Life in TransitA Digital Nomad in Asia

Obscura Photography Festival in Penang

Photojournalist Yan Ming appears in a reflection of one of his prized works during the Obscura Photography Festival in Penang.

On Friday night, Gene messaged me informing me that there was a festival in Penang, where I was backpacking, and that I might be interested in the photography. Having no other plans, I thought I would check it out.

I was inspired by the work of the photographers at this festival.

The photography itself is pretty impressive, but as it the case with good photography, making the leg work to get to the shot is more important than getting the shot itself. That effort can be observed in the photographers’ work, from intimate glimpses into their personal lives to putting their health and comfort on the line in the attempt to pursue their causes.

I enjoyed listening to each photographer’s talk during their gallery openings, and learn about their photography subjects. What they had to go through to obtain their body of work was equally interesting. They candidly answered questions and were all very approachable. The slideshows every evening at 8 pm also offered a glimpse into photography from a different region in the Asia Pacific each night.

Inspiring exhibits include Chemat’s determination documenting the streets of Kuala Lumpur over eight years, Andri Tambunan’s research into HIV in Paupa, Sanjeet Das’ intimate look into his parents lives and Suzanne Lee’s determination in working in the mines in spaces barely large enough for a child.

If you are in Penang, do drop by the festival!

I think it was fate that brought me all the way up north to Langkawi instead of to Melaka as planned. It was also fate that brought me to Penang during this festival.

Thanks Gene and thanks to all the awesome photographers at the festival. Though I went from shooting news for over five years to not wanting to pick up a camera in the past 1.5 years, you might have just revived my passion.

An inside look at the festival »
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