Thursday, December 30, 2010

37. the future

2010 is coming to a close, this year has been incredible. I am so grateful for all the opportunities that made me grow into a better person and also to help me realize this is my calling, this is what I am meant to do in life.

This December has been a month of rest and solitude. I have taken time to reflect and simply enjoy the routines of life. It's been great, but I can't wait to get back into the gist of things and I am going to be so run down and tired, but at least I know I would have a smile on my face at the end of the exhausting week.

I've so far written my 'resolutions', I call it a to do list because resolutions are things I usually forget to keep but a to-do list seems more urgent, thus so far, this is my list. It's simple, efficient and achievable. 2011 is such an exciting time for me, i look forward to it greatly.

2011 to do list (pending)
  • Submit to the annual National Geographic Photography Contest
  • submit to World Nomads Photography Travel Scholarship.
  • submit to Doug Moran Contemporary Photographic Contest
  • submit to CCP Kodak Salon
  • Volunteer/get a job at CCP to set up galleries/admin work
  • Dabble in Film Photography, hopefully to buy a medium format camera (Mamiya 645 AF is what I am aiming for)
  • Establish a relationship with a printing lab
  • Travel to least 3 countries, and least 3 different states of Australia
  • Get my website up & running and create business cards (anyone know of a graphic designer?)
  • Be published in a newspaper
  • Seriously do a 365 days photo a day and finish it. (I am such a slacker)
  • Get up at least 3 times a week before sunrise.
  • Keep going to Carrical & start going to Canterbury Housing.
  • Work as a Photographer with the Community Newspaper.
  • Join a Photography Community online to gain feedback from peers all around the world.

long term goals
  • to do an internship at Associated Press, NYC, which I hope would gain me a permanent position at AP Press.
  • be content & happy with where I'm headed and who I am.

36. Rewind 2010

these are the things I've achieved/done in 2010.

  • I am finally happy and content with where I am headed.
  • I found my calling, my reason, my inspiration.
  • I have loved and lost and love again.
  • My relationship with my mother & family has never been closer.
  • I have taken the time to listen and enjoy my grandmother's presence and her wonderful stories.
  • I have met, established trust and photographed strangers I never knew would change my life forever.
  • I have gain friendships in Melbourne that I can call to be true friends.
  • I learned more about wine & food in my new job.
  • I know now how to pitch a tent up.
  • I learned how to make a cappuccino and bake brownies.
  • The Little Prince
career related
  • I have quit a job that was making me unhappy.
  • I have worked with professional organizations such as Lighthouse Foundation & Servants in Hawthorn.
  • I will be having a book published with my name on it in 2012.
  • I photographed the Festival of Indonesia in Melbourne and made really great contacts for future references.
  • I've learnt how to use 5x4 format (film camera)
  • I regard myself as a photographer above all else - and thus, others will see me as a photographer first.
  • I learn how to be given a deadline & work towards it.
  • I gain another job and I have another job lined up for 2011 that is photography related.
  • I have talked and shown my pictures at a professional Annual Meeting.
  • Volunteered for the Australian Professional Photography Awards
  • I've travelled from Victoria through South Australia to the Northern Territory(Alice Springs, Katherine, Darwin) for a month in a bus
  • I have seen the way a cattle station works.
  • I have seen Uluru :)!
  • Travelled around Victoria (Dookie - Nagambie - Yea - Eildon - Marysville)
  • I woke up at 5.30am for 10 days straight!
  • I slept in a tent while it was cold and raining, and I have also slept in a swag while it was hot, humid and letting my body get feasted by mozzies
  • I've acquired the taste of chai lattes (with honey!)
  • I had an early death scare regarding my dad in January.
  • My best friend & I have never been closer since I moved from Brunei.
  • I have loved and lost 3 cell phones!
  • We moved house and mum moved in with us.
  • I have fallen sick so many times this year and I'm still recovering.
  • 4 weeks without a cellphone.
  • Facebook helped me find my cousin in the UK and my long lost childhood friend.
  • Hard drive failure twice in a row - lost all my images.
  • Harry Potter Midnight screening
  • Catching up over coffee @ Auction Rooms with Jason
  • I discover my grandmother has old family photographs! :)
  • New camera, new lens, new flashes.
  • I have earned over 10 grand and spent pretty much 10 grand.
I think... that's it so far. I can't remember anymore. I hope your 2010 has been amazing.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

35. Christmas

I usually have no emotion for Christmas traditions. I've been reflecting a lot on my family and its dysfunctional ways. In terms of holidays and vacations, I avoid it. For as long as I can remember, it never works out well in the end. It ends up being tiresome, exhausting and just plain uncomfortable. I spent my Christmas Eve eating dinner with my brother alone. It sounds pretty pathetic but it was actually rather enjoyable.

We talked and reflect on our past lives - we found common ground in our childhood, we laughed and we discuss future trips. It was like talking to an old friend. It felt rather strange because family is something we all take for granted, or we are too close to let ourselves feel. It's relatively easy making friends, sharing common experiences etc but when it comes to family, we get ourselves too comfortable with our daily living rather than focusing on what really matters.

I've always been close to him but we kinda drifted through life. It's always nice to know that there's at least one person in your family that you can count on. He's my shoulder to cry on when I need him.

Before I start to get all teary eyed and drifting into a different topic, my point of this was to say despite my lack of Christmas spirit, this year felt a little different. It felt nearly normal. I did the late night 24 hour Christmas shopping on the 23rd from 1am-5am. All that walking and long hours was worth it. I finally kinda understand the importance of Christmas presents - it's a gesture of affection, care, love - everything we don't say to each other packed into this one gift that I so painstakingly searched for and carefully wrapped.

Today is a good day, and i hope your Christmas is lovely too. If you're spending it alone, go out in the world and do something for yourself and for others, strangers. Make someone smile, that could be a gift to yourself. If you're spending it with family, and you all have already started arguing over nothing, appreciate that despite their flaws, they are still family - appreciate it and love. Stop to take a breath and just be grateful for living. Merry Christmas, everyone.

as always,

Monday, December 20, 2010

34. memories in words

I spent my monday afternoon sorting through my photographs. You see, my hard drive died on me so I lost everything. I had it partially recovered - a lot of my images are damaged and I've lost the originals. My folders were gone so about 14000 photographs were put in one single folder. Sorting it out, I came across pictures I took in June. This was when I decided to go with J and his family to the Northern Territory. It was possibly the worse trip of my adulthood life. It was also, however, a learning experience. I felt (i apologise for lack of better words...) shit 70% of the time.

During that 30 days, I photographed some bits, and others I did not. I learnt how to distance myself with photography. I learnt how to escape from my situation with my camera. As a photographer, your life is in your photographs. It is little moments of your life, of your world, of how you feel. The people you are closest to become your subjects. They are a recurring face in your little projects.

I remember a few moments during that trip. I was standing on the top of this magnificent rocks, I could see the entire land, it was filled with green bushy trees, red sands. The skies were a cloudy blue. It was an amazing view. Despite what was in front of me, I had the heaviest feeling in me. I felt alone, unloved, empty. I knew that I wouldn't ever be here in this exact place so I decide to photograph despite my feelings. It is not surprising that my pictures were lacking inspiration. They were instead filled with mundane emptiness.

As much as I want to forget these moments, I can't. I've photographed them, they are forever etched into my life, into my memories. I could delete them and they will be gone forever, but I know the feeling of regret. and it is the biggest bitch you will ever meet. I will always remember that day that I did not photographed, the day that completely ruined us. I don't need a photograph to remember it, it will always hurt. It's so ironic because that evening was possibly the most beautiful end. We camped by the sea We've been travelling through desert, on roads built with red sand for a while. I remember walking down towards the sea. It was breathtaking. There were these little salt fragments you could pick up and lick. It was a clear day, the skies were so blue. You could see the horizon line, those little clouds heading to the line where the water meets land. This nightmare started as the sun went down. The sky turned purple, and the softest pink with the bluest blue. The tide started to come in, the wind cut into you. It became cold but it was beautiful.

My memory of this end is clear but blurry because I lost my glasses, you took them with you and put in your pocket. We got into an argument and I remember you walking away, no. It was you running away. I couldn't find my way back to the camp. I panicked because the sun was going down, it was nearly nightfall. I couldn't see where you went, I couldn't find my way back. I sat down the cold sand and cried. Through my tears, the rock salts appear to be like broken glass, mixed with blood. You see, we were in the centre of Australia. It was red. I remember when I picked up a heap and hold them tightly, I was disappointed that it was not glass, it did not hurt, and I was not bleeding.

I remember that feeling because at that moment, death seemed like a better option than being here on this earth. This was only the beginning of that dreaded night.


33. behind the lens

.. of being a photographer.

Now, I write more often than I post photographs, considering I am a photographer. The reasons being is I don't often have pictures that say what I want to say. Photography is a lot more complicated than simply snapping a picture. The thought process behind composing a photograph is what separates a photographer from a person with a camera. There are a bazillion genres of photography, not to mention styles. It is easy to capture 'pretty pictures', trust me - all you need is light, a good model and clothing. These pretty pictures are pictures we all want to look at, it is easy and pleasant to the eye but it is also forgettable. In our environment, there is so many photographic material we glance at, consciously and subconsciously. We live in a media world. With words, comes pictures.

I've been put in a situation where I had to create an image that speaks of love, happiness and joy when there was absolutely none of that to photograph. You succumb to playing a few card tricks to get that, because it is what the client asked for. They did not ask for the truth.

It always surprises me that people don't question a photograph. We assume it speaks truth, of course, now we are more aware of it because programs like Adobe Photoshop exists. However, back in the day of film, photographers do manipulate their images - we just didn't realized because it's a secret process in the darkroom, accessed to only the photographer and perhaps his assistant.

My aim in photography is to be as true as I can be. This has always posed a challenge for me because what I photograph now, as it stands before me is real, it's the truth. But, I know it will change. The moment I'm capturing in front of me is fleeting. As I take the time to watch my subjects, I decide when to push the shutter. It is this thought and decision that creates a photograph, a photograph that subjects my viewers to a certain view point.

As a future (and hopeful) documentary photographer, I can't help but input my knowledge into my photographs. I can't help but capture what I feel from my subjects. We all do this on a subconscious level. Being a photographer, you have to realize this and use it to your opportunity. It's all based on instincts. It is your instincts that lets you know when to step back and not photograph but rather immerse yourself in it. A camera can sometimes be an obstruction. You must know the people you're photographing, and gain their trust. It is this trust and bond they have with you that makes a photograph, more than a snapshot.



I'm tired of feeling inadequate.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

31. i'm spending all my money to get to where you are

i would tell you
but it looks like you left for good
and you didn't say goodbye
imagine it next time i would see your smile
and oh i know it so well.
- The Little Stevies, Ticket To Where You Are.

i can't sleep. 3.38am & I'm wide awake. Something is bothering me, I'm not sure what.I wish 2012 would be here rather than 2011. Another thousand dollars and i can book my ticket.

Everything is always okay.If it isn't, it will be.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

30. watch the waves roll

© EL

29. festive seasons and being alone

tonight, i feel a little alone. It's a different time of lonely, it's a quiet night. Silence fills this house. It surprises me how much a person contributes to its space, the environment around them. This house feels a little lost without my grandmother. There's no light here - the living room sits empty. She wasn't the loudest person, in fact, she was so quiet at times you did not realize she is around. But with her gone, there's no light, no joy, no feeling of 'home'.

if i had someone to enjoy it with, tonight would be the night i would say come, let's go for a run. let's go to the park and lay down on the grass and watch the world go by. let's sit by the bridge and watch the river flow. let's ride the trains till it hits the end of their depot.

i'm falling a bit out of my busy cycle - I'm trying to be patient and not do anything and give myself a little break. I'm itching to do things, always. Christmas is coming up, I have to say I hate these festive seasons... it's always about being together with people you loved. That's hard to do when the people you love are not around/don't exist.

I never really had a connection with my own family - sure I know they will be there to welcome me with open arms. But they are definitely not the people I would go to for help. They do not know who I am, my dreams, my wishes, my struggles. They do not understand. I think its my way of coping with being the person I am. I distance myself from them because my way of thinking and living will not be right in their eyes. I don't know how to explain it, but I just can't. It's a lot better now than it was before but there still no connection.

I will say this now, sometimes I wish my life was a bit simpler. It's always been complicated, and I don't mind a bit of complexity but sometimes I would just like a break from it all, I want to feel content (even if that means I be boring for a while) I want to have friends I can go have coffee with weekly, I want to be in a town I grew up in, to recognise all the streets and be able to attach a memory to them. A long term memory - a memory that means something.

I hate this. This feeling of fleeting, running, the need to change. It's because I hate being in one place for too long, I've been in Australia for coming 4 years on 26th Dec. I need to move, to travel, to be seeing new things everyday. It's so hard to do this when you're stuck in a routine.. I haven't been out of Australia for 3 years and I'm itching...

I wish my little legs could take me to the ends of the earth and back. I would walk just to escape. I want the bohemian living - the carefree. My family, my mother especially ties me down here. I get frustrated with closed minds, and it so happens that my mother won't ever see past 'her view', it's saddens me because there's so much to life that she's missing out.

I won't ever let myself fall into that. As much as I love her, I hope I be a better version of her.

i hope i will someday, find the contentment I seek.

as always,

Sunday, December 12, 2010

28. on saying goodbye

i understand now why it is best not to see each other for a while after you break up. It hit me a lot harder than I thought it would be. To be honest, I'm still hurting now. It's more of, mourning the loss of a loved one. The kind of tears that you cry when you know there's nothing you can do but say goodbye.

This is the first time I've let myself feel this, now. Being vulnerable. It's so easy to not feel when you're busy with life - the routine, the mundane. We had a sort of final date goodbye. Strange feelings, it's so easy to fall into what you have known for the past 2 years. The way his hand feels in yours, or the smell of his deodorant. His hugs and cuddles. Knowing what he is thinking just by looking at his face. His kisses. his arms around your waist. I see things a tad different too, you learn to appreciate the little things, the way he tells me to bring a jacket because it gets cold, or his way of holding me back because there might be cars ahead. It's been too long. It could have been so easy to pretend, but there was a difference between us: this lingering feeling in our hearts of what could have been but now, wasn't. We knew it couldn't have worked.


i keep this blog for my own unbiased thoughts. This has always been helpful in sorting out how i feel - I'm sorry to say that i know this blog isn't for my readers, it's for me. Thing is, when you talk to people(friends, family etc) about your life, the moments you're going through - you choose to leave some things in, or to exaggerate on others. You choose to pretend that you are feeling other ways, rather than this feeling. You choose to smile than to cry. It is impossible to be entirely truthful to another person. It is only natural for us to mask some things over others. It is only you, i mean only you, that knows everything you've been through, and every tiny little feelings you might be feeling right now.

Work's been good to me, provided me a way out of feeling useless and aimless. It gives me a good reason to pretend, to smile because it is part of my job. It's been a good distraction. I wonder how many customers could see past my pretentious smile.
However, it's always a good feeling to know that you've brought a (real) smile to their lives, even if it only lasts a macro second. Even if it is unappreciated, it is good to know I did my job right, as simple as it may be, it feels good that I provided them with no hassles, no grumpiness, no anger. I feel it is important to take these things seriously - not in terms of money (tips) but as a person, i should strive to be the best I can be, now, despite everything I'm working through. In the end, It makes me happy too for a macro-second knowing I made them smile. (each macro second adds up overtime)

p.s I still hate working long hours late into the night but this pulls me through. I guess I'm trying to see the little things in life, the more important issues that is, others before I.

But for now, I shall mourn. and it will be okay.

Friday, December 10, 2010

27. clogged up

i have once again fallen sick. Life is a bit weary, exhausting and still. My grandmother is leaving soon and I'm sad to see her go - i hope she comes back soon. Time is going too fast for my liking, i feel i should have enjoyed her a bit more but now she's going back home.