Friday, July 27, 2012

A series of photos taken with my phone

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

All of these films made me ache, but in different ways

Promote 升级 from magicboi888 on Vimeo.

Fragments of Iceland from Lea et Nicolas Features on Vimeo.

Coldplay - 'Paradise' by Shynola from Shynola on Vimeo.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


soothing tea at RealFoodGrocer 
rainbows on table ( Photo credit: Evelyn)
bookmark from littered with books
beautiful sky and dragon-shaped cloud

Sitting on the steps by the river in the slight drizzle watching the boats go by had never felt so peaceful. We talked about the fear of not being able to find ourselves, the sadness we felt upon realizing that we could no longer talk to old friends because people change too much, how tiring it was trying to sustain those friendships, my odd trait of only lending books to people I thought were worthy of them, the wish that we weren't born in this city, our resolution never to become like another office clone trapped in those huge skyscrapers, her dream to become a wedding photographer, social hierarchies and the feeling of being an outsider, being attracted to people who could write, our tendency to idealize people till we fell in love with the idea of them; her ex, her fear of falling in love again-“ I feel like I can never give myself so completely to anyone again. It feels like I've lost a huge part of myself” and the quiet sadness in the way she held herself, and I thought about how life breaks people in places unimaginable and it made me feel heavy inside.

When it was my turn to talk, I was fumbling, stuttering, I couldn't speak, couldn't put across what I felt, I couldn't even begin to explain about him, what did he mean to me then, it was as if I had buried it so deep that trying to articulate it out felt like a pointless excavation. Speaking has never come naturally to me, but I was shocked at how much worse it'd gotten. Did something happen, she asked. I told her no, that I used to talk more in the past. Silently I added, I think part of me has died and I don't know why. But she was so very patient, and eventually the awkward lapses became less pronounced. She said, as an afterthought,“You're like a closed book” and “I sense that you don't really open up to people easily, and it's difficult for you to let your guard down” when I apologised about earlier. I realized that we weren't as alike after all- she was spontaneous and fickle-minded and impulsive, I was safe and stubborn and resolute. I marveled at her capacity to care for and love others with such pureness, I could never do that.

Later on, while tucking into my char siew pau, and she munching on her kaya toast and hot chocolate (simple joys in life), we lamented on the unfairness of having to earn the respect of certain people in order to gain acceptance. Also, we came to a conclusion that we put up our works online isn't for the sake of selfish reasons like instant gratification or stupid reasons like validation because we shouldn't base our self worth on the approval of others. Rather, it's about the inherent value of art, to use this platform so that our art can enlighten, inspire and connect with people. (hopefully)

Something she said struck me, “ In photojournalism, you look for art in the ordinary moments. But in other photography genres, you create art. There's a difference.” 

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Everywhere I look there is so much beauty to be found, I'm so inspired to create something like this:

I need one dollar (New York City) from Gioacchino Petronicce on Vimeo.

BALI, JE T'AIME! from artisland on Vimeo.

 By jessechan, go check out his work here 

i especially love this quirky film about the class divide in spore (also by jessechan)

my two cents worth

Here are some things I've learnt about photography through my Bali trip, random epiphanies, my visual comm module, my teacher/local filmmaker Tzang, and discussions with like-minded friends:

1. In a new environment, don't rush to take pictures.
Don't be a trigger-happy, unthinking robot. Susan Sontag said that we shoot in order to gain a sense of control in an unfamiliar setting, as a way of “ certifying experience... converting experience into an image, a souvenir.” Take a few days to immerse yourself in the new culture, mentally note down potential shots, and then begin shooting. It's not about shooting every single thing you see. You need to be discerning. Think about why you're taking the picture.

2. As Tzang said, photographs should tell a story.
They shouldn't just be pretty pictures. Instead they should carry depth and meaning, and most importantly, make people feel something. Also, remember that less is more.

3. Be assertive 
 (note: not aggressive) If you want to photograph something, just do it. Stop worrying about what others may think.

4.Your photographs reflect who you are

As Susan Sontag wrote: 
The photographer was thought to be an acute but non-interfering observer- a scribe, not a poet. But as people quickly discovered that nobody takes the same picture of the same thing, the supposition that cameras furnish an impersonal, objective image yielded to the fact that photographs are evidence not only of what's there but of what an individual sees, not just a record but an evaluation of the world

And I have found this so telling of the people I've come across. Evelyn's shots of charming cafes and pretty fields bathed in soft light and gorgeous smiles hint at her dreamy and girly personality. Likewise for my senior Ivan Tan, whose photographs are unbearably beautiful, yet there are undercurrents of melancholia across his work. And there's my coursemate who shoots only in film, and regards himself as an "old soul". I don't know why, but I find this so fascinating. Through photography, the essence of people is manifested in tangible form.

5. Step out of your comfort zone and ask strangers for their portraits
People bring your pictures to life. In Bali, I finally mustered my courage to approach strangers, and it was so rewarding to see their flattered and happy expressions as they posed obligingly for the camera. I tried doing that in Singapore, which is so much harder because Singaporeans are naturally reserved and guarded. Also, you should never treat people like specimens, it's just demeaning. This observation by Susan Sontag still haunts me:

“To photograph people is to violate them, by seeing them as they never see themselves, by having knowledge of them they can never have; it turns people into objects that can be symbolically possessed. Just as the camera is a sublimation of the gun, to photograph something is a sublimated murder- a soft murder, appropriate to a sad, frightened time.”

6. Don't forget to put down your camera
While photography gives an “appearance of participation” (Sontag), it can never be substituted for the real thing. Don't be so obsessed with finding the perfect shot that you forget to live and take in everything around you.

7. And finally, as Tzang once told my class:  Be sublime.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

kindred spirit

And as we talked, I saw how the likeness of ourselves were mirrored in each other. But you were better than me, a dreamer, someone who was spontaneous and kind and far braver than myself. Unlike me, you were not content with languishing in a cesspit of stagnancy, you acknowledged the need for change, for reinvention of oneself. You didn't have to delve deep into yourself, scour murky depths in order to locate the words- they came naturally to you. You didn't choose to close yourself off from the world, or remain indifferent, you didn't pull away when people tried to reach out for you. You were always on the search for beauty, carefully gathering them up in your hands like fistfuls of stardust.

We shot what we could, falling into an easy rhythm of silence before resuming our conversation, all the while looking into different directions, needing different things for ourselves. You looked more closely, breathing life into inanimate objects with your pictures. While I scavenged for scraps of stories, through the old men hunched over the table playing chess, through children who played in the shadows of their absent parents, through the pair of teenage girls walking side by side with all the confidence their youth granted them, through the office workers waiting outside the bank, through a mirror image, only now there were older folks lining up at the 4D counter, clinging on to the 1 in 75 million chance of hitting the jackpot because to think otherwise would be to forsake hope itself.

Some things we talked about:sometimes I wish we could do away with small talk altogether”“call me idealistic but there's a romance about Europe you can't find elsewhere” “I like intellectuals, people who think about life" “I wish life would slow down a little” "let's learn to be less afraid” 

the resemblance in our thinking is uncanny

Saturday, July 7, 2012

How long does it take for one's deadened heart to summon up some modicum of feeling again (a tempest of sorts brewing beneath the seeming calm), what would it take to break someone completely, what happens if you punish yourself over and over and eventually the pain seeps into everything you touch like a slow venom, what does it mean when you read a book and the words no longer pierce but float away without you comprehending, maybe if you close your eyes you could just vanish, it would be as if you'd never existed

Friday, July 6, 2012

Increasingly I find that I'm growing more incoherent in my head and on paper. Over time, the deluge of words, thoughts, have become thick and sluggish. Slowly choking up. Till I am rendered an almost-mute, barely articulate, spending my days in so much silence. It becomes easier to express my life in images instead.
Raise my eye to the viewfinder.
As if an inanimate object has the ability to wholly surmise what I see, what I think, what I feel.


"And if you feel just like a tourist in the city you were born
Then it's time to go"

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Pink Dot 2012

The atmosphere felt wonderful, everyone was just so happy