Procrastination is a killer to any new year resolution made. Yet here I am, already in the second month of the new year… Sigh… I figured that to start on any new thing, it’s good to look back on what’s good. Going through my photo albums, I came across this. It belonged to my “Ordinary Colours” series. This was the one which brought me honour, being the Asia Pacific winner of the Corbis Creatives Behind The Lens 2009 photo competition. It had been to places where I have not – being exhibited in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Malaysia. This photo was entitled “Rustic Charm”. Yes, even rust has its charm. I remembered posting several photos from this series in my old blog. In this new year, I feel it is beneficial that I be reminded what these photos mean to me.
When I started photographing “Ordinary Colours”, I was forced to look differently at common scenes around me because I couldn’t afford the money nor the time to travel far and wide. Can a photo be good-looking if its subject is ordinary? That was my challenge. It exerted me to pay attention, to observe. Scenes and objects which I had passed by a hundred times before without interest suddenly caught my attention. I tried looking up close, going the distance and even varying the angles, all in the name of getting that interesting shot. It was hard work actually, with my camera coming up many shots which didn’t quite meet the mark. But if you are a photographer, you will understand that if you can get a good one out of a bunch, all efforts are worth it. So there I was, at a quiet construction site on a Sunday. Communicating in my head with my three friends – shutter speed, aperture and ISO setting – I composed this shot of an old container office which I had driven past for countless mornings. Clicked. Since then, I had proven to myself that ordinary things can conjure extraordinary photos.
The main lesson I learned from these photos is: If I can change my mindset about ordinary things, how interesting or beautiful they can be depending on how much effort I put into studying them, what about ordinary people? The aunty who cleans the table I set at in the food court? The quiet relative whom no one talks to during Chinese New Year visitation? The quiet student who sat at the corner of my class? The cleaner who cleans the corridor outside my office? The colleague who isn’t very popular? The list goes on. Like what I do in photography, I’ve got to change my lenses – give them a chance and discover their colours. I’m sure they are ordinary people who can conjure extraordinary colours. I’m told its easy to see the ugly side of people. But I believe there is beauty in every face, if I look hard enough. I’m convinced, only then can I truly discover my own colours.
A great year ahead to y’all. 🙂