The city through a lens

  • Focus
  • Saturday, 21 Feb 2015

Stunning: (Left) Moy captures the elegance of the model in front of the Temple of Heavens in this photograph. (Top) This photo features a stretch of the age-old Great Wall starkly juxtaposed with a Western model in a striking oriental-themed dress.

IT IS easy to find reasons to complain about Beijing — the poisonous air and the grey skies top the list, anytime — but through the lens of a fellow Malaysian, Moy Yew Meng, I was reminded once again of its distinctive charm that first drew me to the Chinese capital.

Moy, 42, relocated to Beijing with his family in 2012 when his wife was offered a job here.

He made full use of his two-year stay in the metropolis of 21 million to pursue his passion for photography, having quit his job in the IT industry and become a house husband for a change.

“I was thinking what to do and decided to embark on personal projects.

“Together with Hiraku Groth, a Japanese makeup artist, we did a series of projects together,” he said.

They posted casting calls online and recruited foreign models to be photographed at famous landmarks in Beijing, such as the Great Wall, National Centre for the Performing Arts and 798 Art Zone.

In the photographs, the models struck elegant poses in the oriental landscape.

Moy’s favourite was a model holding up a long, silky piece of fabric, which billowed in the wind in front of the Temple of Heavens.

It has a sense of drama, style and grace combined in a single frame.

One of the places Moy featured was the People’s Park, which is north of the Forbidden City.

Moy spent a lot of time at this park and even made it a point to bring his friends there when they visited Beijing.

“You will find senior citizens here, exercising, dancing or socialising.

“I see determination in them despite their age.

“They are very happy to include you in their activities, such as playing cards.

“They will tell me I am so lucky to have three kids (while Chinese families have to adhere to the one-child policy),” he said.

While his skills were self-taught, Moy said he looked up to American photographer Joe McNally, a flash photography master, for inspiration.

Moy tried to see how the Beijingers live and be part of the local lifestyle.

He explored the hutong (alleys) on his trusty electrical bike, shopped at the local markets tucked in these alleys and always struck a conversation with the locals.

“Beijing has grown on me. Despite of what people say about the Chinese, I have never had a bad experience in this city.

“I actually found them to be refined and as long as you started off politely, they were nice and not afraid to talk to you,” Moy said.

Naturally, hutong has to be included in the aerial video he did over a span of six months.

The three-minute-plus video offered a bird’s-eye view of several well-known locations in Beijing as well as Chengde in Hebei province.

“I have to follow the guide that specified the no-fly zones in Beijing, which included the Forbidden City and the airport, when I shot the footage with a drone,” Moy explained.

What started as a hobby has eventually landed him with commercial jobs in China.

He was commissioned to produce photographs and videos for hotels, among others.

Now that he has returned to Malaysia following the conclusion of his wife’s posting, Moy plans to continue on this career path.

He is also toying with a few ideas to showcase the beauty of Malaysia.

“I want to fly drones over the limestone hills of Ipoh and the heritage sites of Penang.

“It will give you a different perspective of these places,” he said.

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