Published: Wednesday August 6, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Monday August 11, 2014 MYT 6:12:45 PM

Cool snaps from Ridduan Ismail

The Malaysian photographer gives meaning to street-style ‘visual story telling’.

WHAT exactly gets a photographer going? Why pick up those lenses in the first place? For one street-style snapper, Ridduan Ismail, it is the limitless possibilities of photography that initially drew him into the trade.

“I have always been interested in the work. No matter the direction, concept or subject, it has been a form of creativity that I find myself easily expressing,” says the Kota Baru-born 25-year-old.

When Ridduan took the plunge, he started off as a wedding photographer. That is how his moniker TTFGA (Tukang Tangkap Foto Gembira Anda) came about. At that time, it entailed capturing the happy moments of his subjects.

Ridduan is now, however, more recognised within the fashion circles. His stylish snaps of fashionistas strutting their stuff at trendy events around town are what he is ultimately known for.

The man himself: Ridduan Ismail is reputable for his efforts in capturing Kuala Lumpur's most stylish suspects.
The man himself: Ridduan Ismail is reputable for his efforts in capturing Kuala Lumpur’s most stylish suspects.

When it comes to street-style photography (a genre that features subjects in situational public spaces), Ridduan says the challenges are immense. This is even more so when he has to hunt for people to shoot.

“Unlike in certain European cities, we don’t always see a fashionable crowd on the streets here. Most of us would only dress up when there’s a specific event to attend. A fashion showcase, for instance.”

Ridduan also recalls that it was more difficult in the beginning. As he was a fresh shutterbug back then, no one knew him. People were even suspicious when he approached them to take a picture.

“Currently, my subjects are willing to pose for me. They recognise me. I would even go so far as to say that they are very aware of what to do. They’ll just work it – giving me different angles of their outfits,” he says with a laugh.

One of Ridduan’s upcoming projects is an online exhibition for Levi’s. It features 10 personalities, where each is photographed in the brand’s range of Cool jeans. It also details what these people are doing and their life in general.

Art director Fad Manaf in a pensively creative environment.
Art director Fad Manaf in a pensively creative environment.

“They are not celebrities. On the list, I have a photographer, doctor, fashion designer and club owner, amongst many others. I honestly think these are the subjects that everyone can relate to,” Ridduan states.

The digital curation for Levi’s – to be released soon – presents people of different ages. It also shines a spotlight on various genders, generations and backgrounds. The sharing of it is aimed at telling a multitude of stories.

For example, there is Fad Manaf who started off as a photographer but is currently an art director for an arts and lifestyle magazine. Fad is portrayed in a way that speaks of the environment that he is comfortable in.

Ridduan has also photographed designer Justin Chew and arts exhibition organiser Khing Chuah. While Justin is seen busy creating a masterpiece on a “lifelike” mannequin, Khing relaxes against a backdrop of calm as the stylish jetsetter that she is.

When asked, Ridduan names Juergen Teller and Steven Klein as his inspiration. The former is a German photographer best known for an overexposed style of images, and the latter, an American with a highly editorial volume of photographic work.

He explains: “They are two very different talents. One edits extensively, the other presents an absolutely raw take on things. When it comes to street style I identify with Teller. Editorial shoots, it has to be Klein.”

Taken on Penang island, arts exhibition organiser Khing Chuah shows off her stylish side in this shot.
Taken on Penang island, arts exhibition organiser Khing Chuah shows off her stylish side in this shot.

Despite having his street snaps regularly featured in various local fashion magazines, Ridduan is also developing a skill for editorial shoots. His portfolio boasts some of Malaysia’s biggest names in the entertainment industry.

The list of celebrities he has photographed comprises singing diva Datuk Sheila Majid, as well as established artistes such as Bront Palarae, Melissa Indot and Najwa Mahiaddin.

No matter street-style or editorial, Ridduan’s passion from behind the camera lens is proof that style exists in all classes and ages.

His vision just happens to be an amalgation, whereby fashionable elements meets wayward storytelling.

View more of Ridduan’s works at and

Tags / Keywords: Ridduan Ismail, TTFGA, Levi s, Cool jeans


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