Science-fuelled innovations and technology are playing a surging role in our quest for healthier, happier lives. We look at electrophotography, also known as aura photography, to understand how it captures your bio-magnetic energy along with your portrait.
Back in 1939, Russian scientist Semyon Kirlian discovered that photographing a person or an object in contact with a source of voltage results in images that reveal a mysterious, aura-like halo – or as some scientists explain it, the electromagnetic field that surrounds the body.
Almost a century later, the technique known as electrophotography (or Kirlian photography or aura photography) is surging in popularity once again thanks to many who believe that these electrical discharges, unique to each person and moment, offer insights into one’s health and mood. In an era where wellbeing is understood to encompass not only the body, but also the mind and soul, it explains the intrigue in looking into one’s own energy. Gwyneth Paltrow has tried it and aura photographs have been exhibited at the likes of the Aspen Art Museum.
In Hong Kong, Olive Wong Chui, founder of cult-favourite vegan beauty brand I Never Use Foundation (INUF, which just celebrated its eighth anniversary), is the latest to reintroduce this trend with Glow Studio, her aura photography studio that opened this July. “I first encountered aura photography when I was young, but it was always associated with crystal sellers and feng shui masters,” says Wong Chui, a UCLA graduate and art consultant before she started her entrepreneurial journey. “Glow uses a more modern, contemporary, stylish approach so we can introduce it to a younger generation.”
Stylish it is. The studio is located a few floors down from INUF’s rooftop retail and wellness space in Tsim Sha Tsui, and is adorned with a palette of bright, soothing pastel colours. Inside the curtain-flanked photo booth sits the special AuraCam6000 Coggins Camera that took three months to produce in Los Angeles. “It’s a fabrication of the exact one invented in America,” says Wong Chui. Next to it are two blue boxes with silver-lined receptors on which you place your hands during the photo-taking session. “They transmit the electrolytes, or ions, from your body into the machine,” she explains.
It takes less than a minute in the dimmed booth, and thanks to a double-exposure process that captures your bio-magnetic energy along with your portrait, the resulting Polaroid is a physical manifestation of your radiant energy from within. Red, for example, symbolises an intensity of will, passion, and vitality; indigo signals intuitiveness, patience, and an emphasis on relationships; and orange points to creative expressiveness and sensuality. Most tend to see their aura dominated by one or two main colours.
According to Wong Chui, it’s not only the shades that reveal your aura, but also their intensity. “I practise reiki healing and qi gong, and when I’m harnessing my qi, my colours become much more powerful and intense,” she says. Glow also offers sessions for couples, during which they hold hands, each respectively placed on a plate. The observation is that colours often absent in their individual portraits will appear. “It’s like capturing the chemistry and energetic reaction between two people,” she adds. “It’s quite interesting.”
While Wong Chui acknowledges there are questions that still surround this mythical practice (“We don’t claim to be medical healers”), she has witnessed how aura photography can profoundly impact people’s wellbeing just by its sheer ability to provide a deeper understanding of themselves.
“Having this almost tangible proof of who they know themselves to be can raise the confidence of a person,” she says. “After understanding his or her colours, if a client wishes to strengthen their colours, they could also pursue meditation or change their mindset to become more positive. We hope that through these portraits, people will be encouraged to explore possibilities they can’t yet see with the naked eye, and to know and treat themselves better. We hope they can live a happier life using the insights they are provided.