Sometimes, there are a few encounters in life which would make us pause our footsteps and let our eyes sink into the scene before us for a moment. That sight can be astoundingly breathtaking, as well as unbelievably unreal. There are times when we started to think what we were seeing were actually there at all, and it took a while before the photography instinct started to kick in and make that shutter click happen. This happened to me in one of my recent visits to my usual street photography hunting ground, Chow Kit.

Images were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Digital 50mm F2 macro lens

I am not exactly sure how to elaborate on my thoughts and feelings when I saw what I saw in those photographs. It was quite a morbid scenario I was facing, and there were trains of considerations rushing at the back of my head on how I should approach this subject matter. Practically there was nothing too brutal, because obviously the cow was already dead, and literally no exact cruelty or killing was performed on site where I was standing. However, I just could not help but feel that strong tinge of disgust in my stomach standing so near the subject, yet it was being burned mercilessly. Something just felt "wrong" seeing what I was seeing there.

Nonetheless, the subject and the action were REAL, and it was indeed a photography opportunity. Obviously this would have been less obscene in comparison to a blown off head of a soldier at war that a photo-journalist would capture. Technically (and legally of course) there was nothing wrong shooting and publishing this image. Furthermore, you have got to admit this is not something that you would come across every single day. Uniqueness of this photograph was what drove me to shoot it. Therefore I went on with it, but very quickly, before I walked away due to discomfort.

I know, the photographs that I took could have been better, in terms of composition and more importantly "waiting for the decisive moment". I guess I was just not feeling like sticking around too long. It takes guts to be a real photographer. I am nowhere near there just yet. Oh well...

What is your take on the above photographs? Would you have taken it? Or would you have approached it differently?


  1. Well, since I found your blog, I greatly enjoy your posts and especially your b&w work. The incense shot from Feb 12 is stunning.
    But, I do not like these photos at all, in my opinion this just shows that you weren't really that inspired. Not to mention that the subject, as you pointed out, is not an easy one.

  2. Hello Vladimir,
    Thanks for your compliments. It was not the question of inspiration. I wanted to shoot. I knew I could have done better, but there is always the holding back part.

  3. I definitely would have taken the shot, without even thinking. It certainly makes the viewer look twice, and ask the question, "Why is he doing that?"

    Personally, the pix do not sicken me - I think because the cow is dead. If it was still alive, on the other hand...

  4. Strong images Robin. Oh cruelty of man - we are the most dangerous species out there, aren't we? Or, like my brother (a psychologist) would say: "Earth would be a better place without us"...

    See how many different messages one can get from these photos? So they are strong indeed.

  5. Hello Newzild,
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It does make the viewer look twice, I agree with that.

    Hello Wolfgang,
    Thanks for sharing your insight. Your brother is so true, all we humans do are destroying this planet. Everything that comes from us are destructive.

  6. Interesting post mate. Yes we do have some very interesting things that can be found in our street markets. That being said, I do believe that we as humans, should draw a line somewhere.

    Now personally, I do not find the images that you posted disturbing but we should however ask ourselves where do we, as non "professional' photogrhers draw the line? Is a picture of something disturbing really that worth it just because it's a good photograph?

    We cannot compare ourselves to those photo journalist whose JOB is to document everything from the atrocities of war to disease and sickness to famines etc as it is their duty to document these things so that we in the world community have an insight on what is going on in our world.

    As street photographers go, it is our passion to document the things around our daily lives and one can perhaps interpret this very widely. But we should ask ourselves where do we draw the line? Is taking ahotograph of something disturbing or unfortunate really worth it just for photography sake?is the photograph going to make a difference in his/her/ it's life?

    Personally I prefer taking photos of pretty and happy
    things/people. And hopefully if a underlying message comes through my photographs so that we all can appreciate, than even better. Although I must admit not may has this effect lol.

  7. Hello Luke,
    Thanks for sharing and elaborating thoroughly on your thoughts.
    You were right, we need to know where to draw the line. I believe the most important thing is to understand what our original intentions are in the first place. We must be clear on what we were doing and what we hoped to accomplish through the photographs that we take. It may not bear any significant consequences but still it is good to be driven by the right motivation and desire, and having those intentions mapped out and properly defined. By doing so, then can the line be drawn. Nonetheless, we still find ourselves in many situations where the line is almost "paper thin".
    I usually shoot what I shoot in the street because I want to share what I see with the world. Sometimes, I get to see things that others do not get to see.

  8. Those photos are not sickening. We in Australia last year had issues with the morality of rearing cattle and then sending livestock to Indonesia for slaughter - once the sale is made, it is difficult to exercise control of how the customer treats the animal before and during slaughter. Although Aussie farmers would directly know about gore of cattle slaughter, to people outside the trade, the lack of experience with slaughter, the different way Indonesians slaughter cattle and the in-your-face encounter with videos of the slaughter upset and enraged the
    Aussies (which in turn upset the Indonesians in reaction)

    Those videos were a lot more heart wrenching than this guy working on dead meat which does not bleed - the soul or the living energy of the animal is long gone

  9. Hello Ananda,
    Always great to hear your insight. Yes, I like your comment on the soul was already long gone and no torture was present at that time.

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