Artists Spotlight: When Personal Challenges Meet Visual Inspiration
From afar and in photographs, it may look like fog enshrouding rolling hills. Once you trek inside, it becomes clear that the white mist isn’t fog, but steam rising from the hot springs of Kerlingarfjöll, a mountain range situated in the highlands of Iceland.
“What made it challenging and memorable was getting there,” says Phil Nguyen. With friends, the photographer and contributor to Adobe Stock’s Premium Collection crossed shallow rivers in a 4×4 vehicle and hiked the highlands’ interior.
There they observed changing colors, capturing time and landscapes that are a rarity in a country where imagery is plentiful from more popular, easily accessible destinations.
Earlier this year, our curators nominated a select group of Premium contributors to photography annuals. Phil’s image of Kerlingarfjöll (with a friend for scale) won in this year’s Communication Arts annual, a leading trade journal for visual communications. “The goal of all our competitions is to celebrate creative excellence,” says Patrick Coyne, Communication Arts editor.
The son of immigrant parents who fled the conflict of war in Vietnam, Phil was born and raised in Texas and now calls California his home base. “Phil’s photography is always a treat to curate,” says Stephanie Cabrera, Premium’s head of curation. His photography of sweeping landscapes — from Japan and New Zealand to Peru — elicit emotion from light and framing.
“As we shape the Premium collection, we’re seeking artists who have a unique voice,” says Stephanie. “Phil is telling his story, and I want to hear more. The artful approach to capturing all the corners of our planet is refreshing and inspiring.”
Of his creative process, Phil says it’s not formulaic: “It’s something that changes as we learn.” Traveling propelled Phil to photography as he backpacked across Europe for three months after leaving a job.
As a successful commercial photographer, he also sees his large following on social media as a responsibility beyond today’s influencer culture.
“At the end of the day, it’s about providing value and building trust,” he says. Though international shoots have been a constant, he’s now revisiting roots in the United States, as a personal challenge, exploring domestic stories closer to home.
The Premium Collection’s curation team is global in nature, coming from editorial and creative backgrounds, supporting languages including Japanese, Farsi, and French. Here are additional artists that were nominated by the team.
“I’d like to express feelings and atmosphere that are difficult to explain by words.” – Wataru Kitamura
“I set out to create bold images with the intention of making people double take or laugh. I always start with a concept. I think concept is king.” – Kellie French
“I see photographs as stories. I’m constantly seeking to capture light, people, space, unique perspectives and emotions culminating in singular moments frozen in time that tell stories to the viewer.” – Inti St. Clair
“Photography is like alchemy. You can create something priceless out of nothing. I love to collaborate with other talented artists in our desire to create and share beauty with others.” – Lindsay Adler
“Obsessed by light and simple, natural beauty, I always seek to capture something beyond what we see: the emotion, feelings, memories that exist in the moment. For me, photography is akin to sitting by the fire, sipping a cup of freshly brewed coffee or dram of whisky, and sharing stories with good friends.” –Fran Mart
See more inspiring images from artists around the world on Adobe Stock.