Saturday, 31st October 2020

2:15PM @ Home. A day to relax! Finished the campaign shoot for Max Tan SS21 (Thursday and yesterday).

Overall, very happy with the results of the last 2 days of shooting. The recce of Pulau Ubin with Max beforehand really paid off – we found the perfect house by the water that was close the the jetty! Really convenient. The owner was Miss Toh, a resident of Ubin herself. We rented her house for 4 and 3 hours on Thursday and Friday respectively.

THURSDAY: We shot the catalog pictures in the morning at Max’s studio, followed by the lookbook at Ubin in the afternoon. Jo was the model for the day! The catalog was of course not creatively inspiring, but the lookbook was definitely more. We shot the lookbook around the pier/beach just by the house, which honestly was super chill and quite relaxing to do. Between looks, I manage to speak with a Malay man who was fishing with a cast net down at the beach. He agreed to pose for a portrait for me – the images weren’t that special, but the interaction was. He is 75 years of age and has lived on the island since he was born.

The creative and inspiring part came at the end of the day when we were taking the boat back to the mainland from the island. Prior to this shoot, during the recce, Max and I spoke to the owner of the bumboat (that ferries us between the island and the mainland) whether we could rent his boat privately and also shoot on it. His boat was the ‘older’ wooden kind and really much more photogenic than the newer white ones. I spotted the lower deck portion at the front of his boat just by the steering wheel, which I found to be super rustic and cinematic – I could picture an image in that spot in my mind with the light coming in from the small windows. And, with Jo on the way, we indeed did shoot at that very same spot (which turned out to be really stuffy and noisy from the engine), but the short 15 mins was filled with so much inspiring energy between Jo and I that we just kept going at it. The flow was beautiful and the exchange was perfect. Jo felt it as well! As expected, the light was so exquisite—how do I explain? The rustic wooden brown interiors coupled with the tiny windows around which softened the late afternoon light coming in was just amazing. The result was 2 images that I am SO happy with! I need to find more spots like these..

FRIDAY: The model of the day was none other than my friend Pola. The day was the main campaign shoot day. Before this, I was feeling quite nervous and stressed – but in a good way – I wanted to make some great images both for Max and myself. What I had in mind were some moody-ish moments captured at the kampong (old village) house, both inside and outside. However, the weather forecast that promised us cloudy and overcast skies did not come true, and instead, the sun came out just as we started the shoot. The first outfit began, and I was actually thrown off from my thoughts and focus. The light was totally different than what I had expected and planned. I gathered myself, and also, thankfully with Pola’s calm demeanour and vibe, I adapted and switched my ‘direction’ to something that fitted the high-contrast shadows. I surprised myself a little with my approach to the environment, and I am very happy with the shots. Slightly different from the usual ‘me’, but still familiar. The direction was towards a ‘silent melancholy’ in the images. Pola’s energy brought a lot to the table in terms with how I handled the change of light and direction, and I’m really grateful to her! It would have turned out so differently if it was anybody else.

Overall, Max was really enthusiastic and happy with the images – the most important. Personally, I have to say that the photos of Jo in the boat was for me the best thing to come out from the project.

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