Alexander Tran (@atranphoto) divides his time between Salem, N.H., where the 25-year-old lives, and Andover, Mass., where he works as a hardware development engineer for a medical device company. Fortuitously for his followers, that means Tran has been able to deliver striking images of locals and locales from both states since getting on Instagram a year ago this month.
Q. Your posts often play with grays and shadow while also including flashes of vivid color. Is there a philosophy to your photography?
A. I definitely like muted colors, and splashes of brighter color. It gives some interest to the photo, and it directs the viewer's attention if there's something to focus on.
Q. Your use of models is also pretty eye-catching.
A. They give viewers a scale for what my photo is capturing, as well as giving the photo a subject, a focal point, something to draw the viewer in. The models could either be my friends, people who were there with me when I took the photo, or complete strangers, which I also like. Taking a photo of a stranger, you can imagine what kind of day that person had, what they're thinking, even give them a background through your photo.
Q. Looking through your feed, you've been working on what you call the Projector Portrait Project. Tell me more about it.
A. I came up with that idea while I was recovering from surgery on my foot, actually. . . . I wanted to take portraits of my friends, with one of their own photos projected onto them. It's a little challenging, but I'm trying to capture the best in someone's photography and in themselves. The message is what they're thinking of, what's in their head.
Q. What do you enjoy most about Instagram?
A. Being on Instagram has given me an excuse to travel a lot to take photos. I went to New York City, I recently went to Acadia National Park, and more local places like Crane Beach in Ipswich. Without photography, I probably wouldn't have visited those places, and I honestly would have just breezed by them. . . . It's also a creative outlet for me. I definitely get a chance to use the more creative side of my brain, more than I do at work. My job is more technically based, so photography offsets that.
Q. Your bio includes an odd little phrase: "Live Free or Twinkie." What's the story there?
A. [Laughs] It's this saying one of my friends has. The first part is from "Live Free or Die," the New Hampshire state motto. And the second part is Twinkies . . . because, I don't know, because Twinkies are just good.