His work is fascinating, slightly strange, a little off-the-wall, intriguing, and, sometimes, all of these rolled into one. He is a hunter, stalking his subjects, waiting with the patience and determination of a hungry wolf. Always ready to capture the unusual, near surreal moments of everyday life, with an eye for unique patterns and those hard-to-find, extraordinary shots in a constantly moving, often mundane, landscape.
Copyright ⓒ Edas Wong
The man turning toward Edas Wong’s camera lens looking slightly bemused, is unaware that he has five spikes topped with spheres, sprouting out of his head. Actually he is standing in front of a Rolex poster, but just as the man has glanced around Edas has nailed it.
Copyright ⓒ Edas Wong
Then we have a person with a dark dotted line against a biege background tracing their spine. She (for I think it is a she) appears, apparently, headless. I had to look at this photograph a few times and notice the other lady to the left as we look at the photograph also headless as she stoops to pick up something from the ground.
“My approach is actually very simple,” The 50 year old street photographer tells me. “Just keep walking and observing everything around me. I try to empty my mind (no more common sense, no more assumption), then I study my surroundings and reform them again with my imagination.”
It is, no matter what he says, not an easy approach to street photography, and only for those who have some insight into what street photography is and what it is supposed to be about. Edas gives the example, if example needed, that street photography is a great deal more than just random shots of people walking around town.
He also talks a lot about ‘imagination’, why the tagline on his website is ‘imagination is everything’, and he is right. His street photography is imaginative, cutting edge representations of metropolitan life with a huge dose of irony, shapes, patterns and narrative.
“My way of shooting is really simple (just like I said),” He repeats modestly. “I highly concentrate to observe everything around me and their relationships. Then I keep imagining. Sometimes, interesting things happen in a millisecond and I shoot it immediately. Sometimes, I patiently wait. So, there is no a standard rule! Of course, I also need luck.”
The Hong Kong based photographer first became interested in photography after borrowing an analogue camera from his girlfriend (now his wife). She complained, however, about his ‘strange photos’ and took her camera back. On a business trip with his boss Tomas, the latter showed Edas his new digital camera which, in turn, inspired him to buy his own. He was hooked.
“I started to take photography seriously, but concentrating on landscape photography,” He admitted. “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.”
What Edas Wong has is style and then some.
Copyright ⓒ Edas Wong
A woman with a matching black and white striped jumpsuit and bag stepping through a red and white striped (or rather chevroned) doorway on a blue and white striped floor. It’s all very ‘candy bar’ but amazingly colourful and kaleidoscopic, our eyes dance (hopefully in time) to the visual.
It is a remarkable shot but how did Edas manage to capture it?
“Actually, I found that woman first,” He explained. “Then, I decided to wait for her to come out from the decoration. There were two gates of that decoration. I randomly chose one of them and then waited. Luckily, she really came out from the one I chose.”
Again that idea of chance, which we know plays such a big part in street photography, is introduced. But, let’s be honest, Edas has taken a calculated risk, on this occasion a 50/50 chance on the said striped lady appearing through the selected gateway. She does, the rest is in his portfolio.
What Edas Wong’s work borders on is what might be known as magic realism. Those of you more familiar with the term might know how it is used by Isabelle Allende in House of Spirits and how Gabriel Garcίa Márquez uses this in several of his novels. Hence we are witnessing a ‘real’ world and anchored within a real, existing world, but with just the hint of something unsettling and mysterious and out-of-the-ordinary. Just the slightest sprinkling of something ‘magical’.
These are great photographs, intriguing, and with just a slight edge of the mischievous about them.
“No, there is no special messages from them,” I ask Edas if there might be some deeper meaning in his body of his work. “I just present what I feel/imagine at the moment when I press the shutter. I never set up a photography project and then go out to shoot. However, I like grouping, ( to group the photos) which are similar. Grouping helps me understand myself and the grouped photos then can become a project.”
I think it takes time to appreciate how Edas Wong operates and how his street photography sets him aside from other street photographers. He does depend on luck, but then don’t we all? There is an element of chance, but then he, himself, has the patience and the foresight to anticipate, to get himself into position, to prepare. To do the hard work, like all the best street photographers.
Copyright ⓒ Edas Wong
A man, suited and booted collides with a wall poster, which make him look as if he has a very long leg and a very long arm. It is a distorted reality that Edas Wong has anticipated and shot at precisely the right moment to capture an intriguing photograph.
“Actually, I like to shoot surreal or to reform the surrounding elements to ‘create’ a new object (I call it ready-made),” He explains. “However, some of them finally become humour photos. Regarding my sense of humour, I believe it has been cultivated since I was young. In 80s to 90s, there were many comedy films from Hong Kong movie industry. I watched and really enjoyed most of them, particular Stephen Chiau ones. I learnt from his movies.”
This, for me, is Edas Wong at his absolute best. The photograph is not set up but flows and yet the man appears as if seen through a distorted lens. It is clever, it is juxtaposition, it is imaginative, it is innovative, it is all of these things and more. It is Edas Wong…
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Website: Edas Wong
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