Singapore photographer shares techniques with Lao students

|     Visith Teppalath     |


VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) – A popular Singaporean photographer, Zhuang Wubin, has generously shared his skills with Lao students during a workshop held at the National Institute of Fine Arts (NIFA).

The workshop lasted more than a week and Zhuang taught many skills and techniques to a group of 12 students.

They learnt how to create a ‘photo project’, or to tell a story using photos. They also learnt how to get permission from and take photos of strangers, organise a collection of photos and arrange them in order.

Zhuang said he was very happy to teach the group and that he expected them to use the lessons wisely in the future.

“I have been to Laos several times but this is the second time I have taught students here. They are good at using electronic devices such as cameras, mobile phones and computers. They paid attention to the lessons and could do their photo projects,” he said.

Zhuang Wubin (R) receives a certificate of merit from the Director of the National Institute of Fine Arts, Dr Maysing Chanboutdy. – VIENTIANE TIMES/ANN

“It wasn’t easy to teach them as I can’t speak Lao and only some of them can speak English. I tried my best to communicate and teach them and they did their best to learn.”

He added, “While doing photo projects, the students have to know what kind of issue they want to tell a story about and they have to think of the way they want to express themselves. I encouraged them to start to think about how to do a project, what they actually want to say, and how to express it through photos.

“My real work wasn’t to ask them to copy or follow something that has already been done. The students have to do a project by themselves and with their own ideas. I was happy to share lessons with them and they practised things quite well even though it was their first time. Of course, I would like to come back to Laos and teach students here again if possible.”

The workshop was organised by the NIFA and Zhuang was a special guest of the institute. At the conclusion of the workshop on December 25, all students were presented certificates by Zhuang. The institute also gave a certificate of merit to Zhuang, which was presented by the Director, Dr Maysing Chanboutdy.

The participating students presented and explained their photo projects to the organising committee and audience.

Pakonekham Bualek, one of the participating students, said she was very happy to be part of the workshop.

“It was my first photography workshop. Normally, we learn only how to take photos but now we got special lessons about using photos to tell a story,” she said.

“We learnt many lessons from the trainer and all these lessons were new for us. We learnt new techniques and skills. There were challenges, such as asking for permission from strangers before taking their photo and even staying with them or following them overnight to take photos of them. Some people didn’t cooperate with us on our projects.”

She added, “The workshop was very interesting and useful. On behalf of the students, I would like to thank the organising committee for giving us the chance to take part in this project and I would like to thank Zhuang Wubin for teaching us. We will continue to improve our skills and wisely use his lessons. I will take part again if there is a workshop like this in the future.”

A member of the organising committee, Souliya Phoumivong, said the NIFA held the workshop to give students interested in photography a chance to learn new techniques, particularly how to make a photo project.

He said the workshop was very meaningful as it would help to promote the talents of the students. “They can use them in their work or take up photo projects as a job in the future,” he said.

He thanked Zhuang for his contributions during the workshop without any compensation.

Zhuang is an artist, photographer, researcher, writer and curator from Singapore. This was the second time he was invited to teach students here, the first being in 2009.