Siem Reap - Day 1

December 28, 2015

I am sitting on the bed in Siem Reap as I am posting these images fresh from the oven, I only reached here half a day ago that my luggage wasn't even unpacked yet. I'd always wait until after a trip that I start post-processing the pictures to be posted, but with me working full-time these days, many posts, photographs and stories never see the light of day, so... no more waiting till the perfect timing. It sucks, when I'm not blogging I can always compose what I want to write in my mind so beautifully, what I see, smell, hear, experience in my whole being... yet whenever I face this screen and its blank space, they're nowhere to be found.
That aside, Siem Reap so far... has the most chaotic traffic that I have ever seen in all the countries I've been to, I stayed at the street for quite a while just to try to capture it. It's amazing how all the vehicles can be at different directions on the roads, yet they seem to know how to work with it. 

I was walking alone trying to find a shop where I could get some passport photos taken, totally clueless, when my host's sister drove by and saw me, we could hardly communicate, but thank god a smile and body language are usually enough to get some help. She decided to fetch me to one of the shops in town on her bike. Oh, I had almost forgotten how much I loved being on a bike/bicycle, it just feels so... carefree. Not to mention what a great experience it was being on a bike with a local in this chaos on the streets.
I took advantage of the fact that I was traveling alone, not needing to wait or accommodate anyone else, I would sometimes stand somewhere, compose an image, and just wait for the perfect moment to happen, or that guy to turn his head to me and snap! And you could see some pictures of the local drivers underneath, who were all more than happy when they saw me with a camera pointing at them, which is also what usually makes me happy to be photographing strangers and people when I travel - to see someone smiling and happy seeing their pictures taken.

Tomorrow I will be off for a yoga & meditation retreat with no internet for a week. So whoever is reading this, Happy New Year in advance. For more personal growth and strength to take whatever is coming to us the next year!

Caleb & Brenda - Wedding

October 14, 2015

Finally getting around to post this set of images I shot for a couple that I might not know too deeply but personally admire. Caleb is the founder and main photographer for TouchStudios, who I have been working with for a few times. The first time I worked with Caleb, I was surprised by how down to earth, humble and kind he was. He's given me great opportunities and has always been patient and helpful along the way. While the first time I met Brenda, I thought she was gorgeous, incredibly sweet and friendly. They both always have this positive vibe and energy around them that make people feel... rather relaxed around them (if it makes sense?)
And so when I was first asked to shoot their wedding, I couldn't be more honored and happy, although I was also nervous - as every photographer would be when being asked to shoot another photographer's wedding. The wedding was beautiful, fun and emotional, the kind that made me in tears while listening to the speeches and stories from their friends and families although I might not have known them for long. It's usually my favourite part of photographing a wedding - to hear stories about how people meet as strangers to falling in love, getting through obstacles, how much they have gone through from the very beginning to where they are now... Those are usually the moments that make you think - wow, isn't life strange and wonderful and incredible at the same time?

22 and a half

August 31, 2015

It's been a long time since I last took my own portrait in the mirror like this with my camera, I remember how much I used to do it when I got my first camera years ago. This time though, I had to tell myself to pick up the camera while I was at home to take this picture of myself (it used to be almost natural and automatic), trying to remind myself to document more personal and small details in life through this lens. It's after all the very initial reason why I wanted to get a camera, now it's become a tool for work. I've almost forgotten how it's like to be taking pictures of everything and anything that makes me... feel. I tell myself I want to live in the moment without having to change or capture it, but sometimes I regret not doing so.
The little things in life - the spontaneous midnight swim, the karaoke session you have in your own bedroom with youtube, the cuddles you have before you sleep, your favourite music in ears, wind in your hair, a hug when you feel cold... These are the little things that warm the heart. I came across this saying the other day "if you want to learn what someone fears losing, watch what they photograph", although with all the social media and instagram #ootd posts these days, I wouldn't say it accurately applies to everyone, but at least for me, it can't be truer. I only have to take a glance at the photographs I take the most to know exactly what I value or fear losing the most. Some days I want myself to enjoy and savour the moments themselves without trying to change or capture them in photographs, people say you will remember them in your memory, but will you really? Many times I wish I've taken more photographs with people/ at places I never want to forget, so I could always be reminded and transported back to those moments that are long gone. They might never repeat again.
Two weeks ago I thought one of my dearest friends who's recently been diagnosed with depression was going to kill himself, a national serviceman who's only about to turn 20 committed suicide, a friend whom I've always admired because of her optimism and hardwork, has also become depressed lately... Reading news on the explosions in China and Bangkok that killed many many families, a few more plane-crash this year... And then few days ago, the very first friend I knew when I came to Singapore, left Singapore for good, many other people I adore have also gone overseas to study... Makes me start thinking what is life but a continuous loss and change of people in it. 
Two third of the year has gone past... I wonder how much time I spent working, talking to the few people I enjoy spending time with, and running. One thing I'm definitely happy about is that I finally started running in a regular basis, never in my life would I have thought that I'd actually think "I feel like running tonight" (after an entire day at work!) and genuinely crave to do so. I was telling Ale how running is actually very much like meditation to me, where I get to focus on my breath, my body and I feel the wind on my face, I get to be present instead of letting the mind wander too much. It sometimes really does feel like freedom. In the past, I used to force myself to run for the sake of exercising, never liked it, but my stamina was never too bad, so I did it anyway. Speaking of which, I've moved in with Anita, the very girl that made me start running early this year and helped me develop this habit of running. She was the one who had to drag me out to run then, now we became housemates and I couldn't be more grateful of her company, especially this month, it hasn't been an easy one for me. But on a brighter note, this past month I've easily cooked more than I did the past 3 years, and it is nice :)
I can't decide if it has been a great year - some days I wonder if I could be any luckier or feel more loved, everything feels perfect and in place, while some days I fight hard to bring myself up, only to feel more broken than I think I can ever be. Some days I'm confident and hopeful and funny, while some days I just want to break, be weak and taken care of, only to be slapped by the hard truth that life isn't always about us. 
22, life doesn't feel as easy as it used to be. Life feels harsh and real. I still feel a little too young, emotional and easily defeated at times. Sometimes life hurts because you put so much hope and expectation in things, and they don't always turn out to be the way you want them to be. The next lesson I guess I have to learn, is to grit my teeth, and let things be/go. There are really so much to learn in life. I'm so thankful for people who stick with me after all these while, people who give me very kind words and encouragement, and most importantly, people who take out their time and days to spend with me, creating memories and moments I will miss dearly, reminding me that life can be sweet and warm. Time, time is priceless, it is the best thing one can give another. I know I'm well loved, these are the words and things that keep me going. Things that make me want to celebrate life.

Potsdam, Germany

July 4, 2015

I didn't take a lot of photographs when I was here. After spending a week in London, followed by an 8 hours midnight coach to Edinburgh before we immediately started our 3-day Scottish highland trip on the road, waking up early, with the last morning rushing from Edinburgh to Glasgow airport carrying my heavy backpack and luggage alone, and then having my flight delayed by 3 hours... I told Alessandro all I wanted was to rest a little when I came to Germany. It was absolutely lovely, he cooked, we had some wine, and we went out for walks around Potsdam where there was barely anyone - which was quite a luxury for me especially after staying at places like Singapore & London; my days in Germany, there's no waking up early, we took the days slow... it was perfect. 
Photos underneath were all taken at The Sanssouci Palace & New Palace in Potsdam (They are next to each other). It wasn't at its best, the plants were still growing, the flowers hadn't bloomed, the fountain in front of the palace wasn't even working... but the sun was at its best, it was glorious, which was enough to keep me happy (of course, great company too).
What I always miss from Europe - the light, oh the light.  

I took many photographs on my iphone when I just wanted to grab a few shots quickly, but they turned out to be the most personal photographs among all -

1. Sunrise from the first morning in Germany, shot from the room we stayed in.
2. Quick breakfast made by Ale - salmon & melted cheese with buns, done in 5 minutes but it tasted SO good...
3. Trying to make banana pancakes... we failed, but ate them anyway.
4. Dinner preparation. Just some German sausages.
5. Walks at New Garden, Potsdam in coincidental red and white.
6. Gorgeous sunlight at the New Palace
7. Blooming roses, aren't they beautiful?
8. The kind of books a physicist gives you as a gift...
9. A night with pizza, cheese, wine and movie! :)
Couldn't ask for better days. But I will go back to Germany one day to do some proper tourist visiting some time in the future for sure!


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