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Ann Woo

The genre-juxtaposing, emerging fine art photographer speaks to us about her suspicion of meanings in photography

Ann Woo divides her time between two towering cities; born and raised in Hong Kong, she completed a BA in fashion design on home soil, then continent-hopped to study at the New York International Centre for Photography and thereafter began practicing as a fine art photographer. Woo displays a distinctive style; measured and minimalistic, her photos emanate a sense of appreciation for ideal. With an impeccable eye for colour and attention to detail, her images feature miscellaneous subjects that range from playing cards to caves.

Her photographic approach encompasses a range of genres; within her selective portfolio portraiture, landscape and still life shots lie juxtaposed amongst one another. To the viewer, Ann’s work is seemingly conceptual and meditative, however, she is hugely preoccupied with upholding absolute objectivity in her images and the question of representation in the photographic process remains at the forefront of her work. We caught up with Ann in Hong Kong, to find out more about her practice…

Dazed Digital: What draws you to photography?
Ann Woo:
I tend to have an obsession in looking at beautiful things. Photography makes it possible for me to look at these things over and over again.

DD: Are there any ideas you communicate implicitly or explicitly in your photos?
Ann Woo: I do not try to communicate any ideas, neither implicitly nor explicitly. I try to avoid any pre-constructed meanings in photographs. I choose to photograph things that I’m simply fond of looking at and I would analyze these impulses afterwards. In other words, if a photograph of mine somehow attracted a person’s gaze, and that person happened to ask questions about it, I would be happy to explain the process of my thinking or impulses. I have never believed that photographs can carry any meanings, and at the same time I feel suspicious about intentions behind meanings in photographs.

DD: Which photographers do you admire?
Ann Woo:
Bernd and Hilla Becher, Thomas Struth, Hiroshi Sigimoto etc. 

DD: Would you say that a photograph is an opinion?
Ann Woo: No, a photograph is a photograph, a 3 dimensional object with a two dimensional image sitting on one side of the object. People have opinions. Sometimes, a person might have opinions about a photograph – but not necessarily.

DD: Do you prefer shooting with film or digital and why?
Ann Woo:
I prefer shooting on films for my own work. I feel fortunate enough to be at a time when film and processing are still available. Films and cameras have the unique ability to capture moments in the most objective way (not including the process of printing negatives on photo papers. Also, it is important to remember that it is always ‘the person’ who gives subjective meanings to photographs.)

DD: What’s next?
Ann Woo: In the near future – I will be involved in a group show called “Always the Young Strangers” coming up soon at Higher Pictures in New York, from May 19 to July 9. For my own works – there will be more sunsets, more playing cards, more flowers and more landscapes coming up soon.