Hongkonger wins National Geographic world photo contest with Ocean Park snap

Hongkonger wins National Geographic world photo contest with Ocean Park snap

Hongkonger’s study of woman lost in digital world wins him US$10,000 from magazine

A Node Glows in the Dark was shot on a train ferrying visitors around Ocean Park. Photo: Brian Yen (Click to enlarge)

A Hong Kong stay-at-home dad has won US$10,000 after taking the top prize in an international photography contest with an image of a woman lit by the glow of her smartphone on a packed train at Ocean Park.

Brian Yen was at the marine park with his daughter when he decided to take the photo, which won National Geographic‘s grand prize in the “people” photography category.

His photo beat more than 9,200 entries from 150 countries.

Called A Node Glows in the Dark, Yen’s photo shows a woman looking at her phone, completely absorbed in her own world while surrounded by people on a four-minute train ride that takes visitors from the waterfront section of the park to the summit.

Yen, who has a physics degree, told National Geographic that the image was a juxtaposition of ideas.

“I feel a certain contradiction when I look at the picture. On the one hand, I feel the liberating gift of technology. On the other hand, I feel people don’t even try to be neighbourly any more, because they don’t have to.

“The picture is also a reflective one. I also feel a bit guilty, more and more, that I’m just like that lady in the middle of the train, lost in her own world.”

In the caption Yen wrote for the image, he said: “In the last 10 years, mobile data, smartphones and social networks have forever changed our existence. Although this woman stood at the centre of a jam-packed train, the warm glow from her phone told the strangers around her that she wasn’t really there.

“She managed to slip away from ‘here’ for a short moment; she’s a node flickering on the social web, roaming the earth, free as a butterfly. Our existence is no longer stuck to the physical here; we’re free to run away, and run we will.”

Yen said he almost always carries a compact camera with him and that most of his photos are taken at night, because he has to wait for his young daughter to go to bed.

He doesn’t have a particular genre that he likes to shoot and is open to all styles.

“Everything around us, every second of the day, is a fresh source for interpretation,” he told the magazine.

“So, if I’m in the woods, I may shoot some landscape; if I’m in a subway, I’ll shoot the people around me; if I’m in a stinky alley with a dying cockroach, heck, I’ll shoot that, too.”

Apart from the cash prize, Yen also won a trip to National Geographicheadquarters in Washington for a photography seminar next month.

Published by

Robert Chaen

Global CEO-Founder of ChangeU and Movsha Movers & Shakers, Hero-CEO Whisperer, Writer, The #1 Alpha Change Expert, Father of Asian FireWalking Robert Chaen is an International Keynote Speaker, writer, researcher, and corp games designer. He is famously known to be the “Hero-CEO Whisperer”, 1-on1 coaching with many CEOs and Celebrities for corporate strategies, staff & office political issues, personal branding, and even public figure OSHA safety drilling called Drager Defense. He has transformed CEOs and managers in Coca-Cola China, TVB Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Airport Services, VADS, TM, Public Bank, Auditor General's Office Maldives, etc. He is the prolific creator and online Author of innovative management tools such as DragonCEO, Diamond Leader, Papillon Personal Effectiveness, OSHA Drager Defense, KPI Bank, etc. He is also the Founder of Movsha, an international networking with monthly mingles with MOVers & SHAkers, Angels, Entrepreneurs, CEOs, Celebrities, HR-PR-CSR, HODs, and the Most Influential IDEA people. ​Chaen is widely considered as one of the top International Platform Keynote Speakers for Resorts World Genting Senior Management Conference (Manila), 7-Eleven HK, Samsung, Coca-Cola China Mini-MBA @Tsing Hua University, Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Jockey Club, The Story Conference where he interviewed Datuk Kamarudin (Chairman of AirAsia) and Siti Nurhaliza. He has been widely featured in TVB, AWSJ, CNBC, SCMP, The Star, and Sin Chew. As “The Father of Asian FireWalking”, he coached TVB celebrities (Ekin Cheng Yee-Kin) to walk on 650°C fire; and raised HK$68M in the world’s 1st and only live TV Charity FireWalk (TVB Tung Wah Charity Show), before Tony Robbins even came to Asia. If Robert can get you to walk on 650⁰C fire, he can inspire you to be THE BEST. He champions CN-HK-EU-US Tycoons to be philanthropic, and to be angel investors to support the next generation of Jack Mas, Steve Jobs, Richard Bransons, Steven Spielbergs, or Barrack Obamas. With some slick motivational speakers with fake doctorates out there, graduates often describe Robert to be "the most credible, empowering, truthful Coach" who believe in his graduates to believe in themselves. ​However, clients have described Robert as "The #1 Cool Badass Alpha Change Expert". He has the coolest first class stature, rapport and trust from clients. He will not hesitate to tell the badass truth ever so gently because clients are paying him big bucks to reveal the truth, find solutions, persuade the hostile HODs, and align cross-teams within the organization. Originally based in Hong Kong for 20+ years, he had worked with top Branding/Ad agencies at J Walter Thompson and Leo Burnett, and was a certified FranklinCovey (7 Habits) in USA, and NLP MasterCoach (USA). His warmth is known to soften the most hardened, resistant sceptics. He will inspire your team to Go for Top 1, or to be a Dragon CEO. With boundless energies, Robert owns 15+ successful business Joint-Ventures, and created unique products under his global VC network called Chaen's Angels VC. He is deeply passionate about ChangeUTH Youth CSR, Science-Based Medicine (vs. quackery), short films and Reality TV. Touched by a personal tragedy through the loss of his HK-born Portuguese wife, co-coach and business partner, Brenda José of 18 years, Robert explores the many ways in which the spirit world is communicating with the living with real scientific studies and evidence. He gives inspiring conferences on The Secret Afterlife.

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