Review 2012 : My Top 20

As we approach the end of 2012, at the cusp of a new year, I always look back through the months to review the images that I have taken to see what has transpired photographically for me, personally. I have selected 20 instead of 15 in 2011, having taken more images this year. I am currently working on a series which I will announce perhaps in the new year, but still lacking in numbers for now, so it is shelved until Spring comes round. Commonscapes, a series of landscapes photographed in close by Wimbledon Common was started when I discovered that I actually like walking, (and contemplating) with dog in tow. I can see myself shooting MF not too long. If only there was a digital square medium format camera to use which doesn’t cost the Earth and more.

Photography today more than ever, takes on a new meaning for me. I still like shooting street images, but because I have seen so many street images that lack intent and story lately, I focus now more on humour and irony rather than drama and contrasts. I go through phases in my photography, like reading books. I am into crime novels at the moment.

2012 has been a challenge in many respects, what, with the rise in prominence of Instagram and smartphone images to a new level, and the slow death of DSLRs  caused by the onslaught of compact interchangeable lens formats, will surely be an interesting story to follow. Now that more and more photographers are composing through LCD screens rather than viewfinders, it would be worthwhile to examine if there are any compositional differences that may be gauged collectively in the kind and style of images that are produced throughout the world.

Here are my Top 20 for 2012 :


1. Chinese tourists on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral, London


2. Height of Summer, Hyde Park, London


3. Orang Asli mother and her children, ‘Magick River’, Perak, Malaysia


4. By ‘Magick River’, Perak, Malaysia


5. Butcher, ‘Little Burma’, Kuala Lumpur


6. Cult revelers, Notting Hill Carnival, London


7. Street pose, Notting Hill Carnival, London


8. Christmas display, Kuala Lumpur


9. Waiters waiting, San Marco, Venice


10. Sami, Tunisian, Venice from series Merchants of Venice


11. Wheatfield, Burgundy, France


12. Tourists, Piazza del Campo, Siena, Italy


13. Fairground boy, Wimbledon Common


14. Wild flowers, Tuscany, Italy


15. Dinosaur Coast, Brook Chine, Isle of Wight


16. Wimbledon Common pond, from series Commonscapes


17. Untitled 1 from series Commonscapes


18. Veteran and his medals, Remembrance Sunday, London


19. Winter walkers, Wimbledon Common


20. Volunteer harvester, Bothy Vineyard, Oxford

See my 2011 Review here

EXPOSURE+ Mentoring Program is launched!

Following from our recent successful 1-Day workshops in collaboration with Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur, explorenation is proud to announce a pilot photography mentoring program in Kuala Lumpur, aimed at newcomers and experience photographers wishing to initiate their own personal projects. This is a time-based, 3 month long program where our mentors will assist and guide you in identifying stories, ideas or concepts that you can execute into a photography project, through to editing, sequencing and ultimately, creating a visually flowing and personally satisfying photo-book. You will also be invited to present your project in a brief talk at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, in June 2013.  More below :


What is the Mentoring Program?

This is a 3-month ‘one-to-one’ photography mentoring program which begins from February – April 2013 in Kuala Lumpur. The program aims to assist photographers on

  • How to develop a strong and visually challenging photography project from concept to presentation
  • How to develop, identify and execute a cohesive body of work based on a concept
  • How to self-edit, sequence and present your own project images
  • How to put together a portfolio for effective presentation

How will this be accomplished?

Through several regular one-to-one constructive critique review sessions with our facilitators –
Eiffel Chong – contemporary photographer/lecturer
Erna Dyanty –  photography researcher/curator
Steven V-L Lee – freelance photographer (* online interaction only)


This program is open to novice, serious hobbyists and professional photographers who are seeking to develop their skills in producing personal photography projects, and may benefit from guided mentoring through greater focus in developing concepts from ideas, seeing it to fruition in a personal photobook. You will be required to be dedicated and fully resigned to completing this program in the time allocated.

How do I apply?

Interested photographers will have to send in a project proposal with a short statement why you wish to participate in this program.  The projects proposed can be based on documentary or fine art, but may only be general ideas at this stage. Describe briefly your intent on realising this project, ie. why you think it is a worthwhile project.  There will be a limited number of participants.

Photographers will need to have basic photography skills and camera techniques as this is not a technical workshop. Facilitators will not specifically teach image editing or other technical photography skills.

Application opens December 31, 2012 and closes January 9, 2013 and will be on ‘first come’ basis. There will be limited entries. 

Participants will be notified of their mentor based on the relevancy of their project, and of the first session by February 1, 2013.

Send in your details as follow, to or +60 12 231 0961

Email contact
Telephone contact
Website (if any)
Project statement (please state overall ideas and concept, interests )

Is this a paid workshop and what is included?

Program Fee –  RM650, which includes

  • Regular one-to-one mentoring over three month through direct contact with facilitators. There will be a meet-up session every fortnight to assess progress and discuss your project.
  • A brief tutorial on how to put together a portfolio photobook.
  • An A4 photobook, of your project put together by you for your personal keeping.
  • 5 x A4 photo prints that will be exhibited by EXPOSURE + in conjunction with KL International Photoawards Finalists Exhibition in June 2013 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.
  • An invitation to present your completed project to an audience during the public exhibition at the KLPA Talk Series in June 2013
  • You will also join the Alumni of and participate in their future events.

About our Mentors 


Eiffel Chong

Eiffel Chong graduated with an MA in International Contemporary Art and Design Practice from the University of East London. He is currently a photography lecturer at an art institution in Malaysia. Chong has been featured in numerous exhibitions in Malaysia and around the world. Among the exhibitions are: Silent Auction at London College of Communication, London, 2008; A New Wave of Responsive Images at Nikon Ginza Gallery, Tokyo, 2009; and CUT2010: Parallel Universe, which toured Southeast Asia, showing at Valentine Willie Fine Art Kuala Lumpur & Singapore, Sangkring Art Space, Jogjakarta and Manila Contemporary, Philippines. Chong has participated in the Singapore International Photography Festival 2008, Lasalle College of the Arts, Singapore.

Erna Dyanty

Erna Dyanty graduated with an MA in Arts Management from UKM. She is a self taught photographer and is a practicing contemporary art photography.  She was nominated to participate in the Asian Europe Foundation Emerging Photographers Forum in 2009. Her works have been featured in CUT 2008: A Survey of New Photography in South East Asia, Kuala Lumpur,  A New Wave of Responsive Images at Nikon Ginza Gallery, Tokyo, 2009; Theerta International Women Photography Exhibition, Colombo, Sri Lanka, 2011 and DATUM KL in 2011.

Erna has also worked creatively to produce photographic works for Frangipani Bar & Restaurant, Alexis Bistro, Concorde Hotel and Dwell Asia Magazine. She has also curated a number of photography exhibitions in Kuala Lumpur, Vision & Sound: a survey of underground music photographers, MAP KL, 2010, ROCK KAKA, at Project Room VWFA 2009, Neither East nor West: Collections from the Lafayette Studio of Photography London, Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, 2007 and The Formation of A Nation: A Photographic Flashback, Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, 2012.

Steven V-L Lee

Steven Lee began his photographic career as a documentary and travel photographer in the late 90’s when began writing travel related articles for magazines and journals. In 2000, he published his first coffee-table book titled Outside Looking In : Kuala Lumpur, which received the Asian Prize at Photo City Sagamihara Festival of the Image, Japan in 2007. Part of the collection is held with the City of Sagamihara National Photographic Archives.
His commercial portraiture and fashion work has graced the covers of License! Europe, Country Club UK and Masterpiece and Asiana magazines. In 2008, Steven was involved in portfolio reviews at Cultivate, a Rhubarb-Rhubarb initiative for graduates in Photography, to prepare and guide them in portfolio preparation and exhibitions.

In 2009, Steven initiated the KL PHOTOAWARDS, an annual international portrait photography competition centred in Malaysia, focussing on the best in contemporary portrait photography and has attracted the participation of some top international photographers. Steven also blogs at and has run workshops at Lim Kok Wing University London, in Kuala Lumpur as well as travel tours.

is explorenation’s new photography program which is formulated to encourage members to get involve and participate in regular meet ups, exhibitions, present new work, network with other photographers and enthusiasts, and have fun! Our first event was a SlideShare evening on Tuesday 24th July at the French Art Gallery in London. Since then we have had a total of three SlideShare evenings in 2012.

EXPOSURE+ now has a Malaysian chapter! Starting in February 2013, we will be running a 3-month pilot Photography Project Mentoring Program.

‘Photography for All’ runs travel photography, publishing, exhibition, photography education and workshops. Started by Steven V-L Lee, an award winning UK based freelance photographer and Andy Craggs in 2008, is dedicated to the personal advancement of photographic objectives for all enthusiasts. We believe in the universal language of the ‘photograph’ and that photography should be accessible to everyone, and continue to break the elitism that plagues so many aspects of contemporary practice. also project manages the annual KL International Photoawards for contemporary portraiture.

Please email us if you are interested in joining our workshops and become Alumni.

Contact info
Erna Dyanty  +60 12 231 0961

Deer Oh Deer


One bizarre encounter of a Christmas scene at Suria KLCC, led to another, at a smaller shopping centre in Bangsar. Reindeers seem to be in fashion this year. Some years, it seems like Cherubims, and then Angels with huge wings, and then Santa. I only met one Santa so far, and he wasn’t too jolly. At least he had a white beard. I wonder where do these props end up after the season. Most probably in a huge warehouse locked up safely somewhere. Now wouldn’t that be an interesting photo opportunity. Love the cotton wool ‘snow’.


So This Is Christmas, in Malaysia


I came away from the Mid Valley mall, one of the largest shopping malls in Malaysia, located in Kuala Lumpur, with some photographs in the video. Being the second last weekend before Christmas Day, the shops were teeming with shoppers, look-seers, families, locals and tourists alike. As usual, the central atrium is richly decorated with giant conifers adorned with all Christmassy trimmings, flashy lights, fake snow, icicles, silver globes and golden bells. This year, there are two log and stone cabins built on the set to attract visitors, and I think they do look pretty realistic, compared to yesteryears, where these were usually painted scenes on flat plywood and styrofoam. Today, set designs have improved by leaps and bounds, the renderings authentic, and the animals are, at last, to scale with everything else.

I guess for kids, these sights can be a bewilderment and awe, as quite often they recollect similar scenes from fantasy or Hollywood movies watched over the years. No Santa here, sadly.

(PS. Sorry about the cheesy tune)

Christmas Wishes and Happy Holidays!


Explorenation wishes all our alumni and friends a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

What a year 2012 has been. In February, we took a small group of photographers to cold Venice to photograph the Carnivale. In April, I was back in KL to organise the judging sessions of KL International Photoawards 2012. It was wonderful to meet so many contestants and not forgetting the winners that flew out to KL to receive their awards at The Warehouse Gallery. Then back in Europe, Explorenation had the first of several SlideShare evenings in London. So far this has proved successful and just completed our third event at the Lightgallery in November. In September, Andy and I took a small group to Tuscany for a photo and food tour, sampling some great Italian home cooking, and yes, we took photographs as well.

The Lightgallery is now back online and we had two great shows, with Fernando Perez Fraile selling exceptionally well, finishing off with the ongoing Christmas Print Bazaar. We would like to thank all our alumni,  familiar friends and new photographers for all your support, even if you just popped by for a mince pie.

The KL International Photoawards 2013 is now launched, and calling for your entries, so get your photo-head up to speed and head out to shoot those pictures. See you in 2013!

The Chinese are revolting

Saw these four Chinese tourists on the steps on St Pauls the other day, every one a Leica user, all had lens caps on. The revolt is on, Chinese tourists are being wooed  and lured to come visit Britain in their thousands to help the British economy out of recession (see here). Since they are also ‘brand’ hunters, the luxury kind, mind you,  it was no surprise to see these menfolk with the status Leica cameras hung smartly off their Burberry jackets and Rolex adorned wrists. ~ SL

Review : Klein + Moriyama at the Tate Modern

Review  Summary : New York 1 , Tokyo 0. Black and blur is good. ****

You have seen the posters advertising this duo retrospective all over the underground, on sides of buses and in the papers. It runs at the Tate Modern till 20 January, 2013 at £12.70 per entry and it does not disappoint.

When there are two photographers being exhibited together, one will always ask the question, “who is better?” Well, to cut to the chase. Klein wins hands down. Not that Moriyama’s hauntingly haphazard black and white photographs of 60’s Tokyo and his observed New York weren’t any good, but, when ‘juxtaposed’ (that dreaded word again I’m afraid) against the width, breadth and depth of William Klein’s monumental works, including his abstract colour typographical screenprints, early film documentaries, colour photographs, street people, Vogue fashion, gigantic photograms and pop-art contact prints, tend to render Moriyama’s works into one dimension.

You see, if you didn’t know Klein, he’s a sort of master of all arts. He started as a painter, filmmaker and graphic artist before he discovered photography. He’s a sort of expat New Yorker living in Paris and he bought Cartier Bresson’s early Leicas. That makes him a ‘God’ to many.

For me, Klein’s black and white street photographs do not have the wit and humour, (dare I say it, the ‘moment’ of Cartier Bresson’s photographs) of Erwitt, Frank or even Doisneau. They were somewhat more honest and personal, which is what I like, as pure, up close, urban city observations. I think, today, street photographers try too hard to create  or seek out these moments, so much so, they are derivative and predictable.

I did find many of Moriyama’s black and white images rather banal, although some would say seminal, to his later series of urban Tokyo. His early style was influenced by Klein as well as Kerouac’s photographs. Both artists commonly print in high contrast, grainy style with over-blacks, often blurry, even out of focus. This was considered the ‘rebel’ style to much of what was published in the 50’s & 60’s, in documentary and fashion stories. Klein broke the mold. Moriyama led the way.

I also looked forward very much to seeing his Stray Dog, (which I wrote about here ) possibly his most famous image. I did not see one, but 8 Stray Dogs instead. I came away with a feeling that both of these great photographers deserved their own exhibitions, rather than Daido taking second place, in both the headlines as well as how the show was laid out. I guess seniority rules in the end.


The last major retrospectives  I visited and written about were Anne Leibovitz’s in 2008, Lee Friedlander‘s in 2007 and also Diane Arbus at the V&A in 2005, before I begin blogging. – SL

SlideShare 22.11.12

What a great evening we had at the Lightgallery! Thank you so much for all who came along and watched the presentations, and enjoyed the spread of mince pies and mulled wine. Thank you Claudia Leisinger, Matt Richards, Rebecca Brand and Daniella Cesarei for showing your multimedia slideshows to an attentive audience!

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Will be looking forward to the next one in 2013!