Who Not to Photograph

17:57 PDT - March 24th, 2015

One of the things I’ve known for a long time about my photography is that I tend to shoot a lot of photos of the people I find beautiful. It’s a very subjective measure but I gravitate towards the kind of beauty that society-at-large values, whether it’s a slender woman with clear skin or a baby with a toothless grin.

While it can be a great motivator to take pictures, it’s an unflattering reflection of my own narrow-minded ideas of what sort of person is considered beautiful. More accurately, I’ve avoided photographing people that I consider “ugly” or “undesirable”.

It’s very personal who I consider ugly. Most often it’s people that remind me of the real or imagined things I hate about myself. I don’t want to relive the flaws I’ve overcome and I don’t want to confront the flaws I continue to live with. Once I see people as walking manifestations of these personal problems, I try as hard as I can to avoid staring too closely at them.

But, as part of my selfish journey to be less scornful of my own real (or perceived) flaws, I’m learning to accept others just as they are. In doing so, I’ve taken some great photos of friends that force me to look at them in a new light. I’m starting to grasp that their struggles are not mine and I don’t have a right to fault them for it. And I’m starting to grasp that I’m not the pile of human garbage that I previously thought myself to be.

Replacing “black” with “white” to show someone they are the *real* racist

07:38 PDT - March 11th, 2015

No. Stop. Don’t do that.

Don’t replace “women” with “men” either to show how someone is the real sexist.

Your clever little trick of wordplay is based on the assumption that all these groups are currently equal in power and that the problems of the past never existed. Google is your friend. Spend some time on it to understand why it the finger is being pointed (not at you personally but your group as a whole). Meditate on why you’re trying to defend the people wielding more power. Search deep inside and understand your emotional state and what you have to gain by maintaining the status quo. And listen to the voices you never hear; when a member of a marginalized group tries to educate you about their struggle.

Just as we’ve always been taught to learn where the money resides in any given relationship (or maybe that’s just me?), take the time to learn about the power given and taken by society and always look to see where it truly lies.

See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_equivalence

Milanese Loop

17:16 PDT - March 9th, 2015

Apple did their big watch announcement today and they finally gave us prices. The watch that I want is US$649. Isn’t that ridiculous? They’ve sold me on this thing that I thought I didn’t want at a price I thought I’d never pay.

The cheapest Apple Watch sells for $349 which is still luxury watch territory. I’m not a watch nerd at all and three hundred and fifty bucks for a watch is what I’d maybe consider spending for my brother’s graduation or my father’s retirement. Not as a gadget that is gonna be obsolete in 2 years.

Apple Watch with Milanese Loop

Apple Watch with Milanese Loop – http://www.apple.com/watch

Look at this Milanese Loop though. It looks like beautiful chainmail with a magnetic clasp. They have a page with an animation of how the clasp works and it’s so magical.

I already own a nice watch. It was a $400 birthday/Christmas present and I love it but I don’t wear it half as often as I should. I’m gonna feel even more guilty when I get a more expensive watch to go with it.

I have a feeling that the watch is going to pan out a lot like the iPad. For a lot of people, it will be hugely useful and relevant to their lives. For the rest of us, it will be a fun toy that starts collecting dust all too quickly. And it probably won’t be something you replace very often unless you break it or pass it on to a family member.

If I do end up buying one, it’s gonna be a special treat to myself. I’m not gonna lie and think it’s gonna drastically improve my health or even wear it everyday. (I don’t think I’ll ever justify the more expensive one though, especially not for a first generation product.)

Listen to People When They Tell You Something is Racist

07:50 PDT - November 19th, 2014

Julie Carrie Wong recently wrote an article for Buzzfeed, The Problem with “Serial” and the Model Minority Myth.

To summarize, Serial is an immensely popular podcast (from the people that produce This American Life) and it attempts to unravel the murder of Hae Min Lin and her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, who was convincted of her murder. Wong believes that the podcast fails to account for complicated racial contexts here and actively tries to paint a picture of harmful stereotypes; the Asian couple were high achievers, the black friend was a criminal.

All I’m telling you to do is listen. Listen to the podcast; it’s very entertaining and I listened to all 8 episodes over 2 days. And then read the article. And then just sit and think about it a lot. Spends some time on Google and see what others have to say about white privilege, the model minority, and whatever other jargon you haven’t really explored. And then sit and think about it some more. Stew in it.

Don’t get all defensive about it and don’t write a piece for the New York Observer where you throw your arms up in the air and complain about political correctness choking every possible form of expression and then come to the absurd conclusion that everything’s racist and therefore nothing is racist. Wong has come forward and tried to intelligently engage on an issue that already draws the ire of the majority white audience, don’t write an emotional plea to dismiss her and to rally the troops against her.

Nobody is calling you a racist. But some of your actions are. And some of your favorite pieces of media rely on racist tropes. And we’ve all got a lot of growing to do, both personally and as a society. And it’s so hard for me to find people that intelligently critique pop culture on its depictions of race, I’d appreciate if you didn’t try to chase them out of the industry.

Love Letter to Myself

05:58 PDT - September 3rd, 2014

Dearest.. uh, me. I may seem like a stranger to you but I don’t blame you; it’s hard to recognize love when you’ve been at war for so long.

(Ha, do you like that one? Love, war. Get it? I thought I was being particularly clever.)

I am writing to say, I love you/me/us. We’re ok. You may feel, especially as of late, that you’ve failed. You’ve dug a hole so deep for yourself that you cannot possibly crawl out. Why, your time must definitely be up! You’re nibbling at the edge of 30, you’re done growing. –30–, it means the end of a story. It’s when your parents finished their story as young adults and started down the journey of parenthood and responsibilities (or so you imagine).

You may feel these anxieties creep upon you each day, pinching at your throat and screaming from inside the pit of your stomach. They’ll twist your eyes to look down at the floor. They’ll whisper that the floor is all you have in this world and pretty soon that will be gone too. It will take days for the lump in your throat to subside. And only temporarily.

I’m writing you a love letter to let you know that firstly I understand but more importantly that I can see the other side of the coin. You may not believe it and your friends might not believe it but you/me/us? We’re doing great.

Allow me to elucidate.

Women. (By god, you do get so hung up about women.) There was a time in your life when a girl would ask you a simple question and you would die of embarrassment. But since then, you’ve made plenty of female friends and you’ve learned much of what you missed out on growing up with zero sisters and attending an all-boys high school and earning your degree in a grossly male-dominated field. The smart money would have you involved in a long string of failures but you’ve handled both serious and casual relationships well and never done anything terrible that you wish you could take back.

(Ok, there were a few moments that still inspire cringing.)

Career. You’re not a career-minded person, it falls pretty low on your list of priorities. You take pride in your work but you’re not excited to network and climb the ladder. But somehow you’ve found a place where you do get noticed for your results and lately you’ve been kicking a lot of butt. You’re remarkably at the right place in history at the right time but you also worked really hard to get there and stay there.

Being an adult in general. Things at times might appear bleak but you’ve grown up a lot since you graduated from university. You’ve always been a late bloomer in many regards and while it’s frustrating at times, it’s served you well to be a cautious and patient person. I do hope you’ll give yourself some slack and keep progressing, no matter how slow it may seem.

All this is to say, step away from your dizzying whirlwind of thoughts once in a while and love the person you are. You made it. You might not have accomplished what your parents had by this age but that’s because you’ve walked a different path with a whole different set of remarkable accomplishments, ones they never imagined they could hope for. They never asked you to do as they did.