Eye on the journey


HOW does a documentary photographer who has sworn never to do wedding photography get involved in project that is solely about creating a dream wedding?

Evangeliss YH-Hwong, or Evan Hwong as he is sometimes known, agreed to get involved in the Love Me Do project after a chance meeting with Thang Han-Ni, the architect of the project.

At the time, he was busy with his own very ambitious project, Love, Life, Living or 3L, for which he wanted to capture on film the faces of 31,857 personalities from Malaysia (each with a unique expression) to be exhibited on the country’s 55th independence day in 2012 – the number of faces to be featured coinciding with the date of our independence, 31/8/57).

The concept of the exhibition, said Hwong, is to showcase the unity of Malaysians coming together as one, breaking barriers of age, race and social standing; the portraits will be in black and white and not tagged with the names or personal details of the people photographed.

“It is open to everyone – the only requirement is that they are Malaysian,” said Hwong, who posted a note about his project on Facebook, inviting any Malaysian who wanted to be part of 3L to contact him.

“It’s great to see the wide range of people who want to be involved – from celebrities to mothers to students,” he shares.

So how did he get involved in Love Me Do?

“There was an article in Klue magazine about 3L which I think Han-Ni saw. She approached me and convinced me to do a tie-up with her and Love Me Do.

“I saw the similarity between our projects. Mine was about life, love and living, while hers was about finding a true love story; both of us were focusing on Malaysians and involving as many Malaysians as we could. That was it,” said Hwong, who has been a photographer for over a decade.

He signed up to document the couple’s journey to the altar, and not to photograph the actual wedding, for he is strictly not a wedding photographer.

“It’s been a good experience following (winners) Kelvin (Teo) and Kimberly (Yap). I love trying new things out and this was a new experience for me. I’m known for my shooting style of ‘making the strange familiar, and the familiar strange’. So when I was approached for this project, I agreed though I was surprised that there is a demand here in Malaysia for weddings being shot documentary-style,” he says.

Among his past projects, Hwong has photographed natural disasters, poverty and the plight of orphans in Africa and children in Calcutta brothels. He has even documented three births, at the request of the mothers!

“Seeing the bewilderment of Kelvin and Kimberly trying on their wedding gowns, shoes and selecting the stationery for wedding invites and such, and seeing the wedding coming to fruition before their eyes made this project hard to resist,” he said. – By S. Indramalar

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