Category archives: Uncategorized

Truly Sarawakian Wedding: Dominic & Ernie

Tabi basa and greetings family and friends,

Saturday is here once again, finally coming to soothe us from the toils of the week, granting us an opportunity to do what we love most, be it spending quality time with our family, to sleep peacefully beyond 9am or for some, to pursue your passion, which can be anything from photography to blogging. I love to combine both as I love to tell stories. This time, my story is about photography job that I have accomplished yesterday night at Miri, which is wedding between a friend of mine, Dominic and Ernie. Before I proceed further, let me tell you a bit of story about Sarawak.

Sarawak – The Land of Hornbill

Sarawak, one of Malaysia’s “state”,  is located at South East Asia, where the tropical climate and its perfect humidity and oxygen concentration blesses with beautiful flora and fauna that one in the Arctic circle can only imagine what it is like in the past, before our world becomes smaller thanks to ever-growing technology. Sarawak was used to be part of Brunei and most of the Dayak peoples (Bidayuh & Iban) and Orang Ulu (an umbrella term for Sarawakian tribes residing in the North-Eastern Sarawak, including Kayan, Kenyah, Kelabit, Lun Bawang, Kelabit, although their Kalimantan counterpart still refer themselves as Dayak) was practicing headhunting. Then came James Brooke in 1838 to Kuching, where he helped Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien II of Brunei to fight and pacify the uprising against Sultan. He also was successful in thwarting the assassination against Pangeran Muda Hashim and restored power to Sultan, thus securing his power and over the land in 1841, and officially declared as Rajah of Sarawak in 18 August 1842.

James Brooke

There was a bit of untold story in our History textbook though, because in his army, there is a lot of Dayak warriors and headhunters because it is said, only Dayak can kill Dayak. Just imagine what would happen if Dayaks are united?

Fast forward to present time, Sarawak is one of the place where you can still find mosque and church side-by-side, both opening up their parking spot to one another during the peak hours of prayer time, like what Mirians did. It is also a place where one can enjoy his or her own food at their own peace, accompanied by a Muslim colleague who is not even bothered by the fact that someone is eating non-halal food beside them. Yes, it is normal, nothing to be made fuss about. In the words of late Tok Nan, “makan sama, tidur sama, cari amoi pun sama-sama” (eat together, sleep together, looking for pretty woman also together), a statement that speaks volume about Sarawakian and their harmony, enviable by many.

Being a Sarawakian, in case someone is asking me what is the secret of racial harmony at Sarawak, I would say, it is our tolerance to one another. We can tolerate different cultures, different religion. You won’t hear Sarawakians complain about “azan” in the morning. It would be weird, because we believe that your religion is your religion, and you do what you need to do about it. That is why when someone wants to plant the seed of hatred in Sarawakians for their personal gain, many Sarawakians would oppose it, to safeguard our racial and religious harmony. It is our treasure.

Other than that, Sarawakians are blessed with a variety of cultures. Having about 54 different ethnic groups, it is no surprise that there is a lot of mixed-marriages within Sarawakians. As a teenager, I am also fascinated by these variety, and that solidifies my resolve to commit into dancing while I am at university, which is something that I never regret joining, from which I also met her – the one.

Moving from there, I would also want to talk about the experience that I had last night, witnessing the holy union between Dominic, an Iban-Chinese, and Ernie, a Lun Bawang lady.

The Holy Union

I am truly pleased to see the variety of peoples coming last night, because it is truly Sarawakian wedding. Why? Well, the couple is Iban-Chinese-Lunbawang, and in the crowd of guests, we have (from what I have spotted) Bidayuh (yours tukang rantek included), Iban, Kenyah, Kayan, Malay, Chinese, and many more. I think there are some from Sabah and Peninsular. From here, it shows the unique blend of people that made the circle of friends for Dominic and Ernie.

The holy union was done by Pastor Robert in accordance to the Christian, specifically BEM (Borneo Evangelical Mission) practices, which is what majority of Lun Bawang practices. Regardless, whatever a man and woman do, blessing has to be sought from the Almighty God.

“And from the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man, He made a woman and brought her to him. And the man said: 

This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of man she was taken.”

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”

Genesis 2:22-24

Bon Apetit

Finally, meal time! Mega Hotel did one of a kind performance, where they dance to Señorita song, by Camilla Cabello and Shawn Mendez.

Dancing with Mega Hotel’s señorita.

Performances

As usual, it is not complete for the people to come and dance.

After the beautiful dance by the ladies, it is time to hear some talents from the both family side.

Lun Bawang’s Adat Petated

Once the wedding blessing is done, it is continued with the Adat Petated (to send) in accordance to the Lun Bawang cultures. In the olden days, the bride’s family will send her to the groom’s long house because she will live with him. Because Lun Bawang is Christian now, therefore, this is just a symbolic, lest the younger generations did not know the beautiful culture of their ancestors in the past.

Long row of ladies from Ernie’s family
The first group of ladies arriving on stage, while dancing beautifully to the music.
Dominic and Ernie can’t contain the joy in the heart
Here come the boys
Don’t mess around with Lun Bawang warriors.

Each of the items given symbolizes the needs of the bride and groom in their future life together. Based on emcee’s explanation, effective 2018, the guideline of dowry for Lun Bawang is RM8300, from RM3500 before that. It means that potential groom has to be to provide to his bride, a skill that is necessary for their future life together.

Ernie and his new mother.
Mr Clement kisses his beloved grandson.
Welcome to Lun Bawang club Dom.

Yam Seng!

In honour of Dominic’s Chinese side, he was asked to do Yam Seng. But he get the help from his new family, the Boys in Pink.

All is good, says Jackson.
Up and away goes the fizz.
Happy faces.
Yaaaaaammmmm seennggggggg

Mejeng Time

As usual, once the official ceremony is over, the stage is opened for all, where many talented family members show cases their talent as what you can see here.

Ngajat time.
Okkaayyyy kayoooo

The wedding reception was a lively one thanks to the supporting family and friends that came from afar to make it happens, and an evening to be remembered. May God bless both Ernie and Dominic, and their family!

p.s. What I noticed last night is that Lun Bawang and Bidayuh has a some similarities. For example, “uduh” means grass, “betated” & “nganted” means the same thing, which is “to send”. For in law, we also refers to it as “iban”, not to be confused with Iban ethnic. Also, we refer ourselves as the Land Peoples and the male warrior’s jacket are made from wood, not leather. I think there is more, but due to lack of expsure to Lun Bawang’s culture, I can only refer to these examples. However, this is not surprising because both has the same root, if you trace back the origins.

Bonus: The Secret of Everlasting Love

I have been reading a lot of books about relationship and asked a number of peoples, especially the senior ones on how they sustain their relationship until great-grandchildren level.

Regardless of the level of age, there is one thing in common – communication. Good communication is vital. There is no substitute to it. You can’t replace real life person’s presence and warmth with gadgets, because our body itself, housing a real soul emits different frequency and energy compared to any gadget.

Also, it is important to keep the communication level closeness similar or even better than the first time you meet each other.

All this is not to discount the “killer” in a relationship, which is UNREALISTIC EXPECTATION. I purposely capitalise it because it is one of the killer that we have in any relationship. Everyone has a set of expectation from their partners, but going above and beyond physical capability is not realistic, such as expecting your short partner to be as tall as model. That is not realistic.

What can be done is to 1) acknowledge the current situation, and then 2) devise a plan to improve. If you want your wife to look beautiful, encourage her to spend more time to groom herself. You can do your part by buying her beauty products like SK-II and give her some time to go to saloon, once a week.

If you complain that your wife has no time for you, look at her schedule once again. If you think that she spends too much time to wash the dishes or wash the clothes, try to take up some of the physical load.

On mental load, which every woman is automatically engaged into once they became a mother, try to help her by doing a to-do list. That will help her to remember critical stuff. Less stuff on her mind, the less messy she is. Eventually, the younger she will look. During my recent work-related conference, I learned that “STRESS CAN CAUSE CANCER”. That’s a good wake-up call for me. That’s why I always do the things that I love to do, such as writing these blogs.

Some might argue and use fallacy of credibility on me because I am not a father or a husband yet, but I sincerely hope that these tips help you. Even if you don’t use it, I lose nothing.

My time and your time is better used to love more, instead of hating and finding fault of others. I better spend it to find out how to make my life better for me and my family. For me, that is more important. We are living a finite amount of time. Therefore, seize the day! Love more.

Your Tukang Rantek,
Claudius Weson

Gear used: Leica M10, Summilux35.

Note: Claudius Weson is a tukang rantek (photographer in Bidayuh Pichin) based in Miri, mainly doing portraiture (indoor / studio / outdoor photoshoot), weddings and event photography.

© Claudius Weson Photography (2019). All rights reserved.

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All of the images on this site are protected by copyright laws and are the exclusive property of Claudius Weson Photography. Images may not be copied, reproduced, manipulated, used or altered in any way without written permission. The use of any photography as the basis of another photographic concept or illustration is a violation of copyright.

Respecting Christian Graveyard & Photography Etiquette

Tabi basa and greetings family and friends,

How’s your week so far? I hope it is good, and all is well at your side. The All Saint’s Day and All Souls Day were celebrated by Christians on 1&2 Nov, but I think the one that get the most attention is All Hallow’s Eve, or Halloween, because it is the one that can be commercialised and celebrated at parties. However, for Pichins, we don’t celebrate Halloween and go to church instead on 1 Nov for All Saints’ Day mass.

Visiting Grave Yard on 2 Nov. I missed this year’s visit. Maybe next year then.

The following day is the day to visit graves. However, preparation is being made a week before, where villagers clears the graveyard from all of the weeds, or any infesting plants and some even redecorate the grave, especially the old ones that was deteriorating due to exposure to the UV and heat from sun and rain, and repeat.

Before talking about going to the grave, I want to brief you about the proper etiquette at a Christian Grave.

Proper Etiquette at Christian Graveyard

My sharing here is based on what I have practiced throughout years of living my life as a Christian (Roman Catholic) at Kpg Pichin, Serian. This applies if you were to do any business, or even photography job there.

  1. Don’t go there without permission, especially if you don’t know the relatives of the particular grave you are visiting. If you must go, do contact the head of the village. The best time to go is during All Souls’ Day on 2nd Nov every year. This is the best time to visit graves, where all of the relatives of the departed ones visit their grave. It is totally different story if you want to visit your late great-great grandmother’s grave to clean it. You and your relatives, or friends of your choosing can go there anytime you want. You have a specific job to carry out there.
  2. Don’t play around at Graveyard. It is not a playground. If you want to play, go visit LePapa, Serian. They have a playground outside.
  3. Dress appropriately. To be safe, just wear any non-revealing attires or even better, wear casual attire, just like how you want to visit your friends during Gawai, Kaamatan or even Raya. The best dress is the black or white, and non-colourful or cheerful themed dress.
  4. Don’t make noise or even play inappropriate music there. It is not a rock concert or a stage. The acceptable case is when everyone recite a prayer together or even singing hymns together during All Soul’s Day. For me, that is the best part of the 2nd Nov, to see my villagers pray and sing together at our beloveds final resting place; praying for them to demonstrate our love even though we are no longer occupying the same phase of life.
  5. Do not do inappropriate business at graveyard. For example, sleeping there to get lucky number (superstition), do photoshoot there with intention of getting viral, which is inappropriate and a sign of disrespect.
  6. Remember to take bath after you came back from graveyard, because you don’t want to bring back anything to your residence. You also need to clean your gears from the graveyard soils because of this reason.

Wedding Dress Photoshoot at Christian Graveyard, Batu Pahat

Recently I was shocked to see a viral post, showing a bunch of people went for a photoshoot at a Christian graveyard at Batu Pahat. Initially I thought they were related to them, or it was part of the recent All Souls’ Day celebration. I was wrong. They are not doing it as part of religious celebration, but they are doing it as per normal photoshoot to promote their latest wedding dress just like how any photographer treat any normal photoshoot venue. That’s the first red flag.

The second one is, they are not part of the community there, and I highly doubt that any of the community members of the departed ones were involved. The biggest red flag here is that they are disrespecting the grave.  I believe majority of non-Muslims do not have any intention of doing photoshoot at Muslim graveyard because we, Christians respect Muslim’s religion, culture and graveyard. However, this bunch of people have crossed the line. That’s why, many of the Christians all around Malaysia were infuriated.

I dig further, and I found that Harian Metro interviewed her, Nur Amirah Mohd Amiruddin, 26, the owner of the boutique. You can read it here. In that article, she said that she just want to do something different, and inspired by the photographers and models outside of Malaysia, which is understood as they have a lot of cultures. She also mentioned that she has no intention of being viralised when she first did this.

“Saya pilih lokasi itu kerana mahu mencari kelainan dan mahu lari daripada kebiasaan dengan mengambil inspirasi daripada luar negara. Tujuan saya memuat naik gambar berkenaan di FB adalah untuk suka-suka dan tiada niat langsung mempermainkan mana-mana agama,”

(Translation: I chose the location because I want to find something different and to go outside the from the norm by taking inspiration from outside Malaysia. My intention to upload the picture is for fun and has no intention to make fun or ridiculing any religion).

That is the statement that was being given when she was being interviewed by Harian Metro.

Why Is This A Big Thing and Makes A Lot of People Angry?

For Christian, graveyard is the final resting place for someone after they leave this world. It is where their body resides. For Christian, our body is the temple Holy Spirit and it should be treated with reverence or deep respect. Love that we have is stronger than death. That is why we visit graveyard every year, to remember the one that left us behind as their soul passes on to God.

From Chrissy’s Tweet. That is why she is furious. Don’t mess around with a Sarawakian lady.

When I was a small kid, and to many other Christians, we were being taught to RESPECT the graveyards. I remembered that my parents and grandparents told me to not play around at graveyard, it is not even a place to play, joke around or even horse play. Even when you need to be particular when you are sitting on the grave, because for us at Pichin, we shouldn’t CROSS a grave (melangkah). It is a big no no. For us, it is a huge sign of disrespect. For other graveyards, even the priests will come and bless the grave with holy water. Grave plays a vital role in a Christian faith, where it is a symbol of reverence or deep respect to our body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit as our soul passes on to God. Each steps should be taken carefully as we visit graves and when we want to visit our departed beloved’s grave. I do remember I had to be guided by my uncle as I find my way through the grave yard. Now that I am big, it is my turn to guide my niece and nephew as they grew older later on.

There is something disturbing about this photo. (From MummyQueen’s IG Story)

Also, they are using wedding dresses. Wedding is a sacred union between man and woman. It was unthinkable to do combine wedding-related items with graveyards. This is real life, not Hollywood. Not Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride. I am not sure what concept they are trying to do, but to trying to do whatever you see on TV at an actual graveyard is not a good idea. Whoever suggested the idea should be brought to justice.

The funny Tweet about the whole thing, including Photography class.

I am glad to see that even her fellow peoples, (Malay & Muslims) understands the level of respect that graveyard deserves and condemning the activities of these irresponsible peoples that disrespects the grave. Such action is indeed a disgrace to the Muslim community in Malaysia, because I know that majority of them respects the other religions.

It is a shame that the bad apples get the most publicity. Therefore, there is no need for you guys to apologise on behalf of your religion because it is not your fault. The one at fault is the one who does and involved with this photoshoot.

I think that if you are desperate to be famous, any way is a good way, even if it infuriates other peoples. I learned that her followers’ number skyrockets. But at what cost? Losing your pride? You don’t want to be remembered for the wrong reason, particularly an over-the-top venue of photoshoot. In this particular case, not only they are being lambasted in social media, but they are also being schooled and scolded by their own fellow Muslims. Such is the price to be paid.

I have been singing “Helena” for the longest time I can recall. When I saw this meme from Jacob, I had a good laugh. From Facebook: Jacob Eli

If someone does that to my great grandparents grave, I will find you. Other headhunters descendants are not so forgiving though. Just be glad that you don’t do it at Sarawak. Otherwise, I am not sure what will happen next.

Conclusion:

What I can say is, respect others, to earn respect from them. That’s the fundamental things to be learned from one another, especially if you are living in a multi-cultural country like Malaysia. Also, she had posted a live apology. If it is sincere, then may she gains peace. Otherwise, only God knows what’s next. I hope this post teaches you what do do next during your next visit to any Christian graveyard. There might be some difference, but fundamentally it is the same, where you should treat it with respect.

Let us treat each other with respect, and show each Malaysian the level of respect that we all deserve. Since she apologised already, let’s forgive them as Jesus’ teaches us to forgive one another just like how Father forgives us. Let’s close this book as there is benefit in harbouring hatred and move on, but let the lesson remains lest it is repeated. Have a good week ahead!

Your Tukang Rantek,
Claudius Weson

Note: Claudius Weson is a Pichin-born, tukang rantek (photographer) based in Miri, mainly doing portraiture (indoor / studio / outdoor photoshoot), weddings and event photography. 

Miss Mermaidopia Ambassador 2019

Dear friends,

How’s your 2019 so far? Are you getting closer to your dream than yesterday? For me, being a “tukang rantek” (photographer in Bidayuh Pichin) took me into a different path in life as part of my self-discovery photography career. Thanks to Trisha, I met Aldrin, a gentleman who runs  Aldrin’s Flair & Events Decor and managed to get my hand into his next event which they organise, Miss Mermaidopia Ambassador 2019, an event sponsored by Boulevard Shopping Mall, Miri Events and Décor Specialist, Wan Soon Florist and Love Mermaidopia as well as the kind Miss Eva Mae (Miss Asia International 2008). 

Love Mermaidopia is a brand with mystical mermaid theme that aiming to enlighten beauties that beautifying can be affordable and easy with natural yet safe range of products. They are proud Malaysia brand, based in Selangor and currently have super agents around the country. They are also still making waves to share the love with their Serum Hair Mist, Coral Curl Duo Mascara, Aqua Glow Cushion and more to come.

As for the competition, the winner will receive RM700 of cash, crown, sash and will be the ambassador of Mermaidopia. First and second runner ups will win RM500 and RM300 respectively along with crown and sash.

Coronation ceremony.

Personally I have never been involved in this kind of event before, therefore this is a new learning for me and I am thrilled to be able to cover such event. Armed with my Leica gears, this time only with M10 and Noctilux 50.

The event itself is a combination of both Singing Competition and Beauty Pageant. As for singing, it was participated by Vivian Garvin, Harith bin Habib, Hezron Joseph, Patrick Unchu, Awang Mohd Faiz Ashraf, Chia Chai Ying, Elia Mitchell and Mohd Faizul bin Mohd Maidin.

As with any other competitions, it is not complete without a line-up of wise and experiences judges. For Miss Mermaidopia Ambassador judges, they are Angelia Vanessa (Winner GCM Miss Cultural 2018), Emily Elizabeth (Winner Miss Youth Festival 2018) & Emily Chieng (Winner Miss Vibrant 2019).  For your info, Emily Elizabeth herself is an accomplished chef. She is such an inspiration to those who wants to make their dream a reality. 

Emily Chieng, Eva Mae, Spanski, Angelia Vanessa & Emily Elizabeth.

For the singing competition, which is organized by Miri Events & Décor Specialist, the judges are Jeremiah Udan and Dayang Bismi. I have a feeling that she is related to Dayang Nurfaezah. Anyone can confirm? Please write in the comment below.

Event Flow:

The event will not be lively without a good emcee, and that is where one of Miri’s most sought after emcee, Spanski Steven come into play. With his deep bass voice, he ensures that the event runs smoothly as a hot knife cuts through a butter. Behind the scene, running around here and there with Aldrin are Hayes Collin, Trisha Joe & McGrable Diwan to make sure that the event runs smoothly. 

Mr Spanski Steven

The singing competition is quite straightforward where every participants only need to sing a song. But that can be a tricky part as you need to pick the song that can represent the best of your vocal abilities as well as your mastery in fully utilising the stage, which can be a daunting task for the new ones. Anyway, that doesn’t stop Harith to bag the championship and win, followed by Hezron and Elia.

As for the beauty pageant, after few rounds of cat-walks and two sets of Q&As, Miss Mermaidopia Ambassador 2019 winner goes to the talented Nicole Goldy, with runner-ups won by Abigiel Lawai, Noria Anah, Veronica Michalle and Cindy Balang. There is also a subsidiary title of Best Opening Dress, won by Helena Telun, followed by Njzallina Supand and Amelia Kassim.

Congratulations to all of the winners, and to those who participated in the event because it takes a lot of courage to be part of this exciting competition as well as to answer question on the spot, in front of the public. Not to mention singing.

From left: Jeremiah, Elia, Harith, Hezron & Dayang Bismi.
The winners and the Aldrin’s crew. Alvin said they never had any event photos, so this is to break that tradition.

Below is the gallery of the event photo. Enjoy!

Bonus: The Power of Family

As I was shooting around to get the photos, I noticed that there is a lot of family members and friends who came to show their support to the contestants. Coming from a family that emphasises a lot in family values (subtle expression of love), I like this situation. It is from a strong and loving family that we can generate enough willpower to move forward, especially to achieve a seemingly impossible goal. Be it to pursue your dream of becoming an accomplished fitness coach like MarvInspire Fitness, or a chef and beauty queen like Emily, family is a powerful unit that can brings that extra power, and make you realise your full potential. They are also your fallback plan, should things doesn’t go as per your plan. I love to enjoy my uninterrupted off-day by my family side, especially now that I have two new family members, thanks to my sister (yeah, keep it coming) and snap my family photo.

Nicole and her family.
Inik pan datai mega. Amat stidi, support ucu. 😀

For me, I love photography because I want to immortalise my family moments. With my skills also, I can immortalise the beautiful moments in your family, be it wedding, birthday party as well as festivities.

Until next time, have a great week ahead!

Your Tukang Rantek,

Claudius

All photographs are © Claudius Weson Photography (2019). All rights reserved. No content should be used without prior approval from Claudius Weson. 

Hasta La Vista, Amigo!Photoshoot with Marvin, David and Lee Yung Leong

Greetings and Happy New Year friends!

It is 22 January and I hope you will find this new year an amazing year. For me it is. It was an amazing start, and I had a blast, especially at my village, where everything was calm and quiet, with clouds and mists hugging the lands before 9 am and crickets rock the ground as early as 7pm.

New Year’s Day at Kpg Pichin, Serian

Anyway, I am not going to talk about new year’s day because my resolution is never changing . Today’s post is about my buddy, Marvin who is going to be transferred to Bintulu, and reunited with the love of his life, Patrissa.

To make it simple, no man is an island, not even Rome is built by a single person. Like in any phase of life, we all do need somebody to motivate us to our goals, lest we quit prematurely and abandon all hopes and dreams. I even started my photography journey following Marvin’s “comment” (not going to disclose it here). To cut the story short, that is part of the friendship that we have. We comment each other and from there, we build our competences, abilities and in eventually we realised that sky is not tall at all.

Marvin is a Spartan warrior, not the one that we saw at 300 movie but a modern day, where he is involved with those obstacle course run (OCR) as they would put it. He has two trifecta’s, something that we don’t get to see dangling near Transformer of Lutong office. It is a Spartan’s pride. He gets to be FitFour Glove ambassador, and from him you can get a discount. You can visit his Facebook page, MarvinInspire, his blog at marvininspire.com, Instagram at @marvininspire.

Recently we talk about the Street Photography Master, Eric Kim. There is a lot of things that we can learn from him, that includes the life and how it can be improved just by focusing on our goals and reduce the noises. If Eric Kim is reading this, please note that you also have a fan from Miri, Sarawak and perhaps one day I will join your course.

Marvin and David, both are heavy-weightlifters, motivating one another to reach their goals to reach for the iron star, lifting one bars at a time, increasing a kilo at one time. Being a lone wolf is good to seek thy lost self, but wolves hunt better in pack. All the best Marvin in your new adventure. May God bless you and Pat! May your dreams come true, one kilo at a time.

The photos below are the ones we took in front of the famous Shell Lutong office, our main hustle / battleground, towards a better Malaysia!

Waiting for his Bintulu Lady :p

Me and Spartan Marvin

Spartan Marvin himself. A Simon Sinek’s fan.

Posing in front of the Lutongs’s “fortress of oil and gas”

Double Peace!

We are BIG DREAMERS!

I thought Marvin was big, then Lee came to the picture.

One for the album.

True buddies, now and forever. Amen.

Motivation Talks. How To Find Happiness Through Photography

Greetings everyone! Today there is a topic that is running through my head, and I felt like I need to write it out before I even call it a day as for today. The topic in discussion today is “happiness”. As a human, it is normal for us to seek happiness in everything we do. If not, then there is no point for us to find it. As for my other-half Belinda, she is happy when she can dance, as she is a dancer. For my friend, Marvin (marvininspire.com), he is happy when he can sweat and doing his workout while preparing for the next Spartan race at Johor Bahru on 9th December 2017. Some people is happy when when they can sing, like my friend Mark Julex (MJ), who is a talented singer and I still think he took the wrong line of business, not engineering, but music industry. I hope he is reading this part.

Me and my colleagues at work.

Anyway, back to my topic, one can’t help to wonder, in what way photography makes someone happy? Have you ever seen someone unhappy when they took pictures? Maybe yes, when that person was capturing a group photo, but he was not in the group. In that instance, with the correct placement of camera, or a selfie – invented by Mr Bean back in the 90s, he can include himself in the photo. Of course it is always better to use a tripod to take a group photo.

Capturing the Decisive Moment

For me, how photography makes me happy is very simple. I am a man of mission, and every single time I am wielding my camera, I have an aim, which is to capture a moment unrepeated, or decisive moment. When I managed to capture this decisive moment, I am happy. When I am not, I will not be unhappy either, but it is rather a challenge to look for more opportunities.

The Lutong Beatles

Immortalising Memories

During my assignment, I always look forward to capture the best part of an event. For example, in a wedding, the best part is to capture the moment when Priest announced that the groom may kiss the bride; in a birthday photography assignment, is when the birthday person blows the candle. These are the things that is not meant to be repeated. Years of honing my street photography skills helped me to prepare for this kind of event, but there are still a lot of room for improvement. However, like life, it is not about the destination, but the journey itself. For me, joy is also when I see others in joy. I love to capture the happiness in every single photographs I create. The joy is then doubled when I receive heart-warming feedbacks from my clients. For me, that is happiness.

 

Smiling Hulk Hogan

Exercise!

For me, photography is also an opportunity for me to exercise. What is a better thing to do than to capture the event or moment while taking the time to exercise your muscle and arms? When I am doing my assignment, particularly event photography, I will always walk around. If you saw me sitting at the guest’s table, that means I am not hired. That is all. Otherwise, as part of my code of conduct, I am always on standby mode, since I am still on duty, so it is very important for me to give my all until the event is over. I do not believe in partiality, such as giving my 50% when I am being paid less. For me, it is either you hire me or not. That’s it. Plain and simple.

Running Man

 

BONUS:
It is also surprising when people recognises your name but not your face. Well, most of the time, exposure to my works happen only via social media, and photos get shared around. So this is not uncommon.

So to summarise, for me, happiness in photography came from capturing the decisive moments, immortalising memories and exercise. If you have any comments, you may leave it below. Have a good day ahead!

 

Regards,
Claudius

A Short StoryA Man, An Island and His Phobia

A boat stranded due to low-tide.

Disclaimer: The event and characters you read in this short story is fictional. Any resemblance to a real incident, to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

 

Once upon a time in the 18th century, a young man was living on an island so big, so hollistic that he doesn’t want to leave no matter what. Every time his caring neighbours told him to go to mainland, he said that he already have everything that he need on the island, so there is no reason for him to leave. As time goes by, the young man became and adult, and like any other peoples of the island, he get married with a local lady and was blessed with two kids – a boy and a girl. His wife is a wise young lady, and she is aware of her husband’s stubbornness and the concern from the locals about his attitude of never wanting to leave the island to find better opportunities outside. No matter how hard she persuades him, she still cannot make him to go to the island. After doing her own research, she found out that the main reason why he doesn’t want to leave the island is because he had an accident at the sea, where his boat was capsized and he was drowning, but luckily he was saved by his late father. Ever since then, he refuses to go near to the sea. His late father told him to slowly get rid of his phobia, but he refuses, and instead, he claimed that he loves the island and never wanted to leave.

In order to make his husband face his fear, she and their kids tried to make a story. Their daughter, who is a talented young girl, and can act out anything, feigned to be in pain. His wise wife also collaborated with the island’s shaman so that she will tell the husband that the cure for their daughter’s sickness is available at the mainland. Hearing this, the husband was taken aback, since he had his fear. However, thinking that her daughter’s life is more important and no bigger than his fear, he embarked his journey to the mainland, which normally takes one full day of rowing since the island is not that far anyway.

His journey is not that easy at first, because it has been a long time since he was on the water. But after sometime, being a naturally-born seaman, he continues his journey. Dolphins, as if they were invited, swam and jumping around his boat to keep him accompany. There was once he saw a strange figure swimming in the water, like a huge fish, but he doesn’t care – for all he want is to go the mainland and get the medicine for his daughter. Once he arrived at the mainland, he was greeted by an unknown old man. Surprisingly, that old man knows him very well, as if he was his father. That old man then gave that guy a little box of something shining, which he said was entrusted to him by his late father. That shining item turns out to be a huge pearl, something bigger than a golf ball, and inside it was a strange inscription, believed to be a mantra of some sorts. Before he left also, that old man brought him a new model of boat, the one equipped with an engine, which is way ahead of its time. Once he passed to him the items, the old man bid farewell and then gone with the wind, as if all this while he was just a concentration of colourful, personified dust.

Without wasting any more time, he sped of to the island, and to his surprise, his daughter was all healed-up. Feeling uneasy, he approached his wife and asked her, what is happening here? His wife then explained lovingly that she doesn’t want him to be bounded by his fear anymore, and explained to him that no matter what happens, she still loves him despite his short-comings. Though initially he was a bit frustrated because he felt cheated, instead, he hugged his wife and his children tight. The shaman asked for the pearl from the man, and explained to him the person he met at the island is actually a manifestation of his father’s soul. His father wants to meet him before he leave this world for good, and after waiting for so many years, now his soul can finally be at peace. The boat itself was sent to his late father by a visitor from another era, since his father was a wise leader of the land, and with the boat, he is more agile than ever. However, care must be taken that the boat is in good condition, so it is summoned only during the emergency situation.

After the incident, the man and his family live in peace at the island, and once he is wise enough, he was equivocally elected to be the chief of the island.

Moral of the story:
1. Love is our resistance. A soul full of love can conquer any fear.
2. Family first, fear later.
3. Our parents are getting old. Make time to visit them more often before it is too late.

Of Best Camera Yet Poor Images... yes, you're not the only one wondering...

I acquired my first phone with camera, I literally shot almost everything that I think is interesting. Back in 2007, we are talking about VGA quality because I cannot afford to buy something better. When I finally have enough money, I upgraded into Sony-Ericsson W890i, which has significantly better camera and it has Walkman functionality at that time, something that I need. Over time, I had my first iPhone back in Apr 2012, then it made a world of differences. I take higher quality images of my loved ones, especially my family and of course, my lady.

The world is not enough if you have GAS.

Fast forward, as mentioned in my previous post, I acquired my first DSLR in 2014, and then upgraded into Leica in 2015. When I finally had Leica in my hand, my photography remains the same. It goes the other way round actually at first, because I need to get used to Leica.
That fact led me to think seriously about myself and my photography skill – what went wrong? So, listed down, here are the things think went wrong.
  1. Wrong Mindset – more expensive gears will improve my skills
  2. Wrong Attention Focus – spent time to review gears instead of creating good photographs
  3. Wrong Inspiration – Does not learn from the best of the trade

Wrong Mindset

Initially, I was one of the photographers who thought that if I buy more expensive gears, I will improve my photography skills. WRONG! Yes, your image quality is good, but that is because of the technicalities of the camera, not your image composition and the stories behind it. You can have a 50 megapixel camera, and yet your photo is not compelling. It has poor composition. Poor lighting and misplaced subjects. It is like someone who bought a Ferrari thinking he can instantly drive like Michael Schumacher, or someone who bought a Yamaha and immediately thought he can ride like the famous Valentino Rossi. Nope, it doesn’t work that way.

Repent now human, and denounce your GAS-sins, mortals!

Wrong Attention Focus

Focus on someone else, your judging and criticising ability will improve. Focus on the the winner, your will always be behind the winner. Focus on the camera gears, you will end up buying more unnecessary camera gear. This is what we call “Gear Acquisition Syndrome” (GAS). In photography, there is no need for you to keep up with the Jones. If they buy Nikon, it is still affordable. What if they buy the latest Leica M10 or even buy APO-Summicron 50? Or bought Hasselblad X1D? Then you are done for (unless you have tons of money). The more you review these camera gear, you will have a strong urge to buy what you initially do not need. It happens to me, but it doesn’t have to happen to you.

What are you looking at, Mister Cameraman?

Wrong Inspiration

You have the best car in the world, yet you do not know where to go or what number to beat in a single lap. You might have upgraded your MiniGP to the max, but are still happy when you do 1’20” at Miri track. That is quite slow man.
Same goes to photography – You might have the best camera, but you do not know who to aspire to be. You just continue to take snapshots but created no good photographs. I would say, don’t. You had your focus wrong, if you were to pursue a professional career in photography. This is not a problem if you take it as a hobby. if hobby, I have no issue. Do as you please and have fun.

I feel like shit now, I spend all of my money on camera gears. Now I have no money for breakfast. LOL

What Should You Do if You Are Beginner?

If I were to give advise to my younger self, I would do these few things:
  1. Take formal photography class, or better still, google it out if you have budget constraint. For me, if there is any Leica masterclass, I will join. It is fun to meet those of the same passion like you do.
  2. Buy a good beginner’s camera. I am influenced by Eric Kim, so I will buy the legendary Ricoh GR II. It cost around RM2700 brand new. Then once I have enough money and when I believe I have the skills, I will upgrade into Leica as early as I can.
  3. Follow the “sifus” or photography gurus. For example, since I consider myself initially as street photography, I followed Eric Kim. Eric Kim is an inspiration for street photography. For other photography, I usually just check out the photography branch at Instagram of Flickr or Facebook. For wedding photography, just type it as keyword and you can see a lot of images popping out from your laptop window.
  4. Always do self-reflection to ensure you are on the right track. Constantly align your goal with what you are doing now. Join a photography community around you, or you can contact me.

I think I am handsome, and I know it. But do everyone else agree with me?

Well, I think that is it for now. If you have any comments or feedback, just leave it down below.
Regards,
Claudius

Keeping The Passion Alive...even if you are away from your main camera...

Dear friends,

I kept on hearing from my friends who are fellow photographers as well, that they sometimes found themselves struggling to find their reason to shoot photos, especially if they are working as freelancer photographer and projects or jobs are hard to come by nowadays, unless you have established your reputation as an accomplished photographer. This often demotivate them and the next thing we know is that their camera is collecting dust somewhere at the corner of the cabinet. What a sad fate.

“Luconia Sunset” – This photo is captured using iPhone 6 Plus. I love the sunset. Do you? 😀

 

I can relate to that since my full-time career is engineer, which requires me to travel from one place to another, depending on the occasion. Sometimes I go offshore too. On certain cases, I will not be able to bring my Leica camera due to work commitment, so I am often found with no camera. But that is if you discount your phone camera. So, I would like to share few tips that I have to keep the passion alive and keep the fire burning.

 

The Legendary Usa Panting

 

1. The best camera is the one you have with you

I am quoting Jay Maisel. Truly, the camera phone technology has developed faster and is closely approaching the quality of a standalone camera, and compared to the technology last 5 years, it has increased dramatically. Now, almost every smartphone makers want to build-in “depth effect” – which previously can only be created by using bigger aperture lenses. Leica also has collaborated with Huawei to create a smartphone with decent camera, like Huawei P8. But Apple and Samsung is also leading the pack. Apple with their iPhone X (pronounced Ten), has two separate lenses, one with telephoto lens and the other is lens with wider aperture for portrait. Samsung Galaxy S8 is also not bad. In summary, with all these brilliantly-engineered camera, you can always have mobile camera with you. I would foresee that the camera makers want to make their camera as simple yet intuitive like a smartphone to attract the masses, unless you are like me. Leica M’s timeless design has a special place in my eye.

When I am offshore, I do use my phone to capture the moments, as and when the opportunity appears. Despite the limitations, whenever the light is good, and the moment is right, I am able to capture almost all of the moments. The situations where I am unable to use my phone to capture the photo is when the light is too dim as the photo would be too “noisy”. Image noise is defined as variation of colour or brightness information in a photo, and you can always see this when you try to take photo in dim or dark places.

Nevertheless, smartphone is a good alternative if you don’t have any camera with you. But of course, if you have the choice, do use the proper camera to capture the moments, in RAW.

I have managed to capture quite a lot of interesting photo using my phone. I am using iPhone 6 Plus. Although iPhone X is an attractive replacement for this iPhone 6 Plus, but this phone has been serving me well for the past two years without fail. So, I will keep on using it. Enjoy the photos below.

Protector. Captured using iPhone 6 Plus.

Night Protector

Oma

2. Create Blog

As a new blogger, I have started to realise that the best thing to do when you have so much info to pass on or to be shared, is to type a blog. Even the best websites in the world has WordPress as its backbone (most of it). For me, I am compelled to write a blog because I love to type a lot of stuff at my Instagram post, but I am always frustrated with the word limit that it has. So, the other alternative for me is to write a blog, and this where we are now. Unless you write some controversial stuff, your blog will continue to live on as long as you pay the fee. There is no free lunch. If you are not paying for the product, you ARE the product.

3. Photography Community

Humans, like any other mammals in the world, are social-creature. Our passion towards something is amplified whenever we have met someone of the same interest and from that group, our fire lives on. It doesn’t matter whether you have the gear or not. In fact, the absence of your gear temporarily gives an opportunity for you to rekindle your passion towards photography. You will start to miss your gear, like how I miss my Leica camera and lens when I am away for duty.

I also have made a wonderful group of friends and I even met Leica legends like Fulvio Bugani, an amazing Italian Leica photographer, an M10 ambassador as well as Mathias Heng, a Singaporean Leica photographer. From Leica Store Malaysia, we have Daniel, Joyce, Shannel and Chi Loon. You can read the full article here, written by another friend of mine, Izwan Ismail of New Straits Time.

Joyce, Fulvio & Daniel, after his “A Personal Vision” Masterclass at KL.

From Kuching, I glad to know people like Edwin Lay (www.edwinlay.com) and Barkley Lim (https://www.facebook.com/barkley.lim), whom I met during Tribal Warrior Challenge at Kuching back in 19 August this year at Sarawak Stadium – a venue where I have tested my M9 to the max, by running around in the rain wielding a Noctilux equipped with an ND filter simply because I love bokeh. Perhaps I can work again with them in the future.

As for the community, one of the interesting that you can do is to create your own photohunt around the town. Maybe you can also organise an event where everyone is encouraged to capture the most interesting photo. Apart from being a tool, photography is actually a way of life. A photographer is like an observer in this fleeting time flowing through space. For me, when I am away offshore, and when I happen to be in the same crew with Vera, we will always go to helideck to enjoy the sunset, and often we found ourselves lost track of time talking about photography, life and everything else in between.

Enjoying the beauty of sunset of Luconia, featuring the “Sabahan Mother” – Veralyn Marcie.

With all of this being said, I hope you can find a way to ignite the fire within. You can always feedback or have a chat with me if you need a dose of encouragement.

“Inspiring others though my lens”

 

Regards,
Claudius

Another Claudius BlogEnhancing Love Using Photographyand the key roles that photography play in love

Mr & Mrs Weson. Finally had the opportunity to capture their long-overdue “pre-wedding” photoshoot. As you can see here, I love bokeh! Truly bokehlicious. © Claudius Weson (2017)

Dear friends,

To fall in love is easy, but to remain in love is not easy especially in the current social situation, and with the advent of dating sites that grow like mushroom after the rain at tropical rainforest. But, what exactly we need to worry about if we have a significant other that truly understands our situation and vows to always by your side, in joy and sorrow, in ups and downs of life? Period.

Love is always there for loyal hearts. Some people enhances their love through activities that can be done together such as sports, riding big bikes, music etc. Personally, I think one common denominator for all of these are none other than photography. No other single activity that can relate to all of these aside from photography. Just imagine, even when you are doing sports, what would be the best method to capture the moment? Photography. When you ride bikes and chilling  out with your friends, you also take selfie or some photos, isn’t it? Same goes with anyone in love. For sure, those lovebirds will immortalise the moments in permanent pixels.

This seems to come naturally that everyone seems to forgot that they are, in fact, a photographer themselves. Gone are the days where the photographer are the huge blackbox wielding personnel. Everyone carrying a smartphone nowadays are photographers. However, the difference that they have with the professional photographer is the quality of the image, the end result and the emotional impact that it possess (borrowing Thorsten von Overgaard’s term. You can visit his website here).

In my opinion, there are 3 key roles that photography plays in love.

  1. Immortalising Moments
  2. Capturing The Emotions
  3. Opportunity To Fall in Love, Again

 

Marvin & Patrissa’s Civil Marriage Day. Look at the joy in their face! Moments captured using Leica 35 Summilux and Leica M9-P. © Claudius Weson (2017)

 

First Dance – Eric & Vesella. Moments captured using Leica 35 Summilux and M Monochrom. © Claudius Weson (2017)

1. Immortalising Moments

Imagine that we are living in a 3-axis plane called third-dimension, where the 3 axis are the physical plane that we can see. Then time would be its fourth dimension added into that plane. As the fourth axis, time cannot be reversed and can only move forward. So, whatever we saw happening now, will never be happening again unless someone has a super-power to control time. Whatever picture that you took, you are looking at your past, be it few seconds or 1 year ago. What a good photographer do is to capture the moments where the lovers are together, whatever they do. For the serious ones, they even willing to take their intimate photos, for they realise that their shape today is not what they might see tomorrow. The beautiful and handsome face of today will be an aged face of tomorrow. Just imagine whatever you are doing, be it capturing photographs, you are freezing the moments – best if you do it together with your loved ones. Ever wonder why people take wedding photographs? It is another way to freeze the moments, immortalising it for the benefit of the future generations. That is why people go as far possible for their wedding photographs, even though, with a bit of creativity, the mundane scenery can be made amazing with the right timing, and the right placement of the subject and the camera in this 3-dimensional world. Basically, immortalising moment is more to the physical aspect.

2. Capturing The Emotions

When we smile, actually we are releasing a set of energy, which is beyond my technical knowledge to explain. But I do know, you do know that smiling person warms up the heart of the person surrounding them. A cold heart, on the other hand, will be made warmer as well by smile, although deliberate suppression of emotion is unavoidable for those in bad mood. From my experience, the best emotion is radiated by those in love. Genuine expression of feeling is truly a rare gem in this world full of “like” hunters. In my works, I do love to capture the emotion of the couples when they are together, and I usually let them with their thoughts to one another as if I was not there. Confession of love makes the best moments portrait. Something to look forward in my next job. Once the photo is done, often the effect it has is “wow”, especially for the couples. I always strive to make the best photos of my clients. I make them as beautiful, as handsome, as charming as naturally possible. I also always on the look for these emotions, once captured, processed, and presented, will have the element to enhance the love for one another.

3. Opportunity To Fall In Love, Again

The process of taking photo together, whether we realise it or not, is an opportunity to fall in love again. Doesn’t matter if the photo is captured by professional photographer or just simply a selfie together at the park, it is always an opportunity. The secret of a lasting relationship is to fall in love again and again, but always with the same person. Too many breakups nowadays because there were expecting so much from one another, without knowing their limits and boundaries. However, there are some cases they rekindled together after sometime, thanks to the photos captured together, a reminder of the good times they once had. Relating to the photo that I have captured below, for Stroyan and Emmy, it was a chance-shooting, where they attended our mutual friend’s wedding, Stef. I, as usual took the opportunity to immortalise the moments together for them. Also, not to forget the king and queen of the night, Stef and Edmond.

Stef and Edmond. This shot was taken handheld, using only the available light from the lamp post to give the fog-like effect and the element of romance. Moment captured using 50mm Noctilux f/0.95 and Leica M9. © Claudius Weson (2017)

 

King & Queen of the Night sharing kisses – Boni & Diane. Moment captured using Leica 35 Summilux and Leica M9-P. © Claudius Weson (2017)

 

If you agree with my opinions above or want to discuss something, leave a comment below. On the photography notes, there pictures were captured using Leica M9 and the King of the Night, 50mm Noctilux f/0.95 ASPH. I simply love to use that lens wide open, and bought an ND filter for it too from Leica Store Malaysia. If you love my philosophy and wish to make me the man to capture they beautiful moments of your event, you may contact me via Facebook, Instagram or mobile phone.

That’s all for now peoples. Have a good weekend!

 

Sincerely,

Claudius Weson