This series was an utter failure last year. I will try to post more regularly this year.
I recently launched my own photography website (www.bonjwing.com). It will not, as some readers have inquired, replace my Flickr account. Instead, it will serve as a gallery of my professional work, a sampling rather than a library.
Since that site launched, I’ve received a few emails asking about the watermark on the photographs on that website. The “seal” is my “chop,” an engraved stamp of my name in Chinese. Traditionally, Chinese chops are made of stone, with the owner’s name etched into the flat, polished surface of the chop’s underside (luxe ones can be made of precious metals and stones, like gold and jade). The chop is first stamped in a red stain, which is a moist, clay-like substance, and then onto paper to make its mark. Chops can be plain – simply a baton of stone with the name engraved at one end – polished or rough, round or square, or carved with decorations.
Although it is not always the case, Chinese names usually have three characters (some people only have two – their first and last). The surname comes first, always. Then, the first name, which is traditionally the same for all of the children of the same generation in a family (which makes tracing lineage and identifying cousins of the same generation in Chinese families easier). And, lastly, the given name.
I was born in the year of the horse, and the character for horse is embedded into my given name. So, my chop is an engraving of a horse. I purchased it in Hong Kong, when I worked there, over a decade ago. The engraver, an old man, offered to carve my name in ancient Chinese calligraphy, a dying art. I was thrilled to have it so.
When I sent out the link to my photography website to a few friends to get their feedback, my friend Gavin wrote back and encouraged me to incorporate my chop onto the site, either as a logo or a brand image. I thought it was a great idea.
There you have it, the watermark.
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