Smoking pot?

 

This week I took the morning away from my usual office environment to join my ceramics artist friend, Sutopo at Jalan Bahar Clay Studios. It was a treat (for the mosquitoes). Where’s my Mopiko?

As I work on images from my laptop, Sutopo gets busy turning the wheel and crafting his pieces. After the second one, both of us took a break, and he asked me to take a photo of him.

Earlier that morning, I had worked on my thoughts about Black and White photography by tweaking the settings on the camera as well as revising post processing techniques on the macbook, so I showed him what my alchemy can create.

So what do you think of Sutopo “smoking pot”?

Photography Andy Post-Process Andy Words Andy

Happy Birthday Travis!

I was taking pictures at Travis’s birthday celebration yesterday.

Do you mean A.i offer photography services for events like birthday now? Yes, and No. You see, Andessen Imagery have been offering complimentary portrait sessions for many months now but the response have been only luke warm. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it sounded too good to be true.

All that was required was to post on our Facebook wall about the things you love and you could win a complimentary photography session about the things you love. It is that simple. No gimmick. No trick. No scam. I know we are all afraid of these.

Elvin posted on the wall saying that he loves family so we met up and discussed about the idea of a family shoot. I made it clear that it would be no studio shoot as A.i’s direction is natural and authentic. It is to keep things real.

I love Elvin’s story. He told me his family include his dad, mum and two older brothers with him being the youngest. It is often difficult to have everyone in the family get together now that his brothers have all grown up and busy with their own lives. One link, however, that joins the family is his eldest brother’s son, Travis. Everyone adores him, and as such it brings the family closer. This closeness is evident at an occasion like Travis’s birthday.

And so, we set the date and I got my gears down to “Capture the things we love.” Happy Birthday Travis! He is such a good boy.

Photography Andy Post-Process Andy Words Andy

What do cats think about?

Cats are mysterious creatures. They are independent, quiet and often wear a poise expressionless look. And because of that, it’s hard to guess what are on their minds.

Just the other day, a friend asked, “What do cats think about? You look at them and they either just lie here or sit there staring into blank space.”

Cats do that don’t they? So I speculate that they might be thinking about where to sleep later, what to eat later, or how to catch the attention of another sexy cat. These apply to the strays around us I reckon.

This image here, however, is not about a stray, but he could have been, if his owners had not adopted him. Lucky he is, and he is Lucky. Yes, that’s his name.

Lucky have really big eyes. That is the first thing I noticed when I first met him. And he would use them to scan me from top to bottom, much like questioning me about what business have I at his home. Only after making sure that I’m not a threat in his habitat would he go about his own business, and he’ll let me be as I’ll let him be. He has got such character and is a pleasure to photograph.

In this shot, I spot him out from his room and just sat outside the studies looking in. There was no one inside. The light would lead from the windows, filtered through the door and cast a nice contrast of lights and shadows on the corridor. Lucky would sit behind the wall with his face illuminated. The reflection of him off the floor was a bonus, giving this image an added dimension.

But back to the question, “What do cats think about?” Can you think up an answer here?

Photography Andy Post-Process Andy Words Andy

Wesley, Denise and Baby Lucius.

Here is an image of Wesley, Denise and a 3-days-old Baby Lucius before they set off from TMC to bring Lucius home for the first time. It was about three months ago.

Honestly speaking, I struggled with this image, revisiting it countless times in post-production. And even as I was writing this, I stopped and went back to re-edit it, correcting the colours, once more. Initially, I had thought that Black & White would be nice here but after going through a few versions, I find that it could be overly dramatizing and went back to colours instead for a much more natural look.

While it took ten months for a baby to be born, this image took three, much like a cheetah. The reference came to mind only because of a recent documentary on cheetahs that I’ve watched.

The planning and capturing of this shot took much less time. Before this was taken, I had it in my mind that I wanted dad, mum and baby to be intimately close in the picture sharing a moment together. I thought about using natural light from the window but it was raining that day. The next option is to use the yellow/orange ceiling light, and this spot at the corner of the room is perfect to frame the shot with.

A few minor adjustments were made to ensure the curtain and cushions were proper and I made Wesley and Denise sit really close to each other. They were really in a “tight spot”, literally speaking. Other than that I just ask of them to relax and talk to each other. This image was one of many shots. Some had them laughing and looking at each other while sharing a joyful moment, and some are of them smiling and interacting with Baby Lucius.

This shot, however, was what I was really looking for. It has a sense of unspoken serenity and telling quality to it. It’s a little difficult to describe. I’ll try my best here. I like the way Wesley was smiling proudly while looking at Lucius. And I especially like Denise’s motherly expression as she cradles Lucius. What happened in this moment just felt very right.

Do you share my sentiments?

Photography Andy Post-Process Andy Words Andy

An inquisitive Wayne.

Time flies. About 2 years ago, I was photographing Wayne when he was just a newborn. Now his birthday is coming up and he will soon turn two.

I didn’t have a DSLR then, and I was struggling to make ends meet. Since ’05 I was trying to fulfill a vision and it is still in the works till this day. I could have made money the easy way but I wanted it to be right. I’ve asked myself many questions and one of them, “What is innocence?”

One of the way to answer this question is to observe how children behave. Children do things in the simplest and most direct manner. When they are hungry they cry, looking for attention. When they want you to carry them they’ll stretch out their hands. When they want something, they’ll just go ahead and explore their possibilities without fear.

In the process, sometimes, they get in trouble of course, but that’s how they learn. In the eyes of adult, children do things that are perceived as wrong, but the truth is that they don’t know that. Children do things purely out of good intent and curiosity. They delight in discovery. They are joyful and happy. It’s a wonder why many of us adults grow up to lose this innocence. Why are we subsided to be shaped by circumstances, environments and events that we do not delight in life anymore. We harbour more fear than we have hope.

That is not to say that we have to be childish of course. Children still do lack the perception of consequence, unlike adults. Instead, I think we should often listen to that inner child of ours. Do you still remember the simple joys of being a kid? How can you apply that now?

In this shot, we were at a Subway restaurant when Wayne wander off on his own, again. He would explore the drinks fridge, walk up and down the aisle looking for something that would catch his eyes and he would be behind the big glass door, trying to grab the large handles. His parents and I kept a close watch of course so he wouldn’t hurt himself. I waited till Wayne was next to the counter lights which would illuminate his face on the side before clicking on the shutter. He complete the look with an innocent smile.

Photography Andy Post-Process Andy Words Andy

Just me; I’m Sutopo.

Sutopo is my friend of 15 years. We met for the first time at our class orientation when we were starting our first year in Product Design. When he told me his name as we shook hands, I couldn’t quite make it out as it sounded quite foreign so I asked, “Where are you from?” in which he answered, “Singapore,” to my embarrassment.

Out of the 15 years that we have known each other, there were two that we did not meet or speak due to a misunderstanding. It wasn’t one thing alone that led to it, but I guessed it happened for a reason, and that I think was to let us grow. We shared common interests but we have different goals. At times we depended on each other while other times we were so busy we couldn’t help one another. The point is that even as close friends, our paths do divert. It took me quite awhile to gain that wisdom of letting each other live our own lives for our own good. The mistake was to force our beliefs onto each other. But friends however are reflections of each other.

For this picture, we were on our way to a friend’s car at a basement carpark when I spotted this textured wall that was lit by a fluorescent lamp. I thought that would make a good backdrop as Sutopo wanted me to take a portrait for him so my mind went searching for ideas to resemble him personally. He is a craftsman who prefers to create with his hands. All our friends know him as the guy who would never fail to come out with the best working product prototype. I’m happy to see him using his talents in his career.

One of his bosses, a Korean installation artist, describes him as her talented right-hand man who provides the solutions to her inspirations.

In this shot, I simply told Sutopo to sit with his back leaning against the wall and act as if he owns the place. He provided the rest and my job is to look through the viewfinder and click the shutter, and that’s him right there, captured in true nature at the first frame.

Photography Andy Post-Process Andy Words Andy