We had the good fortune of connecting with Joyce Tong and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Joyce, is there something you can share with us that those outside of the industry might not be aware of?
Everyone loves seeing the final photos and watching behind the scenes clips of shoots, but I think most people don’t fully realize how much time and effort has to be put in before a shoot to create those images. For example, I brainstorm concepts, build mood boards, and discuss options with clients long before even scheduling a shoot. I also research and select locations weeks in advance, and if I’m able to, I like to do a walkthrough in person to look at the light and think about how to use the surroundings to create the optimal images for my client. Before a shoot can happen, I also have to consider wardrobe, posing, and how to flow through outfit and location changes to get the most out of everyone’s time. While every photographer’s workflow is different, I think that the amount of thought and care that goes into each shoot is nearly universal across the industry.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
It’s not uncommon for photographers to have a second career alongside of their photography, but I think I’m a little unusual in that medicine is mine. I started working in the industry six years ago when I was 18, and when I was in college people were always surprised that I wasn’t pursuing a more business or creatively-oriented major. And now, three years into medical school… people are still surprised haha. While photography and medicine seem like two completely separate worlds, I honestly think that what I’ve learned in each industry translates across and helps make me better at the other. I’ve been criticized for what’s seen as failing to commit fully to either career, but booking shoots and creating images that I’m proud of doesn’t take away from the dedication I have to my medical training, in the same way that the time I spend studying or with patients doesn’t detract from being a creative professional. At this point they are both ingrained into who I am and I am proud of that.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’m a native Austinite so you could say I was a little skeptical when I first moved to Dallas, but the city has grown on me over the past few years! COVID has definitely shaped my current routine, but I love taking advantage of Texas sunshine and going for a walk at the Katy Trail or White Rock Lake with a friend. I always love bringing visitors to the Bishop Arts District, which is home to tons of local businesses and Dallas staples, including many of my favorites. All Good Things is a must for gifts and stationery and I can never resist going to Oasis Plant Shop to get yet another houseplant for my apartment. The delicious empanadas at Espumoso Caffe are a perfect snack for taking to-go, and of course we couldn’t go home without stopping to grab a slice of pie from Emporium Pies.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many people who I owe my success to, but today my shoutout goes to the people who make the experimental, creative, off-the-wall shoots happen. Often I’ll have an idea in the back of my mind for months that just rolls around my brain, gathering dust, until I find the right team to bring it to life. Over the past six years, I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with so many other creatives (and sometimes strangers from social media) who have become friends while collaborating on projects. Each of those shoots was a way for me to continue to learn and hone my skills by playing with lights, styling, and posing with complete creative freedom. When I look at my body of work, I’m always struck by the fact that I could never have created these images without them. Whether you’re a creative who contributed your time and skill or a friend who came along to help move props or hold reflectors, thank you.