MERCER ISLAND, Wash. — When the pandemic hit, a teenage photographer from Mercer Island faced an unexpected challenge: she was stuck at home without any subjects.
But instead of giving up her passion, Sophia Chew pivoted.
"Maybe I can just think of ways to solve the problems I have of not being able to take pictures of models by taking pictures of myself,” she said.
Chew started focusing on self-portraits, influenced by the fantasy and sci-fi books and movies she consumed during lockdown. Using a self-timer and self-taught editing skills, she created homages to everything from Harry Potter to Dune and posted them to her social media account Shots By Sophia.
The internet took notice.
"On Instagram, I have about 67,000 (followers,)” she said. “I had 200 followers at the beginning of quarantine."
Chew’s hobby now has deeper meaning for her, because of its reach.
"I guess a big focus of my work right now is projects with a focus on Asian representation or Asian-lead projects,” she said. “It was a really, really big moment when 'Shang-Chi' came out, which was one of my favorite Marvel movies ever. That was definitely motivation to keep going, especially because a lot of the fantasy worlds and sci-fi worlds that I was basing my work off of literally did not have people of color in their projects, so I was like, ‘Maybe just directly inserting myself into these things is the way to go.’”
Chew also created an Instagram account aimed at showcasing other teenagers' work - COVID-19 Photos For Teens. She hopes her art may inspire other people to discover their own.
"Create the content you want to see,” she said. “Better now than never."