Saturday, December 18, 2010

Photography is Human

Photography is human. I strongly believe that the photography work strongly defines the characteristics and nature of the photographer. How much truth the photographer places in his photograph shows how honest he is. The strengths and the flaws of a person are evidently recorded through the choices of subjects he photographs. Ultimately, the outcome of the images speak for themselves, do you sense happiness or sadness looking at the photographs? I know this can be very subjective, but believe me when I say there is substantial truth linking what you can find through a photographer's work to the photographer himself.

It troubles me, because my street photographs have been somewhat looking rather depressing lately. I took a pause, slowed down my pace and really reflect on the photographs I have taken. I studied the images, I asked myself questions such as "Why did I choose this subject? What attracted me to this person? What can I find in myself to identify to this scene I have been drawn to? Why do I think this was interesting? What do I feel, and what messages do I get when I view those images?" The more I dig in the more I found the reasons why I photograph the things I photograph, and why I did them in particular few ways that I usually did. No, this should never be an excuse to go all "CSI" and over-analyze a photographer through his photograph. Do bear in mind a photographer chooses to tell you certain things he selectively chose to tell you through his photographs. Sometimes, just sometimes, subconsciously he may have revealed more than what he originally intended.

I strongly believe that a photograph is like a small window that we can peek into the photographer's mind.

The Lonely Man

I have always been intrigued by the people on the streets, especially the homeless. We have a great abundance of them in the streets of Kuala Lumpur, despite the fact that this is considered to be the richest territory in the entire country due to much publicly hated centralized economy pull in. The more I see them the more I feel I want to photograph them. I have the urge to tell the world the truth I have discovered during my walk on the streets. Ultimately, this also shows one of my deepest fear, without me realizing it. I do not want to end up living alone on the streets like that. I do not want to lose everything, and have nothing in the end. Hence, my fear was screaming right at my face as I saw them materializing on the streets. I was drawn to the possibility that anyone, could be homeless.

The Street Sweeper

DRAMATIC TONE Art Filter applied

Ever since I was small, my parents have always pushed me hard to work hard and perform well academically to ensure better career path in the future. Typical Asian community sadly forced their children to excel in school, at ridiculously high pressure. Their motivation to us was "if you do not study and score well in exams, in the future you will end up like that guy sweeping the floors on the streets." We have been taught to look down on the people sweeping the streets, even as we were merely kids. What a horirble culture I was growing up with !! No matter what job a person chooses to do, as long as he is earning a living an honest and clean way, I believe it is a job well deserved and well done. I guess my reason to take this photograph was due to the rebellious part of me that says "hey, so what if I end up sweeping the streets, it is a simple job that at least I don't have to deal with a world full of viscous vultures."

Left Behind

CROSS PROCESS Art Filter applied. (Custom White Balance 7500K, A: +2, G: -6)

I hate to be alone, I think I have mentioned that before. I have had traumatic episodes of being "left behind" in almost everything that my friends were doing back in my university days. They made me feel useless, and hopeless. In the end, I decided I had enough of that crappy group of friends, and I gave up on them. Hence I moved on and freed myself, looking for people whom have become great inspiration to me, people whom I have come to call true friends. Looking at the beaten down, abandoned, (most likely stolen) left behind motorcycle lying lifeless on the ground, it actually reminded me of myself, or at least what I used to be once upon a time in a land far far away (not so far actually, it was just Perth, Australia).

You have got Wings, but why are you on the Ground?

CROSS PROCESS Art Filter applied. (Custom White Balance 6000K, A: +2, G: -2)

I have always been fascinated by birds. Goodness, although my name is Robin, I have not encountered a real Robin yet, I do not think they live anywhere here in Malaysia. All we have are ugly black crows, and less ugly pigeons as shown in the photograph. I feel so tied down to the ground sometimes I just want to break free and reach to the sky. Why can't men be allowed to touch the sky? This image captured my jealousy on creatures that could fly, and yet stood down on the ground, on the same level as us, staring at us, as if mocking us and saying "hah, I have two feet like you too, but I have wings which you do not have !!"

Weighed Down

I am always automatically moved by people who carry a lot of weights on the streets. The facial expression would usually be of strain and exhaustion. I think you do not need rocket science to understand what I am trying to say here. Like most people around my age, a young working adult in a big city, I am constantly being weighed down with so many responsibilities, commitments, family matters, office politics, some unresolved matters from the past, and so many other episodic dramas which I should not begin to describe here. "How can a King be a King, being weighed down?" - Jars of Clay

Out of Place

Being on the streets, we always keep an eye out for things that are awkward, or out of the ordinary. We always find things that look out of place, things that look so odd they are worth photographing. This is a reflection to myself being a street photographer, because the streets that I usually walk into around Chow Kit, Pudu and Masjid Jamek areas, I seldom encounter (almost never) any other street photographers. When I walk along those streets, I never felt more out of place than I have ever been. It is an irony, because I have to blend into the streets, though subconsciously I am telling myself I am sticking out like a sore thumb walking around with such a huge camera dangling around my neck.

The Sign

DRAMATIC TONE Art Filter applied.

Have you had a sign in your life, pointing you to a direction, that the sign was so vivid and loud you just cannot ignore it even if you tried? I am having one of those signs now. I felt so certain that everything started to fall in place perfectly, and I am seeing the opportunities beginning to form into something solid around me. However, as an ordinary boy, I have my own fair share of hesitations and doubts as well. Where do I go from here? How do I know even if the sign is real? No matter what, we just have to keep our eyes open and be more receptive to the signs.

Is it not amazing, when I just sat down, sipping my hot coffee (Nescafe White Coffee, yummy) and listening to my Celine Dion song collections, I let my mind wander and I discovered so many things linking my photography works to myself and my current state of mind. My fears, my past mistakes, my insecurities, my current hardship, my sense of being out of place, and my hope for the future were all written in my images which I have been posting all over this blog. It is true, a blog reveals a lot more about the blogger than the blogger would originally intend to do so.

No wonder shutter therapy is so, therapeutic, because it is a journey of self-discovery.

Shooting tomorrow, anyone?


  1. Hahahah...

    No wonder I shoot crap, coz I think & talk crap...

    True to your word...

  2. Very insightful, philosophical words. You have a great talent in writing. This was a great! I love your photography, but I adore your writing style too! You blog is the best I know on the internet. :)

  3. Hi fahrur,
    You do not shoot crap, in fact you are regarded as one of the sifus in screw screw. That should mean something, right?

    Hey Bartosz,
    Thanks for the flattering remarks !! I do not think I write well, but I do have a lot of things to tell, hence I tend to write a lot. And of course, I like to shoot a lot too !!

  4. hello Harrie,
    Thanks mate !!

  5. I need to stop shooting girls... Hahahahahahahha...

  6. Never thought of a blog would show the inner side of a blogger, perhaps reason where blog evolve from diary and share the connection.

    I guess I need to start un-dust camera.