Photographer Johnathan Chen recently gave this 13-minute TEDx Talk about how art and science came together to inspire him to create mesmerizing images through experimentation.
Chen says he maintains a “beginner’s mindset” and is always looking to explore new ideas and try out different viewpoints in his images. Trained as an engineer but possessing the eyes of an artist, Chen works to capture scientific concepts on camera.
“A scientist and a photographer approach stories in much the same way,” says Chen. “I think as an artist I bridge both of those worlds.”
For example, Chen took a Prince Rupert’s Drop and captured it in slow motion. He ended up with an image of the drop shattering and finally used that to create a mask and a striking composite of Earth-shattering into the universe. He likes the way this photo reminds him about climate change and how delicate our planet is.
“The picture is what everyone sees and celebrates,” says Chen. “But people don’t understand the difficulty and the struggle that comes with making images like this.
“Things are not beautiful without difficulty. When I create images like this I think a lot about that, and that difficulty for me is genetic. I’m color blind.”
It’s incredibly inspiring to think that Chen can create amazing imagery without a proper ability to see and appreciate the color across his images. But even with that setback, Chen reminds himself that to create that beauty there must be a difficulty to overcome.
“Studying science and making photos, I figured I could learn how to see,” says Chen. “Science is my way of seeing what I can’t see.”