If I didn’t tell you, you might not have known that Stefanus runs a production house and Angeline is the proud lady-boss of Yoga+. Not because they don’t look the part but because they are so down to earth and humble despite their successful careers.
When I came back from London, they were the first couple who booked me. Naturally, I was a little nervous before our first meeting.
I had not shot a wedding in Singapore for almost 2 years. The wedding landscape had completely changed in the time I was gone. Photographers were experimenting more. There were a lot of subversions going on. For instance, couples were often separated and layered in space. There was a shift towards darker, moodier colours. Story was almost completely dead even though people kept saying they were storytellers.
There was a significant shift in style. Photos looked edgier, more stylized and more considered, but they often left me feeling cold. Time and again, I could only see the photographer in the photos. I could no longer see the couple.
The experience was a lot like buying a pack of single origin coffee beans from an artisanal cafe. The resulting brew after I got home often tasted underwhelming compared to the beautifully designed bag it came in. There is an implicit promise. And then there is the product.
I was uncertain about the direction I should take with my wedding work. I even asked Stefanus and Angeline, “would you like me to try for a more modern style in your wedding photos?”
They looked a bit puzzled.
Apologetically, I asked if they were looking for something more ‘hip’ than what I’m used to shooting. They laughed and simply told me, “No no no. Just be you. We like you as you are.”
I am thankful that I have clients like Stefanus and Angeline who believe in me even at times when I doubt myself. Nonetheless, the relentless questioning never stops.
I (finally) got my driving license last year. After my first year probational period was over, I found myself driving an electric car frequently. I simply love driving. The ability to move around freely was something very refreshing to me. I also like the atmosphere of a car – neither interior or exterior, it has a meditative quality even when my girlfriend is with me. Driving requires me to be completely present yet my mind manages to travel to many different places.
In this series, I tried to replicate the experience of revisiting a set of memories. Much like how you drift into your thoughts while driving. Instead of a linear narrative based on a chronology of events, I applied an associative logic to the sequence of images. For instance, a hug could trigger multiple memories of your mother’s hug, the first time you cried and hugged someone, your best friend’s embrace.
I quite like the results. How do you feel?
“Something that many people aren’t aware of is that statistically worldwide, miscarriage affects 1 in 4 women. This means that of all the women in our lives; family members, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, it is likely that there are some who have been through/are going through a miscarriage, and yet not many of us are aware of the pain and loss they’re experiencing. Maybe it’s because it’s taboo, too sad, too personal, or makes people feel uncomfortable. Either way, for something that affects so many women, worldwide and in Singapore, the topic of miscarriage has been too easily swept under the carpet and ignored, rather than being brought out into the open and discussed, which could bring understanding, comfort and healing to those who desperately need it.
I am unfortunately, one of the 1 in 4.”
– written by Amanda
I had a very challenging time photographing Amanda and Nick. It is not often that I am made to deal with grief in the photographic form.
It has also been a long time since I’ve felt so unsure about what I’m doing.
I wasn’t sure what I wanted out of this session, but I knew what I didn’t want.
1) I did not want to cheapen Amanda’s & Nick’s grief. I wanted to avoid photographs of them crying and looking sad. Instead, I envisioned the session as a space for them to work out their emotions about the situation.
2) I did not want sentimentality. Singaporeans are generally a sentimental bunch (myself included) and we often confuse being sentimental with being emotional. Emotions are raw and private. Sentiments are organised and expressed. Put in another way, emotions are invisible. The challenge was therefore – how do we give form to something that cannot be seen?
3) I did not want to photograph Amanda & Nick in definite, locked states. I wanted things to change for them. For the better. Even if that seemed like a remote possibility, I wanted to remind all of us that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Hope is not a sexy concept. But for anyone going through their own battles, hope, not strength, is the most important thing you need.
I don’t think I have entirely succeeded. I still detect traces of sentimentality, some locked states. But I thought the process was meaningful for me and hopefully for Amanda and Nick. Enough for me to look forward to my next shoot where I can hopefully operate with similar discomfort and uncertainty.