Humans of Harker: Alex Mo uses photography to inform his worldly and personal perspectives

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Alex Youn

“[Photography] opened my eyes to things that don’t exist except for in that one-second exposure that your eyes can’t capture, writing can’t capture and even video can’t capture. I think it’s an obsession with the world. I’d look outside, and think, ‘These colors are beautiful,’ even though I really like working in black and white. It’s this overall obsession but the way I learn about myself. The camera, when it’s in my hand, teaches me about who I am, and the things that I don’t really know. It’s really taught me how to love, not just the people I’m with, but the overall world," Alex Mo (12) said.

by Alex Youn, TALON Editor-in-Chief

Look. Blink. Click.

For Alex Mo (12), his two experiences of viewing a particular person or an object through both his optical lens and his camera lens have virtually meshed and provoked one of his most central goals in daily life: to passionately capture the strikingly real and intriguingly surreal aspects of any environment through mental and physical photography.

“[Photography] opened my eyes to things that don’t exist except for in that one-second exposure that your eyes can’t capture, writing can’t capture and even video can’t capture,” he said. “I think it’s an obsession with the world. I’d look outside, and think, ‘These colors are beautiful,’ even though I really like working in black and white. It’s this overall obsession but also the way I learn about myself. The camera, when it’s in my hand, teaches me about who I am and the things that I don’t really know. It’s really taught me how to love, not just the people I’m with, but the overall world.”

Ever since his sophomore year trip to Paris and Prague, where he discovered an overwhelming fascination with the subjective power structures between a photographer and the subject, Alex has embraced photography to a point where it has transformed the manner in which he visually interprets his surroundings.

“One side [of experiencing] is living in the now—living in the 1/25th of a second but also keeping this larger project in mind, which, for me, is happiness, health [and] family,” he said. “It’s these little bits and pieces of the puzzle that eventually fit into the overall artwork. But, I don’t see things in terms of a final product. I’m very much invested in the moment in that I lift the camera to my eye, and I see things very differently. I just click when I see something valuable, so photography isn’t just another hobby that I do now or something that I’ve gained interested in but something that always is in the background of my life.”

From learning to appreciate every tennis shot just as he values every photo shot to developing a perspective of realizing his own fallibility but responding with a “just keep working” or “just keep shooting” attitude, Alex found a way to connect photography to multiple arenas of his life, including his view of meaningful relationships.

“I think that the idea of making the person you’re talking to feel like the most important person in the world and the only person in the world at that moment in time is something that I’ve learned from photography and appreciating every second of it,” he said.

But, Alex did not use the objective of taking photos as a crutch to find fulfillment in a specific moment; rather, he used photography as a tool—a lens through which he can put every experience, including his own, into perspective.

“I could go out with an unloaded camera with no film in it and come back just as happy as if I had film in it,” he said. “If I just have a camera in my hand and I’m running across the street to chase this picture, it’s the thrill of doing it that makes me as happy and as passionate as I am talking about it. That’s all I’m looking for. I mean, there are so many beautiful moments when I didn’t have a camera, but I saw it with my eyes, and it has left as strong as an imprint or an impact on me. I think that my mind is this continuous, running photo book of memories and thoughts. It just keeps going.”