Like many Nikon photographers, Yeow Chin Liang found his passion and growth in photography with a community at his side. First trying his hand at digital photography, it wasn’t long before a few members of their enthusiast club jumped into film. With the support of each other and room to experiment, their hobby has now evolved into something of a tradition; for the past 7 years every weekend, without fail, they meet to seek out their next street snap.
For Chin Liang, he is particularly drawn to capturing people in their working environments, blending each ‘character’ with the colours of their surroundings. They go beyond just simple portraits and instead delve into a moment in time, the spirits of soon forgotten trades taken for granted by the modern era.
Whilst he explores the generation gap in Kuala Lumpur, he also tries to inject a playful nature into select images. “I do like to shoot humorous kind of street scenes, they may be an ordinary everyday scenes but I hope they will make the viewer laugh or feel a sense of surprise.”
Curious. Capturing the rehearsal one day before Malaysia's Independence day – Nikon 28Ti and Agfa Vista 400 Negative Film
“Street Portrait….and Selfie". Reflection of a bus window. At Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Nikon 28Ti and Agfa Vista 400 Negative Film
A Chinese orthopedic clinic assistant reading newspaper during his free time when there is no patient or customer. At Pudu wet market, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Nikon 28Ti and Agfa Vista 400 Negative Film
A vegetable seller at a wet market near Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Nikon 28Ti and Agfa Vista 400 Negative Film
A chef and his helpers having their tea break behind their restaurant at Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Nikon 28Ti and Agfa Vista 400 Negative Film
The owner of the clock/watch shop. According to him, his business is more on repairing watches. At Masjid India area, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Nikon 28Ti and Agfa Vista 400 Negative Film
Curious. He was curious as to why I looked inside. Then he came to the door holes and questioned me. He is a friendly guy – Nikon 28Ti and Agfa Vista 400 Negative Film
Man Behind A Blind. A shop assistant at a sundry shop in Chow Kit wet market, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Nikon 28Ti and Agfa Vista 400 Negative Film
For every portrait, he engages his subject with a small ‘hello’ or ‘how are you’ which proves to go a long way!
More times than not, a story is exchanged. He notes that most people are happy to have their portrait taken, offering him a drink and a chance to get to know them further. This is one of the most important aspects for him, whilst it is crucial that he finds a visually interesting subject, it is more important to him to get their permission to photograph them.
He lines up his shots using his Nikon 28Ti compact camera, the same one he has been using for the past two years. He usually brings a few fixed lenses with him, either the Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 or the Nikkor 35mm f/1.4. With the camera’s built in flash he is able to use it for portraits, street scenes and landscape photography, always sure to bring along extra rolls of negative film.
The streets of Kuala Lumpur has featured as his stomping ground in majority of his works, he finds it is the perfect location as there is a certain livelihood in the urbanities daily activities. The busy streets offer up an authentic experience, laced with culture and history, perhaps this is why he has been able to come to the same streets for 7 years and always find exceptional people from all walks of life.
--------->>>. He was curious as to why I look at the arrow – Nikon 28Ti and Agfa Vista 400 Negative Film
A junk female seller at the flea market in China Town, Petaling Street, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Nikon 28Ti and Agfa Vista 400 Negative Film
Rich Man World. A money changer shop assistant in Penang, Malaysia – Nikon 28Ti and Agfa Vista 400 Negative Film
A Moment of Serenity. A scene outside an Indian barber shop at Chow Kit, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Nikon 28Ti and Agfa Vista 400 Negative Film
"OUT or IN". An open car park attendant inside his "office". At Chow Kit area, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Nikon 28Ti and Agfa Vista 400 Negative Film
“I like to look at the strangers that surround me. When I see a person, I like to think of what their background may be, their job, their story…I find a lot of people that cross my path are worth capturing. In my opinion, a great portrait must include a few elements: A unique character, good lighting, interesting environment, able to hold the gaze of its viewer and lastly, it should be able to tell a story with having to elaborate further. ”
Chin Liang was never set on capturing people in their workplaces, his only intent is to have fun shooting on the streets. The idea came to fruition when he was thinking of a catchy title for a series of environmental portraits, he noticed a connection between the images. Between capturing the trades that are slowly disappearing and wandering the streets, he had found himself photographing the everyday man in his ‘office’.
“I like to uncover the most ordinary thing that people are quick to overlook, along the way I discovered there is mush to learn from earlier generations. Perhaps I am the man in the gap, bridging the old and new. I feel there is still much to learn from these elders.”
Yeow Chin Liang is from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. First and foremost a businessman dealing with IT solutions, he is also a photography hobbyist. In particular he captures striking portraits and enjoys shooting environmental street portraits that help add to the identity of his subjects. He has been shooting with film for the past 3 years.