Parallel Portraits

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As I embarked on the OneShot portraits project on 120 roll film, I also used my digital camera to make parallel portraits of my sitters. Despite the more methodical approach with shooting film, there is still the benefit of the instant review of the digital camera, and these are a few of the digital portraits done at the same time this week.

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Syabas! Two Malaysian winners at Sony World Photography Awards 2015 !

Received this fantastic news a few days ago, but obviously it has been embargoed till 00:01 GMT! Congratulations to both Malaysian photographers, and good luck in competing against the other category winners vying for the Main prize. I have been following the Sony World Photography Awards for some years now, and the Malaysian presence is definitely on the increase.

Both images are stunning examples of photographers being totally dedicated to the art, having good observational and sound technical skills, and might I add, waking up early and sleeping late to catch the unique moments.

Really well done and a fantastic experience and exposure!

Will try to attend the Gala Opening in London on 23 April.

IMMEDIATE PRESS RELEASE (From SWPA)

31 March, 2015 : Two Malaysian photographers are today announced as category winners in the 2015 Sony World Photography Awards, the world’s biggest photography competitions.

The two photographers are:

• Nick Ng Yeow Kee, winner, Low Light category, Open Competition

• Yong Lin Tan, winner, Environment category, Youth Competition

Ng and Tan’s achievement is extraordinary as they were selected from over 86,000 entries from across the world and yet neither is a professional photographer. The winning images were chosen by a panel of experts from the World Photography Organisation which was chaired by Sam Barzilay, Creative Director of United Photo Industries (USA). In both the Open and Youth competitions the judges were looking for the single best shot in each category.

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Ng, who lives in Kuala Lumpur where he works as Dental Implantologist and is Chapter Organizer of The Royal Photographic Society, won the Low Light category with an image titled “Early Dawn”. The image was taken in Old Kolkata, India Malaysia, and captures a group of people getting ready for the day.

With the same image, Nick was selected 2nd place for the Malaysia National Award earlier this month, a competition to find the single best shot taken by a Malaysian photographer. Talking about his winning photograph Ng comments: “The image was taken while I was walking along Old Kolkata. Seeing the locals entering an old abandoned shop-house along a row of old buildings, I decided to venture in, knowing that they were probably preparing themselves for the day. The shop house was an amazing spectacle, with streams of people taking their turns washing themselves as well as their clothes. After mingling for around five minutes, they accepted me as part of them, and that was when I started to photograph their morning activities.”

He continues: “I am still in shock after being selected the Low Light Category winner – it is one of the best moments of my life. This is definitely a high point in my photography journey, and will encourage me further in my passion as a photographer. I dedicate this to the people that have allowed me a glimpse of their life, and I am privileged to have listened to them silently.”

Back Alley

Tan, aged 19 from Penang Island, won the Environment category with an image titled “Back alley” taken in Kedah. The Youth Competition was open to all photographers aged 19 and under. Talking about his winning image, Tan comments: “This is the back alley of my grandmother’s house in Alor Setar, Kedah, Malaysia. I shot this during Chinese New Year last year when the sky is the clearest and brightest with stars. A flower plant can also be seen flourishing with limited resources and space, there is a lot of cats wandering around the back alley usually after dinner time, waiting to be fed by the good people around here.”

For their award, both Ng and Tan will receive a Sony ILCE-7M2K camera with 28-70mm kit lens and a Xperia™ smartphone. Ng will now compete against the winners of the other nine Open categories for the 2015 Sony World Photography Awards Open Photographer of the Year title and $5,000 (USD) prize.

The overall winning Open and over all Youth photographer will be announced at a gala ceremony in London on 23 April and this photographer will be flown to London to collect his/her prize. In addition Ng and Tan’s winning images will be exhibited at Somerset House, London from 24 April – 10 May and published in the 2015 edition of the annual Sony World Photography Awards book.

The winners of all ten Open categories, plus the Youth and Mobile Phone competitions which were also announced today, can be viewed at http://www.worldphoto.org.

We signed our last MALAYSIANS book!

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Today, at Dapur, London overlunch, Haliza and myself signed the last copy of Malaysians a photobook which we jointly published in 2006 with a print run of 2,000 copies. We collaborated on this simple but informative book about Malaysia, Malaysians and our varied ethnic make up with simple head shot portraits.

Below is what I wrote in 2006 :

“MALAYSIANS Photographs by Steven Lee and text by Haliza Hashim-Doyle

A new coffee table book celebrating the unique and diverse ethnicity of Malaysia today : Hardback 148mm x 210mm 512 Pages

“Few things amaze visitors to Malaysia, besides its incredible economic development, than the diversity of its people. Even then, if one only visits one city or two, or a beach or mountain resort, the full spectrum of the multiethnic salad we call Malaysia cannot be fully appreciated. It is only when we see photographs of all of them, side by side as in this book that we know what Malaysian diversity truly means.” Foreword by Marina Mahathir.

The idea of producing another pictorial book on Malaysia came about in 2005 when I noticed that there was not a single publication in the bookstores in Malaysia and in the UK, that depicted the people of the country. There were several existing publications showing the sights of the country, its many amazing places of interests and our national monuments, but none showed the diversity of Malaysians, its fascinating mix of races, its cultural heritage and its rich traditions.

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From this point of departure, I began researching into this project and gathered my resources together and now, am glad to say, the project is underway. As a portrait photographer I am always on the look out for an interesting face. It is after all, a face that one sees first, as a visitor to a new country or place, it is also the first impression of a nation.

The book does not aim to document each and every race and creed. That would be quite impossible. However, it does represent a true cross-section of the nation as I see it during our travels across the length and breadth of the country. This glimpse of a ‘Malaysian’ identity, a vision of a Bangsa Malaysia, will be evident through the faces I portray and the stories and quotes that follow, will hopefully encompass all.

A country like Malaysia thus begins this series, because it is my Malaysia, my country and my people. SL”

Dragons Rule, ok?

To all my friends who celebrate the coming of the Year of the Dragon, Twilight Saga fans, Lycanthropes, shapeshifters and other worldly creatures who swear by the Moon, Happy Lunar New Year !

(This photo was taken in Penang in 2006, during the making of the ‘Malaysians’ book which is still available! Plug. This is the amazingly ornate Yap Temple, (or Temple of the Yaps?) on Lebuh Armenian. No dragons were injured in the making of the temple.)