A picture is supposed to say a thousand words. But when the picture is of a person, does that mean the person can be reduced to ten thousand words? Surely not. What a picture does, or at least is supposed to do, is to say something inexpressible and incommunicable by language. It’s supposed to go beyond the constraints of our linguistic capacities. That’s exactly what Faith Cho (C ’20) does.
Equipped with her camera, Faith’s photography goes beyond the single instrument. She started her own photography studio with her friend Claire Shin (C '20) called “Housemoshi.” The name “means 'Hello' in Japanese. It’s like we are reaching out and telling everyone that we are the girls behind the photos,” Faith says. The aim is to “welcome and ask people to take part in this world that we are trying to create.”
For Faith, her journey as a photographer began after taking a digital photography class as a freshman. Following this class, she began looking for an outlet to create and express herself. But after scouring campus for such outlets, she found that the existing ones “were not doing exactly what I want to do.” That’s how the idea of Housemoshi came into being.
The photos are primarily portraits, meant to be intense visualizations of the individuals such that they capture the intangible: the aura, the mood, and the character. In the beginning, Faith and Claire started out by asking their friends to model for them, but they gradually began to reach out to other students through Facebook. With a smile, Faith explains her reasoning behind this. “Ultimately, we want to get to the point that we can just approach strangers with our portfolio.”
The portraits are often sparse when it comes to narration and plot line, but in place of this, are driven by visually rich imagery laden with unspoken emotion. The models pose, but she often encourages them to move around and create shapes with their bodies freely. This improvisation allows the models to feel comfortable, her to experiment, and the photos to capture a candid spirit.
In terms of style, Faith describes her work as “similar to what others do, but in terms of the visual aspect, we have a particular cinematic style.” Inspired by Hong Kong Second Wave filmmaker Wong Kar–wai, her photography draws from the meaning ingrained in the kaleidoscope of colors rather than pure narration. Varied spectrums of bright hues and darker tones splashing across the picture show how important color combinations are to creating the right mood and atmosphere. The reds, light purples, and greens that dance across the prints lend themselves to the vivid pictorial quality. This is Faith’s way of portrayal that distinguishes her from other photographers.
For example, in one of her works titled “Sky Sky Baby Blues,” the series is made up of bright colors against a sky blue background. It’s meant to capture the bubbly personality and sunshine that emanates from the model, Angela Sohng (C’ 18). As Faith describes, “she’s such a cheerful person and you can feel that through the photos.”
But at the end of the day, these images are purely visual. They’re not meant to be overloaded with purpose, as many pieces of art do, connecting one image to an entire philosophical truth. Her reasoning comes from one of her favorite photographers Ren Hang, who believes that his photos are just photos. Not objects designed for the audience to ascribe arbitrary meaning to.
As Faith puts it, “I just want to make striking, beautiful things. We are just two college girls who are not so professional. We want to make it a chill and fun experience for everyone.” And so it is. Her work is altogether beautiful, striking, chill, and fun. It’s a break from the traditional norm of seeing ourselves as stuck in a society oriented around productiveness. So watch out for a message from Faith. Maybe it will be you who’s featured.