i am sitting in the cold, beside a severely inadequate electric heater, contemplating the excitement and the anxiety that have overtaken my life, or at least for the next 5 months.
my time in nepal so far has proven to be very enjoyable, though not without the constant self-reflection on my presence here – if that will do me, or anyone for that matter, any good.
the posts on this blog have come far too sporadically, so i think it is high time to pick up the pace a little, to share a little more. in that way, i hope to attain some clarity in my thoughts as well.
the next couple of entries will be photos from 2 weddings i photographed end of last year. then it will be all nepal.
bedtime for now.
for more of my thoughts, click here.
the above is an example of a fine art photo, if i may be so bold as to suggest that. it is blurry, out of focus, devastatingly cool, titled “untitled no.1” and you probably don’t get it.
i took the photo above while on a “photowalk” around school with yusuf earlier. to be honest, the only thing that went through my head before i adjusted the settings, framed the shot and squeezed the button was “hey, i think that will make an interesting picture!”. aiya… there, i just outted myself, dang.
i then half-mockingly (i was half-serious) tried to justify why i shot the photo the way i did (artistic statement) – city boy (in skinny pants and white sneakers) treads the line between his urban life (represented by the asphalt) and his desire for a return to nature, to a simpler place (the grassy side).
yeah, right. yusuf didn’t buy it. i didn’t either.
so we have heard of how art, in this case the photograph, can mean so many things to different people. isn’t great when the creator of the same photograph can ascribe so many different interpretations to it, and after the fact? better still, that same guy probably felt something and just wanted to shoot a pretty picture.
it seems like discussions about photography inevitably lead to the topic of fine art photography, and along with that the requisite ridicule and disparagement of that genre. i won’t pretend to “get it”. i am not a fine art student, and i don’t think you will see me rushing to join an art school anytime soon. my only academic exposure to fine art so far was to take the digital darkroom course at adm, conducted by an artist who explained that fine art can be any form of expression, provided that the vision is clear from the start and every step and detail of the process deliberate.
all this so that people can interpret his/her work however they wish. sounds complex and difficult. who makes these definitions anyway? who wants to live by them?
having said all that, i have to confess that i can be constantly found eating my own words (binging on them, as a matter of fact), so you never know.
i guess it is so easy for us to dismiss what we cannot comprehend. there is a matter though that i can’t understand, nor can i dismiss, and that is the notion that photographers have to be labeled this and that – fine art photographer, portrait photographer, press photographer, still-life photographer, documentary photographer, corporate photographer, pet photographer, fashion photographer, landscape photographer, the list goes on…
why can’t a photographer be just a photographer?
the conventional advice is that if you want to make a living at this, you can’t afford to be everything to everyone. if you really want to become good at a particular something, you got to devote all your energy to it.
but then, there are those who say that in a small photography market like singapore, you got to do a little of everything, even if that means selling your soul and murdering your conscience. who to listen to?
the solution? get out of singapore, become a fine art photographer and starve for the first few years. then win a couple of awards and get noticed by a wealthy patron or a gallerist such as james danziger. then you are all set for life.
since we are moving into rather controversial (and dangerous) territory here, i shall defuse the tension by showing you a nice sunset picture and ending this post.
“untitled no.3” (why is there an ugly canal in the scene? ans: fine art, baby)
for more on my thoughts, click here.
i have to say, the past couple of weeks have been rather enjoyable, and well paced.
i am getting in a great mix of rest and work so far during this break. upon hindsight, i am kind of glad that i am not slogging away at at some internship and working my butt off, wondering to myself what lies at the end. then again, i probably would be saying something different if the situation was different. maybe it is better to leave the speculation aside and just embrace the moment.
doing freelance work is so much kinder to the schedule, though it is a different kind of responsibility. regardless, i enjoy so much the process of making images for my clients, and taking in their satisfaction. though the pressure to deliver is great, the fulfillment at the end makes it worthwhile.
for now i will need to process the photos from a wedding i shot last saturday (congratulations again to you, michael and rae, if you are reading this!). i want to get that done before i head up to gunung stong in kelantan for a little outdoor adventure this saturday. will try to get the pictures up here soon.
for more posts on my thoughts, click here.
whenever i speak of going to malacca, i always refer to the trip as “going back“. that is the way that my mum puts it, because malacca is the place when she was born and raised. almost all of her family still reside there.
i returned from what i have come to describe as my “annual pilgrimage” last wednesday. the trip to malacca this year was a short 3 day/2 night affair, largely thanks to the fact that my reservist unit is on standby and i could be recalled anytime. i figured that it was pretty safe for me to skip town for a couple of days and no longer. the prospect of having to explain myself to a bunch of numb-skulled superiors should i fail to materialise if my unit got activated does not really excite me.
below i have posted some of the more interesting photos from the trip, along with the corresponding text. feel free to post comments or questions. enjoy.
how we roll — there are a few ways to get to malacca. being broke students, my brother and i naturally chose the most cost-effective way – mrt to kranji station, bus 170 across the causeway to larkin bus terminal in johor, then onto an interstate bus for the ride to malacca.
on the interstate bus with our “skinny stethoscopes”. it’s not easy shooting yourself with a dslr sans tripod and remote trigger, but we managed.
one of the many pylons that dot the malaysian landscape. the cables stretch as vastly as the roads and the land that they overhang. a strange kind of communion between nature and the works of man.
once in malacca, the typical way for a foreigner to get around would be by taxis, which do not have a meter in them. as such, the cabbies would often call out exhorbitant charges if they get a sniff that you are a tourist. since i have relatives who are locals, i always am updated on the prevailing fares from one point to another. if i sense that a cabbie is trying to rip me off, i just grunt in disapproval and walk away. they are plenty more around lazing in the slow afternoons. regardless, fares usually hover around the 20 ringgit mark.
taxis aside, there are also buses that run on irregular schedules. if you are willing to wait an hour at times as well as endure the less than comfortable ride on these rickety old “tin cans”, you can save a lot of money. bus fares are around 1 to 2 ringgit.
the inside of a bus run by the patt hup bus company. this is a company that does not believe in keeping up with modernity and upgrading its fleet (not exactly) of buses.
this boy can’t wait to grow up and buy his own proton ___ra (or “ga”).
while we are still on the subject of beat-up old buses, adjacent to my auntie’s place is a lot where buses go to rust and die. they are stripped of all recyclable materials (and their dignity as well) and then just left there. clearly, the authorities there have a lot to learn in terms of waste-management.
above is the photo of my auntie’s kampung house bathed in the glow of morning. i woke up at 6 a.m. that day (no one wakes up at 6 a.m. there because there is no chase, corporate or otherwise) to shoot the sunrise and got the following:
in case you are wondering why there are temperate-looking trees in the background, it is because there is currently this big effort in malacca to reclaim land and to make the coastal areas more aesthetically-pleasing. let us not judge them, for we each have our own way of dealing with the current economic downturn. in their case – potentially unsuccessful attempts to boost tourism.
malacca is home to some really great food. my favourite local specialty has to be “satay celup”. a bunch of starving individuals sit around a table with a cooking pot of peanut-based gravy in which they dip their food (on satay sticks, of course) and wait impatiently to stuff their mouth.
the boy caught in the act of doing so is my nephew terence, by the way.
being a historical city, there is no shortage of culture and heritage in malacca, even though much of it is not the doing of the locals. there is a strong portugese presence in terms of historical structures. below are what remains of a church on a hill, and the handless statue that stands vigil.
a final note, they are not 2 seasons behind in terms of fashion.
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as a kid, every bit of a holiday is to be savoured – with unjaded senses that take in the world impartially.
i can remember looking forward to even the 4-hour coach ride to malacca, a place that i have come to consider a home away from home, a destination to which i make my annual pilgrimage.
upon arrival it would be off to my auntie’s old kampung abode, the smell of wood and incense permeating the air. and the quietness that only a place left behind by time can preserve.
all that is old is gold to an old soul.
tomorrow i will make that journey yet again. i am looking forward to seeing my relatives. i will look forward to visiting the museums and the monuments. i am also looking forward to finding the bits of my soul that i left behind through the years.
and may i also find joy in the long bus rides that will bring me there, and take me home again.
for more of my thoughts, click here.