From my archives! Came across this folder on a CD titled ‘Halellujah Shoot, Dorchester Hotel 09.2004, E.Way’ E.Way is Eric Way, the renown South African designer who had been a close neighbour to my gallery/studio in London then. This was a fun shoot, backstage and catwalk at the London Dorchester.
Dug out old photographs from storage and decided to hang some on the landing wall, and discovered this picture I took back in 2001 when I visited Vietnam for the first time. I still could recall the moment, we were on the way back to Noi Bai airport in a taxi and the weather was grey and wet. We passed by miles and miles of rice fields and swampy land, and the highway was practically empty. Huge billboards were spaced out evenly along the road advertising face creams and cigarettes, but this one in the picture was bare. The image shows four locals on their bicycles pedalling alongside the hard shoulder of the highway, in their typical conical hats, possibly going to the local market. I really liked the mood and moment of this picture, hence I printed it right away when I got home.
Road to Noi Bai, Vietnam 2001, 40cm x 50cm hand printed, vintage print, edition 10
Thaipusam Today, a short article I posted in 2008 with some black & white images taken in 2002/3 when I first photographed this amazing street event. For those going for the very first time, you will simply be in awe and quite literally don’t know what and where to point your camera. There are so many opportunities to photograph, and fighting your way through the crowds of visitors, devotees, and other fellow photographers seem like a real turn off. However, with a little patience, planning and preparation, you will make it through the day with some inspiring shots.
No doubt, you will want to photograph the young boys and men shaving their heads in submission, devotees showering and offering their prayers by the river, the Kavadi holders, and their in-trance gestures, their bodies adorn with hooks and oranges, and pierced cheeks and tongues, etc. But you have already seen them all before. Move on.
It is so easy to shoot repetitive images but difficult to capture artistic ones. You will want to shoot everything, and often, the barrage of fellow photographers will carry you along with them, all training their lenses at the same subject.
Move away from them and find your pace. Go wander off the main procession on your own and carry simple gear, avoid the crowds and go early. Photograph the preparations, the setting up and the helpers, the cleaners, the fairground operators, the stall holders, these are more interesting than the many typical images of Thaipusam you will have seen.
Most of all, enjoy this amazing festival that is rather unique to Malaysia and Singapore, and some parts of India.
Thaipusam is on February 3rd, 2015.