Saturday, August 30, 2014

Good Sleep

From a year 2011 recently self-processed negative. Negative has grown mouldy. Probably taken with Leica M6, 35cron and on APX400 film.

At night in bed, I'll pray a short prayer next to him, asking Jesus to give him sweet dreams and a good night sleep. And he'll correct me by saying, "No! No dreams! A good sleep has no dreams."
He's absolutely right!

In the morning, I'll ask him, "Did you have a good sleep?" He'll usually say, "Yes!"

That's how simple life seems.

But today, I think of all the children in the world who's suffering. The ones who flee to the mountains to escape the killing of the ISIS, the ones who suffer hunger and the lack of clean water around the world, the ones kidnapped by syndicates and made beggars on the streets who probably having broken arms and legs, the ones dying from a terminal illness and suffering in pain, the ones brainwashed as young soldiers killing others... so on and so forth.

Could we just for a moment, daily, remember that we are indeed very fortunate?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Answers to "Things you should never say to a Photographer"

The article is found here:

Here are my answers:

1. Your camera takes really nice pictures!
Ans: Yes of course! Because it’s me using it NOT you duh!

2. You’re not allowed to take photos here.
Ans: Ok. (I really did… duh…)

3. Can’t you just photoshop that?
Ans: Yes I can. But I will decide if I want to, NOT you.

4. Can I have all the reject photos please?
Ans: Sure! If you wanna spot the difference for me.

5. I hate having my photo taken.
Ans: You might need to look into your past… I mean, I'm seriously concerned about your self-confidence being affected by some trauma...

6. I wanted to invite you to my event, you should bring your camera!
Ans: I always bring my camera everywhere. It depends which one you are referring to.

7. If I had a camera like that I could take the same photos you do.
Ans: Go ahead and get one. You should try and see. If you can’t, I do give photography lessons at a fee (to teachable students).

8. You don’t have a degree, so you’re not really a professional.
Ans: In my line of work, professional usually means taking a full time income from photography. And it doesn’t necessarily means professionals take great photos. I am glad I take great photos, professionally or not.

9. It must be easy to run a photography business.
Ans: Yes, I choose my customers.

10. Wow that Canon 5D Mk III must make you an amazing photographer!
Ans: You try it! Maybe it’ll make you one too?

11. Your job must be so easy, all you do is click a button all day!
Ans: That’s only foreplay. I click lots of other buttons after I get home.

12. My phone takes better pictures than your camera.
Ans: Is it? Let me use your phone to shoot your wedding then…

13. Can you take your watermark off the photos you posted on Facebook? My mom wants to print them.
Ans: Facebook photos are too low res to be printed, duh!

14. Can I pay you in 3 instalments over one year? My wedding really took a lot out of my pockets!
Ans: Sure! You can pay two instalments before your wedding, and the last one upon collection of the high res files.

15. Why is the background blurry like that?
Ans: That’s because it’s not supposed to be sharp.

16. I only need a few photos taken, is that cheaper?
Ans: It could be. In that case, I charge per shot instead of per hour.

17. OMG I love your work! Would you edit this selfie for my Facebook page?
Ans: Sure!

18. What’s the discount if i edit the pictures myself? I use Picasa!
Ans: Same charge. No discount.

19. Photography’s easy, because the camera does all the work.
Ans: Ya… Some people produce trash while others produce great photos with the SAME cameras… just like some people speak meaningless brainless stuff, why?

20. Photography’s not a real art like painting or sculpting where you need to build your skills. For photography you just need a good eye.
Ans: In a way, yes. But unfortunately many photographers don’t seem to have good eyes. And those who think like you usually don’t stop upgrading their cameras. Why?

21. Canon or Nikon, which is better?
Ans: Same. Get the Leica M! (I love to see them struggle with manual focusing, shooting kids and moving subjects…)

22. I don’t have to give a Photo Credit to the photographer, do I? or crediting the photographer is not necessary now, is it?
Ans: If you have bought over the full copyright, yes. If not, you are no better than a thief.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Life "stops" sometimes...

Agfa APX400, probably Leica M6 with 35cron, processed in DDX

Lately, I have finally dug out dozens of my unprocessed films since 2011, a mixture of 35mm to 120mm, and even some 4x5 negatives, to process them. (the above is a frame from the first roll I begin scanning now in the early morning of 22 Aug 2014)

And it happens that today, 22 Aug 2014, is the official mourning day of MH17 crash victims in Malaysia. My unifi TV at home is showing the condolences message reminding us to mourn, as the bodies arrive back Malaysia today.

Life "stops" inside us sometimes, when something big, painful, or life-changing happens to us. That's the time when we begin so engrossed with what we are going through, mostly painful, struggling between moving on and lingering in our pain. Some of us are more sensitive in our emotions, some of us not. In this case, probably the less sensitive are more fortunate.

I am kinda surprised I can even remember some of the shots I took... the place, the mood, the situation I was in... after more than 3 years... but of course, I have problem remembering some of them.

The fact I stated year 2011 is also because of some of the shots I remember... the person/s in the frames, the places...

They always say, when you remember something so deeply, it's either an extremely happy or an extremely sad time you had.

If you look at my blog, you would have noticed I stopped blogging for more than 2-3 years. My life kinda "stopped" over things I was going through.

There's no doubt that pain is the best teacher in life, provided that we get through it, which we can if we keep at it. There are just too many things we don't have answers for, which we either keep on thinking and searching OR we move on and let the answers come to us (if they ever come to us). That's my way of moving on. I choose to take life easier, because life is too short and there's not enough time for me to do the things I love, and to love the people around me.

I am mourning for the lives lost in Iraq, in Syria, in Gaza, in MH17, in MH370, in Nigeria... we have seen much in the recent times.

May we treasure our lives and our loved ones and be contented with what we have daily, remembering our brains are just too little to understand God's ways in dealing with us. If we know we can't understand the whole picture, we shouldn't blame anyone.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

No Retirement

An elderly in Singapore
Singapore is a place where you will see the elderly serving you in fast food restaurants like MacDonalds and at neighbourhood coffeeshops as well. They will also be the ones cleaning up your tables after you at shopping mall foodcourts. It is also common to see grey hair elderly security guards guarding offices and shopping malls. My dad is one of them. They are in no way able to chase after any running robbers or criminals.

In Malaysia where I live as a Singaporean now, I see many elderly in MacDonalds too, but they are sitting at the tables eating and chatting away. They are also often seen in expensive restaurants, shopping malls, enjoying their retiree lives.

I am speaking in general.

The old lady above is collecting used tin cans to sell for a living, just in case some of you don't understand what she is doing.

I hope the recent announcement by our Singapore Prime Minister at the NDP rally will help the ageing problems in Singapore.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Hungry Ghost Festival 2013

"I thought she wasn't there?"

This photo is posted a year late. But now is Hungry Ghost Festival 2014 so I thought I should post this. I don't see them performing at the same spot this year. Time flies.
Taken with a Ricoh GR.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Need to Keep This Blog Alive

I am sorry to all my followers for not having been blogging here. But most of all, I think I owe myself the greatest apology for such inconsistence and for giving up.

A lot has been happening in my life especially inside of me that made me become reclusive. But overall, I think it's for the better.

When I look back at my blog posts in the past years since I started blogging, it's like looking at my diary. I am reminded of the feelings, the experiences and even to the details of my five senses of each different photos I posted, what I was going through at that time, and how I thought and felt. This is a good reminder that a visual diary can be more powerful than a written one sometimes.

Overall, I think I matured (not that I am willing to give up the child in me). I matured in knowing that the greatest regret one could possibly have at the time of death could be NOT HAVING BEEN TRUE TO ONESELF all those years. If I have to put up a pretense all my life, I think it's better to be dead.

I've always believed that our photographs that we take represent us. We are all attracted to capture what interests and draws us. And often, that which draws us are things that are closest to our hearts, things that are deep within us, things that we long for, things that we are angry at, things that we are still struggling to overcome, things that we miss.

But the unfortunate(or fortunate) thing in this world is most people don't look at a photograph long enough to understand it, or interpret it. It's at the same time fortunate because we can still have our little secrets hidden in our photographs that only we ourselves know what it's all about.

That keeps us shooting, even with the lack of appreciative audience, the lack of understanding from others.

After all, we have to ask ourselves. Do we shoot for others or do we shoot for ourselves? If it's my personal visual diary, I don't shoot for anyone else but myself.

If you are still reading till here, you probably understand at least half of what I have said. If you aren't, you belong to the common crowd out there who's probably more interested in other stuff in life.

So, photography should go beyond what's right and wrong (as long as you are technically competent in achieving what you want). Photography is NOT about shooting to please others (of course you can't do that to your clients).

If no one ever put a "like" on your photos, will you still continue to shoot and share?

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Malaysian Unity

(For more images, please view them in my facebook)

It's not about politics. It's about standing up for what is right. It's about values we want to pass down to our next generation. It's about honesty, integrity, accountability, fairness and justice. Today as a Singaporean residing in Malaysia for the last 10 years, I witnessed Malaysians' unity. We (I am a Malaysia resident who pays tax to the government too) gather and unite for the same cause, which is standing up for what is right!

Malaysians have lived with corruption all these years, and at many times corruption offering as an "avenue of convenience" to escape being "punished" by the law when they break it. But now, it seems that Malaysians finally had enough of what the government has to offer. Many values have been integrated into the society for years, like "paying unofficial taxes" in businesses and etc.

Just a brief outline of what living in Malaysia is all about:
Like many who opt for private schools (many ministers did the same for their children), I send my son who is a Malaysian to a private home school schooling program instead of a government school. Why? The Malaysians will know the reason.

I have worked with NGOs and witnessed the Orang Asli people (original native people of Malaysia) being marginalized as well as injustice in many other areas. Having lived here for 10 years now, I have personally experienced my images being stolen and used for commercial purposes, my name being defamed by an unreasonable client whom I refused to refund the deposit for a last minute cancellation of job. I have also witnessed good friends who worked hard for a so-called established and award-winning wedding photographer but never get paid till today, amounting up to more than RM30K. All these people never get punished. That was when I started to think, is there a different culture in this country I must learn to accept and live with? (Coming from a law-abiding country like Singapore, you should know what I mean)

At the same time, I am also very proud of fellow Malaysian friends who don't throw their rubbish everywhere, pick up a tissue if they drop one, keep all their rubbish in their car instead of unwinding their car windows and dump them out there. They don't spit on the floor, they don't usually beat red lights unless "necessary" :p, they don't bribe the police when the police stop them and hint for "coffee money"... They are the same good friends who "counsel" me when I keep biting on some issues like I have been mistreated by someone somewhere, suffering injustice. They are the same friends who buy me coffee and food when I don't have money, "poisoned" me with more cameras and bicycles for hobby.

I have never felt so much warmth and sincerity when I was in Singapore. Maybe I was just unlucky, or maybe most Singaporeans are just too stressed up to be warm and sincere. It is in Malaysia where people really mean it when they call you up for teh tarik/yum cha (tea time). In my ex-job as a Singapore Airlines flight steward, it was the contrary. The common sentence you would hear after each flight was "Thanks for the flight! Keep in touch ya?" But it never happened. Till now, I still miss some of my ex-colleagues (if you read it, send me a message), but it somehow just isn't the culture in Singapore to "keep-in-touch". I am guilty of it too.

It hasn't been easy living in Malaysia for the past 10 years, but it's my Malaysian friends who have helped me most in adapting here. They include different races, so it's not just Chinese. Najib made the most irresponsible statement calling the recent election results "Chinese Tsunami". It's far from what I saw tonight.

I have not written my thoughts and feelings for a long long time. But this time, I must thank my Malaysian friends for showing me what's unity and a sense of belonging to a country means. May justice prevails in Malaysia!