Hello 2018.

Been meaning to write but never quite found the time and right words to put it all together. Not going to put up a perfunctory 2017 reflections/summary up but perhaps share some of the more interesting things that happened and also my current outlook on life. 

If you follow me on Facebook, I had listed out two highlights of my 2017 - that would be working with the Yishun kids beyond Hello Heartlands, a photography project supported by Our Singapore Fund and National Arts Council; and picking up a new sport in climbing. The former has evolved into a loose collective of young residents, living in rental units in Yishun St 22, who now have access to Friday group tuition, holiday outings and a listening ear in us. I’ve so much more to say about climbing but that would be a post for another time.

Those of you following my work would also know that I’m a dedicated and passionate documentary photographer. In particular, I’m moving onto my 5th year for the ’School of Hard Knocks’ project. Had the opportunity to exhibit at the ’Women in Photography’ showcase at Objectifs together with Maika Elan, Nancy Borowick, Sandra Mehl, and co. in Oct 2017. Henri Cartier-Bresson says that ‘your first 10,000 photographs are your worst’. I’ve made more than 10,000 images of this family but I know the best is yet to be. For younger photographers out there, 10k images on one given project sound intimidating but the key, really, is consistency and a love for your subject/subject matter. I strive to keep at this body of work for as long as I wield a camera.

Apart from docu work, I did a bit more teaching too. My teaching stints at various institutions like Singapore Sports School, ITE East, and Roundbox Centre allowed me to work with more youths and was a (personal) reaffirmation that I possessed a chemistry and synergy with the younger gen. It has been refreshing and I look forward to more teaching gigs this year.

On a slightly somber note, end Jan marks the 3rd anniversary of my Dad’s demise and while the ghosts of that night still haunt me, his passing is a stark reminder that life is transient and unpredictable. It somehow always takes a tragedy to shake us up and make us rethink life, but since then, I’ve been enjoying life as best as I can.

I no longer blindly chase accolades and dollar bills. I’m not sure you can say I’m less ambitious or driven than before, but I’ve learned to pace myself and do more of the things I love. My close friends comment that I’m very lucky to be enjoying life like this. Damn right. But I also think it is a deliberate choice you and I can make. What if you’ve been slogging your entire life and then *bam* you realize you only have one more week to live? 

I don’t have many material needs - no extravagant purchases, no luxurious lifestyle. Only the occasional splurge at cafes and paying for climbing gym passes. I spend much of my days at home - watching, reading, learning new things, going out teach and shoot, working on my personal projects, dreaming about new work to produce, traveling and now climbing.  I count myself fortunate not to be stuck with student loans or any debts and to have a family that is financially stable and supportive of the decisions I’ve made thus far. But if you think about it, if we’re not slaves to consumerism, do we really need so much to survive?

I thank God for the clarity and peace in my heart and for all His blessings and favors. When a good opportunity slips away, Mama and I would always remind each other that “if it’s not yours, it’s not yours”. I hope that 2018 would be just as rad with more growth for my journey in storytelling, sharing and climbing. I’ve set myself many little goals and milestones to work towards to in the aforementioned three aspects, but may a fulfilling and meaningful existence be at the bottom of it all.

Here’s to a gnarly 2018 to you all too. Cheers.

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