This week we virtually sit down with Edas Wong. He is based in Hong Kong where he works as a radio access expert. Wong is a fanatic street photographer and his name often pops up in the lists of finalists at international street photography festivals. In 2017 he won the public prize at Brussels Street Photography Festival and currently he is working on a book.
Hey Edas, thanks a lot for your time. What does photography mean to you?
It is a way to express and to understand myself.
How important is originality to you?
Extremely important. My intention with photography is to shoot something that others cannot observe. Thus, if I loop the same way of shooting, it is the opposite to my original intention.
Some of the trends in street photography, like juxtapositions, can be seen in your work as well. How do you distinguish yourself from others in this context?
For me, the juxtaposition is equal to connection. A connection can be the same or different. I want to create a connection that has not been thought of before, like the photo with the escape sign reflection. Note: I use the word ‘create’. It means that I make something after imagination. Of course, not all my juxtaposition photos have this imagination factor. Sometimes, I just find a simple connection, like the same or different pattern or color – that type of basic juxtapositions.
In our previous interview Peter Kool said that ‘It’s the age of gimmicks’. What do you think about the amount of the ‘visual jokes’ and other similarities in street photography nowadays?
I agree with Peter. There are too many similar fun street photos now. The problem is not fun. The problem is ‘similar’. People use the same formula to produce similar fun photos. I think it is a trend. People like fast food, fast fashion. If the photo can immediately make them laugh, they don’t care whether it is repeated or not. Creativity is not what they care about. For me, creating something new is very difficult. To keep the brain functioning, I sometimes also shoot images like that. However, my main target is to create something new.
And how important is your (online) audience to you?
Important. I have some difficulties with the selection of images. Likes and comments can make me understand which photos are good or bad. I really want to receive comments to discuss my photo. They can help me improve.
Does your audience, or your expectation of its preference, have any influence on the kind of photos you make or post?
No, they don’t influence my way of shooting. I only follow my mind. The less in mind, the more creativity. However, when it comes to posting; if the audience thinks it’s no good, I might delete the post.
That’s interesting. So do you ever have a dilemma between following your personal taste and that of the audience in regards to posting images?
All my photos have my personal taste and character, which shows you what I was thinking when I pressed the shutter. Both kept and deleted photos have my taste and character. Of course, sometimes, I kept some photos which were not popular.
In an earlier interview with 121 Clicks, you said that you like Picasso because he never repeats himself. How do you see this in perspective to your own work?
I try to not repeat myself as well and to not to look at other photos too much. Otherwise, I might repeat them if their ideas get into my mind. On the street, I walk very slowly and try to observe more, to keep thinking and imagining, but I press the shutter less often.
Not looking at other photos must be difficult..
It is impossible, but as little as possible.
Which one of your photos would you say is the most free of any influence?
The ‘Pikachu’ image.
And the other way around, can you point out an image where the influence by another photo or photographer is visible?
Some say that this image is similar to Matt Stuart’s photo. When I shot it, I didn’t know, but maybe Matt’s photo had gotten into my mind when I wasn’t aware of it.
That’s possible. It’s also the idea of Streetrepeat as we are not always fully aware of potential influence.
Yes, agreed. Furthermore, we can’t control the situation on the streets. If something happens, I will immediately shoot it. Who cares if it’s repetition or not.
In what way do you want to evolve in street photography? And is there any other photographic or non photographic genre you would like to explore?
I think I will keep looking for a new way of observation. Maybe I need to learn some new technique to pursue my creativity, like flash. If I would explore another technique, it would be painting. For now I just like to look at paintings.
Can you imagine a moment you would stop doing (street) photography, and if so what moment would that be?
If I can’t walk. As long as I can walk, I think I will keep shooting.
© All the pictures in this post are copyrighted. Their reproduction, even in part, is forbidden without the explicit approval of the rightful owners.