Guest Post by Matti Sulanto: PSPJ 30th Anniversary Exhibition Launch

Note from Robin: I was unable to attend the official launch of PSPJ's 30th Anniversary Exhibition Launch yesterday (10th March 2018). I sought out help from my friend, Matti Sulanto, to cover the event and have the article published here. This is my first time featuring a guest blogger! Special thanks to Matti for doing this and I owe you a huge one. 

All images in this blog entry by Matti Sulanto. Used with permission

Photographic Society of Petaling Jaya is having their 30th anniversary photo exhibition, titled ”Malaysia: My Home, My Country”, right now at Malaysia Tourism Centre (MATIC) in Kuala Lumpur. I was invited to the opening ceremony of the show and I must say I was quite enthusiastic to see how a Malaysian photo society works and the kind of images they exhibit. I know some local photographers and their work, but was still keen to see the work of 60 photographers featured.

The former Deputy Education Minister Dato´ Hon Choon Kim spoke at the opening ceremony.

I have to admit the opening ceremony was grand to put it mildly. There was even the former Deputy Education Minister Dato´ Hon Choon Kim giving a speech, which turned out to be really nice. He appears to be a photo enthusiast himself and therefore the speech was not just pretty words, but some warm thoughts about photography that can only come from personal experience.

The ribbon cutting, from left: Raja Indra Putra, Dato´ Hon Choon Kim, Patrick Foo and Amril Izan.

A group photo before the exhibition tour. From left: Raja Indra Putra, Patrick Foo, Dato´ Hon Choon Kim and Amril Izan.

The venue is a real gallery space and suits well for photography exhibition. Even with 100 prints on exhibit, it doesn't feel cramped and there is ample room to explore the show. All the prints are equal sized, likely because of practical reasons, though some would work better in bigger size and vice versa. Different sized prints would also create some flow to the show. A minor quibble is the sponsor printed their message on every photo in the image area. I could think number of other ways to do it in style, such as printing the label at the border instead. Nevertheless, the exhibition is still a pleasure to look at.

It’s no coincidence the photos are slanted towards a more touristy angle. Mr. Raja Indra Putra, who is a member of the society's board, told me that the theme of the exhibition was tuned according to the venue's location. Indeed, the theme makes perfect sense at a tourism centre, where tourists can have a cross section of Malaysia’s visual diversity by walking through the exhibition. The 100 photographs are distilled from an initial shortlist of 600 and I think the curators did a good job. There are street scenes of Kuala Lumpur, proboscis monkeys from Borneo, beautiful landscapes of the Malaysian countryside and everything in between. The photographs may not reflect the contemporary Malaysian photo scene accurately, but then again what single show could? The exhibition shows a beautiful country that the photographers should be proud of.

 There are 100 photographs to explore.

The gallery is well suited to photo exhibition.

In today's overflow of digital images that we see on our screens it's always nice to look at prints. It's all to easy to upload photos on social media, without the need to think too much. Print is another matter altogether, because we can't print everything. Before a photo ends up on a paper some decisions have to be made. That's why I think the printed images are generally better thought out than the online images. Also, viewing a print on a gallery wall is an immersive experience that makes you really look. Get close for the details, or go back to see the whole image, get in for another detail etc. We can't flip through prints the way do in Instagram.

Photography clubs and societies played an important role in educating beginners and bringing enthusiasts together before the digital revolution, but till today their role is important. They give people the chance to shoot together and share photos face to face, which is a much more interactive and direct experience than social media. One important part of society activities are exhibitions. Organizing a solo photo exhibition for the first time can be overwhelming, but a group exhibition with fellow society members offers a learning experience to that.

 The theme is touristy, but makes sense at this location.

The exhibition gives a good cross section of Malaysia’s visual diversity.

If you want to see beautiful photographs and get an idea what Malaysian photo enthusiasts shoot, go and see ”Malaysia: My Home, My Country”. The exhibition runs until March 30th at Malaysia Tourism Centre in Kuala Lumpur. Entrance is free.

About the guest blogger and photographer, Matti Sulanto:
I'm a photographer from Finland and I like to escape the harsh winter of my home country to the tropics. KL has become one of my favourite places, because of some awesome people I've met here. I prefer to shoot documentary street style when I'm not working for a client. You can visit my personal site or my Instagram to get an idea what I like to shoot. I'm honored to be the first guest writer on Robin's blog. Hope you enjoy my coverage of the PSPJ exhibition.

You can find out more about Matti Sulanto and follow his photography adventures at:
Instagram (personal)
Instagram (travel)

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