The digital era has blessed us with overwhelming control over aspects of life we didn’t even know we could modify. 
Commercial shoots are set up as to make the retoucher’s job easier. The client’s fear of imperfection during shoots is whisked away with a “don’t worry, we’ll edit this in post.”

My first job in Shanghai was just this: I was tasked to create perfect images for clients who wanted to look their best.
I hated it every second of it, still frustrated after having left the studio. I then decided I would use a cheap point and shoot film camera I had, picking up dust in a drawer. Less settings, less thinking, more shooting.

When I picked up one of my first rolls from the lab, something had happened.

Burns, streaks running through the film. The light sensitive emulsion had somewhat exploded. When I first saw the negative, I was fuming. I later realized that this was a blessing.

The technician kept waiving his arms at my face, yelling at me: “Its not us! Not the camera! The film!”
The owner of what felt like a clandestine darkroom in the back alley of a concession-era compound spent hours with me, trying to replicate the effect. After days, it became obvious that this wasn’t the place where I’d be able to replicate the effect.

I’m still looking for this place.

At the age of social media and the almighty internet, everyone seems to be successful, or least shows that they are. Their love, professional or social life radiates. We stuff ourselves with motivational quotes and tutorials which supposedly give us shortcuts in life.

This power to filter one’s image is now given to all, making us forget that most of our lives are filled with failures. Our love life is filled with break ups and let downs, and generally devoid of Disney movie style happy endings.

Brulures remind us of the fact that these failures aren’t made to prevent us from moving forward; they are the pillars of our personalities and build us, supporting our rare yet meaningful successes.

Using Format