My name is Paul Kieu, and I’m a photographer based right here in Downtown Lafayette.
I’m originally from Vermilion Parish, and these days I primarily work in editorial and commercial photography. Through that work, I’m able to travel around the state to photograph a wide variety of things from obvious subjects like Mardi Gras to obscure small-town museums and single day festivals.
After spending the formative years of my career (and my early 20’s) in photojournalism, I naturally see the world through that lens, constantly curious (or nosy?) and drawing inspiration from the people and places of Louisiana. I’m constantly surrounded by big moments, loud music, and excitement, but I find so much to learn from the smaller elements that make Acadiana such a unique place in America. It’s really fun to meet new folks, to find new things to photograph, or to even revisit an event or place I’ve seen before to figure out a new way of show it to people. Acadiana is such a rich source of inspiration, and it’s a passion that’s somehow become my life’s work to show it off to the world.
In addition to photography, I’m currently the board president of Basin Arts, and I’m one of the co-founders of the Krewe de Canailles walking parade. Facilitating and creating connections in the arts community here is one of my favorite pastimes, and through my photo and non-photo work, I feel very fortunate to be able to do that every single day.
Who makes up your art circle?
I’m very fortunate that my work has put me in touch with tons of artists and non-artists alike throughout the Lafayette community and Louisiana at large. There’s value in receiving input from both practitioners and art enjoyers, and through Basin Arts and other avenues, I’m able to have a very diverse circle in the arts community.
How do you expand your art circle?
Whether it’s actively reaching out to artists or with chance meetings in the community, it’s vital to put myself out there even when my introverted tendencies pop up. I like to attend events in mediums that I don’t work in. I like meeting people who aren’t photographers and asking them about their process. It’s a great way to get a real world, general education and to grow the Art Circle and learn from those new friends.
What value do you see in having a creative community?
As a photographer, I primarily work alone in the field and work on a laptop by myself in my apartment. I need regular input from other creatives from time to time to let me know if I’m going in a direction that makes sense. In addition, seeing others’ work, even if it’s not my style or medium, is very important for me to understand what’s even possible in terms of creating images in the field or in the studio. It’s really vital to me to have a community that can lift me and others up through harsh reality checks, cheerleading (when it’s needed), referrals for commissions, or just through sheer inspiration.
How does your artistic approach contribute to your community?
My particular line of photography requires me to quickly develop a rapport with subjects in the field to preserve a moment. At this stage of my career, I really enjoy using those skills to serve as a facilitator and connector – someone who can try and bridge gaps between artists of varying disciplines. I’m definitely not the best at this, but it’s something I feel passionate about putting effort into, especially through Basin.