You cannot help but gaze deeply into this photograph by Michael Wong for an extended period. It is a magical picture that makes you stare and wonder. The subject is unseen and can be anyone. You wonder what it is that he/she is thinking and what comes next. It can be hopeful or full of despair. It is a picture that can represent your story and your journey. Whether that was intentional or not, you just can't help but be pulled in by the composition. It's one of those pictures that asks a lot of questions. First, is it real? Answer: Yes, very real.
On March 28, Wong was on a hike on the Palos Verdes Peninsula with some friends; he took notice of the seascape and rock that lined the shores. He created a picture in his mind that evoked a very specific emotion. The story he created, in his words, is "about a person who is going through a rough patch in life and is at the cusp of a new adventure. Looking out into the horizon, he/she is remembering how to appreciate the little things and to have faith that life is taking you where you need to be."
The photograph is nice without the frame, but the layering created by the rusted metal that Wong found washed up from the sea makes for an added dimension that feels more intimate. The frame, he thinks, was part of a large crate or something that had fallen off of a ship. He reinforced the joints of the frame and carried it to the spot where he intended to create his image. He was also chasing daylight as the sun was setting quickly, so he had to scramble to put up the frame, which seemed to weigh a hefty 20 pounds. Initially, it kept falling until he wedged smaller rocks underneath larger rocks to support its sides.
The photograph became additionally challenging as none of his friends wanted to be the subject of his visual story or splashed by the water. So, instead of losing the image, he turned it into a self-portrait exploration. "It's really challenging being in your own photograph," he said. "I had to set a timer and run out to the rocks, then hold still for 20 seconds each time. I took close to 50 exposures to get the one I was satisfied with."
The image is a long exposure made with a Canon 5D MKIII and processed in Adobe Lightroom.