A Close Reading: Photographer An Ron Xu on Mr. Wong’s Chinatown flower shop


[MUSIC PLAYING] My name’s An Rong Xu. I’m one of the photographers
in Interior Lives. This photograph is of a former
local florist in Chinatown, named Mr. Wong
I first encountered Mr. Wong in 2011, when I
walked by his shop every day for about a week because I
saw this beautiful mess of his workshop. A lot of people
don’t know, but a lot of the florists in
Chinatown who they serve is actually, just a
lot of funeral homes. So folks go to the florist to
buy funeral bouquets to gift to people and their families. One day, I went in
to ask him to take care of this bouquet
for my friend’s mother. And we started a conversation. I went to visit him, again. And I sat with him
for about two hours, watching his son’s
wedding video. And we bonded over that. In the photo, I really was
just focused on the expression on Mr. Wong’s face. And I was just focused
on just capturing him in this serene slash, like,
poetic moment of him making these flowers for
somebody who probably isn’t going to appreciate
them because they’re dead. And also, trying
to create this idea of the space where he works. And so a lot of it is framed
within all his belongings, which is very cluttered.

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