aloysius & charmaine

Venue: Cathedral of the Good Shepherd . CHIJMES | Second Shooter: Ivan Tan | Videographer: twenty8picks | Hair & Make Up: iheartblooms | Dress: Wedding Crafters

mash & debra

Venue: Bedok Methodist Church . Changi Beach Club | Videographer: Androids In Boots | Flowers: Windflowerflorist

I met Debra at Xinnie & Chiyong‘s wedding while waiting in line in the bathroom of only two stalls, which gave us time to chat for a bit. She took my namecard back to Mash and he told her that he had already dropped us an enquiry. It’s funny how our paths have crossed and paralleled.

Earlier this year, my family grieved over the passing of my uncle and the day his ashes came back to us for sea burial, it happened to be my birthday. I’m guilty of sharing it on social media so that I didn’t have to tell people individually why I haven’t been the best at replying their messages. More often than not, when you feel like you’re going through this thing called life alone, you’d be proven wrong. February 2019 was when Debra’s life and mine paralleled. We were both grieving over the loss of our own uncles, we both had a staycation booked and crazily, we also learnt that we share the same birthday.

justin & debbie

This year marks the 13th year I’ve shot weddings. I’ve been very fortunate to have superb mentors early on in my journey. They often taught me certain rules that did not make sense to me. For instance, the idea of how different lenses give your image different types of compression. An image shot with a 35mm lens and one shot with 85mm lens, despite being composed exactly the same way, gives us a completely different sensation.

Following rules blindly is very difficult for me. When I was 4, I asked my grandma if God exists. 27 years later, I am still asking the same question. But because my desire to become a world famous photographer was so great, I decided that if the rules didn’t kill me, I should just follow them.

Recently, I have a desire to go beyond these rules. I found many of these rules, while useful, are not penetrating deeply enough. I no longer want to be a world famous photographer. I want something different.

When I think of images that make a deep impact on me – the kind that haunts me in my sleep, as I shower, while I look at the sea, the mountains – they fulfil these rules and something else.

I am keen to investigate what this something else is about.

I keep returning to this memory I had when I was 19. I was backpacking Europe and found myself in Uffizi Gallery, Florence. I came across this incomplete painting:

Leonardo da Vinci - Adorazione dei Magi - Google Art Project.jpg

I was struck by how it grabbed hold of me in the gentlest way possible, and left my spellbound. I couldn’t stop looking at the lady in the middle even though she was not framed with a close-up. The people around her look troubled but yet rendered so beautifully. The tones are few but the palette is expansive. There were soft sounds reverberating outwards even though this was a painting. The energy of the painting was so abundant that it was able to spare me some. The weariness flowed away from my feet. I did not want to walk away. I wanted to be there forever. When I did walk away, I felt nourished and refreshed.

I thought to myself: This painting must be a gesture to reach out to God.

I don’t really have an answer for what it all means. But maybe God responded.