Monday, January 26, 2004

The Stills Project: Parks of Putrajaya

300+ snaps, four whole mornings, three whole afternoons, a sleepless night and two shades darker later….

Taman Botani

Taman Warisan Pertanian

Taman Wetland

Taman Putra Perdana

While most people were making the most of their CNY holidays with balik kampung, catching up with friends and relatives or perhaps simply staying at home enjoying the respite from work, I found myself with a photo assignment due for submission on Monday the 26th, i.e. today at 10 a.m.

The assignment: Stills of the four Putrajaya parks.

1) Able to convey the essence of the parks’ attractions
2) Depict a sense of charm and appeal to the public. Must portray visitors.
3) Submission in form of soft copy (minimum 10 stills per park) and printed copy (the best 5 stills of each park)

Nope, I definitely did not plan to spend the four-days holiday roaming around the parks in Putrajaya trying to get that perfect snap. In fact I already had a couple of places to go to and a list of things to do as well as the delicious thoughts of sleeping in every morning, four days in a row! But as the saying goes, we could always plan, but….

The client’s deadline is on the 26th, and a photographer had already been engaged for the project whose work was to be submitted on the 21st. Turned out that the photographs did not fulfil their requirements (for submission to another party), thus there they were with a printing deadline in five days and tomorrow being the start of a four-days public holiday. Where to find someone to do it in such short notice, during a major public holiday as well?

To cut a long story short, someone needed some pictures to meet a printing deadline in five days, and there’s a four-days public holiday starting tomorrow. Who would be willing to do it?

Someone you already know, that’s who. That certain someone knew Bro, and it’s a fact that Bro does photographs for a living. But Bro had to be in his shop during that period, jaga kedai as everybody else is on CNY leave. Blabla di blabla dida dida and finally yours truly and Sis are suddenly toting a tripod and an assortment of three cameras around Putrajaya. All our cuti plans? Kensel la of course. The only plan that I would’ve went on with was going for the ‘Cocktales’ show, but then the tickets were sold out. Bummer.

I learnt that taking such photographs (in which humans and the surrounding are both equally-important as subject matters) could not be a hurried process, especially when you have to rely on a public setting where you have little control of the background and the people around it. People could be walking past by non-stop where you want it to be all clear, or you may found yourself waiting in that perfect setting for a full hour and could not see even one visitor, and yet when you decided to go for another setting and had left not a shout away they suddenly come in droves like it was the fairground or something. The best time to take pictures outside is also the ‘best’ time for you to get exposed to a higher risk of skin cancer.

People can be very accommodating and considerate (maybe because they were on a holiday and of course were on lower stress levels than usual). A lot of them wouldn’t come near once they spot the tripod (lest they be in the way), and we had to assure them it’s okay to walk in front of it, in fact what we wanted was to take pictures of people, not just the scenery. Most did not mind being photographed once we told them it’s for a project, and there were also the friendlier ones who became our ‘voluntary models’ and subject themselves to our ‘directions’, striking a particular pose here and there. Asking nicely, honest smiles and words of encouragement go a long way. Foreign tourists and young people were the most obliging lot.

Children were undeniably the most interesting to take photos of, and I just love the way they go around unassumingly, putting their pudgy fingers here and there satisfying their curiosity and running all over the place without a care. (with care abandon?). Bro commented on the first day that a lot of the stills were focused around children. Me and Sis couldn’t help it! They were harder to ‘direct’ though, and most of the time we just went along with what they were doing. Nevertheless you can always rely on them to present the perfect poses spontaneously, and they were also less self-conscious compared to adults, naturally.

Nightly we uploaded the stills to the laptop and Bro would comment and shortlist the photos, telling us what should or should not be included and instructing us to go for more tomorrow, declaring there’s still not enough of them to be worthy of the final submission. The final selection, editing and printing process went through the whole of last night, and I slept only at 6.30 a.m. Bro did not sleep at all.

The best thing is when Bro called this morning from the client’s office after the presentation, telling me they were happy with our work. Or perhaps they were that desperate and just had to take whatever there was, hmmm?

Did I enjoy myself? Yes, actually, despite the hot sun, the cancellation of prior plans and the fact that our hands were ‘twisted’ into the deal (it was kind of like being drafted into National Service). Would I do anything like it again? Erm…. M a y b e, but not four days straight during the public holidays and in such short notice please!

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