One year ago, we were contacted to photograph Datuk Wira SM Faisal SM Nasimuddin’s Hari Raya family portraits, and I was pleased to hear that we were asked to do it again this year! What an honour for us to be invited back again to their family home. This time, Jamie took these portraits, so it was nice to have a fresh pair of eyes to the same location. Have a look at a few of last year’s photos here! Naturally, not only did we get to wear our wonderful baju raya, we also got to enjoy delicious kuih and rendang Raya. It’s a great idea to do a yearly family portrait, as you can see the growth of the family just within a year. We encourage everyone to make the idea of documenting your family a priority in your life. This is after all, a moment in history, no matter how trivial some of you might think it is. One day, your kids will look back at these images and remember…
Jawad and Aneela’s parents have known each other since the two of them were children. Originally from Bangladesh, Jawad now lives in Malaysia with his family but Aneela still resides in Dhaka. Their marriage was arranged by their families…and the first time they met was at the airport when she visited Malaysia for the first time. Both have engineering degrees, but their interests varies as she is more into literature, art (she loves painting) and music whereas, he’s into coding, playing badminton, cricket or football. But they have something in common – the love of nature and the sea.
From the first time they met, Aneela felt as if there was a connection between them… she was drawn to the way he smiled and talked. Jawad’s quite a shy and courteous person, always lowering his gaze around her. So Aneela was never really quite sure of how he felt towards her. Till one day… she caught his magical, piercing eyes looking directly at her. That look he gave her remained ingrained in her mind till this day.
Those tiny feelings they had for each other grew steadily and finally, Jawad told Aneela that he wanted to marry her. We’re so pleased to be able to photograph their portraits in Malaysia when Aneela came to visit earlier this year. It had been raining every single day since she landed, but on the day of our shoot, the skies remained clear! What a gorgeous couple!
Over a year ago, I met Joseph while rock climbing. As much as I would like to say that I fell, he caught me and we fell instantly in love.. that was not the case. Like many Malaysian (or Asian) relationships, it started off at a mamak with some friends.
Fast forward 9 months into the relationship, it is safe to say that being in a cross cultural relationship is enriching and fun, yet it comes with its own set of challenges. I forgot to mention that Joseph is Filipino and I am, of course, as Malaysian as a girl can be. When I was younger, I always had this idea about dating a foreigner. I have always enjoyed getting to know people from different cultures and I thought how much fun it would be if that was a lifetime thing.
Obviously, I was naive. Every relationship has its challenges, and adding cultural differences into the equation is like asking for more work to do! Learning and adjusting to each other’s worldview, lifestyles and beliefs wasn’t as easy as I thought. Food habits was one of the first hurdle I had to learn to accommodate. Not only do Filipinos refer to ‘dinner’ as ‘supper’, their taste in food are at the extreme ends. Something that is bordering diabetic to me is not sweet enough for him; something that is bland to him is too salty for me. Although English is our first language, Joseph had to adjust to my Manglish slangs. Teaching him the difference between lah, meh, mah etc was quite a challenge. There were even times when he had to ask, “Like this cannot.. lah..? ..meh?? ..leh???”.
Despite our differences, I’m ever thankful that we share the most important thing, which is our love for Christ. It is not only about sharing the same faith, it is sharing the same values and principles that are fundamental to both our lives.
I am no expert in relationships, but what I have learnt so far is that: communication is key; and having the support of your family and closest friends is more important than you think. At the end of the day, it is all about choosing to love a person, and making that choice is a daily decision in which you have to let your selfish desires go. And when I’m at the altar, I can finally say, “I choose you!” (pun intended – but probably only Pokemon players can understand).
Brian and Marina warned us…both their 3 and 5 year old toddlers will not sit still for the camera. We’ve been told that their son James is shy and would definitely try to hide during the shoot! With this challenge in mind, Chi Yin and I headed over to Brian and Marina’s home for their family portrait. And hide he did! But that didn’t stop us from chasing them into the playroom for photos.
We even had to stop the shoot temporarily to play with them, so that the two toddlers James and Matthew would warm up to us. Chi Yin had the difficult task of luring them out of their really fun-looking playroom. We worked hard for every single image!
I have known Jon and Jeanine for a few years now, and I never would have imagined them to be the parents they are today. I am not a parent myself, but I did grow up with three brothers, so I had a rough idea about the chaos that goes on at home. Spending one afternoon with them, however, gave me the perspective of what happens on the parents’ side.
From the time we arrived home after lunch, I could see Jeanine juggling between entertaining the kids, and well, me. It took Jeanine 3 hours from playing with the boys, giving them a shower, ushering everyone in for some posed family shots, feeding them and finally, putting them to sleep (Jon had to attend to some work). During the short period of rest when the home was quiet, Jeanine patiently and selflessly sat down and caught up with me over a cup of tea. I knew in a couple of hours, she would have to go through the same cycle all over again. Yet, she never complained, not once. In fact, following her motherhood journey on Instagram (and blog) constantly reminds me to be grateful towards the little things in life and to always show grace to others. Being a stay-home mum has a lot of struggles, but Jeanine chooses to see and celebrate the joy in it.
So, to all the working mums, stay-home mums and single mums: Thank you for your sacrificial and unconditional love. Without you, we won’t be who are we are today! Wishing all the mothers a very (belated, but) happy mother’s day!