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I am a photographer: Vivian Jiang’s extraordinary perspective through the lens

July 23, 2015

Vivian Jiang

With a Canon EOS 600D camera in her hands, and an army green backpack slung over her shoulders, Vivian Jiang walks through Dublin High’s campus, looking for people, plants, or places to add to her photography portfolio. Whether it be the flashes of moving cars, the variations in a dancer’s routine, or her best friends at a birthday party, nothing intimidates this well-seasoned photographer on her goal to make art.

“It documents the world in a different way than words do,” says Jiang. As a photographer, her role is “bringing attention to what’s beautiful about our world, such as landscapes or individuals.”

Jiang first started her passion of photography when she was eight and received her first camera. Since then, she has taken this art to new places such as the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI). There, she attended a precollege program for five weeks, learning about photography and editing, and gaining an impressive and diverse skillset as a photographer.

“I learned about the rule of thirds and to be more open with showing others my work,” says Jiang, who also discovered that risk-taking was a key element to photography while studying at the SFAI.

“Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone,” she recommends. “Try different types of photography or do something you normally wouldn’t.”

Photo credit Vivian Jiang 4

Jiang studied black and white photography under Maggie Preston and digital photography under Jamil Hellu. According to the precollege website, Preston’s black and white photography class teaches “camera operations and moving through black-and-white darkroom processes of printing and shooting.” Hellu’s digital photography class teaches “advanced Photoshop features, including selections, layers, masks, and channels” “through hands-on practice in the digital computer lab, lighting studio, and in the field.” Jiang came back from this summer program with a new adeptness in photography, which she would eventually use throughout the year as The Dublin Shield’s photo editor.

“Being behind the camera feels natural since I’m able to observe everything that’s happening in front of me,” Jiang says. “I like doing a little bit of everything: I like architectural photography when I’m able to use a film camera, nature photography when I’m out and about, and portraiture when I have people who are willing to model.”

When Jiang is not photographing at Dublin High, or at the photography studio she set up in her own home, Jiang is at parks like Emerald Glen, where people and nature are both ready to be memorialized by her camera.

“I’m constantly appreciating and observing my surroundings, visualizing how they would look in a photograph,” Jiang says.

Her ability to find and capture stories from her unique and telling perspective makes her a valuable member of the school newspaper and of Dublin High. She has to make sure every detail in the piece is in the right place, making photography meticulous work.

“There’s more to taking a picture than just releasing the shutter button,” says Jiang. “Every part of a picture serves a purpose.”

Jiang is one of the many talented artists at Dublin High, and the first one to be featured in our “Arts & Humanities: I Am” series. The “Arts & Humanities: I Am” series is meant to celebrate Dublin High students who are keeping the arts alive in our community. We have musicians, artists, and writers who will hopefully inspire other budding creators to proudly declare “I am a ___.” If you know someone who fits this description, please let us know at


Author Grace Li is a Dublin High School Class of 2015 graduate who will be attending Harvard University.

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