Improvise

A flat that I live in with my parents is more like a storage room than a place to live in. Things are everywhere which most of them contributed to my parents. Maybe the flat is too small, maybe the hardship they’d been through in their earlier days, trashing their own stuff is a prohibited act. A living place as such had planted a hopeless seed in me. As much as I want to have my own place or even just a bedroom that would fit my PC is a dream that I could only wish for. I’m lucky enough already that I’ve tasted what it’s like to live by myself. It’s when you finally grown up and start taking care of yourself. I can’t agree more. It’s only that I’m going backwards.

Those who work hard to get to where they are, with enough savings for a flat’s down payment. Am I not working hard enough? Is this what I deserve? I don’t even know how to save enough for the price of a square foot (HKD$10,000).

I lose some, and gain some. I get to see my retired parents everyday, get to take care of each other.

Seeing how my peers make their living as a Investment Banker, Insurance Sales Manager, and even many of my former schoolmates had become accountants; it’s a letdown to know how little i earn. But if you ask me if I’d like to work as the above mentioned, nope. I want something that has to do with me. It is why I appreciate those who dedicate their life in art as a profession. To some degree I also believe cooking is an art. You’re in charge in so many different ways, with dishes that can be varied, paired, shared and appreciated. Wonderful food is no doubt a catalyst to a happier life.

No matter how tiny and messy my home is, on rare occassion when I catch the mood, I’d improvise and hand roll my own fresh pasta. Fun fact, I almost had to roll the dough on the floor with plastic wrap in order to get a huge surface. It can be a disaster to clean up though. It takes 10 minutes or less to finish that plate, the work behind on prep and clean up may take as long as an hour. It’s out of my curiosity I wish to accomplish by trying. It always takes a couple trial and errors to get it right. Yup, I’d just use the dry pasta for the normal days.

Cooking is the least I could do to make myself satisfied, while my photography has the same effect but only with the shadow of uncertainty. My every other weeks, to be able to handpick a couple images of life around here is what I feel thankful for. The tram scene I discovered while passing the odd moments with colleagues, the fish tank at my grand aunt’s during our family visit, presentation of art exhibits, the surprise ground full of floral petals at a mall, , the chef preparing teppanyaki at our company’s Chinese New Year Gathering. They’re all so vivid and meaningful to me.

Tram to Happy Valley
Gold Fish
Understanding the presentation
The Petal Boy
Mouthwatering Sizzle

The Life Projected

I have forgotten why I do photography. This feeling grew so strongly lately to the point I basically put the entire act in halt. I tried anything from going back to digital, back to my film rangefinder, even ventured with my instax. Not even a single photo was made. Not a surprise, It’s something I expected beforehand.

It all supposed to be a fun and exciting activity. Something I swore I would do daily and every so often. I never knew I’d come to this point where I’m questioning why I’m doing in the first place. What an irony..

In a nutshell, to me it’s pointless to even have a camera with me without a proper purpose.

There’re other genres that I’d like to try, such as fashion. It can’t be done without models. And it’s unfortunate I’m lacking on in this kind of network. I really thought some sort of collaboration would be super cool. It’s at least a new type of content I wish it could be added along to the normal routine. This more or less explained why I’m so detached to the street photography. There’s just no excuses of how my shitty life projected onto my photography.

My work life is greatly affecting my personal life, emotionally. I certainly see a passage however underlies with lots of doubts, such as responsibilities and lack of raise/title. I hope this odd feeling would level out and back to normal soon.

Present to you images from 3 different rolls, 2 different cameras. Screw the inconsistency…
Abandoned
Was Colonial, here's what's left
The Superpower
Rainbow
The world thru the projector
The world thru the life experience
Fun not all Hongkongese would understand
Emotion that only your early age would understand

Retrospective in Prototype

When all I think about is to photograph and not having a direction, made me realize it’s not about how good a scene is, how coincidentally I walk into a developing moment, or even how good I thought I think to myself. Without a direction, I’m basically blind. Until I figure out what to achieve, I’m sitting duck. I always have this idea how a painter paint. Slowly but surely, there’s all the time in the world for a piece. What’s all the rush for?

I kept asking what am I up to. The answer remains the same, I just want to produce without a constraint of rules. I can easily put all the causes on how short the daylight is in winter. My best answer is I’m just at the wrong place for all these time. For the past 2 weeks or so, I got contacted and was given a chance to make my own photobook. It was an opportunity for a company’s research purposes. At first, I thought I must put the ‘Chasing the Fire Dragon‘ or ‘the Island Getaway‘; something that I thought had a focus on it. I then remember I told myself my mobile images collected over the year could very well be a book itself. All the happenings were recorded through each frame. Nonetheless, it’s got a better reception than the rest. Other opportunities such as magazine showcase and group exhibition all because of the mobile.

The book I had worked on did not take all that long from start to finish, surely because of all the photo selection I’d done through blogging. I spent time mostly arranging them with a bit of a sequence. I did type a preface and found the best photo for the hardback cover. I like how the end product turns out. This free trial without the ISBN and a publisher, I felt like all these years I earned this prize. As I flip through the pages, I really see flashes of moments where I was, how indulged I was, how fast-changing the city was around me. It’s so unbelievable that these images had transformed from a data file into a printed paper.

It’s hack of a keeper for myself. Here’s the front cover if you wish to see for yourself. 

Hearts after hearts
Giving, sharing, fighting
Broken Mirror
Rain of Lights
Alternative Practice
_
Wish for Toys

The Changing Palate

I have never imagined myself liking sake until I tried the Junmai Daiginjō-shu by chance. It’s the highest grade of sake rice wine. The grading is differentiate by the milling ratio of rice. The higher the ratio, the smoother and usually sweeter they can get. I like mine served cold. Combing with any assortment of Japanese grilled dishes or simply a bowl of edamame, it’s one of the best way of supper to end the day with. It’s just one example of how an unplanned experience can open up new doors in life. My palates are constantly changing just like how I have preference on wines and spirits. I used to only drink wines that mostly aged in oak for at least 6 months for what I thought an elaborate enjoyment. It’s until I tried a properly served daily/house wine (usually cheaper un-oaked wines). It goes down so well that it also matched the food on the table. Think about how much money can be saved, it’s 5 or 6 times the money.

Look back my photo archive, I realized so many posted images that I thought was great becomes average, and average becomes bad. Some even I wish to delete them straightaway. Many do not make sense anymore, not quite as intimate as before. There’s an era that I could even draw a line on. I just cannot look too far back in the past. I can pick out pieces of history but a photographer must look forward, look ahead of what’s coming.

Sometimes I feel the need of putting down my camera and phone, just let the city change a bit more. I’m always afraid of not investing enough time for photography, especially when I’d been expecting the spike in workload from my 9 to 6 during the week. The fact I found is, I could still produce without a dedicated time slot, although slower. I expected too much when I tried. Maybe I’m right about not seeing enough change around me in the city just yet. Just like how would there be any surprises when you see a movie twice. Or maybe like my palate, it’s really changing.

Winter Rain
the highest point to the farthest point
Away from the population
The Hong Kong subway Scene
Cage
Leaf
Very Dangerous
Dangerously Beautiful

The Real Exhibits

Just when I’m feeling very slow the past two months or so, I’ve received an email from the founder/editor of Master Kong Society; mentioning the opportunity of a photography exhibition from featured artists on the published Issue 1. When I heard it’d be showcasing at a shopping mall (K11 Art Mall) for a month, I was beyond believing. It’s a perhaps my first personal life accomplishment. Not that because people can see what we do, It’s just that; It’s live, hanging right there.

This small scale group photography exhibition treated the each piece like art, locked in a window showcase scattered on different levels of the mall, which there were 2 photographs were selected. The best thing about it is, the biography that goes with it. I must thank them again for typing the short bio. So at least someone gets the context of whom and what some of the locals like me are doing. Maybe it’s all the reason why there’s still many art galleries around even near where I live. There’re people who appreciate. This exhibition ‘Scenes of the City’ goes on until 3 Feb 2015.

Scenes of the City Exhibition

 

修行

There’s something about the way of life in the older generations. I like watching all forms of martial art and it’s hard to come by TV shows that document, introduce, interact with the remaining traditional Kung Fu masters in Hong Kong. I appreciate all the work behind this show ‘修行‘ (ended today) in total of 13 episodes, 13 weeks of enlightenment. The phase ‘修行’ means practice with mind, body and soul. You just wouldn’t believe how many types of kung fu here in Hong Kong. The masters (a.k.a. Si fu) were taught by the grandmasters from the previous generations brought until this day and still active and mentoring in their 60s, 70s. They all have a root, principle, history, background. Sadly, the society has changed so much. Kung fu was used as self-defense, body/mind training back then. As many masters have mentioned in the show, it’s a world different world they live in now. Students can hardly become disciples. Fewer people are coming in regularly because of the modern city life. And I’m seeing this as part of our rich cultural heritage fading away.

I found the phase ‘修行’ so helpful in me. Continual practice of my mind and soul is truly a way of ease off pressure in me. Practice requires body relaxation, calmness in mind, focus in will, openness to possibilities. I hope I got the words right. It has to be done daily no matter how busy you are. Think of it as a routine, like how we recharge and repair our body from sleeps. There’s not a goal but to continue achieving the next height. Just like a circle, a wheel, building power from within. There’s not a degree you could measure, until you feel your mind is lifted. It’s how I look at it.

This is so useful in applying this way of thinking. I just can’t recall when I do not feel worried or doubted. It seems like I’m carrying the same burden everyday without realizing what it’d done to me.

P.S.
— Excited to announce there’s a joint exhibition at the K11 Art Mall in Hong Kong presented by K11 & the Master Kong Society. It’s happening now until 3 Feb, 2015. Two of my mobile images can be found somewhere at the mall. My hint for you is, at least 30 inches on the longer side. I’ll be there to find out!

Info here: Scenes of the City – K11

Leaf on Leaf
Pathway to go forwardNew Year Day Celebration
The Southern Cowboy
Daddy Long LegsThe Door Gods
Broken Toilet
Cigarette Cyborg
Stairway to the Uncharted edge of Island
Pathway to another world

Defining Christmas

Either the Christmas decorations were put on way too early or I’ve lived long enough to realized that Christmas isn’t as special as many have thought. Put aside it’s the time when Jesus Christ was born, as a non-believer it has so little to do to me but just a couple of holidays.

Shopping malls decorated beautifully with the holiday setups. Panettone being sold everywhere in supermarkets. Peppermints get mixed in just about any caffeinated drinks. Corals singing by choir when location is allowed (or not..). Santa hats worn by the party-goers. Tall Christmas trees erected around town. Gifts exchange to someone important enough. Cards written with best wishes to friends (rarely any now). It’s also an important time of the year for most people get together. I then realized how much I get influenced by my family. Now it all makes perfect sense when my family is treating it as just any other day.

Reality check: What does Christmas mean to you?

Perhaps it’s just a reminder of ourselves  – A year is over.
Or a damn good excuse to say ‘What a beautiful day!’.

Christmas Lights
Christmas in Red
Santa
The Happy Photo