HKBU journalism students' documentary explores what your selfie says about you

HKBU journalism students' documentary explores what your selfie says about you

Far from being a sign of self-obsession, selfies could help you understand yourself better

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Giann Sun (left) and Wing Yau highlights why selfies aren't always about self-obsession.
Giann Sun (left) and Wing Yau highlights why selfies aren't always about self-obsession.
Photo: K. Y. Cheng

Posting selfies on social media is a part of life for most Hongkongers. People usually post photos to boast about their lifestyle. But journalism students Giann Sun Ming-wai and Wing Yau Wing-yan think there is more to self-taken pictures than that. The students from Baptist University have produced an award-winning documentary, Happy Selfie Time, which shows how people can use selfies to make their lives more meaningful.

"I was never a fan of taking selfies. I have seen so many photos on social media with the caption, 'What a beautiful skyline', but the photographer is taking up 80 per cent of the photo with his or her face. All I can see is their face. Do they want to show people the beautiful view or their face?" says Yau.

Then Yau read about a Hong Kong girl hosting a photo exhibition of her selfies. It made her think that there might be more to selfies than self-obsession.

Yau and Sun began to research the topic and found two inspiring women for whom taking selfies has been life-changing.

The first of these women was professional photographer Iris. She approaches strangers who are at work and asks if she can "swap identities" with them. She has taken selfies of herself working as a butcher, a hawker and even a street performer.

When Iris takes part in these identity swaps, the people she is swapping with always laugh and giggle as Iris tries to do their job. "Hong Kong people don't find it easy to interact with strangers, but through photos, Iris is able to remove any barriers. It is amazing," Yau says.

Through her photography classes, Iris wants to show people that selfies can help you understand yourself, too.

"Iris told us that taking selfies is a way for people to get to know themselves better. When real emotion is captured on camera, it is a precious moment," says Yau.

One person who got to know herself better through selfies is breast cancer survivor Teresa, the second person Yau and Sun focused on. She bravely documented her battle with cancer in the form of very personal selfies.

From the hair loss caused by chemotherapy to the physical marks the illness left on her body, Teresa used selfies as an outlet to show that she could create something positive and inspiring from something so frightening and negative.

"Most people would be devastated to suffer from cancer at such a young age but she chose to look at it from a different perspective," says Sun.

The eight-minute documentary was initially a school assignment for Sun and Yau until their teacher encouraged them to enter the eighth Hong Kong Mobile Film Festival. They came away with four prizes, including the grand award and the gold award for Best Documentary.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Stay true to your selfie

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