reFRAMED tells the story of Jatisura, a small village in West Java, through a series of portraits. I photographed senior members of the community and interviewed them about their most precious memories of living in the village. The project was conducted with the assistance of the Jatiwangi Art Factory (JAF), a local arts organisation who use art to strengthen their community.
The free eBook contains all of the portraitist and text from the project.
This project tells a local story with words, photos and symbols. The intergenerational work seeks to strengthen an understanding between all levels of the community. The Jatiwangi Art Factory (JAF), in Java, Indonesia, has always been a strong force in community building. As an artist, JAF is a special place for me, because it allows me to work closely with many members of the community. As this is my third project there, I also feel that I have been able to build up a stronger personal understanding of the community.
My brain stores a lot of images, it’s a quasi portable media bank. When I study pictures of other photographers, I often make a mental note of the composition or the concept that the photographer may have used. I don’t use this to copy the work but it helps me to recognise possibilities in image making when I am out and about. So when I came across this image of pole fishermen in southern Sri Lanka this year, Steve McCurry’s famous photo wasn’t far from my mind.
It was a real thrill for me to be able to witness this scene. The photograph may lack the dynamic drama of McCurry’s work, but it serves to document my own experience of being there.
Last year I spent one month hiking and photographing on Jeju Island in South Korea. I often leave the images sitting on my computer for a while before I make a final selection. I want to be able to detach my emotions from the place and time.
I tooted my horn, gave them a thumbs up and was rewarded with two big grins! The young lads then headed off in their billy carts. But to them, these home-made vehicles were real racing cars! I love the power of imagination and the sense of adventure, fearlessness and discovery that this moment evoked in me.
It also reminded me of why I am a photographer; I love to explore and have my understanding of the world challenged. It’s so easy to get caught up in the mundanity of daily existence, that confirms itself with its comfortable routines. Photography forces me to look and reframe my understanding of reality, it allows me to rediscover the world anew every time I look through the view finder. When I look back at what I have captured with my camera, there are many times that the grin on my face is as wide as the one of the young boys in their homemade racing cars.
I have been thinking about portraiture lately, mainly about technical aspects, as I am contemplating getting a new lens. I have to remind myself however, that the most important aspect in taking photos of people, is the personal interaction between the subject and myself. I feel that taking a photo of another person is in some way, a self portrait and I strive to convey in the image what moved me to take a photo of this person.
This is a portrait of an Indian worker in Malaysia. He endures many hardships working and living away from his family in Chennai. He was one of the most generous people I met during my month long stay in Malaysia. He and his friends gave up their precious free time to show me around their living quarters and also introduced me to some Hindu culture. I am grateful for this and hope that I honour his spirit of generosity with this portrait.
Walking is a big part of my photography practice. There is no better mode of transport than travelling on foot to get to know a place. Anything faster than walking and I feel like I am missing photo opportunities. Then there are times when even walking seems too fast, especially when I am in a new place. So the only thing left to do is to sit down in a cafe or tea house and observe!
Choosing a ‘best of’ list is not a natural thing for me to do as I don’t have favourites in my life. I don’t do bucket lists or top ten books, movies, music etc. My preferences change all the time, it’s what keeps me focussed on the present. As a photographer this is vital. I do, however, like the challenge of selecting my best images for the year because it gives me a chance to select and re-frame photos. It’’s about finding the strongest visual narrative. I do this with every series that I create, be it on a daily or monthly basis. These images have in some way captured the emotion of the moment.
Taking photos is a challenging notion for me. It means getting closer to people, the environment and myself. Photography has always been a way for me to discover the world anew every time I lift the camera to my eye. It is at times confronting, even scary but ultimately liberating.
My goal for 2015 is simple: I want to stay in the uncomfortable zone, take less photos but better images.
Whitebox gallery at Publika in Kuala Lumpur plays host to the 2014 Kuala Lumpur International Photoawards, over 90 images are currently on display, from 12 to 24 August. Don’t miss this if you are in KL! I am very happy to be a finalist and part of this exhibition. For information use this link: http://www.klphotoawards.com