Edas Wong is a street photographer from Hong Kong. He recently won the BSPF International Singles Public Prize and was awarded with an Honorary Mention by The Independent Photographer in “Street Photography” competition.
Statement: I am a day-dreamer and I love imagination. Street photography is an excellent media to express my crotchets. There are many surreal scenes which happen around us. What I need to do is just to “go outside”, “stop playing smartphone”, observe” and then “click”. It is rather simple.
You can find Edas Wong on the Web:
What is your first childhood memory?
I am the only son in my family. My parents gave me many toys such as toy soldiers or cars, but didn’t allow me to play outside (highly protected me!). Therefore, when I was a child, I often sat near the window, looked down to the playground and imagined. For example, I imagined I can jump over different trees like Kung Fu fighter, or used my finger gun to shoot peoples, or held my toy car to fly up to sky…
Are you still learning who you are?
Yes. I believe art is to re-recognize yourself and to express it via your favorite media, e.g. photography. When I review my photos, I can see my character and explain why I have such weird thoughts.
No. On the other hand, I practice to forget myself back to the mind when I was born, i.e. when my mind was empty. I believe when the mind is empty, creativity will then be infinite. Our imagination is confined by what we learned, knowledge, experience, common sense, culture, and morality. To “make” a creative photo, all these burdens should be thrown away so as to reform the world on your own way.
Who are you when no one is looking at you?
No difference as when someone is looking at me. I am always myself. However, people could misunderstand me. I am in fact quite “diverse” (it could be due to my constellation – Libra.). Someone may think I am a humorous person after seeing my photos. Yes, I am humorous; however, it is only 50%. The other 50% is completely dark. I don’t talk much when everyone talks. On the other hand, when everyone switches to the quiet mode, I then talk to enliven the atmosphere.
What got you involved in photography in the first place?
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 cannot complain 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.
Ansel Adams once said: You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved. Could you tell us about your favorite photographs, books, music, and people who are closest to you?
My favorite photography series is Sugimoto Hiroshi’s candle life. It is so romantic and awesome to record whole “life” with a single photo.
I like reading 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 but also Coldplay, Bruno Mars.
I love my wife, family members and all of my friends.
There’s a thin line between invading people’s privacy and taking their photographs. Why do ethics matter?
I have a bottom line in taking photographs. My photos should never hurt others. In cases when someone blames my photo that it hurts him or her – I am willing to not show it in public.
Bruce Gilden claims that photography is a voyeuristic medium. Does it resonate with you?
Partially agree. According to Cambridge Dictionary, voyeur means “A person who gets sexual pleasure from secretly watching other people in sexual situations, or (more generally) a person who watches other people’s private lives”.
I never get any sexual pleasure via photography! However, yes, my photos record people’s private lives but in public area.
Have you ever acted rude in front of people you have tried to photograph?
It happened once and I had been forced to delete those photos. Like what I said above, I don’t want to hurt anyone. I was willing to delete them.
Have you ever been following your subject that the person could eventually think you’re a stalker or a pervert?
No, I never follow my subject too long time.
Gloria Steinem once said: The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off. Are you getting nervous when someone goes deeper and scrutinizes your work?
No! I welcome people to go deeper and scrutinize my work. Please help me to re-recognize myself.
What if you take images for a couple of years and don’t get a positive audience reaction? Would you be still taking them?
Yes, why not. Photography is like my diary to record what I thought, saw, loved, imagined, etc. Furthermore, I always shoot something which people don’t understand or dislike. Negative reactions happen now and then since I started photography. Nothing special about it.
Do you often get jealous of someone’s achievements?
Yes but very seldom. I got jealous thinking how come someone was able to capture such wonderful and awesome moments. Admire! However, I know jealousy won’t help my creativity. The most important are: “Be yourself” and “Be confident”.
If you could wake up tomorrow in the body of another artist, who would you choose and why?
Van Gogh. I want to understand his mental state when he decided to kill himself and in his last painting period – Wheatfield with Crows, which I love.
What artist made the most impact on you and why?
Picasso. His mind was like a child and he never repeated himself. His philosophy impacts me a lot.
If you could have personally witnessed a perfect street scene at the right decisive moment, what would you want to have seen?
(Laughter) I skip this question. I never plan, think or predict what to shoot. Doing this will limit my imagination.
If you could witness and photograph any historical moment of the past, present – or future – what would it be?
I would witness and photograph the future historical moment when the first communication moment happens between alien from Mars and human from Earth.
What’s on your photography bucket list this year?
No special target in photography aspect. However, I “might” plan to publish a photobook to summarize what I shot in past six years.
What do you like to do outside of photography?
Reading and painting. I really want to learn painting.
Blind and live forever or be able to see and die in a couple of years?
To see and die in a couple of years.
What do you want your tombstone to say?
I don’t need a tombstone. Just throwing my ashes to a garden is enough. People can commemorate me by reading my photos if needed.
About Arek Rataj
“You Can Shoot. Can You Talk?” is a series of interviews created by Arek Rataj. He is a Qatar-based journalist, contemporary photographer and educator.
Arek was born in a small industrial district in communist Poland under the Soviet Union dictatorship. In midst of this human misery, political hypocrisy, environmental dirt and ugliness, he became particularly sensitive for all signs of beauty and transcendence.
You can find Arek Rataj on the Web:
All the pictures in this post are copyrighted Edas Wong. Their reproduction, even in part, is forbidden without the explicit approval of the rightful owners.