Studio W|W

It has been an extremely busy week starting with a major shoot with a creative agency and another product shoot for Yé Teas, a new tea start up in Singapore, which I have been working with since the beginning of this year. I cannot believe that it is nearly October as this year has gone by rather quickly.

Looking back, it was a slightly slow start to 2016 after university ended and when real life began, full-time employment was inevitable. Circumstances did change and I went into part-time work whilst pushing for more commercial photography work. I launched my commercial website - Studio W|W where you can see my continued collaborations with designers, makers, up and coming creative companies etc. Would love to hear your feedback on the new site! 

On another note, do check out Turning Earth autumn sale today in east London. The poster is from an image I shot for Sayaka Namba ceramics earlier this year. I will be heading down around noon so hoping to catch up with a few makers and topping up my props collection!


The idea and the execution

Being a photographer or even a creative, we thrive on ideas and execution. Sometimes, we get an idea for a project and we think, consider then research before deciding on its viability. Then we scope for locations, assess lighting conditions and test shoot to achieve the best results. 

Over the last few months, I have worked on several commissions in Singapore and London. My return to full-time employment at the start of the year proved tough and now I am slowly settling into a new part-time regime with photography work for the other half of the time. I was trying to stay away from the whole social media and retreated to just observing. A few times, I tried to start writing but ended up putting the post away. However, I am going to try to be more active and show an image which I have taken every week.  

Back on the topic of ideas - I recently read in a book about creative living beyond fear where ideas seek people out. This is what I call 'inspiration'. Two or more people might have the same idea in the world and the one who is brave enough to pursue it will be the one who come out triumphant. On the other hand, when you tell someone about an idea and you find them pursuing it six months after, you start to question if you should have said anything in the first place. No, the idea is not solely a single person's but when words are exchanged, I believe that there should be some courtesy in acknowledging it. In this case, I did not come up triumphant but I learnt my lesson. 

It has been a trying week but I seek new resolutions and have several new ideas in the works. I leave with an image which I took of Tim Andrews for his project 'Over the Hill'. This was our second shoot together in the very last days of his project this month. Tim emailed me late last year about his project and I was photographer 374. It has been such a pleasure to work with Tim and you can read about our previous shoot with him here and here on his blog. More soon!





Time really flew by this year. This was a post initially set for Christmas but the wretched cold has hit me hard for the last 3.5 weeks. There has hardly been anytime to reflect and I was starting to feel a little more human after my course of antibiotics but got ill again this week. Whilst in bed over the last couple of weeks, I read this article by Harper Lee on her Christmas in New York.  It was really touching and I think this year was my year which the dude gave to me and as it is coming to an end, I cannot help but feel a tinge of sadness. On the other hand, my work has been on show in several exhibitions in London this winter and to get feedback about the work has been a great experience. I am also happy to announce that A Woman's Fate will be shown at Art Rooms 2016 at Meliá White House from 22-25 January 2016.

I look forward to what 2016 brings and have several commissions and projects which I am eager to start working on. For now, it is going to be quiet New Year's eve for us and may the New Year brings all of us good health and fun times with family and friends.







And the year went... just like that.

What a feeling. Submitting my last assignment for the year. My year of being a student is now over. Not quite official but you get the gist. This year has gone by in a whiz. Total madness. As I now sit and enjoy a beer whilst planning for the hanging of the exhibition early next week, I can't help but feel a tinge of sadness. It has been a great year and who knows what tomorrow brings. Although there is fear showing my work to the public, I am still pleased with what I have done so far. It would be great if you can join us for the private view of the exhibition next Tuesday at London College of Communication between 6-9pm. There will be a lot of amazing work up on show, I promise.


And if you really would like to see what the work is about, here's a little sneak preview. More will come after the exhibition opening next week.

Finding my bearing

As photographers or aspiring photographers, there is always this constant struggle to find our own bearing. Perhaps for some, it may be easier but it seems to me that a lot of us struggle to find our way especially in this day and age where everyone is a photographer. Early last year, I set myself the task to explore photography outside of my architecture job and see where I can take it. I did a few portfolio reviews, spoke to photographer friends and made new ones. I was enjoying my new found inspiration so late last year with work taking its toll due to some issue, I cracked and quit. After all, I have been working full time for about eight years straight after university, I needed some time to rethink my future. As my postgraduate studies draws to an end in just about eight weeks, I can't help but be reflective.

Throughout the year, I see fellow aspiring photographers fight themselves and feel like they are going nowhere with their work. It is a journey, this.

I hope I can enjoy the next few weeks as it comes. There is absolutely no regret for taking the year out. For now, I am fighting to get my major project done as well as prepare for several exhibitions which are happening in the next few months before Christmas comes!


Quiet summer...not.

It's been a little quiet on the blog since it's summer! Bear with me as I am currently working on my major project, sorting out prints, planning my three weeks summer holiday and moving flat... It is ALL HAPPENING! On the news front, one of my prints have made the shortlist of the Royal Photographic Society International Print Competition! Tres excited! Very honoured to have made the first cut and to be amongst many talented photographers. You can view the images here. My selected image is made at Ridley Road market earlier this year and I wrote a post about the trip.

Last year, I participated in The Swap with Erik Nilsen and our photos are up on the site and we were featured on Don't Take Pictures,  a biannual print, online & tablet-ready magazine. Do check it out too!

On the other hand, I have been shooting more ceramic wares for amazing crafters and this image below is one for Sayaka Namba, an architect slash ceramicist! She and several other ceramicists are selling their handmade creations tomorrow at Turning Earth Studio sale from 1-6pm. Definitely check out their work! Details here on the Facebook page. I might just be hanging about so do come and say hi!


Our two selves...

As humans, we have many sides to our personality. We present ourselves as a unified being but in actual fact, we are composed of many layers. Over the last few months, I decided to slow down whilst shooting and captured a few portraits of friends and loved ones with silver film. A small mistake quickly grew to become a mini project of mine. Below are some of the images I have captured on Mamiya RB67 and Hasselblad 501c. MauriS10x12_web_blk_ charles10x12_web_blk


Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2015

The winner for this year's Deutsche Borse Photography Prize was announced three days ago and the prize went to Mikhael Subotzky and Patrick Waterhouse for their publication, Ponte City (Steidl, 2014). I managed to view the exhibition a few weeks ago and went to their talk on the Wednesday that's just past. For this year's Deutsche Börse photography prize shortlist, it included the works of Viviane Sassen, Nikolai Bakharev and Zanele Muholi. When I first viewed the exhibition, Subotzky and Waterhouse's project had the most impact on me with their work but I was really moved by Zanele Muholi's series, Faces and Phases about the black LGBTI identity and politics in post-apartheid South Africa. Ponte City really stuck to me perhaps because of my architecture background.

"Ponte City depicts a 54-floor apartment block in Johannesburg which was built in 1976 for the white elite under apartheid rule. During the political transition in the 1980s and 90s, it became a refuge for black newcomers to the city and immigrants from all over Africa." (Guardian website)

This is a building that dominates Johannesburg skyline and is an icon of the city. Subotzky and Waterhouse spent six years from 2008-2014 documenting Ponte City. They started out by photographing people in the lift as that was the central core where people had to use to get in and out of the building. That was also their way of getting to know people living in the building. In their talk, Subotzky and Waterhouse mentioned that there were some suspicion from the people in their first encounter but they would then print the images after they photographed and delivered it to their apartment in person. This was their way into the lives of the people living there. ponte-plan

Ponte City floor plan (from Lindsay Bremner's blog)

One of the most interesting element of the project which I really enjoyed are the light boxes which was a recording of all the doors, windows and television set of every apartment within the building. The installation really works well and the viewer is like a voyeur looking into the lives of the people who lived there. This idea was inspired by a quote from Le Corbusier where he said that "the apertures of a building captures the spirit". Waterhouse had heard this quote somewhere before (but could not find it!) and it got them thinking about creating these light boxes which showed the apertures of the whole building, following the typology of Ponte city. c87c8d21aa

Windows, Doors, Televisions - three light boxes by Mikhael Subotzky & Patrick Waterhouse

SOUTH AFRICA. Johannesburg. 2008. From the Ponte City project, A book about the tallest residential skyscraper in Africa. In collaboration with Patrick Waterhouse.

Windows, Doors, Televisions (close up) by Mikhael Subotzky & Patrick Waterhouse


Looking up the Core, Ponte City, Johannesburg, 2008  

All images © Mikhael Subotzky / Patrick Waterhouse

Subotzky and Waterhouse's compilation of the found images, history and documentary photographs reveals the complex layers of Ponte City. This is a great project and one not to miss. The Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2015 exhibition, featuring work by all shortlisted artists is now on show at The Photographers' Gallery until the 7th of June. Do try to catch it!

For more reading: Lindsay Bremner wrote an essay 'Buildings are geological agents' on her blog, which was an accompanying piece for Ponte City's exhibition in Paris and is a great read!


A couple of months ago, we were given a task to shoot 'Blue'. It was totally up for our own interpretation. For me, I decided to find inspiration from Picasso's blue period and found a painting called La Celestina painted by Picasso in 1904. To give a little background, Celestina was a notorious procuress from a 15th century Spanish play who was the subject of Picasso's painting. I tried recreating the painting in the studio using myself as the sitter.

Studying the lighting of a painting certainly helped with the lighting in the studio. What I found unsuccessful in this image was the expression I had. I will have to learn to be more patient when creating self-portraits and study expressions a little more!


Analogue is better...

It is one thing to write about a photographer you like and another to be able to meet the photographer you admire in person. One of the highlights in March was getting to meet Mary Ellen Mark in person and to ask her a question that many have asked and continued to question her for. The question of whether digital or analogue is better. Mark is one photographer who chose to stay with analogue even though she is working in the age of digital. Over the last couple of months, I have delved deeper into her works. From my research, Mark typically shoots with medium to large format for portraiture and 35mm for her street and documentary work. She shoots in both colour and black and white but her black and white work is definitely more prominent. Mark herself admits that ‘color is more difficult and less forgiving… I just see in black and white. It’s a real personal thing.’

I remembered that when I first started shooting back in 2000, it was all film. I lugged my Nikon SLR to Annapurna basecamp alongside 30 rolls of film. I fell in love with the analogue process. Being able to develop my own black and white images in the dark room was magical. I came to own my first digital camera in 2004 - an Olympus Camedia C-740 zoom with 3.2 megapixels and 10x optical zoom. Following that, I bought my very first Nikon D90 DSLR. It was never the same. Perhaps it is the nostalgia I feel towards the analogue process. This year, I managed to go back to my analogue film processes and recalled the days of being in the darkroom. I like how it slowed me down and put more consideration into each shot. Nothing like the modern day trigger on the DSLR hoping to find the moment in one of those shots.

There is also the association of truth to photography with analogue processes. When photography was first invented in 1839, it was to produce accurate drawings and representation. Now with the introduction of digital, Batchen wrote that ‘Digitization abandons even the rhetoric of truth that has been such an important part of photography’s cultural success.’(Batchen, 1999) In one of the interviews of Mary Ellen Mark, she mentioned this.

When I started out, it was considered very wrong to change an image. ...When I look at magazines and see a portrait, I assume it's been digitally altered. I'm not putting down Photoshop. When it's used like that, it's just not a photograph, but an illustration. (Mark to Row, 2010)

Documentary photography is a genre of photography, which is associated with authentic and accurate recording of the world and with this alteration of ‘truth’ associated with digitalisation, it might be a reason as to why Mark decides to stick to analogue photography.


The Damm family in their car by Mary Ellen Mark

What are your thoughts on analogue or digital photography?

“Stop trying to get it right,” she said. “Just take the picture.”

Just earlier this year, I discovered the work of Sally Mann (I know... I am just a little slower than others!) and really love the images she makes. Sally Mann works with antique view cameras to create her images. Below is one of my favourite photograph by her. sally-mann-warm-springs

At Warm Springs (1991) from the series, Immediate Family by Sally Mann

Recently, Sally Mann had an article, Sally Mann's Exposure on The New York Times and it was a great piece in terms of content. To digress a little, what I found interesting was the way the article had some accompaniment of moving images done by Leslye Davies. These short video vignettes were a snippet into Sally Mann's life in Virginia. This article, in terms of the layout, is a portrayal of what the future of news and media is going to be like. For me, it is like Harry Potter's moving portraits of people within their picture frame. It makes them seem alive.

Leslye Davies wrote about her assignment to create those vignettes in a 'Story behind the story' article called 'A lesson from Sally Mann: 'Just take the picture'. I found it so incredibly interesting as Leslye recalled her moments whilst trying to capture Mann and how she told her to “Stop trying to get it right,” and “Just take the picture.”

Mann typically shoots with large format. One would think that the analogue way was to ensure that everything was set up as well as it should be in front of the camera before one would take the shot. For Mann, it was all about imperfections and as Leslye wrote, 'Hers is a sensibility that embraces mistakes' as opposed to herself who tries and 'avoid mistakes whilst on assignment for The New York Times'. Leslye shot digitally for this assignment and after Mann's words, she shot this image of Mann below.

sallymann-by leslye davies

Sally Mann by Leslye Davies

It is not often that you get to find out about what happens behind the scenes during a photography sitting. Definitely well worth a read.

Access Through Tools festival

Just a couple of days ago, I have been documenting a festival called Access Through Tools organised and curated by London College of Communication's graphic design students. I had a lovely time observing the designers and the participants come together to use processes to develop their craft. I have been wanting to do a time-lapse video and thought it would be a good addition to the photographs which I have taken during the festival. Below is a first attempt using an intervalometer to take the images before processing them in Lightroom with a plugin. Never thought it would be this easy. Still have some editing of the music to do but here it is.

[vimeo 125958710 w=500 h=281]

Access Through Tools Exhibition Night from Wendy Lee on Vimeo.

Video by Wendy Lee-Warne Music by Jazzy Frenchy by Ben Sound

Another quick video which I did during the festival was a printing process lead by Richard Ardagh of New North Press using my iPhone 6 which has this time-lapse mode. I really like the ease of use on the iPhone. If you are creating your first time-lapse video for instagram, you do need to note that it is a minimum of 3 seconds video which means that you do need to shoot for a period of time.

On the camera, you can use your intervalometer to calculate the number of images you need to take. For the iPhone 6, Apple's website states that "iOS 8 does all the work, snapping photos at dynamically selected intervals." After a quick google search, Studio Neat did a couple of tests and found out that 'What Apple means by "dynamically selected intervals" is they are doubling the speed of the time-lapse and taking half as many pictures per second as the recording duration doubles....' You can read up more about that here.


A friend of mine showed me an amazing cinemagraphs website a couple of months ago. I was intrigued and really wondered how they did it. Just last week, I was shown how to make a cinemagraph and this is my early version of one. caiclick2

Recently I had the opportunity to speak to Getty Images Creative director, Anthony Holland Parkin and he spoke about the importance of the moving image in the photography industry. Nowadays, photographers are required to produce both still images as well as the moving image. There are mixed responses from photographers but quite a few are finding new ways to respond to this new trend. Jonas Bendiksen, Magnum photographer, produced a series of still films at last year's Brazil World Cup. They are really interesting and well worth a watch! You can view them here.

Colour printing

About ten years ago, I learnt black and white darkroom processing and printing. I recalled that I was so fascinated with the process and one thing I loved was watching the image take shape when the paper gets dunked into the developer. Today, I learnt about colour printing and am so in love with the process - working in complete darkness, changing the colour make up (cyan, magenta, yellow) and then seeing the result on the other end. There is no orange/red light in the dark room. Any hint of light e.g. mobile phone will fog the paper once exposed. It is as simple as that.

The technicality of developing a print requires a lot of patience and time. Colour print seems to have more variables than black and white. Below is what I produced today - giving colour printing a go (with some additional notes).


You can even get experimental with your final print i.e. pour bleach over the print and see the different layers of colours being bleached off slowly.


Stay tune for more updates on how I get on with my colour printing!

Second time round to Conflict, Time, Photography

Ultimately, then, when photographs are uncritically presented as historical documents, they are transformed into aesthetic objects. Accordingly, the pretence to historical understanding remains although that understanding has been replaced by aesthetic experience

(Sekula, 1991, p.123)

The quote above is part of a critical debate about documentary photography and one which we were asked to think about when we went round the Conflict, Time, Photography exhibition at Tate Modern a couple of weeks ago when the class went together.

Yesterday, I visited again, starting from the middle of the exhibition where I finished off last. There were a couple of series of photos that really stood out for me, which have the 'punctum'. One particular series was Hiromi Tsuchida's Hiroshima collection 1982-95. He photographed articles from the collection at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum 37 years after the event. These photos included text which gave a short description of the object and their owners. The physical photo of which they were printed in the gallery context was slightly bigger than A0 size and were gelatine silver print on paper.

conflict_1_0 Hiromi Tsuchida Hiroshima collection 1982-95

Due to the physical size of the print, I found the jacket image quite powerful as it was about human size printed and the imagination of what happened whilst you read the description is one that gripped me.

hiroshima jacket Hiromi Tsuchida Hiroshima collection 1982-95

In the accompanying text right next to the prints, it described the photos like 'a form of posthumous portraiture'. For me, the sense of calm of the simple images plays with the direct opposite of the historical event, one which we can only imagine. This really brings us back to the Sekula quote above.

Interesting enough, during my first visit, I chose the following photo, Shadow of a soldier remaining on the wooden wall of the Nagasaki military headquarters (Minami-Yamate macho, 4.5km from Ground Zero) by Matsumoto Eiichi as the photo which had the 'punctum'. This photo was taken approximately three weeks after the atomic bomb exploded over Nagasaki.

conflict_3_0 Shadow of a soldier remaining on the wooden wall of the Nagasaki military headquarters (1945) by Matsumoto Eiichi

The photo affected me personally as what I had initially thought was a shadow were actually caused by the heat of the bomb and as these humans and objects was exposed to the blast, 'the intensity of the explosion had created 'burned in' shadows'. This image as compared to Tsuchida's Hiroshima collection documents the remains of a Japanese guard in its context. The gelatine silver print on paper image is roughly A4 size (315mm x 207mm) and much smaller compared to Tsuchida's images. It is very interesting to compare how these images were made at different times after the event and how both of them affected the viewer (i.e. me) differently.

One other series of photos taken 99 years after the event which stood out for me was Shot at Dawn by Chloe Dewe Mathews.

chloe dewe mathews 1

Chloe-D-M-R08F09-final-10x8 Shot at Dawn by Chloe Dewe Mathews

The images were the locations where WW1 British, French and Belgian soldiers accused of cowardice and desertion on the western front were executed. She 'took the images at the exact time at which the executions took place and as close as possible to the actual date'. If you looked purely at the images without reading the accompanying text next to the exhibited images, you see a landscape photograph. Once you read the accompanying text which states the names of the people executed there, the time and date of execution and the location, the viewer starts to see more in the image through the 'evidence' of the text.

Following the exhibition, I checked out the video where Chloe De Mathews talked about this body of work. She mentioned about the relationship of the text and the image which is like 'stamping the presence of the person back into the empty landscape', the point she is trying to make. It is the 'absence that is glaringly present'.

It is such an interesting exhibition and one where you need time to slowly digest and understand the different approaches the different photographers and artists choose to represent conflict.

Finding inspiration from a painting

I made a trip to the National Portrait Gallery one weekend to check out the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize exhibition as well as to select a painting for my mini assignment at Uni. There were a couple of contemporary portraits which I was quite engaged with so I decided to check out more details about each painting/photograph before I chose one. This painting below (extreme left) is a portrait of Pete Postlethwaite by Christopher Thompson. If you study the light, the sitter is top lit using a single light source.

For my studio shot, I used a long and slimmer softbox which is positioned above and slightly in front of the sitter's head. Jo's friend was kind enough to sit for this portrait shot. After I did several shots of him, Jo and Franziska also wanted to sit for that shot so I managed to capture them in the same position.


It is interesting to see the subtle differences in all three portraits which I shot. What we learnt is that a single light source can create beautiful portraits. If I were to do this again, I would position the sitter further away from the background to make the background darker.


Whilst editing my photos after my first encounter with 'Bohemians4Soho', I wrote down a list of items which I felt were missing from my first set of photos.I felt that there was too much focus on what they stand for in my initial set where I shot posters, words and display of their protest. Also, after checking out the shots of Mingyang, it was really interesting to see his other perspective/angle and to assess what I was not covering. I also jotted down questions to ask some of people on the second night.

List of items to shoot: -  Capture space for context -  Speak to individuals and take portraits

Questions: - What kind of outcomes are they hoping to get from the developer? - How long are they prepared to be squatting at the ex-12 bar for? - Are they involved in Soho prior to their protest? i.e. if they are local artists, shop owners etc? - Have they been involved in other protests before? - Speak to neighbouring shops/ neighbours and ask if they support the protest.

It was a very useful exercise to do and I managed to capture some images which I was happier with. Mingyang and I are hoping to edit and come up with a zine soon! Watch this space!

Bohemians4Soho - not over until it is over.

20150202-Bohemians4SohowebP221 I kept refreshing hashtag #Bohemians4Soho on twitter last Monday waiting for updates as the protestors were still occupying the ex-12 bar. The #Bohemians4Soho had a community meeting that evening and "Frank Turner playing at 12 bar at 8pm" came up as a tweet.

When we got down to the venue, there was a buzz. People were walking into the building freely and musicians playing at the front door of the 12 bar. It was quite different compared to what we experienced the day before. Their barricade was pushed to the side, the lights were on and a somewhat lighter atmosphere filled the air.






The community meeting was held in one of the rooms within 12 bar and it was packed. Phoenix (@pheonixrainbow) was one of the activists leading the discussion in the room. On the other side, Dan was being interviewed and 12 bar seemed alive again on a Monday night. A few familiar faces like Mortecai played a big part in the discussions and there were several new faces who were keen to help out on the #savesoho front.





20150202-Bohemians4SohowebP223 Mortecai

20150202-Bohemians4SohowebP222 Danny, after encouraging the crowd to go on social media to tweet #savetinpanalley

20150202-Bohemians4SohoP2_web13 Pheonix being filmed

20150202-Bohemians4SohoP2_web15 The donation box being passed around to help the squatters






The night ended with Frank Turner playing and I overheard a woman ranting outside the crowded room going on about how it was "just f****** hipsters here to watch some famous musician and none of them cared about their cause..."

It was a matter of time before the riot police kicked the occupiers out and last Friday, it happened.


The day started out at the National Portrait Gallery, partly for a small university assignment as well as checking out the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize exhibition. After our visit, Ming Yang and I walked about to try and photograph anything that caught our eye. Nothing quite happened until after lunch when we walked down Denmark Street in Soho. It was a chance encounter at the front of the ex-12 bar and one of the guys, Dan from #Bohemians4Soho came up to say hi and we started chatting about what they were up to. Mordecai, another activist from the group told us about their protest against the gentrification of Soho by the big corporation, Consolidated Development, the owner of the building. Apparently, they have been squatting in the building for about two weeks. There is a Bohemians Manifesto online which tells you about what they stand for.

The group was kind enough to allow us into the Grade II listed building to check it out. Musicians have been invited to play once again in the venue. You can check out some of their videos here and on twitter, check out hashtags #Bohemians4Soho, #SaveDenmarkStreet, #SaveTinPanAlley and #SaveSoho.














If you have been passing by Tottenham Court Road station, you would have noticed the massive changes around the area.


Guardian's report about the protest here.

A trip to Ridley Road Market

About a week ago, university life started again for me. This time in London. The last time I saw the back of university, it was in Adelaide, Australia and almost a decade ago. For those who do not know, I am studying a postgraduate diploma in photography portfolio development at London College of Communication. Towards the end of 2014, I decided that I was going to spend the new year trying to build a body of work for my portfolio. The choice was between doing it independently whilst having a full-time job or to head to university with a structured outline. There was a lot of back and forth before I came to my conclusion and it was not easy.

I hope that you will continue to follow me on my journey in photography and as part of my university work, my tutor has decided that I should keep this wordpress blog to document my progress. Meanwhile, I will continue to create more images and redevelop my website in the background.

Over the weekend, I decided to organise a photowalk for my fellow classmates to Ridley Road Market followed by a visit to Doomed Gallery to check out 'New Japanese Photography'. It was a fun day getting to know everyone a little bit better and showing some of the international classmates a new part of London where they have not visited.

Here are some of my images from the day. Tried a couple of times to get portraits of some vendors but was not successful. However, I managed to find a stand where they were selling curtains and decided to hang around to wait for an opportunity. I took about 16 shots, moving around the stand and managed to capture the last one which was my favourite of the day. What do you think?





Image of the day 20150124-_ALE8841