models of camera and lens out there but in addition to having great gears you have to have a solid knowledge and understanding of the foundation of lighting, not only in terms of quality directional natural light, but how to use artificial light to help you achieve the look you want in any lighting condition that you may encounter.
Hmoodle: What is your favorite camera setup and why?
Andrew: My favorite camera setup in terms of body, lens and accessories for event shoots would be my 5dII, 24-105mm lens and 430exII flash pair with the Fong Lightsphere collapsible. For portraits shoot I like using the 5DII with 70-200mm and the beauty dish.
Hmoodle: Can you share with us tips on how to capture that awesome or unique composition?
Andrew: First you have to understand what makes a good and bad composition by understanding the rule of thirds, negative space, background distractions (what to include and not include in your image), etc. Additionally, just shoot from a different angle or location that many other photographers normally would not shoot from or not comfortable shooting from. For instance, I did some collaboration shoot this summer by the river and lake where I literally just walked into the water in my pants and tennis shoes with water almost waist deep or getting down and kneeling in the water and shooting from there instead of standing from land, which gives me a different angle that others would not have captured. So think safety, but don’t be afraid to get down and dirty when shooting.
Hmoodle: If you can build a time machine to travel back through time, what era of time would you have love to photograph?
Andrew: I think right now is the best and most exciting time for photography! Our digital cameras are becoming better than they have ever been before in terms of low light ISO capability, advanced auto focus features for photo/video, WIFI, and so much more just to name a few; in comparison to when I started shooting digital back in 2007. In addition, there are so many photography resources right now out there for free if you just take the time to find and learn from it, which was not the case 5 to 10 years ago.
Hmoodle: When you’re not out about doing your photography service, what other hobbies does Andrew Xiong do to have fun?
Andrew: I’m always doing photography it seems besides working my full time job. In my spare time, which I don’t have much nowadays, I enjoy taking my kids out to the park for long walk, to the zoo or the mall. I used to go out bowling a lot with friends and do Taekwondo when I was younger so if I were to have some extra time I would like to get back to doing those activities.
Hmoodle: Tell our readers something interesting that may be shocking about yourself.
Andrew: I live a pretty normal boring life, so there isn’t anything super shocking that I have done or encountered, but I do hold a 2nd degree black belt in Taekwondo, and I worked for 5 months at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL back in my college days and it was a blast!
Hmoodle: How can viewers follow you and your work, as well as contact you if they are interested in hiring you for a shoot?
Andrew: Viewers can check out my work on my personal website at www.andrewlxiong.com or for up to date stuff they can view or like my photo page at www.facebook.com/andrewlxiongphoto.
Hmoodle: Any last words or parting words to our Hmoodle readers?
Andrew: Find what you are passionate about and shoot those that are dear to you, when it’s fun your results are usually much better and more creative. Be proficient at Photoshop and Lightroom because half of your job is capturing the image, but the other creative half is how you process that image to make it unique. Find a few good photography resources online such CreativeLive, B&H channel on Youtube, and continue to learn from it and shoot as often as you can. And lastly, if you want to network and share your work with other Hmong photographers online from around the world then you are welcome to join our Facebook Hmong Photographers page.
Once again, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with us in the interview. You have been exceptional in helping Hmoodle in the past, and having partnered up with you in the past with our Hmoodle events.
For you readers out there ready to take the plunge in this business, Andrew is definitely an authority in this field. Questions or comments please reply below, or to stay anonymous please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Peace out!