Insomniac x Shiya Chen, photographer
creating magical moments with every click of the shutter. Gladys Ho gets up and personal with the bubbly personality behind the camera as the focus shifts from the photographed to the photographer in her interview with photo enthusiast, Shiya Chen.
Movies and songs often quote, ‘Love will lead the way’. For Shiya, this cannot be any truer: love (and perhaps a little luck) led her into the world of films, cameras and all things visually beautiful. When asked how she discovered her passion for photography, the vibrant 19-year-old joyfully recalls her obsession with lomography at the beginning of last year along with a former boyfriend who, by sheer luck, won a Canon 550D while purchasing toy cameras online. “It was then we shifted our attention from film to digital and my passion for photography went on to another level”.
Shiya has not looked back since, allowing herself to immerse in artistic milieus and be intrigued by the different perspectives that street photography can offer. When taking photos, she describes her role behind the camera as one that is ‘literally out of the context’ – a privileged position which enables her to ‘read’ the different stories of those (whom we perceived to be equally privileged) captured on film. Through the lens of her camera, she realizes that everyone has a unique story to tell and amidst the paper chase we are all in, one must not forget to stop and appreciate the beauty around us.
The avid photographer lists Flickr and photography blogs such as Beautifuladieu and Joel Robison Photography as some of her sources of inspiration. But as with every artist in their field, Shiya also encounters situations in which the creative juices just don’t seem to flow. At times like this, the optimistic teenager tries to draw ideas from her surroundings, displaying versatility while overcoming the ‘photographer’s block’.
It does get annoying sometimes, but my inspirations always come from most random moments and places. I could be taking a bus passing by the dark field of NUS, noticing the lights shining from the grandstand and get all sorts of ideas!
Browsing through Shiya’s Flickr photostream, one can find a myriad of everyday sights where colors sing in perfect harmony, portraying surreal realms that seemingly grant access only to the photographer herself. Through these works of art, the photographer’s style can be defined in a single statement – bringing out the extraordinary in the mundane. In some of her photos, Shiya stretches the human imagination by introducing elements of fantasy such as levitation and even ‘fairy dust’, creating an alternate reality that permits us the luxury to dream sometimes. In others, she captures the beauty of things that often go unnoticed in our fast-paced world – the outspread branches of a tree, a stray cat, or graffiti on the floor – reminding us to slow down and appreciate the little details in our life. But amidst the diverse collection of photos, what remains clear and consistent with every picture taken is the element of love. Most of Shiya’s featured ‘models’ – friends, Sparky (her beloved pet dog) and her treasured belongings – play significant roles in her life. Their involvement provides a heartwarming illustration of her appreciation towards them, made tangible through this choice medium of expression. It thus did not come as a surprise when the sentimental shutterbug listed her very first photo shoot (A Date with the Sunshine) with her best friend as the most memorable photography experience to date.
Lastly, as we all know, photography is no 5-minute workout but a hobby which demands the constant investment of time and effort. So how does the Year 1 Psychology major cope with the workload in FASS whilst indulging in her passion?
Uni life can get really hectic, especially during the examination periods and near project deadlines. But luckily, the timetable at FASS is pretty flexible so photo taking sessions are still possible.
View more photos by Shiya at her tumblr, http://phothoughtsy.tumblr.com.