On why I bring my camera everywhere, why I shoot, and the dearly departed.


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Headshotzx

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#1
Me, a sixteen year old, toting a camera around everywhere. In my hands, in the bag, on the table - it's usually around me all the time.

Some people tell me: Are you nuts? It's so heavy! Some comment: You're setting yourself up for easy theft! And my classmates (and sometimes, teachers) go: Camera man! Stop bringing your camera around and go study!

The classic question: Why do you bring your camera with you everywhere you go?

This is why.


On the 13th of May 2008, I brought my camera to (secondary) school as always. Just a simple 'newbie' setup. A gripped 400D, and a 50 1.8II. Classes chugged along on and on. Then it was our Chinese lesson, the most dreaded lesson to us.

Oh how us Chinese "B syllabus" / "failures" hated the lesson - one hour of Chinese. We were the ones with "no hope" for Mandarin. Yet our teacher tried to ease our burdens, knowing that we disliked the language and had practically no grasp over it. He would translate each sentence into English for us, hoping that we would gain just a little bit of knowledge out of that hour. He would give us short breaks during the lesson and sought to know each one of us a little better.

I got bored and shot some photos of him without him realising (and if he did, he didn't acknowledge). And then, after an excruciating fifteen minutes, the bell rang and off we went to our next class.

I went home that day, downloaded the photographs to my computer, and didn't bother about them any more.

Seven months later, I graduated with a Merit (the highest grade) in my Chinese 'B' Language. My teacher congratulated me while grinning ear to ear. "See! I knew you could do it!" he said in Mandarin. I laughed, thanked him, and left the school compound.

That was the last time we really talked.

Earlier today, I got news from my mom who works at a boarding house associated with my old school, that my chinese 'b' teacher, Mr Koh, had passed away on Saturday after having a stroke and slipping into a coma.

This was the photograph, the last one of him I ever got to shoot:



It's not a particularly great photograph. It's technically and artistically flawed in various ways. It was underexposed and slightly out of focus. The subjects were standing awkwardly. The lighting was florescent and horrible. It needed lots of post production just now when I reopened it.

Yet, it is the one photograph that I will always remember Mr Koh by. And now with technology helping me, so will many other ex-students who can relate to the scene in the photograph.

His grand nephew is one of my secondary school batch mates, and we are currently collaborating on a large print of this photograph, with signatures and messages at the back of the frame from as many as students as possible.

Yes, that is why I bring my camera everywhere. To let other people see the world as I see it. And often, to let other people see the good in other people, past and present, living and gone.



Thank you, Lord, for having me be at the right time, at the right place, in the right class. To be able to depress the shutter when You wanted me to. To immortalise the dearly departed in a photograph, forever, so that he may be remembered for who he was, what he did, and the lives he changed.

Rest In Peace, Mr Koh. You will always have a place in this little heart of mine.

(Mr Koh was the Chinese B teacher of Saint Andrew's Secondary School)


To any reading photographer, you never know what photograph might be the last one you'd ever shoot of a loved one. Treasure every moment, every photograph. Bad photos or not, it's not only about the art we create.

God bless,
Zexun
 

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NeTHaCk

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#2
I know what you mean..

i've been in your shoes too.. tahts why my motto for photography.. "See my life through the eyes of my viewfinder".

It doesnt matter if people bash me for my poor shots.. its how i see it, thats how i take it. Each person sees things differently.. i strive to improve myself and adapt to the changes..

but some things dont change - what i feel. yes it can be changed but it'll be fake.

what you posted.. made me go back to my old external hard disks... now looking at the pictures.. each and everyone of them...to look and remember those still with us.. and those that have left us..

in fact i just blogged about those that have left us and what impact it brought to us with their passing before you posted this.. what a coincidence..
 

confession

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#3
Sometimes...life most precious moments should not been seen with the eyes. Sometimes it should be seen with the heart.

Just like every photo. If we use our eyes to see it, we may be missing the point and heart of the photo. If we look at it sometimes with our heart, then we may feel or see something different.

Taking portraits, is what I do and each photo I capture I try to capture the expressions and emotions of my subject.

Moments and expressions that may be lost once we miss that chance. That is what every wedding photographer wants to capture. And that is what every photographer wants to capture.

The heart of photogrpahy sometimes should be seen with just that...the heart.
 

ed9119

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#4
Thank you for sharing an extremely touching story. Young in age you might be, but the message is one that is mature.

So sorry for your loss. :sweat:

I had teachers in school that were great mentors and it has always been my regret not to have 'clicked' a simple image of them doing what they do best.... molding young minds
 

limwhow

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#7
A great teacher will never be forgotten.
If I were in your shoes, I would be just glad that on that fateful day, I had the opportunity to take a picture of Mr Koh and for some strange reason he didn't object to being photographed.
Not every young person has the passion/perseverence like you in photography and this is truly a great gift.
Go on. Do a great job with all your ex-classmates on the dedication to Mr Koh.
And do him more proud when one day you can walk into China and speak as good a Mandarin, and write as good in Chinese, as you do in English.
 

Headshotzx

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#8
Thanks for all the heart warming replies everyone.

I completely agree that while seeing is important, feeling is even more so.
 

Del_CtrlnoAlt

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#9
Thanks for all the heart warming replies everyone.

I completely agree that while seeing is important, feeling is even more so.
Actually, every picture taken when reviewed meant & interpreted differently by each and everyone of us. From the simplest sunset vs sunrise, artistic vs 'orbit', adhering to rules of thirds to breaking them.

Probably its like, 一种米养百种人.

Its eventually how you feel that matters, i can critique all i want, its your own perception that counts.

Never had any nice teachers i can link to...
 

sbs99

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#10
Touching. Thanks! :thumbsup:
 

raincool2005

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#11
there's a hokkien saying about life " when u had food -just eat, when u had fun -just play, becos u dunno what will happen tomm "

:sweat:
 

coolsigg

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#12
thanks to TS for sharing a touching story! RIP to Mr Koh!
 

Headshotzx

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#15
Hi Zexun, I am ------, Mr Koh's daughter. My family is very touched by your kind gesture. It gives us much comfort to know that he is so well-loved by his students. Thank you. This is the most meaningful gift for my dad.
I guess my friend gave the family my blog link (to the same first post)... At least I made a difference in one family. That's all I care about.

Anyway, my friend printed the photograph, and even though the quality wasn't that good, it's the thought that counts. Saw lots of messages on the back and added mine to it.
 

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cowmera

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Nov 22, 2008
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#16
His grand nephew is one of my secondary school batch mates, and we are currently collaborating on a large print of this photograph, with signatures and messages at the back of the frame from as many as students as possible.

Rest In Peace, Mr Koh. You will always have a place in this little heart of mine.
Your photo idea is a nice gesture! :thumbsup: :)

RIP Mr Koh....
 

cosfail

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Mar 23, 2009
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#17
gosh. He thought me way, way, way back. Another loss this year. Harry Tan taught me A maths as well.
Sad.
 

Nov 3, 2008
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#19
One classic story. I'm sorry for your loss but i'm sure he will be well remembered with the picture you took.
 

soons

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Nice picture actually I find. Very touching storry. Thanks TS for sharing!!
 

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