For this weeks edition we spoke with Edas Wong, one of the most talented street photographers from Hong Kong. His book Re-Form is about to be released and we wanted to talk to him about his passion and what led to the making of this book.
RV : Hi Edas, welcome to APF. Have been following your work for sometime now and I am really enjoying the new works. Please start by telling us about yourself and how did you get introduced into photography?
Edas Wong : My name is Edas Wong from Hong Kong, 50 years old. I graduated from UMIST’s (Manchester, England). In “Year 2000 to 2002” and “Year 2005 to 2013”, I lived in Stockholm, Sweden and worked as an engineer in the R&D department of a leading mobile network vendor. From 2014 onward, I and my wife had then subsequently moved back to Hong Kong where I currently reside and work till now.
I started to photograph when I was dating my girlfriend (i.e., my wife now). I often borrowed her analog camera to take her portrait and scenes; however, she always complained that I was wasting her films because of strange compositions (I did not agree) and then grabbed the camera back. The year 2002, when I was on a business trip with my boss Tomas, he showed me his new digital camera, which he bought in Akihabara. Finally, I decided to own the same one so that my wife wouldn’t complain to me anymore. Since then, I started to seriously take photos, but concentrating on landscape photography. In 2011, after seeing Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “Valencia, Spain 1933” – I then immediately fell in love with street photography. From that point on I developed an instant and abiding passion for street photography.
RV : Layers and Juxtaposition play a key role in your pictures. Tell us more about the two and if you could share a technique or tip with our readers.
[Edas Wong] I am good in juxtaposition 😊, but not layering. However, no matter juxtaposition or layering, I think the key point to take good photos is FLOW.
- In psychology, FLOW is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. On the street, I highly concentrate on all elements around me and keep imagining their connections
- In Zen habits, let things FLOW naturally. On the street, I try to space out my mind, i.e. let things in then let things out, don’t keep looping in mind. When the mind is empty, imagination becomes infinite.
RV : According to you, how important is the role of vision and imagination in street photography?
[Edas Wong] Yes, both observation, i.e. vision, and imagination are important in photography. However, speaking in detail, the most important is to have an “INDIVIDUAL” way of vision and imagination.
After entering digital camera/smartphone era and having many powerful post-processing software/apps in the market, everyone can be photographer, easily manipulate to make beautiful/impressive pics and repeats what other did. I agree it could be a short cut to get praise; unfortunately, those pics are normally lack of soul. To successfully catch the reader eyes and trigger peoples to remember you from the pics, i.e. level of distinction, individual vision and imagination are necessary.
RV : What are some of your favourite places to shoot in Hong Kong?
[Edas Wong] I like to shoot at Tsim Sha Tsui and Causeway Bay because there are many peoples and many funny surrounding objects. This makes higher probability to successfully find/imagine their relationships 😊
RV : Street photography is going out there and taking pictures. How often do you shoot and do you find it challenging to shoot in the street of Hong Kong?
[Edas Wong] Before, I almost shoot every day. In weekday, I shoot before work, at lunch time and after work. In weekend, I shoot whole day. However, recently, I mainly shoot in weekend.
- Hong Kong is a high dense city. There are many peoples. It is not difficult to do street photography in Hong Kong. However, as Asian, HongKonger normally has camera-shy; therefore, they don’t like to be directly flashed directly in short distance.
- Furthermore, Hong Kong summer is hot and high humidity. This makes uncomfortable to continuously shoot outside for a long time.
RV : What do you do when you are not taking pictures? What are some of your hobbies?
[Edas Wong] Do nothing or reading or listening music.
I like to do nothing, i.e. just lay on sofa or chair without thinking anything. Actually, it is really hard to do nothing because something frequently gets into the mind and be kept looping. However, I try to empty it if possible.
Reading is important for life and I always grumble that I spend too short time for reading. I prefer books about Art, Zen, etc.
Regarding the music, I like canton pop. Some beautiful lyrics can help me improving imagination.
RV : Having won so many of them, how important is it for you to win awards in street photography?
[Edas Wong] It is important. For me, the main reason of entering photography contest is to understand my level of photography, i.e. how good or bad. Some contests also give me review so that I know how to improve photography. Furthermore, it can help to explore in society media.
RV : Tell us about your first book, Re-Form. Please share with us some of the challenges of making your first book and what hard work goes behind the scenes?
[Edas Wong] I have accumulated many photos in the past six years. It’s the right time to summarize what I took and to think about the next step. The theme of my photo book is “Re-Form”. These photographs are different from street photographs taken casually or those that pay much attention to the composition of images. I intended to discard all known understandings and restrictive assumptions and use the way of child’s thinking to re-comprehend the world in front of me. Then I reformed all the elements with unlimited imagination and formed all the interesting photos. In glancing through the photobook, readers will follow me to observe the street through the eye of a child. It should be fun!
The most challenge of making this photobook is the selection of photos. I have few thousand photos in my hard-disk (or few hundred photos in Flickr); however, only 88 photos were finally selected into that photobook. There was a long discussion with the book editors on the photo selections!
RV : One book that you think every street photographer should read?
[Edas Wong] The Happiness Track: How to Apply the Science of Happiness to Accelerate Your Success by Emma Seppala. This book can make you happy and then if you are happy, you will take good pics.
RV : Lastly, what can we expect from you in the second half of 2019? Any places that you would like to travel?
[Edas Wong] Oh! It is the most difficult question for me! The schedule of my plan is normally less than a month. So, I don’t have any plan in second half of 2019. Regarding traveling, I really find interesting to travel Spain and Italy. I have never be there!
Thanks for your time Edas
Do follow his work on Instagram: Here
In conversation with Rohit Vohra/ APF