CNN Photos

In the bathroom stalls

Photographer Aujin Rew takes her camera everywhere she goes. Even into the bathroom.

Her series of elegant bathrooms around the world began as a sort of accident as she took photos of things she found interesting while traveling.

“When I see something nice, I take photos,” Rew said. “So later on when I went through my photos, I saw I had a lot of toilet photos — and I took more.”

Rew said she seeks the most pristine toilets for her collection.

“In some developing countries, there’s no toilet at all — you just go behind a mountain,” she said. “And even in the city, it’s often just a basic place.”

She guesses she took photos of bathrooms in about 10 different countries. Many are taken in Singapore, where she is based. She sees more toilets there, but also she says they tend to decorate the private rooms more.

Rew respects people’s privacy, and she waits until no one is in the restroom before going in to take photos. The only time she was confronted was in a private-school bathroom. The security guard came in and asked what she was doing, and after explaining Rew quickly took the picture and left.

Rew typically photographs people, but she studied architecture and is interested in how people use space. She has another series of photos where people pray.

She said she often sees nature themes in bathrooms. In one image of a backcountry scene painted on the floor, she said she “didn’t know if I should step on the deer or water.”

Generally, those bathrooms that are aesthetically good enough for her collection are also better kept, she said.

“As far as I have experienced, the more decorated, the cleaner,” she said. “The more basic, the messier.”

- Lauren Russell, CNN