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Just…Start

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Akeem at Tindakon Dazang, Kudat

“…Start now. Start where you are. Start with fear. Start with pain. Start with doubt. Start with hands shaking. Start with voice trembling but start. Start and don’t stop. Start where you are, with what you have. Just… start” – Ijeoma Umebinyuo

I accidentally found this quote while browsing Facebook recently. It came out the quote are very widely used in blogs. The quote may be not related to the photo above but who cares. I just like the quote and I want it to be here in my blog. It can motivate me whenever I read this post.

“Just…Start”

My last blog post was on Aug, 2015. When we stopped doing it, it is hard to get started again. I don’t know how to start but that quote has made me start.

I like to highlight comment by a good friend of mine;

“To get start is quite easy actually but to continue doing what you have just start, take a lot of perseverance. For an example, starting a blog is a piece of cake, updating it daily or monthly, will take a mammoth effort” – Wazari Wazir

 

START NOW!!

Photo Project Workshop by Zhuang Wubin

It has been a while since my last post dated on May 23th. It was month of Harvest Festival (Kaamatan) and I’m busy searching for Bobohizan’s ritual ceremonies. More to come about this in later post.

Well in June, I participate one of the most interesting, challenging and more brainstorming photography workshop. This workshop is not about technical on how to operate your DSLR or shoot a model and learn some post-processing techniques thats unique to the speaker. But it is more on what is your most important thing in your life, which not to be missed out, I’m speaking about finding your voice rather than popularity nor about monetary issues. The speaker is Zhuang Wubin.

Who the hell is he?
He is a photographer, curator and researcher. As a curator, he researches about the photographic practices of Southeast Asia. As a photographer, he employs the medium as a research tool to understand the Chinese communities within Southeast Asia. Zhuang also uses photography to visualize his relationship with Singapore.
As far as I know, he produced 3 books to date (Chinatowns in a Globalizing Southeast Asia 2009, Ten Chinatowns of Southeast Asia 2010, Chinese Muslims in Indonesia 2011). Visit his website to know more about him.

The photo project workshop starts on 5th June 2014 till the 10th. Organised by Jebat Photography Club, thanks to Jebat & Shamshahrin for recommend me this workshop which being held at Arena Belia. All participant are required to send an application prior this workshop proposing what is they going to do with their photo project. Series of interview to be done after qualified the application. He has to make sure that all his participants clear about their photo project. This was not the easy part, convincing him about your project, why do you want to do this? how important is this to you? does it has any meaning for you? what is your voice? why photography? But after series of brainstorming, the thing you should do became more clearer. I can’t express how glad I am after he allowed me to join his workshop together with 6 other participant (Kelvin Ah Kian, Paik Yin, Mark Chai, Abdul Salam, Mohd Afif & Razie). No, I don’t cry at this particular part. Another participant, Yuzie passed the interview but he can’t join the workshop due to unavoidable circumstances.

At the early stage of his workshop, he introduces work’s of other South East Asia photographer and their project. Each of them are basically giving us ideas and inspiration. This is where I get to know Rinko Kawauchi‘s work Cui Cui (published 2005). Every one of us are unique to our own photo project and we required to meet him at any time throughout the workshop individually to show our photo project progress.

Abdul Salam explaining about his photo project

In the middle stage, our photo collection being edited in every possible approach. Participant are being advised if there any missing element in their photo project and suggestion are given throughout the discussion. We also learned various way of photo editing for Wall, article, photo book and slideshow.

Freshly printed from ProArt. Zhuang Wubin having walkthrough on Kelvin Ah Kian’s photo project. For This workshop, he use medium format film on TLR.

Paik Yin given a chance to make 5 photo editing on Mohd Afif’s Project

My photo project photo edit in progress

On the last day of the workshop, participant were all ready with their final editing and closed critic session among participant being held. At the end of this workshop, the result of the workshop being presented during Open House where we invited public to visits and share their thoughts on our photo project.

My photo project is about my own family. I started with my 2 kids. This can be a long term project. In my opinion, the best part of my life is to see my kids growing up. No matter how tired you are when you’re home, it disappear when we see them running after you on the door step. I will post another entry to let you see my final edit during the workshop. This edit however my change from time to time. I named this photo project as “When You Were Young….”

You can read more about this workshop here:

I Have Just One Second To Tell A Story

“One photograph takes one 250th of a second to take, So if I have an exhibition that has 250 pictures, that is just one second! I have just one second to tell a story.”

“You can sit in your house and be a great writer, but with photography the story is outside the door. You have to go and you have to go far.”

“I stood up to take the picture and the tortoise became shy and walked away. So I had to get on my knees and lower my shoulders and it was only when I was at the same level as the tortoise that it would let me take photographs. It was then that I learnt that it was important I respect other species in the same ways I respected my own. This is not dead nature I was photographing.”

–  Sebastião Salgado

Photojournalism Workshop | Shamshahrin Shamsudin

On 28-30 March 2014, I joined Photojournalism Workshop organised by Jebat Photography Club featuring Shamshahrin Shamsudin. The workshop was held at Marina Court Resort Condominium, Kota Kinabalu. There are 9 other participant joined the workshop including 3 from Brunei. This was the second workshop by Shamshahrin organised by Jebat Photography Club. Unlike his first volume, the second workshop emphasis on Documentary Photography which to be presented in Photo Essay.

We were given 1 whole day on the second day to get our own stories with given guideline in his note. As for me, I have several stories in my mind for the assignment. As early as 230am, I was shooting at SAFMA market. Every night starting at 1am, SAFMA market is the busiest place in the city, this is the place where the deep sea fisherman dealing with supplier. After shooting for about 2 hours, I found that I need to be on the boat to get different perspective rather than just a lazy snapshot taken from the jetty itself. But none of the fisherman looks approachable, I was thinking about my own safety too as everybody being curious so see me carrying camera. It can mislead the fact that I was immigration authority because earlier on before entering this market, there are rumours about immigration team is coming. The way they look at you is enough tell that they don’t feel comfortable with you. Or maybe it was just my own issue. So I didn’t manage to complete this story. At 630am, I decided to forget about it and go home for some rest.

After jumping from 1 story to another, I finally decided to shoot about the young fellow with Rock attire. After waiting about an hour at the spot I normally see them hanging around, it was disappointing to know that this fellow normally stay there during Sunday. However I managed to find subject but is not in complete attire, but I decided to do it anyway as there was not much time left.

 

I learnt a lot from this workshop. It has opened my eyes a lot. For the photography enthusiast out there especially around Kota Kinabalu, I highly recommend you to join his workshop when available. You shouldn’t missed it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travel Photography | Destination: Nepal | Swayambhunath Stupa (The Monkey Temple), Kathmandu

Swayambhunath Stupa (The Monkey Temple)

 

Swayambhunath, is among the oldest religious sites in Nepal. The complex consists of a stupa, a variety of shrines and temples.  Swayambhunath is also known as the Monkey Temple as there are holy monkeys living in the north-west parts of the temple. From Thamel, it cost about Rs400 one way with tiny taxi ride. When you ride this kind of taxi, please don’t expect they will use the main road. When we use the taxi back in 2012, I felt like I was playing game which we run away from getting caught and there is an urgency to use your skills to go back side of the building passing local market, shops, residence area, temple, shops, and another temple and then the driver said, “Sir, this is Swayambhunath Stupa”. 

“I think we were scammed, there is no temple here”. But thats before we see a staircase leading to the temple. The entrance is Rs200 per person.

Federation of Swayambhu Management Conservation Ticket

 

Steps to Swayambhunath Temple, the point where you have to buy the conservation ticket & take your long breath. You don’t want to know how far is it from the bottom

 

I found this quote to express the experience climbing these steps:

We were breathless and sweating as we stumbled up the last steep steps and practically fell upon the biggest vajra (thunder-bolt scepter) that I have ever seen.” – Allione, Women Of Wisdom. 

Well this is true enough, one of our member even vomiting just about 5 minutes after reaching to the top.

A monk circling the Stupa

 

 

For the Buddhist Newars in whose mythological history and origin myth as well as day-to-day religious practice, Swayambhunath occupies a central position, it is probably the most sacred among Buddhist pilgrimage sites. For Tibetans and followers of Tibetan Buddhism, it is second only to Boudhanath.

 

Each morning before dawn hundreds of Buddhist (Vajrayana) and Hindu pilgrims ascend the 365 steps from eastern side that lead up the hill

There are carvings of the Panch Buddhas (five Buddhas) on each of the four sides of stupa.

Tibetan Praying Wheels

 

Visitor enjoying spectacular viewing of Kathmandu

Praying Candles

Praying Candles

Praying Candles

A women lost in her own world reading newspaper, neglecting people passing by or even being photographed

Portrait of women at Swayambhunath Stupa

Portrait of women at Swayambhunath Stupa

 

 

These set of images was taken during my first visit in 2012 and my recent 2014.

Thank you for your time viewing this post.

 

Related Post:

 

 

 

Travel Photography With Fujifilm X-Pro1 | Destination : Nepal | Doors of Nepal

This post is simply about collection of doors that attracts my interest during our recent travel photography trip. They came with various characteristic. Some with stricking colors, while other with seasoned feature. It can be just a simple doors like what we can see in our hometown. Doors with padlock are common in Nepal especially when visiting Bhaktapur & Patan.

I haven’t done any research about the doors role against local community here in Nepal but I suspect it must be related to Buddhism practice. The way they paint the doors with striking colors, amazingly detailed hand carved woods tells us how important the doors are related into their life. Only the windows and doors are mainly painted or decorated while the other part of the house or building left seasoned.

From photographic viewpoint, it is very easy to photograph the doors or windows. There is no need to deal with people so you don’t think about your life and death of asking people to photograph them. You can do it even with your phone’s camera. No special technique and if you like me, no need to carry any lighting equipment to get this done. Often time when travelling, I will pack as minimal as I could so that I don’t clutter my mind of taking care of my gears in my bag while moving around. The less the better.

These are my collection : Doors of Nepal

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

-Walt Disney-

Travel Photography | Destination : Nepal | Bicycle

Education is a continual process, it’s like a bicycle… If you don’t pedal you don’t go forward. – George Wea

The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people’s reality, and eventually in one’s own. – Susan Sontag


 Life is like riding a bicycle: you don’t fall off unless you stop pedaling. – Claude Pepper
 

Traditional Nepalese Carved Windows & Doors

While in Nepal, I’m pretty sure you will attracted by the detailed carving on doors and window at homes and even at their shops.

Even you’re in streets of Kathmandu, this exotic looking windows & doors are everywhere. For locals, they even don’t notice about that rich carved doors because it was just normal to them but not “everyday” to me. You can see this even in impoverished homes or building.  Their little doors say so much about where they have come from, their struggle and their optimism for the future. These are “an inevitably essential part of the architectural complex and received considerable embellishment in spite of the limited scope offered by the trellis-like tracery of the window-panels. They are examples of artistic perfection within the confined frame-work of geometric precision.” Wood-carvings on a window or door is not only a decoration, but there are religion, myths and tantras (mysticism) interwoven in it. You may not imagine that there are technical names for the component parts of a window. But there are meaningful words for them. Every part of a window represent something of religious significance. (click here for further reading)

These are some my collection of the beautiful work of Nepal. The Traditional Nepalese Carved Windows & Doors

 

While travelling, it is easy of me to neglect such detailed carvings. These are kind of boring shots. Most of the time, I will wait for someone to enter the frame to add more point of interest as well as to provide better story telling. I do have some of it in my collection. For this post, I would only present it without any subject so that we can appreciate those amazing work of Nepalese.

Faces Of Nepal

It’s been almost 3 weeks after returning from our travel photography trip at Kathmandu. Back at home, I’d spent most of my time with my beloved family rather than looking or examining all photos taken during the trip. Just taking my time for a quick editing & upload to my flickr account so they will be ready when I’m about to write something in my blog. I’m using lightroom through my entire workflow until the selected photos uploaded in my flickr account with its provided publish service. Maybe I will share some tips about publishing photos to flickr via lightroom in another post.

In November 2012, when I first travel to Nepal, I have already taken what I call “established” photo. With those “established” photo already in hand, I’m now put more effort to get portraits. A portrait with permission, not just a candid. This is where our communication skill get tested, it really pumped up my adrenaline most of the time simply because of just asking a stranger whether it’s okay to take photo of them. For most of you, maybe this is just an easy task but you got to believe me that it really hard on me. Maybe it really hurts me when I get rejected, feeling of upset and stressful moment when you really found someone with the characteristic features you wanted but refused to be photographed. I’m using Fujifilm X-Pro1 with 35mm lens, it means I will shoot just about 3-4 feet away from them just to get their portrait, I know they will feel awkward but this is where “trust” plays its role. When we get trusted, there is a good possibility that they will accept your request.

Below are portrait series of Nepal (Kathmandu – Nagarkot – Bhaktapur – Pokhara)

© 2014 Mohd Shukur Jahar | Faces Of Nepal | Sarangkot – Pokhara | Fujifilm X-Pro1

Portrait of lady above was taken when we about to leave from Sarangkot after spending 3-4 hours for the sunrise viewing. We were the last group leaving Sarangkot that morning. While waiting for our friends at our meeting point, I see this lady inside her shop. So i made some contact with her, investing few rupee for a bottle of Coke. I can’t deny the lighting that moment, and I said to myself, the worst thing I could get is just a rejection. Suddenly I speak before my mind even made decision yet, can I photograph you? She nodded.

© 2014 Mohd Shukur Jahar | Faces Of Nepal | Bhaktapur | Fujifilm X100

The Smoking man is Mr. Bhubanashur, 60 years old and a Newari Hindu. We met at Bhaktapur while I’m waiting for my phone sim to get activated, I don’t expect the activation of new number will cost such amount of time. This guy, his is selling CDs of Nepal Traditional Music. He looks approachable to me, so I made my move to start a conversation. We talked about 5 minutes and he started to light up his cigarette and you know whats next.

© 2014 Mohd Shukur Jahar | Faces Of Nepal | Bhaktapur | Fujifilm X-Pro1

A guy with nice blue fleece. The are about 3 mens were talking when we passed by, then one of the member asking where we come from, knowing that we all come from Malaysia, he spoke Malay with us and sharing some of his work experiences in Malaysia not long ago. My eyes actually fixed to his friend with blue fleece. I told him how good looking he was with that fleece and made a request for taking his portrait.

© 2014 Mohd Shukur Jahar | Faces Of Nepal | Tibetan Refugee Camp – Pokhara | Fujifilm X-Pro1

61 years old Tibetan Lady at Tashi Palkhiel. She is one of the villager selling tibetan handicraft near the Tibetan Refugee Camp. I bought few pieces of “friendship bracelet” and ask for a quick portrait shoot before leaving. 

© 2014 Mohd Shukur Jahar | Faces Of Nepal | Nagarkot | Fujifilm X-Pro1

This beautiful girl above is Ms. Barsha, a 17 years old Tamang living at Nagarkot. She study in a boarding school somewhere in Kathmandu. That day, is a special day for Tamang which Lhosar Festival was celebrated. Actually, this shooting location is not in our list of destination that day, but as we passed by the village, I asked our driver to stop after seeing so many village gathering like having some kind of celebration. I have never regret of stopping by this village.

© 2014 Mohd Shukur Jahar | Faces Of Nepal | Swayambhunath – Kathmandu

© 2014 Mohd Shukur Jahar | Faces Of Nepal | Swayambhunath – Kathmandu | Fujifim X-Pro1

I took these two ladies photo at Swayambhunath Stupa or also known as The Monkey Temple. There were about 5-6 ladies in the same spot, when I was following my friend Wazari Wazir. I’m grateful he made his move communicating with them, a short warming up session and I took this opportunity to photograph some of them.

As he wrote in his blog:

“I simply could not resist photographing them, the light was so wonderful. I’m sure, I  will be haunted by this moment if I didn’t get the shot, well, at least I should try to ask them. Photographing strangers, isn’t easy, nobody ever said it was” – Wazari Wazir (read more here)

He did mention too about his experience being rejected after asking permission to take someone’s portrait, getting “NO” is not the real big thing but thats what keeping us to explore more and take it as challenge to make a portrait of a stranger. Follow your heart, your instinct are telling you something. You need to trust yourself first to be trusted.

“A photograph is both a pseudo-presence and a token of absence. Like a wood fire in a room, photographs – especially those of people, of distant landscapes and faraway cities, of the vanished past – are incitements to reverie.” – Susan Sontag

Never Judges Lives Of Others

“We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path.” 
― Paulo Coelho

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