New Gen #11: Glimpse the wonders of Singaporean photographer Kae Yuan's travel diary around Europe and India
A whole new world
I first picked up a camera when I was 16. I always chased after the perfect shot, but it got repetitive quickly. Everyone was churning out the same photos. I only realised later that I could use the camera as an ice-breaker. I was curious about people, and my camera was the ticket to listening to their stories. Along the way, it became a real addiction. You may call it love, but it was my medicine.
You seem to photography with an ethnographical lens. How would you describe the overarching themes in your work: travel and documentary?
It's definitely a mix of travel and documentary. I'm interested in the daily lives of everyday people. I don't search for a story. Instead, I'm more of an observer. The stories reveal themselves over time. I'm drawn to themes of growing up, belonging, and masculinity in all their surprising permutations.
It wasn't always like that. In 2016, I signed up for a Noise Art Mentorship with Objectifs. It was then I was properly introduced to social documentary. Mentored by Jean Loo (Superhero Me), I developed and edited a photographic documentation of an underground skateboarding community that I was part of in university, titled It Happens At Night.
You're currently on an extended trip around the world that began earlier in 2018. What prompted this trip, and what have been the highlights so far?
My Moroccan friend asked if I was going be as penniless next summer, and I said probably yes. To which he responded, "So what the hell are you waiting for?" I bought a one-way ticket to London right after.
This was a trip of many first-time experiences. It's pretty much my first trip around Europe, couch-surfing in over 60 homes, and hitchhiking approximately the Earth's radius with the help of over 40 generous drivers. I couldn't have planned for any of this.
What do you hope to show through your photography?
The magic of the banal. It's sounds a little cliché, but could you imagine life without all of this beauty?
Do you have any tips for other aspiring photographers?
I would love to say something inspiring, but if photography doesn't make you perspire or turn you into a vampire, maybe all you will do is aspire until you expire.
What would be your most memorable photograph?
It was a digital photograph of an instant photograph of a boy in Thar Desert, India. I carry a FujiFilm Instax camera when I travel for moments like this. The boy had a self-confident expression that you only find in children, before society and social media strip it all away.
Name young and local artists/designers/creatives that you admire.
Aida (@yellowmushmellow), Danielle (@part.cles), Gideon (@kongwenda_), Gladys (@gldysng), Grace (@gracebaey), I_S_L_A_N_D_S (@islands.peninsula), Jayden (@jaydenation), Khairullah (@khairullahrahim), Nocturnal Society (@nocturnal_society), soft/wall/studs (@softwallstuds), Wanjie (@uuanjie), Yanda (@do.not.design), Yao Yu (@yao_u), Zulkhairi Zulkiflee, and unnamed (@bakeyouamudpie).
One location that you wish to photograph.
One change you wish to see in Singapore.
Let consenting adults do what consenting adults do.
How do you see your photographic work developing in the future?
I hate that F-word. Holding a physical zine of my photography was such a satisfying feeling. I would definitely love to venture into the printed world more often.
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