Beautiful Strangers

It is nearing the end of the year, about time for "the best of" series of my photographs, and writing a blog to sum up the year 2012 that has been. However, as I was looking through my collection of photographs taken at Kuala Lumpur streets, I started to have a different idea, to do something rather differently. I compiled 80 of my personal favourite photographs and created a photo-slideshow, titled "Beautiful Strangers". 

And.. here it is. Enjoy !! For optimum impact, do watch in full HD !!

by Robin Wong

Special thanks to Silent Scenery for the music. 
Please do take some time to check out their awesome music, you may find them and "like" their official Facebook Page, buy their music from CDbaby or iTunes. 

Some of the highlights of 2012 for myself in my photography and blogging journey:

1) My blog hit its first millionth page visits in January, and now, nearing the end of 2012, it is close to 4 million views. Certainly this is a huge thing for myself, having accomplished my first million page visits after 7 years of blogging (started in 2005), and now, within a year, the visits increased by almost 3 million more !!

2) I have reviewed more and more Olympus gear this year. Lets make a list:
OM-D E-M5, 75mm F1.8, 60mm F2.8 macro, PEN E-PL5, XZ-2, and 17mm F1.8. 
The most unforgettable and awesomest of all would have to be the OM-D E-M5. For this review I had the privillege to work closely alongside Sanjitpaal Singh, a fellow Olympus shooter, whom I admire and look up to a lot, since many years ago. 

3) I am getting quite a number of visitors from overseas!! Thanks to you beautiful readers who decided to pop by in this humble city, Kuala Lumpur, and said hi. 
Ian and Maggie from Sydney, Australia, 
Tom from New Zealand, 
Shaun from Brisbane, Australia, 
Mithun from India and 
Thomas from Switzerland
Tom Truong from Sydney. Australia

4) I have picked up more photography paid assignment/jobs than usual this year. Apart from the ordinary wedding actual day coverage shooting, I have been involved with the following assignment, some very unsusual, and were the first for me:
Marathon, College Prom Night, and a Fashion Show by Guess.

5) I went to BERSIH 3.0 rally at Dataran Merdeka, with a specific purpose, to document the event with my camera. I have more than 100 photos published online, you can read my experience here. I lived through police bully and tear gas to tell the story !! 
It was an eye-opener being at the rally, with hundreds of thousands of Malaysians of all races, age groups, setting aside our differences with a hope for a better tomorrow. 

6) I bought a new camera system, the Sony A350 together with 18-70mm kit lens and 50mm F1.8 lens. I also have the original battery vertical grip and a third party TTL compatible flash. I then added the 35mm F1.8 to the collection, and never thought I would say this, but I think Sony kicks ass. 

7) I have gone through quite a bit of experimentation for my street photography approach this year. For a duration of more than a month I tried using flash and a little bit of zone-focusing in my street shooting. Examples here, and here.. I do not find that working for me, but I shall keep an open mind. 

8) My images were published in a local photography magazine, featured on four, full pages !! 

9) Met some seriously wonderful people through my walk in photography this year, which have become amazing friends over a short duration of time. I don't have to mention names, if you are reading this, and if you are one of the few friends I am referring to, you should know. I treasure friendship more than anything else. Thanks for being there for me when I needed you, thanks for all the time spent together, and of course, shooting on the streets together. You guys make my life in KL so much more worthwhile and meaningful. 

What a colorful, and happening year it has been for my photography part of life !!

I have all you beautiful readers, who have visited and followed my blog, through some of my selfish ramblings to spamming of incredible amounts of photographs, to thank for. What would this blog be without you guys? I was once told by a very respectable and famous blogger, that he admired my blogging intentions, because I blogged neither for fame, nor to please an audience. I am not sure whether that still holds true for now (there are so many different sides to this arguments, lets not go there) but I sure have enjoyed myself sharing my passion and love for photography with you all through this humble platform of mine. I have grown, step by step over the years, and yes, we only get better in time. Growth has to come naturally, it cannot be forced. I have you all to keep me in perspective with the genuine and honest comments, and some very personal and heart-warming emails I have received. 

Thank you all, thank you very much from the bottom of my heart !!

I sincerely hope that 2012 has been kind to all of you. And here is me, wishing everyone the best, and lets all hope the world does not end on 21/12/2012 and we shall have an even more amazing year in 2013. 


  1. Hi Robin
    We are still reading you every day. Great end of year review.
    As with photography the WORLD will not end....
    Merry xmas and happy new year
    Ian and

    1. Hello Ian and Maggie,
      Glad to hear from both of you again !! I like that, with photography, the world will not end ! cheers to that.
      Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to both of you too.

  2. Thanks Robin for a great blog in what has clearly been a great year for you personally. You deserve every success. I have enjoyed visiting your site on a regular basis and it inspired me to buy the OMD and some wonderful prime lenses. May I wish you a very Happy Christmas and peaceful New Year all the way from England.

    1. Hello Alan,
      Thanks for the kind words. Glad that you have the OM-D !! I am sure you are enjoying it, and making great photographs !

  3. Robin - Excellent "slide show." As a relatively recent follower of your blog, I recently went back to view the photos in your earliest posts. The progress you've made is most impressive. I look forward to what you produce in 2013 and hope one day to visit KL for a first-hand look at one of your shutter therapy sessions. Keep of the very good work. DCS

    1. Hey David,
      Thanks for the kind comments on the slideshow. Oh my goodness, you have been digging through the older photographs? Some of them were pretty bad !! I have thought of removing them or starting over, but then I decided to leave them as they were. Though those photographs were not good at all, they were still memories, some things that I treasure a lot.
      Thanks again for your kind support and visits. If you do come by KL, please let me know. Will be glad to have you in my shutter therapy sessions !

  4. Robin, I discovered Simply Robin when your first OMD EM5 review hit the web and reading all of your following reviews helped me decide to get started in m/43 photography. So my new awareness of the joys of photography has grown up with your blog this year and it has been a real delight. Since then I have turned on dozens of my friends to your photographs, their sincerity and humanity, so I want to wish you the best and thank you for sharing so much of your artistic vision. May your 2013 bring plenty of blessings and happiness! - - Peace, Heng Sure

    1. Hello Reverend,
      Glad to hear from you again !! Thanks also for sharing my blog with your friends. All the best for the coming 2013 !!

  5. We should be the One to thank you for giving us such GREAT write-ups on ur views on photography. THANKS

  6. Hello Robin,
    Just a big BRAVO. You earn every bit of your huge success by your work and your obvious talent.
    Many thanks to you for sharing the passion of photography,
    And an Happy New Year 2013!
    Daniel M from Montreal

    1. Thanks Daniel M!! You were being too kind !

  7. I thank you Robin because without you my passion for photography has not re-kindled. I hope you the best for 2013 and congratulations! I have been visiting your blog every week at least at it's been very inspiring. The slideshow is Awesome! Thanks! "Mabuhay ka Robin" (Tagalog - Philippines) - Wishing you well!
    Happy New Year!

    Edwin "Jalaed" from Winnipeg, Canada

    1. Hello Edwin,
      Thanks for the very kind words, and I am glad you have rediscovered your joy for photography !! Keep shooting, and all the best for the 2013 !

  8. Great story great review great picture's great knowledge great life journey great year great friend great comment great blog great sharing great achieving's all about u..never bored to read ur blog ..never bored to hear ur review ..never bored to hear ur story's awesome ..u are d best ..

    *hadi nik *

    1. Hey Hadi,
      Aiyaks, thanks for the kind words, but I don't deserve such praise !!! Was lucky and sometimes have great help from friends !!

  9. Robin, I really enjoyed viewing your slideshow, and I remember seeing about half of these photos before. Your photography, and your blog are truely top-notch! Thank you for putting in all of the time and effort that you spend in order to share it all with us.

    1. Hello Gregg,
      The photos were taken from a duration of one year !! Thanks for visiting often, and thanks for the kind words !! Still plenty to learn and improve on, surely.

  10. Donald W Leitzel12/15/2012 03:26:00 AM


    Your fantastic success comes because of your honest and sensible real world testing. Supplemented by your beautiful photographs.
    It is no surprise that your blog has so many followers. I wish Ansel Adams would have had a blog when I started photography 50 years ago.

    1. Donald,
      Thanks for such kind words, I don't deserve them really. Yes, it would be interesting if digital photography and internet were made available in the older days. Things could be different !!

  11. Your pictures without bokeh are a lot better. It may be just me but your close-up portraits look a bit disjointed. I just feel like there is too much bokeh and I sometimes want to see what the subject's background is like and what kind of environment he/she is in. Another thing that bugs me a bit is your black and white preset, it looks like a preset from iphoto. There is a bit of a brown tinge and I feel it would look a bit better with a little more contrast.

    I'm not a troll by the way, I'm just being honest. I really like some of your shots but I think everyone should realise that bokeh is overrated. But if used correctly it's a wonderful technique. Not everyone is going to agree with me but if you can separate your subject from your background without bokeh I think it makes for a stronger photo in my opinion.

    1. Hello Faris,
      Thanks for the feedback. I believe style and execution in photography would be very personal. It depends on your own preferences and can be subjective.
      Perhaps your aversion toward bokeh is equally the same with some photographer's obsession with bokeh. In fact, I received a lot of comments saying I do not have enough bokeh on my shots !! So here I am, on one hand I have "If you have more bokeh, your shots would be much better" and another saying "you have too much bokeh". So who is to judge how much bokeh is good? It is the photographer's own choice and decision of course.
      Similarly, this applies to the way I present my black and white images. I like some warmth in my images. I pursued them. I have been asked by a huge amount of people on how I process my black and white images. I gave them my full workflow (you can even find it on my blog). However, as you have so easily put it, maybe I can just tell them "oh you can achieve the same with a preset from iphoto". That would make life so much easier, no?
      Funny, when I was employing bokeh, I wanted to throw the background away. You do know that I shot all the the images on the street. You do not have the luxury to "choose" your background in 95% of the situation. You do not even have the flexibility to "direct" the subjects. They stand there, and if they are willing to smile and look at your camera, you should consider yourself lucky.

  12. Very impressive, Robin, and FULLY deserved! Your work is in many cases exceptional and your blog (and tests, and reviews) are honest, down-to-earth and a pleasure to read. Obviously people notice and that's why your blog is such a success. I am looking forward to your work in 2013 and beyond. Bravo!

    1. Thanks very much Andre, I appreciate your constant comment and visit to my site. Lets all hope for better 2013 to come !