A year ago, the Stories team headed to a small village in Kelantan to photograph portraits for the families affected by the devastating 2014 flood. We were just so blessed to be able to meet these families and to replace precious family photos that were lost in the flood. We braved the Hari Raya jam and drove up north, to a place we had never visited before and ate Raya kuih with families who welcomed us with open arms. Have a look at the behind the scenes video that describes more about what took place over the few days we were there. It was a one of a kind experience for all of us. Wishing a great time of family bonding for everyone celebrating Raya!
This morning, I woke up in bed, 73km away from home at a town called Port Dickson, body still sore from last night’s wedding shoot. I thought of my kids at home, being cared for by my Indonesian helper the night before as my husband is away in New Zealand, setting up the Integricity NZ office. I drove home, packed my kids to church single handedly and was reminded about how much Alex is missed this Father’s day.
I cannot imagine life as a working single parent, and I take my hats off to those moms who had to fill the role of a mother and father to their kids because of various circumstances, or vice versa. Having a father figure is so important to every child. I am so glad that Alex is the kind of man who takes time to do simple things with our children, whether it is baking a cake, painting some eggshells, reading books to my son so that he can potty train him at the same time or carrying them on his shoulders when they are tired.
He is the kind of man who would gladly step up and help a friend in need, one who is generous and a person who truly cares. I hope our children will catch these traits from their dad as they grow up. We miss you, dad this Father’s day. Come home soon.
Baking a cake
Creating a mural on the wall for Krysta’s room
Enjoying father-son time in Port Dickson
Planning the Kyoto itinerary with Kyle
It’s 2am and I lie awake in bed, one of those nights where my thoughts lead me to my work, life and my general state of happiness as a person. It’s been 10 years since I started this journey as a photographer, and in these past 10 years, I’ve explored many areas of photography – from travel to documentary, posed portraits vs candid photography, learnt about studio and natural light, thought about diversifying my work to get various sources of income, and then thought about finding my niche so that I can get the type of clients that I really like.. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how to grow my team, spending more time with my family yet running this business that I love and thinking about my retirement plan when my body is too weak to shoot.
These past 10 years, I’ve also felt insecurities as a photographer – not knowing if I am on the right path, feeling envy when others are successful, worried about how to move forward in this business.
How I wish there was a blueprint in running a successful photography business.
Many of the lessons I learnt while running this business was built on trial and error. I have swayed to the left and to the right over the years, and now, I think it’s time to go back to the start.
What drew me to photography in the first place?
I just love capturing life.
People intrigue me. Everyone is so different and yet, the human emotions of love, joy or sadness connect us. I love photographing human connections – that moment when a child looks trustingly at his mother, when the father of the bride cries as his little daughter is finally getting married, that laughter shared between life-long friends.
This thought comes through again and again – keep doing what you love and you’ll excel in it. But it also takes a lot of work. On days when I am not shooting, I am trying to learn something new – reading about ways to improve my business, looking at Pinterest to find new inspiration, signing up for workshops and trying out different genres of photography just to upskill myself.
So 10 years on, I am still learning and doing what I love. It’s what keeps me going.
I must admit that the thought of seeing a woman going through labour and finally delivering her baby scares me. A little. Even though I have 2 kids of my own… but I went through c-section and I never really experienced childbirth the way it was meant to be…. natural and painful. So I was a mix of emotions when Crystal hired me to document the birth of her baby Ethan last month. I was a tad bit worried that I might pass out when I saw blood.
The whole experience was new to me. About a year ago, I was also supposed to photograph another birth, but that didn’t quite happen the way we expected (pun not intended!). When Crystal’s delivery date drew near (18th May) and she started having contractions, I was a bit of a nervous wreck! I would check my phone frequently for updates, and was all charged to head out to the hospital when needed. On Thursday night, she checked into Pantai Hospital but by Friday evening, she was still far from delivering her baby!
That Friday night, I went to watch a movie, and even lugged my camera gear into the cinema, just in case! Crystal really suffered through hours of labour, and it was only on Sat night (11pm) that I was called into the hospital. I must say, she is one tough cookie. With no painkillers, she laboured and delivered beautiful baby Ethan at 3am on the 22nd of May. I could see how supportive her husband Wei Leong was through the entire process. Even though it was pretty back-breaking to help support Crystal in the tub, he did it over many hours with occasional stretches. I think Crystal was in the tub for a good 7 hours!
When Ethan came out, there was a sigh of relief and lots of happy smiles around.
Overall, I am just so amazed at this miracle called birth. How wonderful it is to witness a human being coming into the world. It is just so beautiful.
Extra interesting notes:
1. Lighting was extremely difficult in the dim room, since they wanted to create a more relaxing and conducive environment. Flash photography wasn’t allowed and occasionally a spotlight would be turned on at times – so thank God for high ISO and experience shooting in low light!
2. The little floating duck is a thermometer! How cool is that. It was the first thing I spotted when I arrived.
3. The nurse and doula was in the room all the time, monitoring the contractions, keeping Crystal warm by pouring water on her. Dr Paul came in towards the end to receive the baby. I truly respect those in this profession, their personal lives are dictated by the lives of others!
It’s my fourth day in Japan, attempting to have a somewhat ‘normal’ holiday with my husband and two kids. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy traveling with 2 toddlers, but we were determined! We packed light, left the stroller at home, and managed to fit 1 week’s worth of luggage and toys into a large bag, 1 handcarry size and 1 backpack.
Alex and I have been relatively easygoing when it comes to raising our kids. We are not the super strict type of parent who must get their kid to bed by a certain time or the kind who whips out a hand sanitizer at every given opportunity (yup, we let them pick their food off the floor and eat it, if the floor looks relatively clean).
So I thought that this holiday would be pretty relaxing with not that much of an agenda. After all, I managed a company holiday with my kids when they were much younger… clingy baby and all.
Four days into my holiday, I find myself screaming at the kids… “Eat this… NO, don’t eat that! Don’t roll on the ground! Don’t pull your sister’s hair! Stop pinching your brother!” Yup, I’ve turned into a machine that barks orders every few minutes. (occassionally, the poor husband is also at the receiving end of these orders). Coincidentally, it’s also Mother’s Day today, and my 4th year of being a mom.
But suddenly, these frustrations turn into little moments of joy when Krysta suddenly bursts into random phrases that sound like broken Japanese. Or when Kyle does a happy dance in the middle of a street as he hears buskers singing K-pop.
It’s at these times I realize I need to cherish the litte happy moments more than dwelling on the frustrations I feel. I’m just going to enjoy the next few days, and even if Kyle only decides to eat a diet of white rice and biscuits, I won’t get upset. I won’t complain as well when my needs are not met because it won’t be fair for Alex to deal with 2 toddlers and 1 adult who is never satisfied.
Enjoy the journey, not just the destinaton.
Happy Mother’s Day, everyone.