Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Freedom Series

What Paul Elledge taught me was to be connected to my emotional response while I was shooting. What I used to do was get inspired to do a shoot and get very intellectual while I was shooting. So the original inspiration of the shoot, let me put together elements of a shoot, but without considering the emotional feedback while I did a shoot, something did not feel right.

The first thing that Paul asked each workshop attendee to do was to relate the most intense emotion or experience in their lives. I talked about the year I was in dance school and how free I felt. So, for a week, I tried to recapture a sense of freedom through my photographs. And as I shot, I tried to immerse myself in a sense of freedom. Living and working in Singapore, this was harder than it sounds. There were times I felt a physical pain in my chest as I tried to free myself emotionally. In Singapore, I was always trying to control those emotions.

I realize then that to live in a practical society like Singapore, very often I have to die to my emotions and myself, or the pain of rejection becomes unbearable. Unfortunately, burying emotions also has the effect cutting off my artistic inclinations. For example, someone passed by my portraits at Citilink as it was being set up and said that he could not understand at all why such portraits were taken. This guy had no clue why I had taken dramatic portraits and thought my work was a waste of time. He runs events and needs photographers to shoot events. Event shots are practical and the money is honestly bad. Do I feed my stomach or do I feed my soul?

The ironic part is that if I do manage to free my soul and shoot outstanding portraits, I would also be able to make much more money than all this practical stuff.

I have said it before and I will say it again... Singapore is a city without exceptions, that is why we are an unexceptional city. Until we foster a more open-minded and embracing society, we will continue to be mundane and be bitter that people in other city centers seem so vibrant. We are all human beings and have the same potential. We just lack the balls and imagination to do it in Singapore. Simply too conditioned to do what is 'right', however limited that 'right' is.


eadwine said...

"Event shots are practical and the money is honestly bad"

u said it!. there are times where i would lurrrrve to just say a big "balls to you!!!" to some people, there are times when i just shut my mind and tell myself i have to still be humble. i guess..singapore hasn't open up yet. 1001 pros and cons even if singapore does open up. after reading this i wonder if we're fighting a losing battle... =(

pfong said...

Holy Eugene Smith! These are amazing pics. A different level from almost everything I've seen recently.

Heng said...

And that is why I need to find a way to break out of the prison that is Singapore. The negative, close-mindedness that I get here. That is why I need to take a sabbactical and once again find my freedom.

SpaceCake said...

I really like the one with the smiling girl.

ashwin said...

Hi Heng

these are just amazing portraits. I came across your work displayed at Citilink mall (Friday night) and they are very moving. Keep up the excellent work.

Heng said...

Thanks Ashwin.