The Pursuit of Ugliness

This series of 10 photos was my final for the Digital Imaging class – we had the freedom to choose any subject matter and shoot in any format, as long as the photographs were somehow digitally manipulated in Photoshop (colour correction included). I wanted to pursue this idea that I never really had the opportunity to see through, which was to photograph “abandoned” objects as symbols of something forgotten. I shot my first set of photos with this in mind, but could not really pin down a direction until my instructor basically pointed out one photo (the discarded makeshift paint palette) and told me to proceed with that centred composition and edit it to produce dynamic colours and contrast.

Although what I was shooting was more often than not “trash”, I tried to portray each object with a certain poignancy in spite of their subject matter. This was reflected to a greater extent in photos such as the one of the empty plastic milk bottle, which reminded me of that Hemingway six-word short story, “For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”

I don’t think these are the best photos that I’ve shot, but I think I did what I could with the inspiration I had at the time. It made me realise that I’m sort of an incidental photographer, and I should not pigeonhole myself to a certain medium to – resorting to a cliche here – “express myself”. (Note: I’ve also included two photos that I liked, but ultimately rejected from the main series.)

The aftermath of a drunken night, perhaps.

Found this pair of child-sized jeans outside a thrift store. Think someone left it there for them to sell, but the bag was ransacked by a homeless person.

The first image that I captured - a makeshift palette just lying there in the middle of the pavement.

I thought it was quite funny that a homeless person would have stuff that he/she abandoned too. I initially shot the image upside-down, and my instructor thought it would have been less referential that way. But this is how I presented it to the class.

This image would have been less interesting if not for the (LEV?)ITICUS spray painted on the floor.

An entire roll of toilet paper. Just sitting there. By the traffic light.

I don't know whether this was necessarily abandoned, but there didn't seem to be anyone around that was looking after it or needing it for anything.

This was possibly too loaded an image for this series. I just thought it was interesting that it was a Native American emblem that had been stepped on, but the colours were a more appealing characteristic.

A very well-positioned abandoned beanie.

Things that belonged to children always add a sense of sadness and nostalgia - I deliberately chose this to end the series that had started with the "adult bottle".

I rejected it because it was too abstract, but I like it on its own because of the abstract quality of these fairly geometric blocks of textures.

It was just a piece of plastic, but with the shadows and the sunlight, it sort of became this ethereal rose on the concrete. Again, I was of the opinion that it was too abstract; my instructor thought that this should have been in the series. I guess it could have added a different dimension to the series.


  1. jia

    great(: although found has been done already and already i appreciate the directness of your approach, and the sculptural/iconic beauty of the objects

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: