Pho­tog­ra­pher God­fa­ther’s son turns to smart­phones

The China Post - - LOCAL - BY ENRU LIN

Juan Sea ( ), 34, is a new kind of pro­fes­sional artist.

His smart­phone pho­tog­ra­phy be­gan as a hobby three years ago and has since be­come a sus­tain­able ca­reer.

To­day, Juan lec­tures and holds work­shops at univer­si­ties across Tai­wan. He also runs a small gallery in Beitou Dis­trict and shows his work at ex­hi­bi­tions over­seas.

In Jan­uary, he re­leased his de­but photo book “Hap­pi­ness in A Court­yard ( ),” fea­tur­ing In­sta­gram im­ages of Taipei and Ja­pan and was ap­proached by South Korea’s LG Mo­bile to be­come a com­pany spokesman — an of­fer he de­clined.

“I didn’t ex­pect the re­sponse to be as pos­i­tive as this. It might be that I’m do­ing the right thing at the right mo­ment,” Juan said.

“So far, though, the very best re­sponse has been from my fa­ther.”

A Pho­tog­ra­pher’s Son

Juan is the only child of Tai­wan’s best-known hu­man­ist pho­tog­ra­pher, Juan I-jong ( ).

Through­out J uan Sea’s child­hood, his fa­ther was an in­ter­na­tional-level pho­tog­ra­pher, cel­e­brated for black- and- white pho­to­graphs doc­u­ment­ing dis­ap­pear­ing ru­ral vil­lages and Taipei as a city in trans­for­ma­tion. Across the Strait, he was hailed as the god­fa­ther of Chi­nese pho­tog­ra­phy.

Back at home in Xin­dian, his life was dis­ci­plined and as­cetic. He urged his son not to take up a ca­reer in pho­tog­ra­phy.

“Be­cause of him, I knew that not all artists had a ro­man­tic ex­is­tence. Some were like my fa­ther, who worked like a la­borer and did not hold par­ties,” Juan said.

Each day, his fa­ther woke at 4 a.m. Af­ter com­plet­ing house­hold chores, he headed to a park with his cam­era, then re­turned for a day in the dark­room or to write.

“I be­lieve my fa­ther felt that art pho­tog­ra­phy is a dif­fi­cult in­dus­try,” Juan said.

“He didn’t want me to do what he did be­cause he was con­cerned about the pres­sure. He did not want me to have a dif­fi­cult life.”

‘In­ter­ested in shar­ing’

In univer­sity, Juan took a se­ries of black and white pho­to­graphs in the hu­man­ist style and showed them to his fa­ther.

“At the time I was just in­ter­ested in shar­ing some­thing with him, but he very sternly told me, ‘This will not do,’” Juan said.

“He was very se­ri­ous about pho­tog­ra­phy and I wasn’t as se­ri­ous. That was true. But I was a bit hurt and I stopped tak­ing photos.”

Ten years went by, dur­ing which Juan tried out ca­reer af­ter ca­reer. Af­ter grad­u­at­ing with a de­gree in so­cial work, he went into sales — at an in­sur­ance com­pany, then an Ap­ple store, a de­sign firm and a fur­ni­ture com­pany.

In 2012, he opened an

Ins- tagram ac­count on a whim and be­gan to take photos. He col­lected them for a year and painstak­ingly se­lected the best to show his fa­ther. The older Juan of­fered a very dif­fer­ent re­sponse than ex­pected.

“He made some sug­ges­tions but said the photos weren’t bad,” Juan said.

“I felt en­cour­aged and kept go­ing. Af­ter a year and a half, a pub­lisher asked me to re­lease a book.”

To­day, Juan roams the streets with a 130-gram iPhone 6. Many things catch his eye and he men­tally ed­its out peo­ple and build- ings to per­fect a frame that could crys­tal­lize a feel­ing, usu­ally some­thing bright.

“My pho­tog­ra­phy started off be­ing about record­ing things that are in­ter­est­ing or hu­mor­ous. That hasn’t changed,” Juan said.

Some­times he brings a tra­di­tional cam­era; he has been learn­ing dark­room tech­niques.

“I think the im­por­tant thing for a pho­tog­ra­pher is not re­ally the cam­era it­self, but the thought that goes be­hind its use,” Juan said.

“But it was the smart­phone that has made me see that a pho­tog­ra­pher is, af­ter all, who I want to be.”

(Left) This photo shows pedes­tri­ans walk­ing past an ad­ver­tise­ment at Song­shan Cul­tural and Cre­ative Park in Taipei in 2012. (Right) This photo shows chil­dren with spe­cial needs strik­ing a pose be­fore a pop­u­lar tourist at­trac­tion in Ja­pan in 2014. The im­age is fea­tured in Juan Sea’s de­but col­lec­tion “Hap­pi­ness in a Court­yard ( ).”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Taiwan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.