More information about QT Luong - for students

Here are answers to questions frequently asked by students preparing reports.

If you haven't done so, be sure to check the general bio page and links at the bottom of that page.

If you still have unanswered questions, please ask on that page for questions ( "Leave a Reply" field) rather than by email.

Where & when were you born?

Paris (France), 1964.

Do you have any brothers and sisters?

I am only child, but other people exist too :-)

What are you parents names and what do they do for a living?

My father, The Vinh Luong, was an architect. My mother Ngoc Thu Luong did a few temp jobs but never had a career.

Where did you go to school?

I was educated in Paris, attending the following institutions (all of them considered top in France): Lycee Louis-le-Grand (high school and college), Ecole Polytechnique (college), Ecole Normale Superieure, rue d'Ulm (master), University of Paris, Orsay (PhD).

What was your childhood like ?

I grew up in the city (Paris). Being only child, I received a lot of attention, especially since my mother never worked full-time. My parents (like many Vietnamese parents) placed a great emphasis on education. School work was by far the main concern. There was no TV at home, and I'd be allowed to go to the movies only a few times per year, one of them being Christmas, to see a Disney production. I wasn't very social, and played only with a few friends. I had little interest in athletic activities (besides sking and a bit of table tennis and tennis), and none for team sports. For Spring break, we would go on an annual family trip in the Alps at my uncle's cabin near Grenoble. In July, we would travel for a few weeks to a new region of France (which I think awakened my interest in travel), and then in August we would camp for a month to a beach resort (CHM Montalivet).

What did you enjoy doing as a child?

I read a lot of serious books, the great classics of French Litterature, like Victor Hugo, Zola, Proust, Paul Valery. I built models, played chess at a competitive level, collected stamps and postcards. In the mid-teenage years, I would also listen to classical music and visit art museums. I wrote computer programs with early programable calculators (I owned a Texas Instruments Ti58) and early personal computers (such as the Commodore PET that I programed in assembly language).

Where have you lived and did these places affect your work?

I lived until my mid-twenties in Paris. Because Paris is such a great cultural center, I was exposed to the arts very early. I think because my life had been so urban, when I was introduced to the high mountains, it was more of a revelation than if I had lived in the countryside or in a smaller town. I moved to the French Riviera during grad school, living for five years in Vallauris. The proximity to the Alps made it possible for me to climb a lot. I was in the mountains virtually every week-end. Subsequently, I moved to America, first living in Berkeley, California. The influence of the West Coast American landscape photography tradition, as well as the National Parks were both turning points.

Where did you work after studying?

Before becoming a free lance, full-time photographer, I worked for more than a decade as a computer scientist (at UC Berkeley and SRI International) rather than a photographer, although my field of research was image understanding, which ties up with some of the technical aspects of photography.

What made you become interested in photography?

My father was a rather serious photographer and taught me the essentials. I won a photo contest (and a camera) around the age of 12. However, it was not before I started climbing mountains that this interest took up in earnest. This was such a new world for me that I wanted to bring some of the beauty back with me and show to others.

Where did you study (photography) ?

I am self taught, like many other photographers. I have not assisted nor taken workshops so far. I learned by looking at a lot of photographs. I visited many galleries and museums and own a library of more than a thousand books of photography.

Were there any photographers that affected your work?

I first realized that the type of mountain photography I was doing could be elevated to an art form through the words and images of Galen Rowell. Elliot Porter showed me how to see subtle colors and patterns in the complexity of nature. I learned from studying Ansel Adams was that the landscape is not a fixed subject but something as transient as the light that makes it visible. When I took up large format landscape photography, I was much inspired by David Muench choice of subjects (wild landscapes and national parks) and approaches (wide angle views).

What do you specialize in ?

I am mostly known for my work on the National Parks. However, unlike many photographers, I do not want to specialize. Instead, I prefer to continue photographing anything that interests me. Initially, I had to be in awe of my environment to be compelled to photograph, which is why I concentrated so much on natural wonders. Although they are still a primary source of inspiration, I am now as interested in the human and culturage heritage of the planet, as well as in the contemporary world. One characteristic of my work, though, is that I go out in the world to make discoveries, as opposed to creating images in the studio, or photographing staged events.

What do you enjoy about it ?

I cherish the experience of traveling and experiencing so much variety. I enjoy the artistic challenge of trying to translate part of this experience into an image, that can communicate to the viewer what I felt when I was there.