I don't know his name, but it usually ends up like this.
First i appear with intent. Meaning the camera is out and visible. i raise my arms and take a few shots. no one says anything. i move around and continue taking shots. My eyes meet theirs. i give them an appreciative smile. They smile back approvingly. i can now move and shoot without inhibitions. They continue with their motion. The sketch of the scene with my camera begins.
Who are they?
Human subjects, characters, people involved in my documentation. In the recent case, a couple of bus conductors/operators in medan pasar, nearby to Masjid Jamek. The old Selangor buses still operate many routes and the company utilises operators who yell and direct passengers into their bus.
You use the same approach each time?
Well…more a less. A well intended smile goes very far. Afterwards its about how much you can take from the scene before your actions alter the original scene too much. A bit of ebb and flow. You always have to step back and let it play out, before pressing to capture again. Other times you get engaged in a conversation so heart felt that, you can’t in the next second or so start shooting away. It seems wrong. So the conversation extends and maybe eventually to nothing and so after a while you move on.
Whats your recent heart felt conversation?
There was this guy in a wheel chair, selling keropok at the Masjid Jamek LRT station. I came from behind and noticed him. For a while i stood behind him observing the scene. Workers heading home brush past he waves his hand gripping the keropok packets. He notices me and turns. My cover is blown. The fly on the wall has to interact. A quick exchange of stories. I ask about his efforts. Although unproductive, he doesn’t want to people to pity him, so he doesn’t beg. He wants to put in effort to receive the returns. He recalls about all those ads he answered, turning him away when they saw he couldn’t walk. “Kaki macam ni, siapa nak bagi kerja?”
Why do they open up to you?
I think because I listen to them. I think they appreciate it when somebody wants to listen to their story. Also because everyone has no time for them and interactions are not genuine, especially new ones. So it is a small change.