Thursday, July 10, 2008

I have moved

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Christian Faith - an ongoing documentation

An ongoing documentation detailing healing services within the Christian community in Singapore. This audio slideshow chronicles a multitude of "broken people" turning towards the Christian faith as means to cope with despair and tragedy in their personal lives.

The adage "Ask and you shall be given, seek and you shall fine" rings true for some, as certain results can be miraculously instantaneous. Others cling onto their faith, in hope that eventually, God would come through for them.

Healing services, once considered "charismatic" and "new age" are now becoming more widely accepted as conservative Singaporeans evolve with the times.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

NOT a crime

Many times in Singapore, I've been accosted and hassled by public enforcers (read between the lines - privately hired security guards) who in their zeal to maintain the peace, try to stop me from doing my job photographing in public spaces.

I CANNOT emphasize this enough, photo-taking and video-shooting in public spaces is NOT a crime.

Too many people don’t understand they have a legal right to take photographs and record video in public places.

In the US, the practice of street photography has a long tradition in New York City and its purpose varies from hobby and artistic expression to memory making and journalistic documentation. But the freedom to photograph and film has long been taken for granted and challenged in the wake of 9/11. Since 9/11, there has been an increasing war on photography. Photographers have been harassed, questioned, detained, arrested or worse, and declared to be unwelcome. We've been repeatedly told to watch out for photographers, especially suspicious ones. Clearly any terrorist is going to first photograph his target, so vigilance is required.
Except that it's nonsense. The 9/11 terrorists didn't photograph anything. Nor did the London transport bombers, the Madrid bombers, Timothy McVeigh didn't photograph the Oklahoma City Federal Building. Yet day in, day out, you're bound to bump into law enforcement officials who are not even aware of the laws of state they've sworn to uphold.

In the UK, CCTV cameras are installed everywhere to monitor the streets and keep the public safe. But at what cost? London is almost entirely blanketed by a legion of CCTV cameras and the city is in danger of sinking into orwellian territory where Big Brother dominates. And if UK citizens can forfeit their liberty in the name of security, who's to stop an everyday joe from taking pictures in public spaces? This video below is taken in the UK where (irony upon ironies) a police officer of Asian descent (most likely a recent immigrant as he does not speak with a british accent) is harassing a British native from doing something well within legal boundaries. To top it all off, when confronted, the officer cannot provide a reason why as to why it is "illegal" to be filming in a public space. All he does is to insist that its wrong.

Here in land scarce Singapore, law enforcement officers are none the wiser. Except that it makes little difference when the mere crossing of the road means you're leaving one government / private / commercial property only to be entering into another. Even the press is guilty of flouting the law often times shooting in privately owned spaces without a permit. Over here, its more a case of pushing the envelope as much as possible without being caught.

Know your rights and what to do when approached by law enforcement.

Don't cede your right to photograph in public.

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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Shooting as Duo

I've always enjoyed shooting with Mike. We've known each other for 8 years now. Like every relationship, we've had our share of ups & downs. (there was a brief period where we weren't on speaking terms because of a botched assignment both of us were working on) During then, he went to assist a well known commercial photographer while i went off shooting reportage. Since then i've went through various changes career wise & Mike.... Mike? He's still Mike. With him, things are always going to be the same, and why not? 


The old adage rings true. That "Two heads are better than one". So while you're busy engaging your subject, you have another dialing in the numbers on the strobes, moving props around, liaising with the art director. its tough to do this all on your own. Sadly, there are still instances when you just have to make do. But that's a story for another day.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Over the weekend, i visited the neighboring island of Batam, Indonesia. Tagged along with my aunt who happens to also be a lecturer at a tertiary institution in Singapore. Together with some 60-odd students in tow, we made the 45-min boat ride out of Singapore. It was madness having to look out for such a huge bunch i tell you. We met an ex-student of hers who now runs the entire gamut of businesses from solid fuel manufacturing to pubs, restaurants and private apartments.

It was supposed to be an educational trip for the students and i was there to help. So, it wasn't exactly an assignment per se. But i decided to lug along gear just to maintain that discipline of being always intentional and purposeful. By being always ready, i am not worried about being caught out without gear when my next subject shows up.

Considering how little time i have to myself at the end of the day (not to mention how exhausted i was), i have no time to wander the streets on my own. Wandering around a foreign land gives me a sense of purpose. (read about my China trip) You just don't know what to expect. Just engaging people by communicating to them boggles my mind at how diverse and different one human being is from the other. When words and languages fail, even the simplest hand gestures could convey universal understanding.

Below, some kids from the local squatter settlement.

"So full of despair, but yet so full of life."

Nobody said that life was fair.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Shooting with your heart

As news people, we are all invariably tied to the bottomline. Nevermind if you're a writer, editor, multimedia producer or photographer. The crux of how successful your career will turn out is linked to how your publisher runs the business. It will not matter how good you are at your job. In the end, the nuts and bolts of it will be whether the business model is profit - sustainable.
(read: i got laid off and I need a job)
But lets just put aside all that for a second, put away the business aspect of publishing a newspaper, put away the issues of revenue and overheads and 30% profit margins just for a moment. And lets talk about your craft and how that defines you as a person.
The Digital Journalist has always been a fantastic resource for forward thinking news people. They talk about putting feelings and emotions back into a business that has most recently, become nothing short of bleak. 
(caution) This a photographic-centric post.
" Empathy is our ability to understand the emotions that others feel in response to circumstances and situations. The capacity to empathize allows the photojournalist to grasp the meaning that the story has for the story's key players, for the viewers and for the members of the larger society.

The photojournalist must try to recognize and understand a subject's emotion or lack of it. Emotional cues are often quite subtle.

The photojournalist must be able to capture those emotional cues. Technical expertise, including the knowledge of lighting, framing and shutter speed, enables the photojournalist to capture "the moment," but without the ability to recognize the cues, there will be no perceptible "moment" for the photographer." And without the ability to read, to understand and to capture emotion, a photojournalist might create pictures that are technically good. But the visual communication will never rise to the level of excellence.

To accomplish that, the aspiring photojournalist must "Shoot with your heart."
Read > Photojournalist: know thyself

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Sunday, May 4, 2008

Wedding Outtakes

Been a tiring weekend for me. Haven't done a back to back 12 hour shoot for a while. On Labor Day this Thursday, Aaron & Pam finally tied the knot. I was just happy to be play a part.

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