What I do when the family is on retail therapy …
What I do when the family is on retail therapy …
So here’s TST at night.
Everyone has a place to get to.
Boxes that have lost their purpose.
The mannequins and model are more alive than actual people.
We’re all shadows in a cave of our own making.
I was in Singapore for a short working trip, presenting a paper called “The Poetics of Occupy Central – A Photo Essay” at an academic conference.
So of course I brought my camera along.
I spent an evening on my own, a day before wifey joined me at the hotel.
So of course I did the most natural thing that came to me – I pretended to be a tourist at VivoCity.
Darn – I can’t seem to fit a filter on my lens without it vignetting (see top corners).
It seems like my Voigtlander 35mm doesn’t like filters.
I’ve tried a B+W filter, and a Hoya filter as well. They both vignette.
I would be grateful for any advice from readers more knowledgeable than me in this respect.
Crowded shopping malls depress me.
There was a bridal fair – and you realize weddings are very regimental affairs.
Everyone (including myself) is searching for life’s defining moments in a cookie-cutter manner.
There’s a water park of sorts above the mall.
The feeling here is more carefree.
But such scenes are possible only because of the packed shopping crowd below.
They are paid for by all that buying and selling that happens below.
We all buy and sell in our cookie-cutter lives so as to achieve moments like the one above.
Of course, it’s not just Singapore or VivoCity that does this.
One could never be truly outside of VivoCity, even if one leaves.
Thanks for reading.
Camera: Leica M6
Lens: Voigtlander 35mm F 1.4 Nokton SC
Film: Kodak Bw400CN
Time to go bargain hunting!
This is Shanghai Laojie (Old Street), a touristy area with lots of “specialty shops” selling various Oriental stuff.
The light was no good (this was just after a drizzle on a really cloudy day), so my poor Olympus XA2 with Fuji Superia 800 was stretched to its limits.
I’m probably forgiving myself too much, but some of the images have a soft-focus painterly look that nonetheless grows on me.
Check out the goods.
I was looking at one of the shirts in a store and the shopkeeper said to me (in English) it’s made of really exquisite material, at only 360RMB.
I nodded and said I would think about it (in Mandarin/Putonghua) and walked away, only to be told two steps later that it’s 180RMB.
I said I’ll think about it.
And she said “Ok, ok, 100RMB final offer. If you don’t believe me, go to the other shops to compare prices and you’ll see this is the best price you’ll get.”
I said I’ll indeed take a quick look at the other shops and she said, “ok, ok – 90 RMB.”
So I bought two.
I’m an expert negotiator, you see. (This was one of those rare moments when my wife was very impressed with me.)
I basically brought the price down from RMB360 to RMB90. (I now suspect the price could have been lowered further.)
I think that at this place, they’re selling generic stuff (from the same suppliers/factories) that can be found at every other shop, and they know that you know.
Yummy traditional snacks!
A shop specializing in chopsticks.
Another one specializing in Oriental curios.
Thanks for stopping by, and please do check out my Saatchi Art page for open edition prints.
Again we choose.
That one! Yes!
This is the season.
We’re in season.
We stop to think.
And buy wisely.
All images are taken with my stealthy Contax TVS II with Ferrania Solaris 400 film.
For collectors: some images here are available as open edition affordable prints at my Saatchi Art page.
Thanks for reading!
Shenzhen is fascinating, if you know how to navigate and where to go.
My wife and I decided to head over the Hong Kong border for a day trip, partly to buy some phone cases for a few friends.
So naturally, I brought along my stealthy Olympus XA2 loaded with Fuji Venus 800.
This is Luohu Commercial City, a warren of shops you could get lost in. We normally go to the restaurant at the top floor.
Once in a while, there is a bit of mild harassment.
On a previous trip, someone followed us for a bit and kept saying “cheap DVDs, cheap DVDs, just follow me” and she got hauled off by 2 policemen.
Some images are rather blurry because of the limitations (indoors, ISO 800 capability of the XA2, need for stealth in narrow places).
Yet it does drive home the furtive, unpredictable and artless aspect of street photography.
We took the subway – 2 stops to Laojie, a shopping district, where, if you know where you are going, you would find yet another warren of shops with even lower prices.
We got our phone covers there for about RMB20 each.
This guy took out a knife and started stabbing at his plastic phone screen cover.
He was trying to tell me it’s a scratch (and stab) proof cover that will really protect my phone’s screen.
I was convinced. That’s my phone he’s working on.
It really is a labyrinth.
Quick, quick, before I’m spotted.
My wife did tell me to choose my photographic subjects wisely.
“Our kids still need a father,” she said.
And, yay, food street!
Yummy pig trotters!
Yummy Taiwan-style sausages!
Green chilli with rolled bacon!
Grilled spicy cuttlefish!
He dances as he cooks.
There’s a warning sign next to him saying he sells cuttlefish only and please do not be taken in by his charm …
He winked at my wife!
How dare he.
For collectors: some images from this post are available here as open edition prints.
All images here are shot at Tsim Sha Tsui with the Contax TVS II loaded with Fuji Venus 800 film.
The Contax TVS series of film cameras are gorgeous, with titanium bodies, aperture priority and P modes.
There’s a 28-56 focal length zoom which is ideal for street photography.
For me, they are the more nimble younger siblings of the Contax T3.
Which explains why I went out the other day with the intention of not buying that Contaxt TVS II I had seen, complete with the databack.
This person saw what I was about to do, and smiled.
Check out that SLR camera-thing his buddy behind him was carrying.
Hong Kong people work really hard.
We keep saying that Hong Kong is a shopping paradise.
Of course, we need people to service the economy.
There are shoppers just as there are delivery people.
A salute to the people who keep things going.
Sometimes they are invisible to the shoppers, often faceless and anonymous.
We should make it a point to notice people more …
To see the difference between glamour and real people.
Otherwise, we’re nothing more than mannequins looking at other mannequins.
For collectors: open edition prints from this post are not available here.
I suppose that’s my (ironic) gesture of commitment to the push and pull of capitalist logic…
Again, at Tsim Sha Tsui.
There’s so much happening here.
I don’t mean shopping and eating, though there’s lots of it too.
Sometimes we’re bored while waiting for the bus…
But there’s so much to see …
I suppose it’s about framing and movement…
There’re so many people at work.
I figured I could fire off two clicks before they notice me …
I simply love the lomography effect with Fuji Superia 800 film.
Thanks for reading today.
I don’t usually do color photography as I find it hard to “coordinate” the colors alongside the action in the frame. But the environment in this case seems to call out for it.
This was the beginning of a trip to Festival Walk, a shopping mall. My son wanted to pick up a few books at Page One. We sat at the front of a mini-bus.
For those not familiar with Hong Kong: Festival Walk is a gigantic shopping mall with a skating rink and cinema. I often got lost the first few times I was here.
There are so many escalators and reflective surfaces. There is a fun house mirror effect every time we are on the escalators:
We forget which way is up and which way is down…
I think this is the point, that the design of malls are slightly disorienting so that the shopping experience feels slightly unreal. Our ability at making rational choices are somewhat incapacitated – we lose track of time and spend more than we had originally intended.
I am reminded of a hotel called “Lotus Casino” in The Titan’s Curse, a novel in the Percy Jackson series, in which the characters were trapped. They were reluctant to leave the hotel because it was so fun. (The environment of casinos, of course, are meant to be unreal so that the chips [money] you’re losing look inconsequential anyway because you are just playing a game of Monopoly.) I’m thinking of those casinos in Macau now, especially the Greek Mythology Casino, complete with a gigantic statue of Zeus…
Here, the literary scholar in me is reminded of Fredric Jameson’s discussion of the Westin Bonaventure Hotel, about how the postmodern architecture is tied in with the (totalitarian?) logic of late capitalism.
It’s so easy in the mall. We look and point and buy:
Everything is on show and so very photogenic, and the unreal becomes part of the experienced reality we consume and hence take for real:
I almost forgot to leave.