You know those people who just seem to be good at whatever they try? I don’t know if I believe that God gives a certain group of people special talents while the rest of us toil away in obscurity, but, as is the case with Juan Chao, it appears as though he (or He) does.
Chao was born in 1991 (that’s right kids: he is producing this type of content at 18 or 19). He was not a child prodigy. He hasn’t been snapping photos since he was three. In fact, he doesn’t even study photography (he studies film, which is proximal, but, still, you get my point). A few years, Chao started taking photographs of his life. Fast forward to 2010, and Chao’s work is being featured on a number of web zines, including this one (hopefully I didn’t need to tell you that). Are you jealous yet?
Chao cites Garry Winogrand as one of his influences, and it is easy to understand why. Winogrand shot urban landscapes; he was particularly adept at making the everyday, more appropriately the inconsequential, appear extraordinary. To some extent, this is what Chao does. He is able to capture the idiosyncrasies of urban life. That is not to say that Chao exposes unseen beauty (as Winogrand could); on the contrary, Chao uncuffs the decrepit. That is to say, he lets it be. What you see is what was there. Beauty exists everywhere, but sometimes, as Chao shows us, you just need to wallow in the grimy—in the ugly.
To see more, go to http://www.juanchao.com, just make sure you us Purell afterwards.