The beauty of distorted memories | Yellow fields Part 3 of 3

I had so much fun putting these photos together. Which is quiet funny given this third ‘yellow field story’ was in a way born from frustration (to make sense of this shoot, read the first and second story).

When creative collaborations collide …

So how did this third yellow fields story come about? Let me give you some information on my working relationship with Darren. At the end of each photo shoot Darren gives me a hard drive with all the images taken on the day. I go through and select all the images I want to use for the love story – ie. all the images that are to be published on my blog. He then sends the images to me and I post them on my blog.

However this time when he sent through the yellow fields shoot, he sent an extra set of images in black and white. I think I got a text from him at about midnight saying … “I think we should publish the images in black and white … publishing them in yellow makes it too obvious”.

Needless to say he and I went into a very creative discussion about how the shoot should be published. I was already torn between telling a sad story or a happy one (I ended up doing both). And to add another layer of complexity, publish in black or white? We kept going back and forth (via text message at 1am and then again the following morning).

We discussed what was right for the client (Erin & Chi) … if they did a shoot in yellow fields, they would expect to see the colour yellow there somewhere. What was right for my readers? … (do I take a risk and publish in black and white and would it be perceived as a cop out? … many people publish in black and white when the lighting isn’t so great). What was right for the story? (was the happy or sad story enhanced by telling it in black and white images?).

It was a total creative clash. I didn’t feel right telling the stories in black and white and I didn’t feel it served the client to deprive them of the colour yellow. Darren however wanted to push the creative boundaries of what we do and how we do things (that’s what I love about him).

To be honest, it’s quite common for Darren and I to creatively clash. We don’t always start with the same vision. And in this case we didn’t end up with the same vision. Who was right? who was wrong? Who’s idea was better? Who would win the debate?

In the end … as you can see we decided to publish all 3 stories: a) sad b) happy b) black and white. But I assure you … publishing all 3 was not us trying to compromise. Not in the least. I’m not in the business of compromising. I’m in the business of telling love stories. And I would never compromise a love story for any of my clients.

So what was it that made it all ‘stick’ … How did we get above the creative clash?
After many hours of bantering back and forth … with neither of us satisfied. Darren said something that made everything click (thanks Darren you’re a legend) …

He said something like … “When you were on the shoot you said it reminded you of Norwegian Wood” (and although I haven’t mentioned it here, it’s true … the whole time I was at the yellow fields I kept referring to and mentioning Norwegian Wood) … Darren continued … “Norwegian Wood starts off with a memory. He’s on a plane he’s thinking back and remembering the past … the black and white images are memories”.

That’s when everything clicked. And when all 3 stories merged (sad, happy, b&w memories). We needed all 3 to complete this story. There was no more ‘trying’ to compromise. All 3 stories merged to create one very beautiful long story …

The third and final story … Lost but never forgotten Memories

Our memories are such a strange thing. It’s no longer real yet deep in our hearts … somewhere … somehow … we often feel so connected to our memories. They can either haunt us or light us up. But either way, they are faded. Moments are lost. Moments are missed. Moments are incomplete. Moments are distorted.

And we do not know what we don’t remember. Our memories are always distorted. We remember certain moments over others. We repeat some scenes in our head over and over again (because it means so much to us). Others we hope to forget but they still haunt us. Good memories merge with sad memories. Our stories get lost. Sometimes go numb. Sometimes we lose ourselves. But deep down there is a part of us that strives to find that youthful love we once had.

This photographic love story is about the distortion and beauty of memories. Not matter what kind of relationships you’ve had in your life. Good, bad or indifferent … there is beauty in ALL the moments. If you look back, you will find the sad moments are what made the good ones so happy. The good ones are what makes the sad ones so real. So deep. And SO painful. Yet it’s the sad ones that often tell us how deeply in love we are.

And this is precisely why for this black and white love story to make sense … we needed to publish the first two stories. And now that we’ve published this one … I think it adds romantic depth to the coloured yellow fields. It gives a sense of longing. A sense of love. A sense of beauty. I really hope you like it.

ps. You will notice like our memories, some of the images are repeated. Some are forgotten (some images are left out). Some are distorted (some images are not quite the same as the yellow ones – but almost). As you scroll through the images you will suddenly feel like the memory has been cut short. You’ll want to scroll through them a couple times. It’s all deliberate. There is no compromise.

pps. Thank you Darren for the creative banter. It’s what makes working with you so awesome


Photographer: Darren Wong
Creative Director: Thaoski
Stylist: Katy Chung of Madame Moi

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11 Responses to “The beauty of distorted memories | Yellow fields Part 3 of 3”
  1. Boon Ong says:

    Have been a secret admirer of your blog for quite some time but have never written to you.

    As much as I was wowing, liking, impressed by the photos, the art direction, the story line most of the time in your previous work, this time I was more analytical in mind. Every time, before I even go through the blog, I will first scroll down the page to check out the pictures, and I might briefly go through the blog, or I might not (if it is too lengthy). I am a lazy slow reader. And this time was no difference, I scrolled down to check out the pictures, but I was puzzled!

    “Why repeat? Why black and white? The yellow field was great! It ruin the whole first impression in the second story!! And it is not necessary! I don’t like the black and white photos!!! ” I disgusted. (And I am sorry.)

    As I start reading the blog, the collision, the late night sms, the clash with Darren, the drama…. “This is not necessary! What happen to you Thaoski? Repeating photos, lengthy wordings, you are getting overboard, you are overdoing it.” I thought.

    Until … Lost but never forgotten Memories…..and at the end the P.S., I looked through the photos again, I was speechless….

    I liked it actually. I really do. Not the individual photos, but the entire compilation photos as a whole as one big picture, going down the memory lane. You are right, as much as we remember (or try hard to keep our memories), it’s never complete, it’s always bit and pieces, distorted… it’s just like the sense of longing when we are about to graduate from school, saying farewell to all the dear friends, trying very hard to keep our good memories and stays in as close in touch with our friends (in reality, things change, closeness do fade, life keeps getting excited, everyone’s path is different….)

    I love it Thaoski. I really do.

    Great work!!!

  2. thaoski says:

    Hi Boon, thanks for your comment. I love knowing who reads my blog and what they think. I have a feeling this post is going to polarise people. They’re either going to hate it or love it and I’m ready for the back lash *yikes*. I had the same “first impression” you had about the b&w photos. I felt they took away from the yellow shots. They confused me. The light was lost. Images were flat and lifeless. But then the story of memories unfolded. And like you, I don’t necessary like the images individually. But I do love what they collectively represent. I’m glad I was able to restore some faith in me through my writing (although it was perhaps a bit too long). Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. X

  3. Boon Ong says:

    I wonder how crazy will your ideas be if you are in the far western cow town with the Rockies as back drop.

  4. Humaira says:

    I agree, you need to tell all three stories. It’s like it’s someone remembering the times they had with their first love, that hope and possibility and then you mentioned Norwegian Wood (Haven’t read or seen it), but I can see what you’re getting at.

    It’s a beautiful set of images and it’s looking back at someone’s memories at the end of a very long and beautiful life when they were young and ready to start an adventure.

  5. thaoski says:

    Boon – The Canadian Rockies are my favourite place in the whole entire world 🙂 One day I’ll have to go back and do some shoots there : ) … I call it my spiritual home : )

    Humaira – I really recommend reading the book. It’s complex and it lingers for days (well it did for me!). The movie tried to capture the essence of it but the writer Murakami is such a beautiful writer it’s hard to capture the essence of what he’s saying. I know this isn’t the usual thaoski stories but I do love distortion of memories : ) ps. Thanks for always contributing to my blog! X

  6. Boon Ong says:

    I am lucky to have my wedding in the Rockies and it’s really a memory for life. I did a slide show video on my own to share it with friends and family who couldn’t make it to our wedding. Just like you, trying to (not tell a story) but to share the moments, working only on photos and guest’s video clips.

  7. thaoski says:

    Boon that’s so sweet of you to share that. What a great video! You both look so happy and very much in love 🙂 Great photos too! Where abouts in the Rockes were you? In BC or Alberta?

  8. Boon Ong says:

    I live in Calgary, AB. The wedding took place in Banff, AB. I do like to do some fun stuff like cooking and put it on video (my own style). Just check out the same youtube user in the link that I posted just now.
    I actually started looking at engagement and wedding photos when I was preparing my own wedding last year, go through alot of different websites, and was amazed by a lot of the work. Unlike back in asia where people do alot of pre-wedding photos offered by the bridal house (with extravagant gowns and back drop), western cultures do engagement photos, and same day wedding photos. It’s simply a different industry.

    Everything then started with me getting a new DSLR cameras, start taking photos randomly, which doesn’t help. And I thought, why not engagement photos since I like seeing them alot online. Since then, I have tried offering friends to take engagement photos for them, just for me to practice. As much as most of the people like it, my partner – Chris, who works in advertising, keep telling me that my photos are flat and there are no art directions.

    Just because of this “art direction”, this vague term that is so hard to explain, I was having so much trouble to understand what it is. I did alot of research online, and that was how I found you just a few months ago. Still learning, trying to improve. Meantime, keep doing different work like event photography, baby photos, more engagement photos. I just keep practicing.

  9. thaoski says:

    ooOOoo I love Banff! I was there last year snowboarding for 2 weeks and stayed at the Fairmont Springs – So nice!

    I agree, art direction is such a tricky vague term. It means different things to different people and the definition changes based on what industry you’re in – film/ advertising/ photo shoots. It’s not a common word used in the wedding industry but how I work is also a bit different to the norm. I use art direction as a ‘collective’ word … The best analogy I give people about my role is that I’m like the ‘writer / director’ of a film (but it’s a photo shoot). The photographer is like the cinematographer and my couples are the actors. But unlike most writers who write a script and then find the actors. I use the actors (couples) to inspire the script. As the writer and director I’m accountable for delivering a the outcome – which is ultimately a beautiful romantic photo shoot based on the uniqueness of the couple.

    ps. I do think it’s very hard to be both the art director and the photographer. The photographer is focused on capturing the moment and making sure the technical aspects are right (eg. lighting etc-). Whereas the the art director is very much focused on the outcome/ vision is meeting the client’s needs. eg. Part of my role is to make sure I create enough scenes/ moments for the photographer to capture. And at the same time I also have to check the photographer is capturing the images required to create the photographic love story (again, focus is back on what the clients want). Lots to think about!

    I would strongly suggest collaborating with other photographers/ stylists/ art directors … you will learn so much from others and you’ll also refine your own style through the process. By the way, I’m really enjoying this banter : ) Thanks for taking the time to comment and write!

  10. Darren says:

    Hi Boon,

    If you’re photographer working professionally you certainly need a support team. If you are out meeting clients, doing edits, booking equipment and planning your next shoot everyday. You’ll be exhausted by the time you get behind the camera. Theres definitely a big team element involved. In a good team everyones input is valuable.

    But I do agree that the “Art Director” is a role thats hard to define. In the commercial world is like the project manager, the art director makes sure the clients brand is realised.

  11. Boon Ong says:

    Thank you so much for the insight and advice thaoski and Darren. Very valuable. Looking forward to see more work from you.

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