Through the Lens of Pei Ketron

As part of our upcoming Adventure Project series this summer, we will be working with several select collaborators to take This is Ground on the road with them as they travel the world.

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ph: Jason E Kim

There’s a wonderful personal quality to the work of Pei Ketron. Viewing her photographs, you feel as though you’re traveling the globe along with her, riding around inside her iPhone, peering through the lens. On Instagram, her warm personality is apparent in her captions and use of perspective. Pei’s humanitarian influences are visible in her work as well and despite the fact that many of her photos are taken around the world, they serve as an inspiration for us to appreciate the everyday, routine aspects of our lives.

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Where are you and what can you hear out your window right this moment?
I’m currently in Taipei, Taiwan and can hear the sounds of the city outside my window: cars and motor scooters driving by, intermittent honking, and occasional chatter from passing pedestrians.

What drew you to photography?
I became drawn to photography because it changed the way I looked at the world around me. It made me slow down, notice, and appreciate moments in life that often get overlooked. To me, it’s a very introspective, personal process that suits my personality quite a bit.

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What was your first camera?
I didn’t get into photography until the end of college when I had a cheap point and shoot film camera, a Fujifilm Discovery 290s Zoom. I quickly upgraded to a 35mm film SLR, a Canon AL-1, that was loaned to me by some family friends. I made the jump to digital in 2003 with a Canon Powershot G3.

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Who are some of your favorite photographers?
I love the portraits of Steve McCurry, the travel and humanitarian work of Lisa Kristine, the minimalist work of Akos Major, and the street photography of Vivian Maier.

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ph: Steve McCurry
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ph: Akos Major
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ph: Vivian Maier

Can you tell me a little more about the humanitarian work you’ve done? What countries have you worked in and what was your experience like?
I haven’t done nearly as much humanitarian work as I’d like to do, but the humanitarian work I tend to gravitate towards is usually child-centric work in developing countries. I’ve spent time with preschoolers in Mozambique and with students with special needs in India. Both were eye-opening experiences that taught me to find joy in the life that I have and to think twice about what my priorities should be.

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What’s your next destination?
I have a short personal trip to Seoul, South Korea planned. It’s a country I’ve never spent any time in before and I’m excited to experience the culture and compare the city to other major cities I’ve been to.

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And your travel essentials?
Photography gear (film, digital, and mobile phone gear and accessories), ample back-up batteries, a good camera bag, an inflatable travel pillow (I can’t stay awake on an airplane for the life of me), snacks, Chapstick, and hand lotion.

Lastly, what’s your favorite book?
Does a play count? Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of my favorite stories and I read it long before I ever saw it on stage. I love the lighthearted, playful spirit of the story and how the multi-layered story mixes a little bit of fantasy with real life.

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Follow Pei on Instagram this summer at @pketron.