Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Break over

Paddington Train Station

The Churchill Arms, London

Earl's Court from Earl's Court Tube station

My brother in his house

My brother's house

My brother's house

Bus Stop, London

Well, the break and climate adaptation is over. Chicago seems to be above freezing so I should be ready for it. So, I am going to start over again. I will probably not be taking that many photographs, but you know what, I think I need a break from taking photographs. I think it will be a great change to see Paul shoot and support him.

The next entry will be from the states!!

Monday, February 27, 2006

A sunny winter's day

In a week of cold muggy weather, the sun popped up on Saturday. This was lucky because my friend Liana came down for the day from Cambridge to walk around Portobello Road with me.

I have always enjoyed walking in Portobello. It is so bohemian and full of what is possible. It is the spirit of creative entrepreneurs. Antiques and contemporary wares from all over the world. I love all the different extroverts that you meet on the street as well.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

London and Oxford

Breakfast at Carluccio's with the F11.

The temperature in London and Oxford has been on either side of freezing. It is cold but does not feel bad. I guess I was prepared and am preparing for -7 degs in Chicago. For a tropical body, these temperatures are quite extreme, but I tell myself that it is just for a month or two. Although Rajasthan was not as cold, it caught me off gaurd one day as I was prepared for around 10 degs and the temperature hit 0 degs. It was the coldest in Rajasthan for like 30 years!

I exchanged 3 slr bodies (2 contax, 1 canon) and an Olympus 8080 for a fuji Finepix F11. Sounds like a bit of a bum deal but film bodies are going for a song nowadays. And the Finepix F11 is a real nice low light performer, at least for a compact. There is some noise and jpeg artifacts at higher iso, but it is acceptable to me at iso 800 and 1600!


I guess that some of my friends will identify this shot as a manifestation of my desire to shoot nudes! But it is the unclothed mannequin in winter that struck me as odd, honest. :)

And nudes or not, I was in Selfridges to buy wollen underwear. I kid you not. The world's freak weather may turn Chicago into Florida or Siberia, I don't know, not taking chances.

Sasha, Zoe and Sian Bothy Vineyard, Oxfordshire

I visited my sister in Oxford on her birthday. She is not really into cakes anymore but having 2 daugthers, a cake on a birthday is mandatory.

Richard and Zoe

Singapore is where my future is. Even if I manage to break into the international scene, Singapore will be my base of operations. Still, I cannot erase nine years of living in the United Kingdom. My sister and husband Richard have lived in various houses in Oxfordshire over the last fifteen years. Thanks to them I have seen a bit more of the English countryside than I would have planned for by myself.

Lodon is a living city, changing daily, but even after nine years back in Singapore, some landmarks remain. The buildings do not get torn down as fast as they do in Singapore. The shell of buildings I am familiar with now carry shops that are new to me. In some ways it is like meeting an old lover who has remained a friend. At one time the relationship was so intimate and intense, and now even though some of those deep links cannot be severed, layers of new experiences slowly pry you apart. And to keep living and moving forward, one accepts the drifting apart, even though a small part is marked by that past love.

I also wonder if the final, ultimate parting with life, would be a similar experience. How do we remember a lifetime of experiences when our minds are imperfect tools? That drifting away of experiences, never to be repeated. But so many people wiser than me have said words to the effect,

The past is a memory,
The future is a dream,
We only have the present.


Chilling in London.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Back in London - My second home

Some of you might go - 'I thought he is going to Chicago. What's up?' I planned a week's stop in London to get used to the cold and to catch up with my brother and my sister. London is where I spent nine years of my life, some of the most important and happy years of my life. So London is like a second home to me. Whenever I am not in London, I imagine a piece of space the size and shape of me wandering the streets of London. :) So I am having a bit of real slack time before I go and work and chill my ass off in Chicago.

I think Eadwine is going to laugh after his misadventure with British Airways to Melbourne. Last year I had one strange incident with Indian airlines where the flight schedules changed and I had to wait 12 hours for a flight from Delhi to Jaipur. Then going to do a shoot in Jakarta, Garuda airlines cancelled the flight I had and made me wait 3 hours for the next one. I thought it could not happen again but it did. My British airways 747 had not one, but two technical problems. Once everyone had boarded the aircraft, engine number one would not start up. It took 2 hours for engineers to sort that out. Then as we were on the end of the runway, some warning signal about the hydraulics went on and we had to go back to the bay to get it fixed. So the 11.30pm flight left Singapore at 3.30am! Well, I got into London in one piece. :) I wonder what will happen on the next flight?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Time Out

I have been working like a mad man since I returned from Rajasthan. I turned the big 40 last week. So the people from 153 Joo Chiat Place brought me to the beach. They made me write down the good things in my life on a sheet of paper which I kept. I also wrote down the things that I want to leave behind and threw it into the sea. After that they dunked me in the sea. Only to be expected on my 40th birthday!

I have had 153 Joo Chiat Place for six years now. It seems that some of the people that pass through become more than just friends, they become family as well. The people that come through 153 are driven dreamers, a couple of them are studying film in Edinburgh and Beijing. Its great that people come through mixing their creative energies. Now Wes and Jodie will be making their home in Paris. Still, 153 kinds of connects us all. To the people who bring their dreams to 153 and help nourish the others, I say thank you.

I am going to be spending some time away too. I leave tonight for 3 months in Chicago. I will be interning at the studio of a great portrait photographer, Paul Elledge. I am a self-taught photographer more or less. I really want to see the entire process, artistic and business, not just the inspirational stuff. I want to see the sweat and tears behind the seemingly perfect images. :)

Then I will be back in June to open up for work again in July. I already have a couple of tentative overseas commercial assignments when I return. Looks like a great year ahead.

(Pictures by Wesley.)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Birth - Esther, Ian and Ethan

(Click on image for larger version.)

Somehow my personal projects always take a back seat. This is one thing that bugs me. Esther and Ian came to pose nude for me over 5 sessions, including the last one with their new born son. I did the last shoot some time last year and it must be close to a year before I managed to put this collage together. Sigh. I only managed to do this now because of the sabbatical. I need to set aside time to do personal work. I need to set aside time to exercise. Working like a dog without thinking is not the way to personal excellence.

Anyway, the final product looks great to me and I am so happy to have been able to do this project. I guess the blog version is relatively small, but I made a 15"x75" print of this on my Epson 4800. And really, it rocks!!

I need money to run my projects, but if all I do is chase after money just to run the office, then I might as well close shop and camp permanently at the seaside. It is these personal projects that make it all worthwhile.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The other side

At times it is necessary to go over the top. How else can we get to the other side? - Kobi Yamada

It feels like one project after another, one mountain to scale after another. I am building walls of sand against a rising sea tide. At this point of time it seems that I have built a career and have a path in front of me but like I once said in my doctoral thesis, 'The more I learn, the less I know.'

There has been so much learning and trying in the last 6 years and at this point of time, it seems that there is even more to master, with digital workflow, color management, asset management and photoshop techniques. The goal seems simple, to make the best images that I can, but even defining which image is the best and how it should look takes a long process of introspection and knowledge of the work that has gone on before me and the work that is being produced by my peers. This mountain of tasks and knowledge, has the ability to make one freeze in fear, pinned down with way too much to consider. And yet an unconsidered and undisciplined approach brings self-indulgent, superficial work.

In a room of snakes, you just got to concentrate on killing the snake closest to you. You move on a little and kill the next snake.

I am sorry as it is hard to describe the place that I am in at the moment, leaving an apparent safe-haven to embark on a journey of toil and unknown perils. And yet, I feel excited by what I may encounter. I know that the learning and experience that I am undertaking will make me grow. Sometimes my friends tell me that I look tired, but I am happy with this toil. Sometimes my body has ached after exercise, and I know it is the ache of being alive.

Death is really the only thing to fear but it will come whether we fear it or not. I may fail to become the photographer that I feel I should be. I may achieve it and retire, opening a coffeshop instead. Whatever, I will fill my life with goals and journeys that bring me new experiences and hopefully more wisdom. I just have to keep on climbing those mountains as long as I have the strength, because I want to get to the other side.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Ecnad Fireball

The nice thing about the sabbatical is that I can stop worrying about how much money I need to earn and take projects that interest me and reject projects (even ones offering commercial rates) that would cause me hassle and to pull out my already thinning hair.

Melinda, a good photographer in her own right, approached me to do publicity shots for Ecnad's Fireball 2006 festival. They wanted something classy and thought that I was the one to pull of the shoot for them. Hey, I am a sucker for classy photos of dancers. So I sponsored the shoot and it was enjoyable.

I have a couple more shoots before I leave for America which I am looking forward to.:)

Tibet Black and White

I have been kind of quiet not because of the Chinese New Year celebrations, but because I have been working very hard to understand Digital asset management. Trying to archive 6 years of work is not simple task. What I start now will probably take more than the 6 months of my sabbatical to finish. I will be reviewing my work for a long time to come. By the time I get past this backlog, I will probably be creating mountains of new work to archive.

One of the good things of this process is that I stumble across work like my black and white photos from Tibet. When I went to Tibet I shot with the X-pan panoramic camera and was more inclined to promote it. My black and whites were more or less for personal consumption. But I chose a few hoping that it would be published in the magazine Grain, but it never did. So here is a selection of a selection of my black and white Tibet shots.

I think that as I go through all the work that I have done in my 'professional' career, I will probably share stuff which is close to my heart.