arts • 17 Nov, 2016
Insta Elite @Monsimi
‘Brown Boy’ Wears This Fortnights #aainstaelite Crown
Ngo Tuan Phat loves the colour brown. His IG account @monsimi even features the hashtag #caubemaunau, meaning ‘brown-boy’, which is one of several he’s created that have become popular on the photo-sharing site. As a well-known photographer and some-time retail stylist about town, he’s developed a strong following, and because of the quality of the images he takes, is a worthy holder of this fortnights #aainstaelite crown.
Phat says he uses IG to bring him closer to the people who love him and describes the tool like a magic wand; ‘able to transform an ordinary person like me, into someone who people follow and pay attention to.’ We like his work. Whether he be capturing some of the amazing food this country has on offer, not being afraid to take a selfie of his latest fashion pairing, or simply celebrating his gratitude for life’s simple pleasures, give him a follow - he might just inspire you to get more out of your insta-day.
Your Instagram feed is dominated by brown and white… What do these colors mean to you?
They represent 2 very distinct periods. When I started to invest more into my feed, at least 60% of the pics I took contained some sort of white, as my standard aesthetic back then was minimal, bright, and clean. All of my pics were calculated and ordered before posting, so I left out many beautiful moments in order to achieve a white tone.
Brown is a colour that I feel is somehow truly me. On the first day of 2016, I uploaded a pic at midnight to mark that visual transformation. I’d been restricting myself with rules for a while, and the moment I started posting pics with more colors was when I felt creatively liberated. Now I even have my own hashtag #caubemauno (brown boy) which was accidentally given to me by a very dear friend.
How did you get into the habit of taking photos and posting on Instagram?
I opened an IG account when I was in senior year at high school, but I only started using it regularly when I got to college. For me IG is like a magic wand that transforms an ordinary person like me into someone who has followers who pay attention to my pics. It also brings me closer to people who share the same passion and hobbies, and also to those who love me.
As a photographer, how are your Instagram photos different to the photos you take for work?
My IG pics reflect who I am 100%, while those for work have to satisfy my clients.
How much planning is involved in your Instagram?
I post stuff to IG on a daily basis, a maximum of 3 pics on certain days, mostly because I’m on a trip and can’t wait to share it with people. Mostly before posting I always consider whether the pic fits into the overall feed, or if its color goes well with the ones next to it. Once I’m happy with everything then the pic is given the go ahead to be posted.
What is the most memorable snapshot of your entire feed?
I remember each post vividly, but the most memorable at the moment is this daisy flower one. I was looking through all the old pics in my phone and came across this image, so I decided to edit it and then post without much intention. For some reason it got a lot of likes, which kinda surprised me, but it became unforgettable.
Food, fashion, moments or flat-lays… what is your favorite subject to shoot and why?
All of them! I can’t pick just one. Here’s why:
- Food: All types of food and drinks in this world are delicious and beautiful, from street vendors, coffee shops, bistros, to fancy restaurants. Unless my phone is out of battery, I always take pictures of them.
- Fashion: I used to be a stylist so I’m very attentive to how I dress. When I wear an interesting outfit, I ask someone to take a picture of it or I take a selfie as I never wear the same outfit twice. #monsimioutfit is the hashtag I use for this.
- Moments: It depends on my mood. When it’s really good, I’ll go out on the street with my camera and snap everything around me.
- Flat-lay: This is 100% my favorite since it’s how people know me best. My friends even call me the Prince of Flatlays. This allows me to play with composition, color, and the centre of interest. It reminds me of how we used to draw as a child, I love it.
What makes a great Instagram feed?
It’s not that interesting to me if someone sticks to one theme or pursues a ‘polished’ aesthetic, which I notice is something many people do. I love to see a person’s personality and life shine through the pictures, from which I can draw a picture of him/her in my mind. I also like things that are interactive, inspiring, and well-edited.
What do you think about the new Instagram Stories feature? How do you use it compared to your usual feed?
[SCREAMING OUT LOUD] I give IG 100 points for their Stories feature. I ADORE it like crazy. While the normal IG feed requires me to put thought and consideration into making it look good, the Stories feature allows me to create quick, neat, and realistic content. Because I don’t use Facebook, it’s the go-to platform for me to share status and post short videos. I love it how you can also draw and write anything with your fingertips. You can see it clearly if you follow my stories, how crazy I went for this.
Which program(s) or apps do you usually use to edit your photos?
What makes a picture good depends a lot on the moment of snapping, most importantly the lighting, then composition, and color. The editing tool can enhance its attractiveness and add a touch of someone’s individuality. In my case, it’s the color brown.
Words by Quyen Hoang, JA
Images Courtesy of @monsimi