When acclaimed actor Chow Yun Fat steps into the frame, all eyes are upon him. But what happens if he steps back and views his surroundings from behind the camera lens?
Moving pictures: Photo collection by acclaimed actor Chow Yun Fat on display at haute couture house Louis Vuitton Jakarta.(Louis Vuitton Indonesia)
His photo collection “Moving Pictures”, now on display at haute couture house Louis Vuitton Jakarta, may give the answer.
The powerful black-and-white photos all show the intimacy Chow has had with the camera in during the 30 years of his acting career, demonstrating his ability to put his heart into images.
“Besides my wife, the camera is another companion throughout my 30 years in film,” the 54-year-old Hong Kong actor said in a press release. “In the past, I have always been in front of the camera. Now, I would like to take a step behind it and look at the world through the lens in a different perspective.”
In looking through his lens, Chow effectively captures the beauty around him – from the perfection of a flower and the grandeur of the sky to the emotive expressions of people and the hustle bustle on a movie set.
Although the title “Moving Pictures” is a contradiction given the stills on display, it is the philosophy behind each shot that Chow seeks to convey.
Chow Yun Fat’s photography book, Moving Pictures.
The photos, taken while he was working and traveling around the world, symbolize Chow’s physical journey from one place to another, as well as his transition from standing in front of the camera to behind it. For Chow, the motionless photos create an emotive power that can move the imagination of their viewers.
The “Moving Pictures” exhibition displays 18 photos – selected from the total 40 gathered in Chow’s book of the same title – all taken from 2005 to 2007, during Chow’s travels to Paris, the Bahamas, mainland China and homeland Hong Kong.
Chow says he took advantage of his freedom while on the movie sets to photograph the crews and fellow actors of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Curse of the Golden Flower and The Children of Huangshi, as well as some artistic objects he found along the way.
A dramatic expression of actress Gong Li is captured in a photo titled Painted Lady, where she prepares for a scene in Curse of the Golden Flower in Shanghai. The porcelain beauty appears a bit exhausted as a makeup artist puts the final touches on her face.
In another photo showing Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski, Chow sneaked behind the man’s back, capturing him sitting in his director’s chair while giving commands to his crew members on set.
The expressions of Curse of the Golden Flower director Zhang Yimou and The Children of Huangshi director Roger Spottiswoode are also made timeless through Chow’s photographs.
Unlike other photographers who keep out of their own work, Chow puts himself in his photos too. In a picture titled Self Portrait in Paris, the veteran actor captures his own reflection on a mirror in a classic-style room. Standing straight, Chow poses boldly in a jumper suit, proudly displaying his aging looks and graying hair.
But through all the black and white photographs, it is clear that Chow wants to show that colorless shots can become “colorful stories”.
“Don’t under estimate the power of black and white,” he says. “For me, it gives unlimited inspiration and imagination.”
Chow’s passion for photography started to blossom after he beheld the beautiful scenery in China while shooting the Oscar-winning kung fu movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in 2000.
“It was my first time filming in China. Director Ang Li took me to a lovely, beautiful location named ‘Nine Dragon Cliff’ where I and Ziyi Zhang filmed together,” Chow says. “It’s called Yellow Mountain in the film. It’s a place with a mountain, river and bamboo, very beautiful. The scene touched me at the time.”
Chow reveals that it was the late American photographer and environmentalist Ansel Adams who influenced his style. Adams is best known for his black-and-white photographs of the American West and primarily Yosemite National Park.
Chow’s Jakarta exhibition marks the opening of Louis Vuitton’s flagship store at the Plaza Indonesia mall. Before making its way to Jakarta, “Moving Pictures” was previewed in Hong Kong for the opening of the Louis Vuitton Canton Road Maison in 2008. By that time, Chow had launched his “Moving Pictures” book, with all proceeds from sales going to help victims of the earthquake in China’s central Sichuan province in 2008.
Chow Yun Fat – Moving Pictures
Until May 11, 2009
Open every day from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Louis Vuitton in-gallery boutique
Level 1 #E10-11
Plaza Indonesia, Jakarta