Looking for Fun in a Boring Life - an Interview with Jason Guan

Street photography has to be one of the most spontaneous forms of photography. You just never know what you're going to find. This is what we've come to realize after seeing these shots from photographer Jason Guan.

These off-the-cuff shots show just how unpredictable and fun life can be. One moment you're focusing on a couple walking on the streets and the next thing you know, you're a witness to something eccentric and out of the ordinary. However, it's not always a game of chance. Intuition and the ability to recognize a moment as it is about to happen will come into play. Jason has both and his interesting shots are proof.

Jason shoots instinctively. He lets his emotions trigger the shutter. That reaction to outside stimuli paired with his photography skills can make for some eccentric and bewildering street shots.

© Jason Guan

Hello, Jason, and welcome to the Magazine! How did you get started on your photographic journey?

Before grade 11, I knew nothing about photos or cameras until I began taking a photography class with my high school teacher Mr. Long, one of my most important mentors. By showing me Magnum Photos, he gave me my very first inspiration in photography. Then one day, my friend Emma encouraged me to skip two classes to photograph a climate strike protest, and that was my first time doing street photography. I’m still deeply thankful to these two people for giving me the addiction to photography.

How long have you been shooting?

Roughly two years.

What made you choose film photography?

At first, I was shooting digital, but then I realized it was too perfect and too quick. Film allows me to enjoy the imperfections and forces me to slow down and be more decisive about each frame I take. The process of waiting for development and scanning makes me judge each shot with a fresher eye when editing photos. It also occasionally gives me a surprise.

We love how you take everyday scenes and turn them into eye-catching photographs. Was this a style you were going for?

Not intentionally I think. The photos that stay in my folders are usually the ones that still make me feel something. It can be a cliché or something that doesn’t look like it belongs there. I don’t want to have a style, I would get tired of it.

© Jason Guan

What is your favorite thing about street photography?

The joy of looking for fun in a very boring life.

Why do you take photos?

Maybe it’s an attempt to escape, maybe I just want to participate in life more, maybe I want others to see what they have missed... I don’t have a certain answer. In the beginning, it was simply a passion but now it’s become complicated. One thing I’m sure of it’s that I’m really happy when I’m taking photos.

What goes on in your mind before you hit the shutter?

It’s blank. All thoughts would suddenly vanish and I’m head empty. It’s always out of instinct and feeling without thinking.

What inspires you?

Studying people’s pictures, music, movies, dreams, memes, and everything I see. But most of the time it’s simply some weird thoughts appearing out of nowhere while I’m taking the bus home.

© Jason Guan

Do you have a dream project that you would like to work on? With whom and what would be the story behind it?

I want to go on a road trip across Canada with my best friends, Dylan, Felix, and Nik, who are amazing people and photographers. I was born in the US, raised in China for a bit more than a decade and now have settled down in Canada. Vancouver is where I live and it’s a place that changes who I am and gives me new identities. This country has a lot more for me to see and explore.

How are you doing during these crazy times? How has it affected your life and photography?

Everything has two sides. COVID-19 does make many things more difficult, not just photography. But the isolation and emptiness forced me to look into life more carefully and expand my vision. After all, it’s beneficial to my photography. I do feel lonely and detached sometimes like everyone else, but throughout this whole time my friends and family have given a lot of support and love and I’m grateful to all of them. I think this strange time has united people more than dividing them despite all the chaotic politics and pandemic.

© Jason Guan

What's the first thing you're going to do once all of this is over?

Traveling with my friends, maybe to New York.

What does a perfect day look like for Jason Guan?

Taking photos, listening to Viagra Boys, Joy Division, and David Bowie, watch Wim Wenders and David Lynch movies, eating four giant tacos from Tacofino, drink beers, smoke cigars, and fall asleep in five minutes.

Any last words for our readers?

Try to look for fun if you feel life now is no fun.


We would like to thank Jason for letting us feature his story. You can find more of his work on Instagram.

written by cheeo on 2021-02-11 #people #places #film #photographer #artist-interview #jason-guan

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