“Captured”by Varun Thota

Varun Thota, a designer based in Hong Kong, originally from Macau, has been exposing the Instagram community to the the cities he loves, with his unique ability to make a simple building front look abstract and his toy plane. What was a creative outlet for him, has built him into an Instagram celebrity of sorts, with his photography being lauded for his creative use of props and lighting. We interviewed Varun about his work, the balance of having a full time job while still being able to work on his photography and his home.

As a web designer and developer, what led you to take an interest in photography?

Varun Thota: In my day to day work as a designer, I spend most of time working within constraints, balancing between organisation and user needs. With photography, I don’t have those constraints, allowing me to be as creative as I want, and using it as a creative outlet.


Is there a particular quality or aspect that you look for in a photo, and, if so, what is that quality?

V.T.: It really depends on how I feel and the subject I’m shooting. I go through phases where I look for particular things for my photo like symmetrical patterns or clean and uncluttered design. Sometimes it could even just be a cast of light that looks amazing.

What was the inspiration behind your viral toy plane photos?

V.T.: The idea behind the series came about after seeing all the amazing creativity from the Instagrammers I followed. My dad, who is now a retired helicopter pilot, gave me a set of miniature plane models, which, spurred on by all the creativity on Instagram, led to #mytoyplane.


Would you say that through photography your perspectives of your home, Macau, and Hong Kong have changed?

V.T.: Definitely! I spend most weekends out and about with friends, exploring both cities, discovering new sights and sounds, or seeing old areas I’ve been to in a different light.

Which city do you prefer? Hong Kong or Macau?

V.T.: Hong Kong. I love the fast paced life and the multitude of things to do, see and eat.

Are there differences between the two cities that you would say that your photos capture?

V.T.: I hope my photos capture the difference. Whereas Hong Kong is more densely populated, has more high rises, and more of a fast paced life, Macau still has a laid back feeling, a slower pace of life and older buildings, which is what I prefer taking photos of.


Why would you say that your work matters to you?

V.T.: I use Instagram as a way to meet new people and explore new opportunities. Through the community and all the interactions, I’ve developed a passion for photography. Over the past few years and hundreds of photos taken, I’ve learned so much from others, even inspiring a few to  view their world different. It’s good to have something to look back at, to see all the progress made and friendships started, and remind myself to get out and keep exploring.

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About the Author /

James is currently studying Psychology, with a focus in Neuroscience, at Stanford University. He is a member of the varsity fencing team there, and also a huge soccer enthusiast. Passionate about psychology, James is interested in the role it has in our everyday lives, and particularly the impact it has on marketing and advertising.

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