Chuck Dong lives and works in Mountain View, CA. He has used instant film for all his life and shoots all around America. “I fell in love with instant film again when I noticed the numb rapid fire style of digital photography. Shooting with Impossible definitely helps you slow down and notice valuable moments you would have otherwise missed. If you have a clear vision in your mind of what you’re going for, you will know exactly when to press that button.” He photographed and interviewed Lexi and Taylor in their Los Angeles home with their 3 kittens.
How did you two meet?
TL: We met at a bar and I asked for her number, just kidding. I knew her boyfriend and he introduced us, we hit it off…and we became roommates two months later, in love ever since.
LS: I met Taylor outside of an underground bar in Hollywood. Right after she moved to LA. I thought she was hitting on my boyfriend at the time, they were actually just old friends. When I saw her, I immediately thought, “WOW this babe looks exactly like Anna Karina (one of my favorite French Film Actresses from the sixties)!” We became fast friends and then serendipitously fast roommates.
Compared to New York City, is it harder to make friends in Los Angeles?
LS: I have lived in both NYC and LA. I found it much more difficult to make friends in LA, it took me months, I blame cars smartphones and traffic. In NYC you have to walk by people, engage more often with people, phones don’t work everywhere…in LA you are running around isolated in your car.
TL: Not at all. LA people are always down to party and have a good time…LA people are cool to hang…but they’re all a lil bit crazy after being in Peter Pan Land too long!
CD: I sometimes say, New Yorkers are like Spartans and Angelinos are like Athenians. Tough vs. Party, both great ways to live.
Today, everyone keeps photos on their phones and there are less printed physical photos, is this a good thing?
TL: I like both. I love taking film and printing them out and putting them on my wall or having, but only the special ones.
LS: I always love having hard copies of photos. It’s also great having photos so easily accessible now with phones. My only problem with that is I have lost so many photos because I didn’t back up properly and then they are gone forever. Also, having a camera phone makes me take more photos but of a lesser quality, also it removes me from the moment everything is happening in real time. It’s distracting. Real photos are more valuable because you only have so many.
Describe your prom photo.
LS: My prom photo was with my best friend. She had crazy flock of seagulls hair and I had platinum blonde Marie Antoinette hair. So scene. We thought we were punk.
TL: I was emo and wore all black.
CD: I wore a white tux, had to stand out in Penguin Land.
Describe your worst yearbook photo.
TL: Don’t have one, a bad yearbook photo.
LS: Half of my bra was showing…
Do you love or dread Valentines Day?
LS: It’s one day out of the year to celebrate LOVE! Yes, It’s marketed to be a romantic honey day, maybe made up by hallmark, but who cares! It’s more than that. It’s fun, sweet, and the more reasons to celebrate in life the better. How wonderful, to have a day to celebrate a feeling we all thrive on.
TL: Love and dread it equally. I love the idea of celebrating love but Valentine’s is such a gimmick and plus, I suck at gifting presents so its a bit of pressure for me.
First Kiss and First Heartbreak.
TL: First Kiss was in a hot tub when I was 12. First Heartbreak, high school. I caught my boyfriend cheating with my best friend on a tree.
LS: My First Kiss was when I was 16. It tasted sweet…maybe it was the milkshake I had earlier? Haha It was awesome. First Heartbreak…I dunno? It gets worse every time…I think I know heartbreak and then the next one happens, and I’m like oh no, that must have not heartbreak last time cause this now is so much worse…
CD: First Kiss I had braces, she was brave. First Heartbreak I probably blacked out.
Does “love at first sight” still exist in today’s online dating universe?
TL: Who knows? Online dating universe has no rules. A weird world that one.
LS: I’ve never been on a dating website, it doesn’t appeal to me for now, but I have made many friends through social media, so I see why it works. I think love at first sight will always exist though. For me it is about the feeling I get when I see someone, planned or not, it’s the moment we lock eyes.
CD: Same. Online dating, not my bag. The eyes are everything.
Photography has always influenced public opinion to provoke social change. Today, combined with information phones and social networking, photography is more powerful then ever. What effect is this having on society?
TL: It’s effecting people to create more… be more original and be themselves while trying to gain perspective.
LS: Photography and using it on social media has allowed people to unite. Politically or with something as simple as #freethenipple, people are able to inspire and show what they believe in. They can connect with others who feel the same to create strong movements and open peoples minds who may not be exposed otherwise.
Chuck Dong interviews Lexi Stellwood and Taylor LaShae about Love, Photos, and Famous Firsts.
Photos: Chuck Dong @chuckodong
Models: Lexi Stellwood @lexistellwood
Taylor LaShae @taylorlashae
Clothing: Models own
Jewels: Lola Abbey @dadybones