It’s difficult to pinpoint a single image or film that has profoundly affected me, different work provokes different emotions in me and I always try to keep an open mind and try to expand what inspires me. But there is one project that made me understand how I wanted to develop as an artist – Alec Soth’s “Sleeping by the Mississippi.”
In that series is an image of a seemingly unremarkable and stark landscape, a rundown house and a few trees, with the grey sky filling up most of the photo, almost mirroring a classic Dutch landscape painting. The image is packed with understated ’emotional punches’ and then you discover the title, “Johnny Cash’s Childhood Home,” which raises many more questions. It is an image that invites viewers to take their time and take it in, discover it and interpret it. Soth’s project really inspired me (I was moving away from being a documentary photographer at the time) and influenced how I make my own work.
Kurt Tong’s first picture story documenting the treatment of disabled children in India won the Luis Valtuena International Humanitarian Photography Award and the City of Port St. Elpidio Prize. His first monograph, “In Case It Rains in Heaven”, was published by Kehrer Verlag in 2011. He is represented by Jen Bekman Gallery in New York, The Photographer’s Gallery in London, Identity Gallery and Blindspot Gallery in Hong Kong. (Photo of Tong: TroikaEditions)