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Emotion in a photograph


Towards the end of last year when I was documenting the Penang ferry transport system (Vignettes of Penang Port and Ferry + Penang Ferry & Landscapes), it opened my eye into looking at things very differently. Going through this process has enabled to reconsider my approach of documenting Penang again. For years I have been photographing things for what it is, chasing for great sky and great light but ultimately it still does not satisfy me for what I do. So I asked myself what is that one thing that is missing despite getting all the great photographs across the year. Is it possible that a greater image still yet to present itself? Or is it just me being lack of skill to portray it the way it is.


Well, it didn't take long for me to realise the latter is true when documenting the ferry transport system. It was the lacking of purpose that threw years of my effort away as I was only chasing for a temporary non-existence satisfaction. Though documenting may come with a different definition to a different photographer, to me it is about showing the truth and emotion in a photograph that will eventually spark a memory for the viewer.

As there may be more and more people jumping into the bandwagon of creating images that are "cinematic"&"emotional". There is one thing that is worth highlighting. There is a very fine line differentiating between photographing emotion and exploiting the emotions.


I have seen countless of photographers photographing homeless and people or poor conditions and call it street photography masterpiece. In some ways that is cheating and exploiting them isn't right. They are already portraying their hardship emotion and you are just merely copying and pasting it into your camera. Putting yourself in their shoes, you would definitely not want to be photograph in that way and shared across the internet especially if it doesn't contribute anything to them.


A key tips to takeaway from reading this articles would be to stop exploiting homeless or people of poor conditions as an easy way to spark emotion in your photographs. Unless you are incapable of expressing your own art, please do stop doing so.

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