Monday, July 15, 2024
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Pictures paint a thousand words

ANN/THE STAR – Photography transcends the simple act of capturing images; it is a medium for storytelling.

In Malaysia’s diverse and colourful cultural landscape, photography can create narratives that immerse viewers in scenes they’ve never seen before, providing close-ups and insights into different realms.

The daily life in Malaysia teems with stories and vibrant events, offering captivating subjects for photographic documentation.

When it comes to storytelling through photography, a sequence of images can be more compelling than a single shot. Such series allow photographers to tell a story incrementally, showcasing various facets of an event or routine and offering a deeper understanding of the subjects.

For example, capturing the detailed preparations for a Cantonese opera can reveal the richness of this cultural tradition, showing the intricate processes behind the scenes, from costume selection to the meticulous application of makeup by the artistes.

The opera, originating from China’s Guangdong province during the late Ming Dynasty, showcases singing, acting, martial arts and colourful costumes, making it an ideal subject for storytelling.

Photos show behind the scenes shots of a Cantonese opera. PHOTO: PHILLIP CHOW
PHOTO: PHILLIP CHOW
PHOTO: PHILLIP CHOW
PHOTO: PHILLIP CHOW

Capturing these images can transport viewers into the event, giving them a glimpse of the emotions and preparation involved.

Of course, selecting the right gear is crucial to portray these narratives.

For street and cultural photography, lens choice significantly impacts storytelling.

A 35mm lens is recommended for its versatility; it is wide enough to capture the essence of bustling street scenes or cramped interiors yet offers a natural perspective that does not distort subjects.

It allows photographers to move close to their subjects, engaging intimately without being intrusive.

On the other hand, a 24-105mm lens offers a broad focal range from wide-angle to medium telephoto.

This flexibility lets photographers switch between capturing scenes and detailed close-ups without changing lenses.

At 24mm, the lens can encompass wide scenes such as street markets, landscapes and large groups at cultural events.

The 105mm is excellent for portraits. It can capture expressions and details from a respectful distance while maintaining the natural dynamics of the scene.

Exploring different perspectives can also enrich the narrative.

Using leading lines and manipulating light and shadows can direct the viewer’s attention and enhance the storytelling. Different perspectives, such as high-angle shots or close-ups, highlight the scene’s diversity and vibrancy. A high-angle shot, for example, can capture scale and energy, while a close-up focuses on the craftsmanship and tradition.

Effective storytelling in photography also involves thorough planning. Being familiar with the cultural calendar and understanding how it would be performed or staged can help with the shots.

However, the magic in photography often lies in unplanned or spontaneous moments – a sudden burst of laughter, an animated gesture, or a moment of curiosity.

These candid shots portray the essence of Malaysian life, capturing the rhythm of daily chores and the vibrant chaos of local festivities.

Storytelling through photography is to craft a visual tale and draw viewers into the pictures, transporting them to the scene as though they were there to witness it firsthand.

Telling stories through these images not only bridges cultures but also connects hearts. – Eddie Chua

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