This gallery contains 5 photos.
Stranger #31 Carl
2013.11 (sometime) – Tsim Tsa Tsui, Hong Kong
I was fortunate enough to meet Carl in the middle of Tsim Tsa Tsui. I asked, and he agreed to pose for me as he was curious about the large format camera that I was using. It has taken 3 years for Carl to grow those awesome dreads.
Stranger #30 – Robert
2013.10.14 – Wan Chai
I was invited to attend, observe and photograph a Sikh ceremony, Phalia Prakash Sri Guru Granth Sahib. This ceremony celebrates the Guru Granth Sahib was bestowed the title of being the eternal and final Sikh Guru. This procession took place in Wan Chai in Hong Kong, the oldest Sikh Temple which has a long history during the colonization of Hong Kong. The Sikh religion doesn’t evangelize or seek out new believers like in many other religions, which is why I found it interesting when I met Robert.
Robert is studying in Hong Kong. He initially came to Hong Kong living from hand to mouth; from one couch to the next. In his travels, he was welcomed by the Sikh temple. Over time, he came to know their faith and eventually adopted it as his own. This was his first time getting his head wrapped and commented that it was very much like the echo people hear when they walk around with their fingers stuck in their ears. This made him a little hard of hearing.
A special shout out to Manpreet for coordinating the event and allowing people like myself to shoot there.
In the early days of photography and when it was in its infancy, the subject was terribly removed from the process.
Walking into the photographers studio, a subject’s first reaction was the reaction to the smells. A range of foreign odors, foreign and pungent to the uninitiated. Magnesium nitrate, tannic acid, albumen, pyrogallic acid, potassium bromide, ammonium carbonate, or maybe vaporized mercury. Eventually curiosity will overcome the shock and perhaps wonder whether the smell of glycerin is actually safe? And perhaps the ethyl ether is beginning to make you a little light headed.
Then the photographer emerges from behind a curtain. A shadowy curtain of mystery. Mysteriously, there was no light emanating from behind the curtain. To the more creative mind who has just read Bram Stoker’s feature novel, might suspect that this man is a vampire.
The photographer extends a welcoming handshake; but the subject is taken away by the sight of the photographers hand. A hand that has been blackened and deformed by the collodion and ambrotype chemicals. Burns and callouses scar cover most the hands – the spaces left between are left dry and cracking. Every crack and blemish is highlighted by a blackened soot that doesn’t wash off. These are the hands of the photographer.
When led into the photographers studio, the subjects sees a weird array of chrome, steel, brass and other metals. Unusual clamps, stands, chains litter the path to the sitter’s chair. Next to their chair is one particular stand; standing behind the chair. It has an arm that protrudes out and into the chair, right where your neck is suppose to be. The sitter’s eyes widen with a steady mix of caution and curiosity. The photographer tries to give a reassuring smile while motioning the sitter to sit. Once seated, that metal stand behind the chair begins probing your neck. The photographer runs off and disappears behind the camera and the dark cloth. Only the photographer’s legs are visible.
Once the picture is taken, the photographer removes something from the camera, and disappears off into another room.
I find this whole process makes it impossible for the subject to get involved photographic process. It is shrowded in mystery and potential dangers and perhaps some B-rated alien movie. Digital photography has shed a light onto the general public and has made this whole process accessible. Anyone can pick up a camera and take a picture of their friend. There is no mysterious photographer disappearing into and out of darkened rooms; nor anyone hiding behind the camera. Hands are no longer scared by chemicals. And the best thing yet is how the image appears in a few mere moments.
Despite the wonders of modern technology and instantaneous feedback, something is missing. There is still a magic to be held when a physical tangible print is in someone’s hands. There is a moment when the subject sees their own photograph in their hands for the very first time. A surprise? A wonder? Definitely some kind of magic.
These people I met when I was invited to a neighborhood community block party. It was a big meal and there was a lot of people. This community is a huge contrast to the typical non-community driven apartment complexes. I had the honor and pleasure to photograph and share some of my photographs with them. I want to make sure I can always communicate this wonder with my subjects.
Therefore, I am seriously considering adding a mobile printer to my workflow when traveling. Especially when I don’t want to put my Polaroid 110B into harms way. A digital camera. A film camera and a Canon Selphy CP900. hmmm.
2013.02.08 – Chinese New Years
Victoria Park in Causeway Bay
During Chinese New Year, there is a yearly night market that runs all night long. By all night long I mean from 8PM, to 9AM. I stayed until 8AM.
I finished my first evening with my family. It was a very cheerful family gathering. The one downside was how it has been a year since I’ve seen them all last – although quite understandable. [You see, I live far out from Hong Kong island. It took me about two hours to reach them from my place. I suppose then the phrase, "absence makes the heart grow fonder" applies to this situation if the heart represents the familial feelings. Note: Those pictures are strictly reserved for them - and it has little to do with what I want to accomplish with my photography.]
After a long night celebrating Chinese New Year with the family, I wasn’t ready to stop the celebrations yet. I was too far away to commute back home. I didn’t want to be an imposition on anyone by crashing at their place. And I knew that I had more celebrating tomorrow. Therefore, based on these three reasons, I decided to stay out all night long. I went to the night market in Causeway Bay. I found my way to Soho. And from Soho, I ran into some orange hair drunks, some normal hair drunks, and I walked all the way to Causeway Bay.
Insert your surprised look here. It was crowded. It was beyond crowded. So many people crammed into a market about the size of three or four soccer pitches. They were selling flowers – the new year tradition. I think it has something to do with blossoming new life and prosperity. From my eyes, it was a giant party. Lots of shopping and money exchanging hands. People crammed like sardines. And everyone moving at a snails pace. Me, I was there for the experience and the photographs.