Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Street Scenes

Street photography is a popular genré, and probably has only increased in popularity since people like Cartier-Bresson, Atget and Doisneau brought it to the masses during the era when Leica revolutionised photography-on-the-move. (To be precise, Atget was only appreciated after his death, but that's another story.)

But over the decades, 'street photography' has never been an easy genré to define; it easily overlaps with other categories such as portraits, landscapes and still life. And it has given rise to innumerable clichés, some of which are discussed in this article by Gordon Lewis.

For what it's worth, I think street photography should not aspire to be 'too much', or look too imposing, or attempt to convey coerced messages. The viewer should 'feel' the place through the picture, and the message (if any) should come across through the integrity and honesty of the photograph. The best 'street photography' can only happen when the photographer actually becomes one with the street.

* * *

On 30 May, Tim and I visited the Connaught pasar malam. Despite living so nearby, I've only been to it no more times than I can count on one hand.

He wanted to try out his new 105mm, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to put the FM10 through its paces—it had not seen much action, if any, since the Kuching trip in July last year—a manual camera for 'street scenes' in the style of the old photojournalists.

View from the overhead bridge.

Char koay teow man.

Fried chicken.

The vendor and her audience.

* * *

A few days later, I decided to bring the same camera (with the same 28mm lens) on the BF Ipoh trip. The Old Town has been exhaustively photographed over the years; as Geoff Dyer wrote in The Ongoing Moment, the bar has been set so high that I was free to walk right under it. So, I decided to do the obvious, and literally just shoot whatever I was witness to.

Literally, a 'street' scene: an intersection.

Another intersection.

Concubine Lane.

Not quite the happening place it was in its heyday, but Jia's family runs a very nice restaurant there, comfortably tucked away from the main thoroughfare.

Shoes and debris, Concubine Lane.

Noodles crossing the road, in front of Sin Yoon Loong coffee shop.

The LUNA van.

If you know what colour the van is, it probably indicates how old you are. Either that, or the fact that you're still using classic colour pencils in spite of your youth and this hyperdigital era—wonderful!

* * *

Two Saturdays ago, I came across this screen by the main escalator at KL Sentral.

'Time Machine TV' was true in an unlikely sense: the show being screened was ThunderCats (the 2011 version), which now runs every Saturday on TV3, I think. It brought back memories because I used to watch the original '80s ThunderCats many years ago.

I still think of Lion-O as a super-muscular adult-bodied cat, and not a teenage fledgling of a warrior. But at least they kept the awesome theme song!

1 comment:

Sarah Choong said...

Cool street photos right there. But i was wondering if you could help me with some PKV related stuff...

Hi, i'm Sarah Choong, part of the current committee in PKVUM now. Since this year is our 60th diamond jubilee, i kindna need some photos for compilation and to make the booklet. Could you be so kind as to pass me some old photos or provide me with some links to albums? It's very hard to find old sources online and the photos you give me will also be included into the new archives for future generations. Thank you very much and God bless :)Can find me on facebook or e-mail: