Xing Yuan Zeng and her friends were waiting at the South Common Centre Bus Terminal in Mississauga when she snapped this photo of two children playing on the platform. Taken on a late and cold evening, most passengers were hiding inside the station to keep warm from the harsh Canadian winter. These two children, Zeng notes, were the only ones outside.
“They were hyperactive, adventurous and carefree, running around the bus stop and having fun in the snow,” she says. “Just two kids living in the moment – they don’t linger over the past, and they certainly don’t worry about the future.”
The photo, which was inspired by Zeng’s own sentimental longing for “simpler times,” encompasses all the facets of childhood innocence. “The children remind me of myself when I was that age,” she says. “As we grow older, we become more wary of messing up our clothes, becoming ill or appearing ‘immature’… we just worry too much.”
To heighten the vividness and colour intensity of the image, Zeng used photo editing software to exaggerate both the dark and the light parts of the photo – what’s left is a mere silhouette of two children and their balloons.
When it comes to portrait photography, the third-year commerce student at U of T Mississauga is determined to touch people through visual narrative expression. A picture, she concludes, is the best way to read and understand someone’s life. “I miss the ‘old me’ and would love to capture this moment for these kids, as a kind of memento,” she says. “Their youth is now immortalized within this single frame.”
Xing Yuan Zeng’s “Playground” photo gained an honourable mention at the 90th Annual Exhibition of Photography at Hart House