Malaysia on Partial Lockdown Again

Today is the first day in effect of Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO), a fancy term the government concocted as a less brutal way of describing a semi-lockdown they are imposing on parts of Malaysia. Sabah, Putrajaya, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur are all affected by this partial lockdown, and I happen to be residing inside Kuala Lumpur at the moment. I guess it is inevitable looking at the rising cases of Covid-19 and I am not here to question the decisions made by the officials. I do however want to discuss the impact of this movement restrictions on myself - how is this affecting my professional photography career at the moment, what is the consequence on my own personal well-being, and how is this changing my content creation schedule and posting?

The first lockdown, almost a complete lockdown happened earlier this year in March and lasted more than 3 months long. That did not do my photography business any good, since I was deriving my jobs mostly from on location shoots - event coverage, weddings, lifestyle products, casual portraits, a huge majority of my income are photography jobs that require me to be at a function or event. When all events, gathering, public recreational activities were banned during the first lockdown, that effectively obliterated any possible income I can possibly make as a photographer. It was not an easy time for me. Thankfully, I did have sufficient financial safety buffer to fall back onto, and the YouTube channel which I started a year ago started to gain traction and contributed a little to slow down the drain of cash flowing out. And of course, I have many of you awesome, beautiful blog readers, YouTube viewers and long-time supporters to thank for - the donations and coffee money seriously made a big difference and pulled me through those dark times. 

In June, the government lifted the lockdown and imposed a less strict movement control, allowing businesses to operate and life somewhat started to resume and we did almost achieve a little normalcy. Since events were allowed (with limited people and strict social distancing in place), weddings and other outdoor, public activities were no longer banned, my photography jobs started to slowly come back and I have actively been shooting from July till recently. I did not get as many jobs as I like, but it could have been a lot worse, and I was doing better than many of my peers. Some had clean, empty calendars throughout till the end of the year. I was thankful mine was starting to fill up. 

Then this second partial lockdown hit. Due to recent rise of Covid-19 cases in Malaysia, the government decided to implement CMCO on a few areas in the country, including the city I live in currently - Kuala Lumpur. This cancels out all public activities, events, gatherings - anything that needs more than 10 people, any recreational activity - all prohibited. That also means, whatever few photography jobs that I have secured for the coming month are all vanquished, just like that. What I was supposed to earn and save for the coming year end - Christmas - let's just say they are all gone. The government did say the semi-lockdown will be effective from 14 October to 27 October, but looking at the history on how they tell the dates, the 2 weeks period was never 2 weeks, it started from 2 weeks back in March and dragged on till 3 months long lockdown. At this rate, I'd say this second partial lockdown will last at least a month or two, if not longer. 

Financially I am less worried now, I did take in some jobs between July and early October and have saved up another buffer for this coming dry season, and I have the growing YouTube channel to supplement a little additional income. I am however more concerned for my own mental health. One very important thing that kept me sane all this time, you all should know this by now - Shutter Therapy. I need to go out and hit the streets, doing random photography with my camera at least once or twice a week (more if I have the time of course). With this new lockdown in place, the government did not specifically mention public filming, photography and videography are not allowed but they prohibit any recreational, non-essential activities. Being a responsible citizen, I think the best thing is not to wander the streets with a camera aimlessly. The last thing I want is a confrontation with the police which will end up with me in jail and a hefty thousands of dollars fine. 

I have also made a few content shooting in the public, including some videos which are waiting to be published. So for the coming week or two, there will still be regular posting of videos to YouTube, and do expect some fresh photography - one on street photography and another one on insect macro photography. Thankfully I managed to get these content before the public parks were closed and the semi-lockdown began to happen. I guess, from now onward, I have to make videos at home, either from my balcony (God I hate filming from that balcony) or from inside my room - which I have been doing more and more recently for videos that I need to push out very quickly, for example the update on JIP/Olympus announcement. I do see myself continue to make videos, content and publish them on regular timetable, that won't change unless I have something else more important to do. The content creating has also helped me a lot, giving me a purpose, connecting me with an actual audience, allowing me to do something that actually helps people!

I do have a lot of ideas for new videos and blog posts, as well as shooting projects. I have so much I want to do, and things were starting to recover and get better. Everything was returning to normal, then this partial lockdown came out of nowhere, completely turning everything upside down. 

I guess for now, all I can do is lay low, stay safe, avoid any outdoor photography and do whatever I can creating content indoor, inside the confines of my tiny bedroom and ride this storm out and hopefully, the storm will be over sooner than later. 

Wherever you are in the world, I hope you are doing better than me!

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  1. I wonder do lockdowns really work. Seems that once lifted the virus returns.
    There are pros and cons to wandering around the streets with a camera during a lockdown; documenting the emptiness, getting photos otherwise unobtainable, and quiet. Then there could be consequences of arrest since one person is allowed out and about why not many others.

    Stay safe.

  2. Thought I'd throw in another reply from a real person to balance the spam. Best wishes to you as uncertainty hit yet again! I hope you pull through OK and in the meantime I'll miss your dynamic and colorful street photos -- they always make me feel sweaty even here in cold Northern Seattle.