Sunday, March 13, 2011

Seeing Images

When you are shooting, in your mind, do you want people (who will view your photographs) to see or read your photographs exactly the way how you see them? If the people who view your photographs do not see the way you want them to see, does it mean that they are wrongful for not seeing the right things which you have so profusely defined? What happened to the freedom of seeing things differently, that everyone has their own perspective, and choices to interpret photographs the way they want to?

Art is a free-form. It is open to individual interpretations. Everyone will see things differently. Everyone will see your photograph differently. There is no universal governing law on how we should quantify and value photographs. There is no ultimate right and wrong in photography. Misunderstandings may occur, and usually happens when people choose to narrow down their perceptions and views on how they see photographs.

Chilli Pan Mee at Kin Kin Restaurat, Chow Kit. A good snack to kick-start an afternoon shutter therapy.
ISO 1250, still looking great.

Sucking on a lollipop.

A wheel on the walking pathway.

There are generally two types of photographs: 1) the one that speaks to you directly 2) the one that requires you to think before you get the whole picture. Either way, a good photograph should always deliver its message across the viewers clearly. Photography is a communication medium that conducts the flow of stories, emotions and ideas.

There is, of course, an exception: the third category apart from the previous-mentioned two: 3) You have to scratch all your hair off your head and gorge your eyes out of the sockets figuring out what the photograph is trying to tell you. When you asked the photographer what the hell that photograph he shot was trying to convey, he simply answered you “it was an artistic shot, you need to learn to appreciate art, and know how to read images to fully bring out its hidden meanings”.

Seriously, let’s face it. If you are the only one who can understand your own work while a thousand others out there can’t grab what you were trying to do, it is either you have intentionally hidden the meaning of your photograph so well that even Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown would have to find you for a coaching session for his upcoming book, or more likely, you have deliberately unsuccessfully told what you wanted to tell. I believe images should speak for itself, it should require no rocket science to decipher. It may require some thinking process, and imagination, but after all that, if MOST of your viewers do not get what you are trying to present, you are actually living in your own island.

Chess is black and white. It sees no colours. I often see Chow Kit in black and white too. I sure hope the nation would care less about skin colours.

Playful child.

Street tailor.

I always believed that I should not control what others think or see in my photographs. I let them see them freely, and let them choose to form their own opinions. Yes, there are photographs that I have instilled ideas and elaborate thoughts, perhaps a short story in it. I keep things simple. If people see what I see, I would be happy, because we are seeing the same things. Is it really that bad if people cannot see, or chose not to see the things that I see? I would not be putting too much trouble in convincing people on how they should see my images at all, because the fun part about posting images up for public view is getting very random and unpredicted responses. People can surprise you. They can show you many things that you may not have noticed, or unintentionally missed out. There is much I can learn from everyone, and this ultimately will only benefit me in return. I should not limit myself in my own world, and I should always keep an open mind.

I prioritized simplicity. Most of my photographs will have one subject or content, or one story to tell. I am not like some ambitiously ambiguous photographers who would lay layers and layers of hidden meanings in their photography work. Having concepts and ideas are great. But if people are not able to see them, your photograph will end up being colorlessly plain and, to be honest, unremarkable.

Sharing a long bench.

The highest point in the city. I have almost forgotten how far the 40-150mm F3.5-4.5 can reach !!

It is like telling a joke, but no one laughs at it. Could it be because you did not tell your joke well enough, that if you present the joke in another manner, it would shine better? Could it be due to the complicated nature of the joke that it took too much thinking to process the real meaning behind it? Or simply, could it just plainly be a bad joke? All the above apply relevantly to photography.

A good joke is the joke that everyone would understand what the joke is trying to tell them.

A good photograph is a photograph that people would understand what the photograph is trying to tell them.

Not everyone will laugh at your jokes, and certainly, not everyone will like your photographs. Simple jokes are the best, because they are clear, concise and straight to the point. A photograph that speaks clearly to its audience is powerful, because it cuts right to the subject matter at heart.

Squeezed right in the middle of nowhere.

I miss taking pictures of the street citizens reading papers !!

Nursing a child in hot, humid, noisy and dusty environment of Chow Kit.

Gotta love the surprised expression !!
ISO 1600 shot in a heavy shade, incredible how clean the shot turned out.

On the photography note, I spent most of the weekend in Malacca to shoot an actual day wedding with a photography friend, Frederick. It was a full day wedding on Saturday which we have covered until near midnight, and I rushed back to Kuala Lumpur on following day.

Not feeling satisfied for not having my usual shutter therapy dosage, I stormed the streets of Chow Kit in late afternoon just before sunset.

I have lent Frederick my favourite 50mm F2 lens. Therefore in this session I decided to attack the streets with my now underutilized tele zoom lens 40-150mm F3.5-4.5, and gosh, how I missed using that lens !! I really love the tele-lens so much, and I appreciate the flexibility and long reach of the lens. I treasure the compressed background effect to properly isolate my subjects. Of course, I also brought along the Fisheye 8mm F3.5 lens just in case I thought of using it.

A father and child.

Mini Spiderman, Chow Kit.

At a corner of a large ad.

It was a short shooting session, but I was adequately quenched of my thirst for shutter therapy. It rained heavily at sunset, and I made my way home before dinner.

I just can’t wait for any coming opportunities to have a shutter therapy session again !!


  1. black spidey. haha.
    like the petronas shot.
    i think the left one is bit crooked.

  2. Hey Jean,
    Thanks !! The petronas twin tower shot was taken from the side, hence the side appears shorter than the one in front.