contextual research

Week 0: “Beyond Fashion” ArtistTreeHK

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An exhibition that takes place in Taikoo Place from 12 January to 24 February 2019. From the pages of magazines to advertising billboards and digital world beyond, fashion photography feeds our visual culture. 48 fashion photographers contribute 100 of their most provocative and notable works. Audio guide is provided that offers commentary by curator Nathalie Herschdorfer


Lesson to learn is how an exhibition with over a hundred photos be handled by just one receptionist at the entrance using audio guide.

The pictures are all framed and placed at eye level of the viewers with appropriately lit lighting.

Guided tours are available by the curator only by appointment on the website.

The viewer would rely heavily on the exhibition guide and the not-too-user-friendly audio accessory gear. I was only in the right track in the second visit after I discovered the trick after my first visit.


contextual research

week 10 independent reflection

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The webinars have been constructive and numerous ideas propped up from the teachers and fellow classmates:

The consensus, though I have prepared various sets of portfolio , is to stick to the strongest one, that of cubicle life.

The concept of TYPOLOGY is introduced: to take same photograph over and over and create comparisons, to explore essence of continuity and repetition. Its application to my future work is exemplified by 2 workers:

1. SUBOTZKY: Ponte city in South Africa a horrific circular cylindrical building in South Africa demolished and renovated by developer.The photographer run in to create a series of work, the closed door, the windows and every TV

2. WON KIM: A study on cubicle in Japan (mainly for backpacker tourists). he go into each cubicle and sat in the same position and picture the subject from the same distance without him looking into the camera

making of portfolio:

  1. keep the subject consistently candid and anonymous
  2. make a big photo to bombard the audience
  3. make sure there is space in between images
  4. allocate more memory to the detailed pictures allowing the audience to see more details

suggestion for FMP

  1. potential of installation in exhibition, to create a corridor replicating the actual scene, putting pictures of walls or inside of cubicles as wall papers
  2. use of VR (virtual reality) for viewers put in a small room to experience the on site claustrophobic feeling
  3. use a longer lens instead of the ultra wide lens used in this module to shoot a composite image e.g. 35mm x 4 images to stitch into a simple image
  4. topological approach for further series, to take portrait of each individual, the rice cooker of every single cubicle, every toilet, every flip lock, every power supply and the list is infinite based on this concept
contextual research

Kyoichi Tsuzuki

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Happy Victims – photobook by Kyoichi Tsuzuki

In fashion magazines, beautiful models live beautiful lives and wear beautiful clothes in beautiful homes; but as Tsuzuki comprehensively illustrates, the ones who buy the fashion brands are neither strikingly attractive nor occupy handsome dwellings. The photographer’s ‘Happy Victims’– who have dedicated their lives to the brands that they love – form the backbone of this impressive investigation. Here, collected over 85 full colour images are obsessive Japanese designer victims, photographed in their homes and surrounded by their valuable collections neatly laid out around them. Accompanying each photograph is a text explaining the individuals drive and logic behind their collection.

The book is a series of photographs of Japanese urbanites surrounded by their designer clothes collections.Each picture is named after a famous designer brand label and comes captioned with text in English and Japanese about the anonymous collector – what they do, where they live and how they came to be obsessed with designer labels.

The amazing photographs show tiny Japanese rooms packed with clothes, shoes and accessories. Some neatly arranged on racks, others strewn across the floor, drawers overflowing. In most photos the owner of the collection is in shot, rarely looking at the camera, sometimes lying down, at other times out of focus in the background.

Born in 1956, Kyoichi Tsuzuki is a journalist, editor, art curator, nightclub designer, book publisher and most recently, photographer.

Module 4 - Sustainable Prospects

week 9: independent reflection

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This week oral presentation is the main project, to compile pictures with a recording is no easy task as there are so many pictures to choose from, what is lacking in the context that was mentioned in the previous trial oral presentations was filled up by contextual research of Benny Lam , Michael Wolf and Chun Wai, I also include another Japanese photographer Kyoichi Tsuzuki’s who discovered that some “happy victims” live like our cubicle tenant for their obsession on famous brand names. The main emphasis is still on the cubicle life which stands out from the vanishing business.


contextual research

week 8: independent reflection

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Portfolio review is the highlight of this week and a few useful and innovative comments were given by various teachers and classmates.

Social documentary pictures should be taken in colour and not black and white.

My work may be used as advocacy for social change. Lewis Hine was mentioned as a reference photographer. He realized that documentary photography could be used as a tool for social changes and reform. Apart from his work in work portraits, Red Cross, Works Progress Administration, Tennessee Valley Authority, he documented child labour in various industry sectors and eventually leading to the end of this practice.

Obsession of possession of objects leading to overcrowded living condition was exemplified by mother of Leonine Hampton, Bron. In his book “In the Shadow of Things”, photos showing boxes coming from the home of her mother’s first marriage were unopened and attempts to unpack them spilled into other rooms and they only lived in less than half the house.

I was reminded of the importance of the sequencing of my portfolio, and can refer to the 5 components of Photo essay by Eugene Smith: introduction or establishment shot, personal work, relationship shot, detail shot and an environmental portrait. The portfolio should start and end by a strong photo.

Apart from the above input, there were some suggestion on my further practice. A classmate suggested I should rent one of these places for 1-2 weeks and get emotionally involved, a teacher said it would not work because I do not look like one of them and is difficult to merge into their lives. Benny Lam who did a similar work in these cubicle had to see a dermatologist the next day he went into the cubicles to set up his photography gears

A more practical advice was to follow up one tenant longitudinally, viewing him going to work, lunch and on coming back home.

Technically, I was asked to retake some pictures, as he commented that my previous work looked casual and were taken in a hurried manner. He suggested the use of a Gorilla pod, shoot with a wide angle in the center and parallel to the floor and ceiling, on second thought this may not be possible as I am using Canon 1Dx2 with a 12mm  Laowa lens which weigh nearly 3 kg, a proper tripod would be required. Reviewing what Benny Lam has done for his project, he brought 2 assistants, use a cross bar hanging from the ceiling or from head end of the room, He did use flash which my teacher advised against.


M4 assignments

week 7: independent reflection

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The highlight of this week is the Paris face to face program.

We were led through Galerie Les filles du calvaire,Galerie & Librairie de Photographie, La Galeria Particuliere, Galerie Hussenot, Polka Galerie, Galerie Daniel Templon, Galerie “In Camera”, Jeu de Paum for “Dorothea Lang”.

These reflected the concept of “white cube” and demonstrated various lighting arrangement for photo exhibition.

Regarding “Photo Paris”, if not attending the auditorium for conversation of various photographers, would be a market place of photographs and photo-books. There were great contrast of analogue and digital work, digital work to me seemed to be more of a demonstration of  photoshop skill.  I had the impression that the larger the size of photographs, the more they were asking, which may be the advantage of large format camera. May be the greatest reward is the signing session of Susan Meiselas, who had held a workshop that I have attended in Tokyo in August this year. The other magnum photographer I was so glad to meet and had selfie with, Antonio D’agata, whose work I have quoted in my last module oral presentation. Unfortunately all his available publication in the book fair were in French.

Another attraction was Salvador Dali museum in Montmartre in which viewers would be impressed by his surrealist sculptures. His interpretation of Venus, elephant, watch and clock, last supper, Alice in wonderland, giraffe, Napoleon and Newton were most innovative.