Winter Salsa

Back to school, and Chicago once again makes good on its winter vows. But I’ll yield my rant to every other north-midwesterner in America who will tell you just as much about the cold, and instead pull out a small assemblage of photos I took at a salsa event last month. We can, at least, all pretend to be warm.

I have never danced salsa before, doubt I will anytime soon, but being a dancer myself (albeit of an entirely different genre) the invitation to photograph the event was too personally enjoyable to be labelled a task. In fact, I ended up taking numerous photos in monochrome for myself in addition to formal documentation, shared here. More are to come in a follow-up post.

On a somewhat related note, I now have an instagram account! So far the platform is a love-and-hate for me — especially in terms of the 1:1 composition and my lack of ability to handle a smartphone — but it’s great to be able to lay out some of the stuff I’ve been up to in the past few months. It feels as if I’m visualising for myself and others the work-in-progress that all this is. Speaking of which, the salsa photos will be uploaded on instagram as a mini-series.

TIME: Humanity in Eight Eighths

Compilation

SOUTH KOREA. Seoul. 2013.

It was a priceless half-hour crouched awkwardly across from this white bungalow. The set was taken at around Christmas time, on one of the coldest days of winter last year (fully charged batteries lasted no longer than 2-3 hours).

But work produced in memorable circumstances certainly take on more personal meaning.

Urban Sunset

ILLINOIS. Chicago. 2013.

After a solid half a year of travels, Chicago is finally on the horizon! Those of you who recall my previous blog layouts may recognise this shot of Chicago’s cityscape at sunset. Not much of an anecdote for this one, unfortunately, other than that the cars weren’t particularly happy to find me in the middle of the road.

Chicago Skyline, Subjectivity, and the (lack of a) Wide-Angle

ILLINOIS. Chicago. 2013.

Due to both fortunate and unfortunate circumstances, I’ve had my fair share of travels over the past few years. But when it comes to urban skylines, Chicago is simply insurmountable.

The shot here was taken aboard a boat on Lake Michigan. It is always a challenge to do justice to what the beholder feels at the moment the shutter is pressed, and the above was no exception. Personally speaking, this shot was a failure: it only partly conveys what I meant for it to. I write this specifically because my choice of lens or image orientation is not nearly as based on aesthetic considerations as it is based on my subjective feeling.

The result would have been closer to my perception had it been captured with a wide-angle lens (my sole reason for lamenting the lack of an instrument, which I don’t tend to do too often). Unfortunately, I had none at the time. The hope is that, in the next few years, I’ll be able to return to the same spot a little better prepared.

Reflective Surface

FRANCE. Paris. 2014.

As always, consistency problems have caught up with me. The past two months (without a single post!) have been a cauldron of cheek and trouble somewhat typical of whatever travel-heavy period follows an existential lapse. Hence the graffiti wall that is my state of mind — with the new constantly replacing the old, yet with the old still buried underneath — a cluster of conflicted personalities, and sideway glances.

This post is a very honest one, and the shot, a personal one. It helps also that I’ve managed to fix the blog layout! I’ll keep up this time.

Humans of Paris II

FRANCE. Paris. 2014.

Three different shots at three different locations around Paris: the first near Odéon, the second on Canal Saint-Martin, and the third on Rue Bobillot on the way back to the dorm from school Centre. My chronic problem is that I tend to shy away from face-on shooting. As one might expect, there are people that mind less and there are those that mind more. My approach is to refrain from objectifying people (as in, making people feel like they’re “things” being photographed; more on subject vs. object in this post). Often my solution is to halt for a moment to snap a shot, then to carry on briskly. The point is to be unobtrusive.

The problem with this is that I can’t always look through the viewfinder. This works if you are intuitively aware of how your lens will frame the scene just by “feeling” it. Unfortunately my mastery of the camera is not yet at that level, so I get some, miss some. This method, however, does make for excellent candid photography, mainly because then the subjects are not startled by some creepy photographer trying to snag a shot of them. The last one in particular was taken in this manner. It’s a lot less sharp than the first two shots since I was still in movement when the shutter was pressed, but I’d say there’s more of a spur-of-the-moment feeling to the image.