My Photography

Photography has always been a passion of mine even during the days of film. I remember the days as a kid I used to play with my dad’s old Pentax SLR while there was no film in it, just messing around with the dials & levers not really understanding what they actually do. When I was young, I always thought that an SLR was something only experts knew how to operate. I would wonder how year after year, that my father knew exactly what to do to create those wonderful looking family portraits of us in color! Back then I could never really understand how the mechanics of a camera worked, just that they were marvelous contraptions capable of producing magical images on paper, something we humans cherished for generations & looked at in photo albums time after time. It was that moment captured in time which resonated with us, sometimes funny, at times eerie especially when we reminisce with our past. It was as if the subjects inner thoughts were projected through their eyes looking at you in the most peculiar way, as if showing you their happiness or sadness all at once at that moment in their lives. To me these feelings still resonate with me till this day.

Over the years I learned to play with point & shoot film cameras. In my high school years, I will often bring along a point & shoot for road trips often being behind the lens rather than in front of it. I found pleasure in capturing group outings then showing them to my friends who often place orders for copies of these photos. It was quite amazing that at the snap of a shutter, you capture what your eye sees but at the same time what your mind perceives. I’ve learned over the years that what the eye sees is but a moment, but what the mind perceives of the image is of a lifetime! A photo is but an image if without context or a story behind it. Even inanimate objects have a story to tell if you don’t just point your camera at it & click. If you took a little bit of time to look at something from a different angle or perspective, you will find very interesting ways of admiring just about anything!

During the turn of the century, digital cameras came to be. For once photography wasn’t just for the elite. The invention of digital photo cells to capture light was what I thought the pinnacle in photography. Much changed during that period. Film to digital was what black & white was to color film back in the 60’s. This opened photography to the masses & for me was the period in my life that I truly began to explore different photography styles & genres which I would never have tried with film. I still remember my first digital camera was a Fuji-film point & shoot zoom camera which I began using for outings, zoos, bird parks & family events.

I got my first DSLR in 2005 & I have been shooting as a hobby ever since. My current gear consists of a Canon 5D Mark III & a few lenses. I shoot predominantly on a 50mm. A 50mm lens is the closest representation of how the human eye sees. I find that this focal range is most comfortable for my style of street photography. The photos that you see in this set were captured with either a Canon 7D or a Canon 5D Mark III using either a 50mm or an 85mm lens.

Up until recently I photographed mainly in color. Much of my work were urban landscape, stills & minimalism photography. My images were usually void of people or any direct interaction with people in general. Earlier this year things started to change.

I started pointing my lens at people. Not just friends & family but complete strangers in the streets of Penang. It takes a bit of nerve at first but it gets easier. With digital you can even fire your shots at the hip then pick your shots later. It gets a bit if getting used to but with some practice, it gets pretty easy later on.  I also find that it is less intimidating to the subject if you use the live view on the camera. Armed with a little bit of nerve & these skills through practice, street photography isn’t really that difficult even with a big DSLR like the 5D Mark III.

Even more recent, I started experimenting with shooting in black & white straight out from the camera. One way of black & white photography is to shoot in color then convert to monotone post production. While a lot of black & white photographers recommend this, I find that it prevents previsualization. When you shoot out of the camera in monotone, you force yourself to view the world in black & white. Removing oneself from the colored world & only focusing on shades & textures. Gone is contrast by color. Everything is black or white. It is also timeless compared to color. For some reason, black & white photos speak volumes for the subjects. The boundaries of time & space seem to collide between a black & white photo captured in this century compared to those taken at the turn of the last century.

Photography for me has been a journey of discovery. Undoubtedly it has opened my eyes to new possibilities in art & the art of photography. Capturing timeless images not only preserves the space of time but it also preserves the human soul.

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