In this day and age, we can just go through life in social media by scrolling up down, swiping left to right. The fleeting moments are blurry and with no heavy significance. Although, we can't help but think about the importance of things or more specifically, images. Do photographs always have to mean something? Do they always have to matter? These are some of the things that we think about when we look at the curious and entertaining photographs of photographer Edwin Luo. He just goes through life with camera in hand and his feed is a visual catalog of coincidences, memories, feelings, and rare moments.
Hello, Edwin. Welcome to the Lomography Online Magazine! How did you get started on your photographic journey?
I was stupid enough to invest in a point-and-shoot digital camera ten years ago as a student majoring in finance. And the embarrassing fact is this investment had brought me nothing but depreciation and endless follow-up investments.
How would you define photography? What's your favorite thing about it?
I can't give a general definition on photography because the purpose and subject varies. As for my own street photography, it means a conversation with myself and a connection with my surroundings in an imagined dimension. My favorite thing about it is not photography itself, but the thoughts I would have before a photo is taken.
We dig your everyday life shots. There are whole lot of interesting things going on in your photographs. People, environments, lighting conditions, and more. What do you look for when you're on a photowalk and what makes you hit the shutter?
I don't look for anything intentionally, I just follow my feelings. It can be something/someone visually interesting, an occurrence that I expect or a scene that reminds me of a different place. Sometimes I choose not to hit the shutter because I know I won't be able capture it with my camera, but it doesn't ruin the photowalk since I can relax and capture it with my mind.
What are the things that run through your mind whenever you're out on a photowalk?
I actually try to get things out of my mind and put on some music for a photowalk. When something catches my eyes, I often think about what just happened and what is going to happen.
Why choose film photography in this day and age? What makes it appealing to you?
As a tool, digital photography has replaced film/analogue long ago for good reason. And I was lucky enough to start my photography journey in digital and learn quickly. It's fast, efficient, reliable and it helps me achieve things not possible with film. But film came back with a purpose, and for me that purpose is to slow down and feel photography in a tangible way.
Do you have a favorite place to go to when you're out taking photographs?
The backstreets of a crowded area.
Describe your style in five words.
It's difficult to develop one's style in the long run, and perhaps it's even more difficult to escape from it. It may be too early for me to conclude my style, but I have unknowingly formed a habit in recent years for taking everyday photos. It is "three meters from the subject", and the reason is probably my 40mm zone focusing camera which I use very frequently.
How important are snapshots to your work?
Taking snapshots is usually about improvisation, it's unplanned. It keeps me sharp and curious, and it offers me good entertainment. I have some professional photographer friends who don't want to touch the camera after work, not even a smartphone for snapshots. I think this is a decision that makes photography tedious and limits one (if a professional) in repetitive labor.
What is your favorite photograph? (Your own) Please tell us the story behind it.
My favorite photograph is yet to be created and I'm sure of this. But two years ago I had an epic moment of photography which I can still remember clearly. It was my first hanabi experience in Japan, and I had everything prepared: my Canon DSLR, two lenses, a tripod and a good location secured. Then the firework show began, and I realized my SD card was 60 km away at home. My Polaroid SX-70 and two packs of black and white Impossible films in my bag saved me on that day (Impossible products were not very stable at that time). I had never thought about taking firework photos with a vintage SX-70, not to mention in black and white. But what I had in the end was totally beyond my imagination.
What would you like to get across with your images?
I believe memory is the only reason that make us who we are today. And there must be something to do with my memories when I take a street photo, no matter how trivial it is. Then this photo becomes a new fragment of my memories and plays a role in my future photos.
And eventually, I get records of my memories.
What challenges you in your creative life? What inspires you?
Losing curiosity is the greatest challenge to me, especially when comfort and familiarity grow. I travel to find my curiosity back.
How does a perfect day look like for Edwin Luo?
A perfect day must start terribly, when I feel angry, upset or depressed. If I have time, I'd go for a photowalk with my camera, and if I'm lucky, I find something shining.
Lastly, any projects we need to keep a look out for?
The "Relevant Irrelevance" project ongoing since 2016. I give myself one more year to finish it and plan to make a photo book. It's about two cities: Chengdu and Tokyo. In my hometown Chengdu, I got my curiosity back because of the travels to Tokyo. And in Tokyo, nostalgia grows since I've been getting familiar with the city.
Please check it at my website. I'm still working on this project, so only a small portion of it is shown there.