Of all the places that I have explored in my journey across the country while working on my earlier book Born in Malaysia, it was Penang that kept drawing me back.
In 2010, I started my quest to be reacquainted with Malaysia after living abroad for many years. The project took on a life of its own as I became more and more captivated by the stories of the people I met.
I felt compelled to tell their stories through my photographs, and it led me to self-publish Born in Malaysia. The book resonated with Malaysians who easily identify and relate to those portraits of ordinary individuals across different walks of lives.
They have responded enthusiastically to the spirit and soul of Malaysians that I captured in my book. This feedback has been invigorating and encouraging, and I have been inspired to continue pursuing my passion of capturing Malaysians through my lens.
This time, we were focused on capturing a part of Penang that is not so well known, Seberang Perai.
I am fascinated by its living heritage and exciting revitalisation. I want to document Seberang Perai as things are changing fast and people cope with modern challenges. When I was working on Born in Malaysia, I also bypassed Seberang Perai and headed straight to Penang Island. But in the past year, I have taken the time to explore and experience the mainland. It has opened my eyes to an area I hardly knew anything about just over a year ago.
I never imagined the depth and breadth of stories that we have documented in this book, and I hope that I have captured the spirit of Seberang Perai and its people through my lenses. This past year has been one of the most rewarding in my career and I will always look upon Seberang Perai fondly.
I began shooting for the book in May 2015. In the one year that I have worked on the book, I have used a number of cameras from Canon like the 7D Mark II, 5D Mark III and 5Ds. I have also used a number of lenses with the Canon EF 24-70mm f4L IS being the lens that’s usually on my camera.
I prefer to travel light and try to avoid carrying too much gear. The nature of the photographs also requires that I stay unobtrusive and allow my subjects to respond to the interview rather than the camera. While shooting stills for the book, I was also shooting videos.
The Dual-Pixel AF on the 7D Mark II has responded well, allowing me to shoot videos without having to worry about focus knowing that the camera would take care of it. While it’s nice to have lenses like the 50mm f1.2 and 85mm f1.2 in my bag, I hardly ever shoot at apertures bigger than f4.0 and it’s just more weight and bulk. For longer reach, I usually prefer to carry the 70-200mm f4 rather than the 70-200mm f2.8. Weight, or rather less of it, means everything to me.
I would like to thank Canon for its support of this project including helping to make the exhibition prints for the book launch and subsequent exhibition.
Kenny Loh Photographer