The first of a new series, kulturpop seeks to expose the work of some of our favourite photographers. Kicking us off with a specially commissioned photo essay is KL based lens-jockey and rapper WordsManifest. Check out the essay below and read more about WM – Wan to his friends – after the jump.
But first, here’s WordsManifest on his essay:
I didn’t have that much time; although I really wanted to hang out with Raphael, who had only recently arrived in KL (you can see his photos at www.raphaelolivierphotography.com), evening engagements elsewhere meant I had two hours tops to run around shooting things while showing a new KLite the sights.
I had not walked down Chow Kit in years. The Hindu temple off Petaling Street was something I had walked past probably a dozen times, but had never entered. And I was asked if I was a cop, by the two gentlemen who were standing behind the Ultraman model in the toy shop. Kuala Lumpur never stays familiar, even if you never leave. But I had to go in an hour and a half.
More on WordsManifest:
Years taking pix: As a hobby? Since I was three. I’ve been doing it for money since 2003.
Describe your style: Improvisational, mostly street-set and with minimal gear. I like portraiture, street landscapes, and cloud/crane/cloudcrane porn. I also do a lot of event shoots. Most of my photos have a lot of grain to them, because I’m not very hygienic. And sometimes I like playing Photoshop tricks, usually to deplorable results.
What equipment do you use most often? Only the stuff I have, which isn’t much. A Canon EOS 400D, a 18-55mm f3.5/5.6 kit lens, a 55-200mm f4/5.6, a 50mm f1.8, and a crap flash.
What made you pick up a camera? My father used to take pictures for work documentation; he used a Canon AE-1 film camera which he would sometimes leave lying around in the living room. I think he let me play with it to shut me up. He is a champion for having done that.
Who are your influences? People who didn’t go to photography school, but take awesome photos anyway. Gordon Parks’s portraits are what mine look like in my dreams. I really admire Estevan Oriol’s use of colour and contrast, and the sense of intimacy he has with his subjects. Martha Cooper and Henry Chalfant for letting a Malaysian kid stuck in Kampung Pandan know what New York looked like when hip-hop culture was born.
Who should we check out (some of your peers)? I’m a fan of a lot of photographers I’ve become acquainted with personally, although I don’t presume to be on their level. Kelvin Oon’s (http://jpgmag.com/people/twilightaction <http://jpgmag.com/people/twilightaction> ) street shots and black and whites are inspiring. Shermen Mukhtar’s (http://flic.kr/shermenmukhtar) work for KLue and Junk were what got me wanting to go into print in the first place. Nik Azwaa (http://flic.kr/ognam) takes awesome band photos. Sophie Israa (http://flic.kr/malayrish) is wonderfully meticulous, and I admire her work documenting the plight of Penan tribes in Sarawak. Fellow Rogue Squadron crewmate Schizzow (http://coodles.tumblr.com/) vehemently refuses to edit digitally, and makes sure his photos are badass straight from the shutter. and Raphael Olivier (http://raphaelolivierphotography.com) has been travelling the region from his base in Hanoi, documenting urban environments, and has just landed in KL to shoot for a few months.
What’s more important: technique or a creative eye? They’re equally important, but I’m of the opinion that the eye comes first. You have to be able to see the story inherent in a scene before you can figure out how to properly capture and present it in a photo.
Do you do a lot of post-production? Yes, I do. In lieu of a dark room and many different kinds of film stock, I use Adobe CS4. Digital photographs are very malleable raw materials with which to work, though, so there’s a fine line between enhancing photos for best effect and completely letting filters and colour corrections run amok across the canvas, messing up the original capture. It’s a line I’ve unfortunately crossed many times, but I’m learning to appreciate and bring out nuance, one edit at a time.
Has digital photography made it easier or harder to get yourself known as a photographer (or are there too many people running around there)? Yeah, well … digital photography has certainly brought down the cost of the hobby, and has definitely broadened the appeal and popularity of photography to more people. I don’t think that makes it harder for a photographer to get his name out; a lot of people drive cars, but we only have one Alex Yoong (thank God). What does make things easier for photographers to showcase their work is being online and interacting with people in the community digitally. I swear by Flickr because it allows people to judge my work for what it is, and not how I (awkwardly) pitch ideas or describe my process. Egalitarian digital environments can be very crowded, but you can still shine through if you work at it.
Where can we see your work? http://flic.kr/wordsmanifest is where most of my stuff is. (Add me!) I curate a little bit on my photo Tumblr, http://manifestphotography.tumblr.com. (Follow me!) Some magazines and websites, here and there. (nudge nudge, wink wink.) I want to eventually get my photos on t-shirts, though. If you know anyone who might want to bankroll that, let me know: email@example.com. Thanks!
We didn’t get much free time on our recent jaunt to Tokyo, and most of the wandering we did was close to home in Shibuya, so here’s our photo essay of the trip, days and nights in Shibuya and Harajuku and of course, Roppongi Hills where we attended the British Counci’s Digital Creative Conference.
Photos taken with Canon D40 (24-70mm & 50mm 1.8 lenses) and Canon G11. No flash, if we remember rightly.
The idea for this – 365 Project – is to take one picture a day for a year and use it like a visual diary. You can catch us direct at our 365 homepage or follow the action here. Our first entry is a cheater, this was taken in Japan last week. Of all the fabulous food knocking around Tokyo’s Shibuya District, this group of Euros headed straight for the kebab shop. That’s what we call devotion to a chav lifestyle.
There’ll be a blog post to go with the pix in a day or two, but first feast your eyes on our Big Day Out visual spectacular, thanks to those nice folks at AirAsia. Marvel at how porky Plan B has become, why Primal Scream are still uber-cool, Lupe Fiasco hanging with the crowd to watch Iggy Pop and, of course, take a look at the friendly natives who never failed to smile for the saddo who was more interested in snapping them than listening to the music. And the man wearing a watermelon as a hat. Big Day Out, Gold Coast, 23rd Jan 2011.