Seeing Penang from new angles

(From left) Oh, Kessler, Govindarajoo and Thum showing copies of the photobook at the launch.

IF a picture is worth a thousand words, then George Town Festival’s maiden publication of ‘Penang at a Glance’ tells hundreds of fascinating stories.

The 96-page photobook contains images of the state’s landscapes, streets, festivals, celebrations, people, arts and culture plus much more.

The photos were taken by four local shutterbugs – engineers Govindarajoo Selvathurai and Thum Chia Chieh, civil servant Oh Chin Eng and professional photographer Sherwynd Rylan Kessler.

Natives of Penang looking at the photos are sure to gain new perspectives on their state while foreigners will get a glimpse into what makes both the island and mainland halves tick.

State tourism and creative economy committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin presided over the book’s launch at the UAB Building at China Street Ghaut recently.

“Penang is a place with incredible diversity. From George Town to Teluk Bahang, Batu Kawan to Batu Maung, there is no shortage of beautiful subjects to entice photo enthusiasts from near and far.

“There is always something new to photograph and discover, ” Yeoh said in his speech.

He described the book as part of the growth in the state’s creative landscape in line with the Penang2030 vision to foster the creative industries and niche business services.

He hoped that the beautiful content of the book would inspire others to conserve Penang’s cultural heritage while enticing more people to visit the state.

The four photographers were all delighted to have contributed something meaningful to their beloved hometown.

Oh saw a need to document the state’s heritage for future generations.

He particularly likes capturing candid shots of people in their natural environment.

“In places like George Town, many of the inhabitants are getting older. Someday, they won’t be around anymore to tell their stories.

“I wanted to give them a voice because they’re the heartbeat of the city and add colour to the place, ” Oh shared.

Thum echoed those sentiments and acknowledged that future generations might not be able to see what he sees today.

But no matter the year or century, he believes George Town will remain a city with its own vibrant life.

“My trusty camera is a tool to record memories because everything is changing fast, ” he pointed out, adding that the most challenging part of working on the book was deciding which images to leave out.

Meanwhile, the images of drone photographer Govindarajoo give readers a bird’s eye perspective on familiar places and things.

Buildings, landscapes and seascapes are captured from refreshing new angles.

“I started exploring Penang more last year after Covid-19 struck.

“From the sky, you can discover many new sights. There are surprises everywhere, ” said Govindarajoo of his aerial work.

Kessler is passionate about festivals and would attend almost all of them without fail. Over time, he built up quite a collection of images.

“Many of the events happen only once a year. If you miss them, you’ll have to wait a long time, ” he said.Also present for the book launch were Komtar assemblyman Teh

Lai Heng, Pengkalan Kota assemblyman Daniel Gooi Zi Sen, George Town World Heritage Incorporated general manager Dr Ang Ming Chee and George Town Festival director Jack Wong.

The ‘Penang at a Glance’ photobook retails at RM60 per copy.

It is available for purchase online at the festival’s website as well as at selected local bookstores.

There will be an accompanying photo exhibition during the festival in July.

For more information, visit or follow on Facebook (George Town Festival) and Instagram (georgetownfestival).

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