Featured Passionista #7
Having just finished his first year at UBC in the Faculty of Arts, Rabi Sun enjoys playing ultimate frisbee amongst other hobbies. His greatest passion? Photography. You may have seen him behind the lens venturing forward with the Portraits of UBC project.
T: How did photography become your passion?
R: There’s nothing too special about it – I found a camera in the closet in my house. My dad had brought it back in 2006 and it sat for about year. I then found it in the summer and kind of went from there.
T: Is there a specific focus with your photography or are you kind of experimenting right now?
R: Mainly experimentation…I mean I want to possibly create a career out of it, but for right now, I’m playing around. I’m in university and want to finish my degree first.
T: What role does photography play in your life?
R: Probably the biggest role ever! I use it to meet people…I was a really shy person before so this has developed my own personality quite a bit. I owe a lot to photography!
T: Given that photography plays such a huge role in your life is there somewhere in particular you would like to take this passion?
R: It’s a developing process. Right now I’m thinking it would be nice to go into portraiture work just to be able to show a person’s personality. So you know, the regular headshots that u see with Artona etc. I’m also really interested in environmental portraiture.
T:(I was initially confused – environmental portraiture is about showing a person’s personality through their environment). Can you tell me about the Portraits of UBC Project and how it came about?
R: Well, there’s no big definite answer. It pretty much came about after watching a YouTube video – A Thousand Portraits which was pretty cool. It sat around in my head and then during July or August – just the summer before coming here – I thought it would be cool to start the project at UBC. I wanted to do it in Vancouver but I thought that with university, I wouldn’t really go downtown everyday so it would be too difficult. So yea, I decided to start it at UBC.
So the first day was during the summer – I was with a friend of mine – an extremely awkward, awkward day asking 5 or 6 people if I could take their picture! And then umm it kinda got into a habit and it’s just something I do now
T: What do you find is the biggest challenge?
R: The biggest challenge was getting the guts to go up to someone – you don’t know them and haven’t even seen before – and then asking to take a photo. I had to explain the whole idea of the project first but it’s still pretty random.
T: What is it that keeps you motivated?
R: It’s not really about photography. After a month or two, a friend of mine told me she had found a friend of hers through the project that she hadn’t seen in about five years. And I thought: “Hey! That’s pretty cool.” So I decided to put up a Facebook page and got a few comments on there and on the blog I got a few comments as well. Every once in a while I get these kind of comments that say this is cool or whatever but one that I remember most was a comment from either New Brunswick or Nova Scotia saying how the person found that despite the fact that she was on the East Coast and everyone else was here on the West Coast they really weren’t that different. This was in about January or February and I thought: “Why not use this project to show how similar people are?”
T: That’s pretty neat. What would you like to communicate with your audience? For you, is it something about creation or expressing yourself?
R: For me, it’s more of a means of capturing a moment. Things are always changing all the time. Even grass changes all the time. It will never look the same next year. Photography is about capturing that one moment in time. If you were an artist and used photography as a means of creating a scene, then yes it would be creation but for me I just take pictures of what’s going on…so kinda like photo journalism but on a lower level.
T: Are there any other projects you have in mind or is there something else you are currently working on?
R: I’m working on a 365 project where you take a picture everyday with a simple digital camera. It’s just a way for me to work on my compositional skills. With a professional camera, whatever you take usually looks nice because of how sharp it is and the colour, but with a regular digital camera it doesn’t always look good so it’s more about realizing if I’m taking a picture from the right angle and so on. A lot of people do this project and it’s usually based on a theme.
T: Is there someone in your life whom you look up to?
R: Right now, the photographer I look up to is Henri Cartier-Bresson. He’s a French photographer who passed away a couple of years ago. He had some of the best photographs in terms of composition. Back then, a lot of people thought photography was all about using light but he showed that you can get great photos by just composing certain elements together. He actually called himself a painter rather than a photographer.
I guess I also look up to my own dad – he takes pictures as a hobby and not as a profession but I look up to him for his wisdom and experience. Sometimes it’s pretty hard to come by. And he can pretty much fix anything mechanical which is awesome!!
T: With respect to the latter, my dad is the complete opposite! Any last thoughts?
R: Everything you do there’s something inspirational about it…just go with the flow and see where it takes you.
Thanks Rabi – it was great chatting with you. Good luck with the rest of the project and with your exploration in photography.
Guys and gals – pick up whatever it is that puts a smile on your face and make it mean something. =)