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Out of the Shadows
by Chris Lau
Published January 2024
“Out of the Shadows”, sheds light on people living on the margins of society. Paying homage to Diane Arbus who saw those who would otherwise go ignored, this social documentary portrait series captures people in all their authenticity: their defiance, vulnerability, awkwardness and sensuality. Through the lens of my career as a social worker, and my critical aperture, each person is acknowledged, no longer hidden behind the labels and stereotypes imposed on them…imposed on US, as I include myself among them.
By focusing light creatively and symbolically, it casts shadows onto the richly-textured realities of the people whom I photograph. Both black-and-white and color images are used to convey the timelessness of the subjects (we have always existed and will continue to exist forever) as well as their very present existence.
Living in the shadows doesn’t imply living on the periphery of society, nor does it mean we are the minority. We are the many who share a common, yet distinct, experience of “othering”. Once we realize our commonality, we are, in fact, the majority and at the very center of society.
Born in Hong Kong, Chris Lau is a Canadian documentary photographer, visual artist and storyteller living in Montreal, Canada. Specializing as a portraitist, he seeks to recognize those typically ignored by society and to put forth people's authentic selves. He is also a social worker and has worked with marginalized populations and grassroots community movements for over two decades, himself belonging to several marginalized communities. He also works as a consultant, supporting non-profits around organizational development to increase their social impact.