Photographer: Richard S. Chow (born Hong Kong & resides Los Angeles, CA)
Self-published 2016, Edition of 50
Stiff covers, perfect bound, black and white, printed by MagCloud (div. Blurb)
Photobook designer: Richard S. Chow
Notes: Richard S. Chow came to Southern California as a sixteen year old when his family emigrated from Hong Kong, which is a difficult transitional age in of itself for a teenager, least being thrown into a completely different culture.
This project and self-published book, Distant Memories, originates from a desire to “capture the childhood that I could have experienced, those weekend forays to museums, outings to the waters edge with family, friends and a picnic basket filled with ingredients for a perfect day. Like finding shells on the shore, I am collecting memories.”
Memories are equally fragile and critical to a person’s identity. Thus sometimes we may not have the wonderful memories we would like and similar to a dreamer, we can try to recreate new memories that are more aligned to one’s hopes and desires. Chow’s project is an investigation of memories that are not perfect and are a bit slightly skewed, reflecting on the imperfect nature of memory or perhaps how a memory could be reimagined.
I had an opportunity to talk with Chow about his project and is experimental/play as to how this project came about. He was randomly playing with some tourist pay-for-use telescopes found on the public piers of Southern California and he was finding the resulting photographs to be very interesting. These non-professional scopes created indistinct and truncated images that had an immediate personal appeal. One photograph lead to another and the idea developed of how these ambiguous images resonated with Chow as a potential metaphor for memories.
These are imperfect images of individuals, groups and other beach scenes that avoids the typical lyrical qualities usually associated with the Southern California beach photography. Similar to other street photography, there is also a bit of an uncomfortable voyeur aspect to his use of a very long lens to capture individuals in the midst of their beach activities.
That these photographs are created in a graphic black and white further abstracts his beach landscapes and provides more opportunities for the viewer to re-imagine their own memories of playful times and summer holidays.