Saturday, December 29, 2007

Quote from Robert Doisneau

You have to let the person who will look at the picture - provided that he isn't an ass - always walk along that visual path for himself. We must always remember that a picture is also made up of the person who looks at it. This is very, very important. Maybe this is the reason behind those photos that haunt me and haunt many people as well. It is about that walk that one takes with the picture when experiencing it. I think that this is what counts. One must let the viewer extricate himself for the journey. You offer the seed and then the viewer grows it inside himself. For a long time that I thought that I had to give the entire story to my audience. I was wrong.

Rober Doisneau

I begin to understand the power of images that can prompt a journey of wonder for the audience. I still like beautiful images like fashion images. But most fashion images are complete. It is like that we all should be eating well balanced meals with subtle flavours, but we all like to eat candy.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Quote from Paul Strand

When Paul Strand was asked,

Is there a philosophy of life that you have tried to show in your photographs?

He answered,

I find in most cases that what the artist says about what he is going to do, or what he has done, is inadequate and not very meaningful statement. The this is the work itself, and in a sense the artist should not be asked for the philosophy of life upon which he bases his work. The work is the basis. The work is the thing itself.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all. It has been a roller coaster ride for the year. Next year will be another one.

Quote from Susan Sontag

I have been reading an article in Aperture called 'We are all photographers now!' by Fred Ritchin.

In the article Ritchin quotes from Susan Sontag's book Regarding the Pain of Others.

"Photography is the only major art in which professional training and years of experience do not confer an insuperable advantage over the untrained and inexperienced - this for many reasons, among them the large role that chance (or luck) plays in the taking of pictures, and the bias toward the spontaneous, the rough, the imperfect."

I guess this is one of the reasons why photography is so undervalued. Most people will probably think that anyone can take a photograph, and in some respect, they are right.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The New Pond web site for 2008

The Pond website has been updated.

In 2008 Anvin Hoo and Shin Lim will be junior associates in The Pond. You can see their work on the new website.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Corps de Ballet - Jennifer Alexander - American Ballet Theater - New York City Ballet - Dance - New York Times

Corps de Ballet - Jennifer Alexander - American Ballet Theater - New York City Ballet - Dance - New York Times

In my mind, dance is the hardest and most unforgiving art form there is. This article telling us how difficult it is to become a dancer in the corp de ballet, but not a soloist, resonates. In every job actually, there can only be a handful of stars, and no matter how hard people try, the majority of struggling .... (name a job), will be mediocre.

Truth, Responsibility and Shooting Nudes

I think that my own inspiration for shooting nudes came from my work with shooting dancers. It was my interest in the beauty of the dancer's body. In many ways, my love of shooting nudes has been an aesthetic exercise. The body as an object.

Today a young photographer has prompted me to think about the issues of shooting nudes. In Singapore, it can be a controversial activity. I am not even sure if it is legal. I am fortunate that my own parents trust me enough not to question my own judgment in my nude photography. So I do feel that there is an unjustified stigma against shooting nudes. And this to me is more of a case of since some nudes are pornographic and undesirable, then all nudes should not be taken. Too broad a stroke in my opinion.

Why do people shoot nudes? It is an organic form that has intrigued artists through the ages. It is beautiful. It is sexual. It can be portraiture. It can be pornography. It can be documentary. And regardless of the intent of the photography, people will read a nude with their own prejudices. Just like the racial, social and sexual prejudices people hold. And if truth be told, one cannot deny the sexual undercurrent of shooting a nude, regardless of the intent of the photography.

I think an all or nothing approach is meaningless. It is amazing how advertisements convey sexuality without nudity. And excuse me, not one of us would be around if our parents had not copulated. There is nothing wrong with sexuality and attraction. What does matter is how we treat one another. I think this is the crux of the matter. What matters is if we do something that hurts another being. To my mind, sexuality harnessed for consumerism is so much worse. Is it ok to promote random sexual acts to sell jeans? But we cannot look at an artistic nude because it corrupts the mind? Come on, what is wrong when two people decide to create an art work? It is of mutual consent and the two people will need to respect one another.

I think that instead of sweeping issues under the carpet and hope that bad things won't happen, we should be more open and teach the young to make their own value judgments. Young people cannot be shielded from bad things forever. The truth is that a sexual act can be an act of love or an act of violation. The photography of a nude can be a work of art or it could be a piece of cheap pornography. People should be taught to be responsible in their sexual activity. What happens if a woman gets pregnant? What happens if one gets a sexually transmitted disease? People should take responsibility when they shoot a nude. Is the photographer being respectful of the model? Is the photographer responsible in how the images are shown to an audience. And an audience has a responsibility too, to discern whether an image is degrading or respectful. And is such a depiction valid? Actually, what is the point of shooting a nude? This is an important question too.

Human interaction is very subtle and has many layers. The key is for people to take responsibility for their own actions.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Sony World Photography Awards : Cannes 2008

Sony World Photography Awards : Cannes 2008

Most prestigious photography competitions have an entry fee. Submitting a few images can lead to a hefty entry fee. This looks like a pretty good competition and the entry is free.

So if you fancy yourself a world class photographer, why not submit a few images. The Sony World Photography Awards can't be that bad.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Quote from Flight to Arras

What ought we be? That is the essential question, the question that concerns spirit and not intelligence. For spirit impregnates intelligence with the creation that is to come forth. And later, intelligence is brought to the bed of creation.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard

The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard

I got an e-mail from Geoff about this wonderful website. It tells us about consumerism and why it is unsustainable and why it is bad for our health. I really urge you to go visit this web site. In this day and age, we have to get out of the old capitalist mind set.

Thanks Geoff.

Friday, December 07, 2007

A Ramble through my mind

Amidst working on my exhibition and trying to promote The Pond, I still have managed to go watch some movies. Things that have been provoking my mind.

The first thing was watching a Norwegian film, An Enemy of the People, based on a play by Ibsen. I do not want to spoil the story line for people, but it is about how normal people in society will take what is good in the short term, even doing something immoral, if it affects their livelihoods. It kinds of puts into perspective the materialistic world we live in, where idealists are not welcome.

The next thing I did was watch a documentary on American photographer, William Eggleston. He was the photographer that brought colour photography into the art world. His pictures are of the mundane, even the banal, but they show a singular vision, of how someone can give value to objects we walk by in the street daily by taking its photograph. There is a quote in the documentary that goes "Photography tends to show, to describe, much more than they can explain." And how true it is. Photographs can be so emotionally descriptive, but they carry very little explanation if any.

What also struck me about Eggleston is that he is a controversial figure. Ansel Adams was appalled by Eggleston's first exhibition in a museum. How is such work considered art? And there are moments in the documentary we can see the defiance and vulnerability of Eggleston. He says defiantly, "I do not care what people think". Only in a moment later to say, "yes I do". And to me, as a photographer, I understand this inner conflict. The value of a photographer is in his or her unique vision, and it is something that the photographer has to defend in defiance of what the public thinks or says. But there is the other human side of the artist, that wants people to appreciate the images, to praise the images. People who succeed with their own vision are motivated and opinionated.

This reinforces what I thought about Frank Gehry. The visionaries are controversial people. Some people will love them and others will hate them. And who does become appreciated is also dependent on how the general populace is thinking. Van Gogh died a pauper but is sold for millions today. There could have been others who are simply never appreciated. What I think is that being safe and giving people what they want, what they already know, is a good way to be forgotten in the long run. You will not be bringing anything new into this world. There is no chance of changing people's ideas or viewpoints.

So forget what other people tell you. Think for yourself, be yourself. Like Eggleston said, his audience is basically himself. Be your own audience. Be your own best fan, in the face of what people say. Martin Parr faced a lot of opposition joining Magnum. There were photographers who disliked his work. And Martin Parr has been critical of other photographer's portfolios. What can a person do? A person can simply continue his or her own search and believe in his or her own self. There is nothing else to do. Whether fame and fortune comes, it is beyond our control. All we can do is enjoy the journey.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Google Map to The Pond

View Larger Map

Ok. I am officially impressed with Google maps. And to be able to put a link like this... What more can I say?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Le Petite Portrait

I know people who are interested in getting a simple portrait by me but do not want a full portrait session. Some people even want passport photos done by me!

Anyway, in January, for the people who want a petite portrait session, who are interested to see how I work in the studio or even those who are looking for a passport photo by me, here is the promo for you. :)

One hour with me, ten shots to take back, one photo touched up with one print, one hundred Singapore dollars.

The following conditions apply!
1) This promotion entitles every individual to a SINGLE 1-hour indoor portrait session.
2) The Client will receive 10 images of their choice, of which, 1 image will be chosen for minor digital re-touching and an 8" x 12" print.
3) Photo-shoot bookings should be done at least a week in advance, scheduled between 10am to 6pm on weekdays only.
4) The Client will receive digital files of images for personal use only and shall not sell or authorize any reproduction other than for personal usage. Terms and charges for commercial usage shall be negotiated separately with The Pond.
5) Confirmation of booking is based on a signed quotation raised by The Pond and payment is to be made upon completion of the photographic service.
6) No voucher may be combined with this promotion.
7) The Pond reserves the right to modify any terms and conditions without any prior notification to the user.

Monday, December 03, 2007



I watched the DVD on Frank Gehry yesterday. It is wonderful that such a creative person has been a commercial success as well. Like other people at the forefront of the work, he has his detractors. I found this documentary really inspirational. I love the fact that Frank Gehry has taken risks again and again. And like everyone who is exploring, some of his work is better than others.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Prostitute auctions sex for charity

This article in Reuters shows that everyone can contribute to society... in their own way.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Sudanese protesters demand death for teddy teacher - Yahoo! News

Sudanese protesters demand death for teddy teacher - Yahoo! News

I am still baffled by how people assume that religion preaches peace. At least monothestic religions are by definition exclusive. In fact, for religious people to live peacefully, they would have to disregard parts of their religious text that would urge believers to do things like stone non-believers.

There is another interesting story that is not being told. Of how Muslim insurgents are carrying out ethnic cleansing in Southern Thailand. You can here the BBC story here. The BBC is very brave for continually reporting on things that we would rather not be bothered with.