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Category: Personal Work

Hidden Spaces across the Snowscapes of London

Posted in Documentary Photography, Hidden Spaces, Identity, and Personal Work

This morning, I pulled on my docs and braved the drifting snow to photograph more private bedroom spaces. I simply cannot resist the temptation to be a voyeur and to have a peek into a person’s life. Walking through the powdery snow textured like cornflour underfoot; I came across the street of the flat I was to photograph and noticed the snow settled on the foliage and branches in a beautiful configuration. Give me sun any day but this was a visual marvel and made up for the miserably cold temperatures.

The rooms of CD and AG who share a flat were offered to me today- thank you.

What I noticed is a bedroom can be co-opted as a work space, a room where one can shut the door and concentrate. This space by the nature of communal living is often multi functional and often leaks outside of the demarcations of a place to sleep.

This blurring of lines extends out to the identities we see in theses photos. They paint a partial picture of the person, books, trinkets, kitchen goods and other paraphernalia are in the living room or elsewhere, other items live in auxillary nooks or are obscured from my immediate view behind doors and drawers. As a viewer it is up to us to negotiate the  splits and to fill in the gaps. Lives can take on an entirely peripatetic existence. We are always more than our commodities. Our bedrooms feel very pedestrian to us that wake in them each day and they do not make us as people but the colours,  moods and feel in a bedroom are fascinating for me as I come upon them for the first time.

CD’s room:

 

AG’s room:

Hidden Spaces

Posted in Hidden Spaces, Identity, and Personal Work

Continuing on the theme of liminality and the occupation of spaces between boundaries, I’ve started shooting some personal work in bedrooms.

Last summer, I got talking to a couple of creatives after a photography event at The National Portrait Gallery. The idea came up about how bedrooms are private spaces and are not often seen publicly. Thank you for that conversation as it sparked this idea and project.

I normally photograph people, as they are what interest me visually. There is this on going question I have with how I relate as a photographer to my sitters and how I connect to others as a person generally. However, this is slightly leftfield for me as I have no plan to feature people in this work. Being allowed into that private, unseen bedroom space and shooting it unaltered gives many subtle clues. It embodies the person who inhabits that space and spends a lot of time sleeping and resting there. So I am addressing that question of identity from a renewed angle.

If you’re interested in taking part and don’t mind me coming into your room to document the details then email me at info@gracewongphotography.co.uk. or tweet me at @GraceWongPhoto. Please don’t feel you need to make any special concessions to tidiness, keep it as it would be untouched is my preference. Anything in cupboards, wardrobes or doors that are not openly displayed won’t be photographed. You have my word, I have no desire to snoop as being let into your room is a great privilege already. I look forward to hearing from you all!

So here is the start of this body of work with DL’s room. Thank you for letting me in to shoot it.

Fragrant Harbour

Posted in Documentary Photography, Identity, Personal Work, and Politics

Whilst I am reminiscing about cities; I was in Hong Kong last November working on a personal documentary project. I photographed workers and small business owners and asked them what had changed in the city recently and how their livelihoods were affected.

This was a deeply personal trip as the last time I visited was more than a decade ago when I was a young faced seventeen year old. My ancestral roots are in Hong Kong and I still have family over there. I remember a distinct feeling of having ‘arrived home’ when I set foot in the congested streets of Mong Kok which was odd, as I was born in and had grown up in the UK. The questions I was asking myself were based on identity, cultures and clashes and were things I had been working on for a long while. It was that pervasive feeling of not quite having a full foot in your home culture but also not tallying with the UK ‘English’ culture completely either. This is a theme I am drawn towards as a photographer – the idea of liminal spaces in terms of identity, emotions or physical concrete space itself:

lim·i·nal/ˈlimənl/
Adjective:

  1. Of or relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process.
  2. Occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold.

Hong Kong was one of those places that got under my skin. The incessant noise, the intense crowds, the pollution and the overarching capitalism knocking alongside extreme poverty really irritated me. Did I answer my personal questions? I guess I did. I have always held the answer even before I went to Hong Kong. I occupied a very special boundary of dual cultures that gave me a very beautiful unique perspective. In Hong Kong, I wasn’t a foreigner as I spoke Cantonese and grew up partially with a Cantonese culture at home and appeared to be Hong Kong Chinese but neither was I a native. I couldn’t be categorized but this was a very good thing. It took a flight across to the other side of world to realise this. Funny that, I’m sure there are cheaper ways to find this out!

I know there are many sides of Hong Kong I didn’t see or experience. I wasn’t there long enough to feel that I got to know it or its people well enough. I know I will return there again, it just is a question of when.

Here are a number of shots from the trip to give you an idea of the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong as well as the portraits I mention above:

Hi there and Welcome to my Blog!

Posted in Brixton, Personal Work, Portraiture, and Street Photography

I’ve been away from London for a little while now and am missing the city like mad. Pining for the cut and thrust of London life spilling out onto the streets.  Yearning for the chaos, dirt and richness of cultures melding together in that wonderful city. It takes being forced to be away from a place to eventually discover that you love it. I miss London terribly and all it’s inhabitants known and unknown. I have actually found a spiritual home even with its many imperfections.

This reminded me to put up some London specific shots I did a few months ago, which can be seen here; they’re the black and white shots based on a few days walking around The Square Mile. I did an analogue photography and dark room course through Photofusion and got to use one of their 35mm Pentax cameras over the spring and summer before I left. There was something remarkable about how it influenced the way I composed and thought about my shot. I took my time and really watched people passing by on the streets and waited for that moment. I loved the slowing of my normal photographic process and valued the reflection and deliberation that I gave to each image. It was fantastic to see the image take shape in the chemical bath and to smell and experience the milieu of the busy dark room.

My project for this City and Guilds course was about a topic very close to my heart as a photographer; my relationship with my subject and my ability to build a rapport with them as a person. I photographed Paul who I met by chance near Spitalfields Market as he had a young kitten with him perched on his shoulder. I hope to put up the shots that I did with him once I have all the negatives scanned. I’m planning to document and shoot more work with Paul and catch up with him once I get back to London but watch out for this and more on this blog.

In the meantime, here is a street shot from Brixton, near where I used to live in deepest, darkest Saarf london.

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