Just about over three weeks ago (yes, it’s been long overdue), I returned to the Pusat Rakyat Loyar Burok, or also formally known as the Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism and Human Rights (MCCHR), in Bangsar to complete the second and final phase of photoshoot for the NGO. The first visit saw me photo-rummaging through their product line to build a database of images for their soon-to-be-launched Loyar Barang website.
It was then also that I’ve had the privilege to meet one of the man behind this monumental and society-rocking movement for a better Malaysia; the human rights activist Edmund Bon. All these images that are captured will be used to equip Loyar Burok (LB) and its income-generating “sister” establishment, Loyar Barang, for a more visually intriguing and pleasing PR front. Simply put, it’s merely a branding exercise aimed at portraying the raw, gritty, edgy and passionate energy fueling the DIY LB community at large.
Loyar Barang is an online boutique store featuring a wide range of merchandises on sale. Apparently, it aims to be the first self-sustaining NGO to raise funds through online sale, relying on little or no external support. Noble cause and creative means for sustainability achievement but not exactly a new idea. But then again, action speaks louder than words. So I just have to give it to them for taking the leap. Similarly, I guess everyone has to start somewhere, somehow. So I started off my first “fashion” photoshoot of models wearing Loyar Burok’s merchandises.
I was more than delighted to be a part of effecting change, however small that may be (especially when it promises so much FUN doing it!). So I jumped at the chance to help craft the mood and image of non-professional models wearing Loyar Barang’s range of T-shirts.
The models were purely commoners and your average Malaysians plucked from the streets of KL. But don’t be fooled. These bunch of outspoken, learned and most importantly, “awakened” young adults took to their modelling roles all too well.
I started off with the most visible and interesting backdrop found at the Pusat Rakyat, an aged blackboard teeming with nonchalant smudged markings of half-erased content, suggestive of countless sessions of brewing wisdom and tactical plots in the making.
I splashed it with colour to inject some tone to an otherwise drab background. A second 1/2 CTO speed light was boomed on a C-stand as my key light. A third speed light was occasionally used in some shots to provide back light edge separation.
It didn’t take me much to coax out the required expressions from these co-operative models, which proved to be a far cry from begging obedience or milking an ounce of submission from children. But then again, ain’t an apple to apple comparison. I guess at the end of the day, it was just a group of selfless grown-ups helping out while hanging out having fun at the same time. No different from beers and pizza at the backyard picnic scene.
After completing the session above using the blackboard backdrop (about an hour), I shifted to the spiral stair well. I’ve always flirted with the thought of doing something interesting here, like nuking the windows with just the right amount of light simulating nearby street or building lights contaminating the scene. Or even, an assortment of colours to mimic flashing neon-lights on a busy street teeming with night life. Time wasn’t a luxury, so I had to make it very simple here.
A bare head CTB speed light was firing through the window to the left. While a voice-activated-light stand (VAL) helped boomed a 1/2 CTO shoot-thru umbrella from above the scene, right over the model’s face. I could have done better by introducing a third red-gelled speed light firing from outside the window to camera right, and a fourth full CTO firing from the floor below, giving me a faint but conspicuous warm tungsten light rising from downstairs. Nice to have, but time ain’t that friendly to me then.
After just 20 minutes at the stair well, I packed up and moved skywards, to the roof top. And that’s when the real fun began.
As usual, I could have done more but in the interest of time, I wasn’t allowed to explore much. The roof-top wasn’t really a spacious or safe area for me to have many equipment around. So I was working with just one light most of the time (boomed over by a VAL).
There were altogether about more than 10 of us up there. There weren’t much room to maneuver around and we had to be especially careful with where we placed our feet.
Lastly, just before we wrapped up, we chose the entrance to the roof top as our final location to grab a couple more shots.
We completed the shoot at about 7pm, rounding off an approximately 2.5 hours of shooting time. That’s of course, not taking into account the time-consuming tearing down and packing up. Just like cooking, I’ve always loved the process, but never the washing up. Similarly, it ain’t fun when you have to be your own assistant while keeping a sound mind (despite the fatigue) ensuring you have all your gear accounted for in the end.
However, most of the time in such shoots, the adrenaline from all the fun during the process that kicks in helps to delay the resulting fatigue thereafter. The drain only sets in much later. But by then, it’s much compensated for by the realisation of having had a good shoot.
The knowing and thrill of having bagged the shot is absolutely indescribable. It’s definitely a potent consolation for all the efforts. I can’t wait to pursue another similar nature project.