Arts·Video

Why do we look up when someone else does? These photos examine the strange moments in our everyday

Go behind the scenes of Fang Tong's photographs — carefully constructed tableaux that look like they could be freeze frames from a film.

'The tension between the ordinary and the strange has always attracted me'

Go behind the scenes of Fang Tong's photographs — carefully constructed tableaux that look like they could be freeze frames from a film. 2:18

If you pass a group of people in a park and they suddenly look up at the sky, chances are you will feel the urge to follow their gaze and look up too. It's these strange moments in our everyday life that Vancouver-based photographer Fang Tong loves to recreate.

"The tension between the ordinary and the strange has always attracted me," says Tong. "I like to keep the balance between the surreal and the real in my work in order to pull my audience into the world that I create."

The scenes that she photographs — like her latest series, Daily Life, which we get a closer look at in this video by filmmaker Lisa Wu — are carefully constructed. Her process involves sketching her ideas out first to see the composition of people, props and space. The resulting images are striking tableaux that look like they could be freeze frames from a film.

Fang Tong. (CBC Arts)
The tension between the ordinary and the strange has always attracted me. I like to keep the balance between the surreal and the real in my work in order to pull my audience into the world that I create.- Fang Tong
A sketch for Fang Tong's Daily Life series. (Fang Tong)

Tong describes herself as a cinematic photographer, creating "a mood and an environment and perhaps some mystery." It's this mysterious aspect of her photographs that draws viewers into her work — but she never wants to give away the whole story behind her images.

"I'm always striving to leave an open question in order to allow the audience to discover their own answers."

Follow Fang Tong here.

(CBC Arts)

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