Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Beautiful Journey: Part 2 - Photoshoot Day 3

The 3rd day is the last day of the outdoor photoshoot. This is supposedly the lightest day so far, as long the weather was fine - which luckily it was bright & sunny.

We first went to the famous Merlimau house. This ruin house though not as sparkling as its former glory still has its charms & is filled with beautiful architecture. The person staying there mentioned that the house is influence by Chinese/ Peranakan, Indian and Malay architecture. This can be seen by the staircase & tiles along the house.

The drive off town took about 45 minutes. When we arrived, the models quickly wore the dresses and the shoots were relatively fast & easy, as the front of the house provided good backdrops, with each part of the house giving a distinctive view. The house complimented the Muslim fashion wear well.

There was 1 photo however which was rather difficult to shoot as it was towards the inner part of the house which was dark. And because we didn't want to use flash, that made the photography harder. However, eM.K. managed to do that well and the picture turned out fine.

Here, I managed to take a photo from the staircase, which is the welcoming picture of the book. The idea behind this picture is a warm welcoming greeting - and a walk up the stairs to a beautiful journey.

The black jacket gave prominence to the batik on the top left. This also allowed the staircase to attract attention, either complimenting the jacket, or even as a standalone. This picture drew compliments from many Peranakans who were fascinated with the tiles (especially after they saw it through the magnifying lens).

After the shoot at the Merlimau house, we then headed to the next location which was at the next tradional kampung house. This was also an easy location shoot, as we didn't need any artificial lighting. That saved us time as we needn't need to set up the lights.

Again, we used the front of the house. This was a unique location as the house was painted in bright colours. The neighbours house which was also brightly painted gave a good additional backdrop.

One of the nicest pics came from here as well where we showcased the 2 girls playing congkak (a traditional Malay game). This shot was to show that models can wear batik in every occasion, including while playing games! And of course it also highlighted the Malay/ Malaysia culture here in the book.

The shoot was done even quicker here. The models did well to withstand the hot weather, especially in their make-ups and fashion wear.

After this location shoot, we discussed a bit and decided to head back to Merlimau once again to do one more photo shoot - the one we missed as we couldn't do it when the sun was out already.

So we headed back to take the final shot, which is actually the last picture in the book. A smiling goodbye and a road behind shows that there is a next journey to come.

Alas, the 3 days of photoshoot ended, with tired models & crew, but very satisfied & happy. Of course, there was a lil tinge of sadness that the shoot has ended as it was a fun 3 full days, and now it was back to other works.

Read Also: Photoshoot Day 2

Next: Photoshoot Day 4

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A Beautiful Journey: Part 2 - Photoshoot Day 2

Alarm bells started ringing at 5something... I woke up, though tired, but I remembered, kinda excited. Comparatively, this day was suppose to be a little easier - as the shoot will be entirely indoors.

The venue was - the Peranakan restaurant (which was formerly a house). I chose this location because the owner's have grand Perankan furnitures in the reception area - from opium bed to the 4 unique old chairs.

And moving inwards, the dining area seems a lil distinct again, giving a mixture of Peranakan & old Chinese setting, with marble tables.

We first set up the soft lighting. These lights were to give the extra shine on the clothes, yet still give its natural look on the photos.

Our first set was Tom's set. The models were in awe when the clothes were taken out - with such beautiful bright bold colours. Tom was the designer who supplied the most clothes - and that was good for we managed to showcase hers the most.

The only difficult part for hers was the part of dividing the clothes into different sets. I had wanted a picture with a few models.. and in each photo, the clothes have to blend among each other - and of course also the settings.

Of course, the accessories which Tom provided with the clothes too were a lil difficult to shoot because that meant the models had to be very still. There were times we had to reshoot again & again for the models were moving a little.

Christine became the lead female model here as she was the tallest, and manage to carry Tom's clothes well. There was one famous scene of 4 models entering the restaurant. This, I must acknowledge eM.K, for he took a very good shot. The blend of colours of the clothes, the position of the models, and most of all, how this shot made the entrance look grand! (when we went back again after the shoot, the entrance seems less grand and smaller).

The models, especially Rajah Farah & Carol acted their scene well too.

This shot became the talk of the Peranakan community when we held our event with them.

We ordered lunch from the restaurant and ate in between the shots. Our next set was Azizi's, and for that we used the dining area - as by then, the restaurant was closed. There is another unique shot in this book, this time congratulated mainly by fashion designers & photographers, as we took this shot from the level above - overlooking 3 models carrying the coffee... What makes this shot unique is that the faces of the models were not really shown - and emphasizing on the designs! And the coffee-cups and the chairs & marble table all gave the perfect setting!

The final set was Amir's lavish and stunning grand couture! The time for dressing took quite a fair bit, for it was a lil hard to put on the clothes, with its sequins and all. But when the models wore it, it was grand!

For this set, we used only the staircase of the restaurant. Again, it seem distinct from the other 2 parts of the place. eM.K. had the models posed - looking in one direction and Rajah Farah did this well with full exprression on her face. The accessories were magnificient especially when seen with the complimentary magnifying glass - you could see the ring on Christine's finger; their ear-rings & all other fine details of the clothes!

This became one of the 3rd most talked photographs in the book.

By the time we finished the shoot, it was already dark (bout 8pm) and we headed back to the hotel for change and rest. I was a little worn out already, but then, the models had to test their clothes for the night once again... and we had to arrange for the next final day :)

Read Also:
Photoshoot Day 1

Photoshoot Day 3

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Beautiful Journey: Part 2 - Photoshoot Day 1

The night prior to production, everything was set. My heart was beating quite fast. We had the make up artists - 2 of them, eM.K. photographer and one assistant, plus myself. Yes, a relatively small team, for a seemingly huge task ahead!

We left KL with the load full of clothes in the car, simply enough space for us to sit. When arrived, we quickly arranged the designs according to the designer and had to had them ironed - well at least the first 2 sets for the next day... and that would total to about 40 or more.

The first day, the models woke up about 530am to get their make up. We first went to the Cheng Hoon Teng temple - our first destination, with Eric's Chinese inspired motifs by 645. The day started off fast, and we managed to get some shots on time. We were lucky, as there was not much time for good photography as the clouds were coming up pretty fast. Interestingly, the people surrounding the set were very friendly and even stopped traffic for our shoot.. I have a feeling the driver didn't mind this whole photoshoot scene appearing right in front of him.

While on our way back, I saw this thrishaw - in its full authenticity, and asked the thrishaw puller to come back later for we wanted to use his thrishaw for the shoot. Alas, it was not to be, as it rained.. However, after the rain, we headed to the famous Malacca Stadhuys - and low and behold.. a thrishaw puller came by with this authentic thrishaw. Why I had wanted a no frills thrishaw - those simple ones, without those decorative gold-silver or flowery glitters is because it will be too much a distraction from the batiks. I had decided if there's no simple thrishaw, then we'll just go ahead with no thrishaw.. but how lucky we were! However, look closely enough on those pictures taken at the Stadhuys and you'll see a small lil teddy bear on it! haha... some of our customers actually noticed it!

I can't fully remember, but either before this shot, or after, we took the street scene - the small alley which was like mini Chinatown. I took that street firstly because it was narrow, hence giving it atmosphere & 'feel'. Secondly, that road was closed to vehicles, except bicycles, giving us much more space & time. But even that drew the crowd who wanted to see what was going on. I remember it was very very hot, and we were all dressed in those clothes that were meant for air conditioned places. It was a lil hard to keep that smile and laughther! There was also a shot of me in the car. Actually, this shot was unique, as we first tried & tested so many shots in the car...! But as I was exiting the car, eM.K asked me to re-enter & re-exit to shoot that magic moment. This shot of me exiting from the car is one of the most liked by our customers :)

Next, the colonial building where we did 2 shots - of Amyn's semi formal & Eric's weddings clothes. The first shot with Carol & Christine was difficult as we took this shot with lighting behind them. Professional eM.K, with assistance from Richard Se, a photographer-designer in KL managed this shot well.

The wedding shots next. All dressed in white - batik style. We were worn out, though the models did take some nap in between. The only issue we had here was basically not to get those white dresses filled with our make - ups.

As evening approached and the sky darkened, our very last shot was back to Amyn's. We first had Carol & Christine take shot together. This was difficult as either one of their ear-rings kept wavering and the camera couldn't capture it. Hence, I split them up to take individual shots. This is a rare, as I aimed that most photographs have to be taken with 2 or more models, to add to the atmosphere of the pictures. When we did this, the models were good, and the photos well taken.

Our final photo was Carol in the red semi liked cheongsam, and by this time, we had to use lighting as the day was fully dark. This photo is unique as Carol doesn't face the camera, but instead she looks up into the window, giving the spotlight directly to her dress!

Photoshoot of day 1 ended with all models exhausted... but the day hasn't ended yet. We first went back to the hotel, had a Chinese dinner... and it was then time to do the fitting for the models for the next day! And the clothes ironed. What a day!

Read Also: A Beautiful Journey: Part 1

Next: Photoshoot Day 2

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A Beautiful Journey: Part 1

Over the course of publishing up to promoting this book, I've learnt a lot of things. To a very large extend, it can really be a turn off, as everything is new and with such a steep learning curve.

However, although there were tough times, but, there were more good to it. From pre-production to actual production and up to the marketings aspects have given such a good insight to a few industries - not only batik, but also fashion, modeling, publishing, and promotions.

Here, in this 4 part series, I would like to share the first part of pre-production.

I remember driving around Malacca to find the suitable location for the shoot. As I wanted to give this book a wholesome view on Malaysia, I thought Malacca with its multi racial & rich history would be the perfect place. So, I drove around the outskirts of the town, looking for 'perfect' homes - especially the kampung house (Malay traditional house). This was the hardest to find; while the others like the colonial building and the Peranakan homes were relatively easier - partly because they are less, hence I only need to walk along the streets of both Hereen & Jonker Street. The search include seeing a few owners of the houses/ restaurants with thematic backgrounds for the shoot.

Then came the discussions with the designers. That was rather interesting - as here came an 'unknown' in the industry having to table a meeting with the big names of the industry! Although there were butterflies in the stomach, but I'm glad to have chaired that meeting. Actually, I'm quite glad to see that some of them believed and trusted me from the first start, through my faxes, and willing to come for the meetings. For those who couldn't make it for the meeting, I went to meet them personally in their high - end boutiques. That was the start for me to the world of high - end fashion.

Looking back, I sometimes wonder how did the designers find/see me during the first meeting with them - me sharing my vision of the book and giving them a timeline for their designs :) And in a way, to do that was like doing the impossible. Up to now, being able to get the designers is still strongly holds my 'Impossible Is Noting' philosophy :)

The first problem arose when one of the designers pulled out last minute, by not sending me the clothes the day of collection - which was 1 day before the shoot. In fact, this designer who because of his limit number of designs even asked the rest to reduce their designs for submission. Too bad that designer is now not in the book... when I bumped into him after the book was out, what a shock he had on how the book came out to be, which was way beyond his expectations!

In the midst of securing the designers, the search continues for the models. As I wanted this book to represent Malaysia, hence I wanted models with truly Asian/ Malaysian features. I remembered meeting a few models in an event prior, and called them up. There were also 1 model whom I looked up using the internet. At last I managed to find 4 girl models, just enough to have the variations to the designs & for the book.

However, again, there was a horror part when one of the models pulled out just the day before the shoot. Imagine, I had 1 designer pulling out and now the model... and I was busy collecting the rest of the designs, my hands were full... and my mind blurred! Luckily, the model had her friend later to replace her to the very last minute. It's really too bad this model couldn't be part of this book too, though I must say her replacement was better than her - in personality and looks :)

I also had to assemble the team - make-up artistes; lighting and most importantly the photographer. Asking around and getting contacts, I managed to find 2 make-up artistes who usually do for drama productions.

As for the photographer, I've spoken to eM.K. to showcase his works and be part of the team. I'm glad he did, and we actually went through lots of books & magazines to sort out the kind of pictures (& feel) to the ones we are going to take. I remember he mentioning that this was going to be a big task on his part too, and he wasn't sure if he could meet the mark. But I've seen his pictures before and had full confidence that his pictures will turn out fine.

The collection of the clothes by the designers the day before the shoot was another big hassle - as there were like hundreds of clothes to fit into the car. And each set (eg. dress, earings, necklace, skirt) was worth up to thousands of ringgits! And I was in charge of any damage or loss. Luckily nothing happened throughout, as we had a tight control... and we managed to bring all the clothes down to Malacca with the whole car boot full, including the back seats!

The pre-production may seem like quite a big hassle (it was!), but it was very fun and truly an amazing journey for me. I've always mentioned that it was like co-ordinating a mini movie... and learning all the ropes in such a short period of time :) This gave me confidence in my next step and of course my other works.

Next: A Beautiful Journey: Photoshoot Day 1

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Photographer's Book

If any of you have photographer friends, you'll know that they could be quite opinionated when it comes to photographs.

We've had our fair share of encounters. And being photographers ourselves, we too could be a lil hard on our opinions at times. Well, all these is simply because 'beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder'.

However, we are proud to say the least, that my encounters with photographers on this book has been relatively more positive than negative - professionals to amateurs and hobbyists.

The aspects that they have mentioned include the composition whereby the focus or object is given good emphasis with its surrounding supporting it well. Take an example of a photo from the book

As you can see here, the focus is the models, but the staircase gives a good 'feel' and added atmosphere to the picture. Some people have even mentioned that the wall at the back has added the special touch to it, as its old rustic look. Not to mentioned the soft light approach adds to the whole mood, as if the models are going for a batik party!

Some photographers like the mixture of both batik and its background, giving a somewhat Malaysian feel - and which is not too old, neither too modern, but just a good blend.

Of course, many complimented the background aspects. Unlike many photographs from magazines, backgrounds are normally less intricate & detailed, this book however have background that are very unique, and to some very rich in details itself. If not careful, this can overshadow the object of the photographs.

However, eM.K. and myself had similar ideas & discussions on focusing directly on the models parading the batiks... and hence, that is what readers see when they first see the pictures - not the Peranakan (Baba Nyonya/ Straits Chinese) tiles, the colonial buildings or the paintings on the Chinese temples, but instead they first see the beautiful & bold colours of the vibrant batik.

Some photographers have even asked us pertaining to our photography works like where is our studio, how long are we in the trade, etc... and are truly amazed to say that we did this as the very first project, though eM.K. has vast experience in photography, taking photographs especially in events.

The compliments from photographers gives weight to our work. And we feel honoured when they genuinely like the book. In fact, when a photographer like the book, they will really appreciate it and will tell you all the reasons they like it. That, to us, is another feather on our caps :)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Book For All

A pleasant surprise last week. A day after I wrote about giving the book as a corporate gift, I met up with a director from a company.

Apparently, he was talking to eM.K. about photography (as the director business deals with cameras) and eM.K mentioned about the book to be given as a corporate gift.

He mentioned the same lines as we've mentioned before to why this book will be a suitable unique corporate gift to his high end clients - that his clients will appreciate a good book combining Asian values from its batik to the architectural backdrops using Malaccan architecture.

And especially for this client, this book is taken with superb photography using a 22 megapixel camera (that's why we provide the magnifying glass! :) ) and which have been complimented by professional photographers themselves.

And good news - the director bought the idea! I feel honoured as for a person in the photography industry to recognise this book. To make it sweeter, he plans to give it as a corporate gift, hence further re-enforcing his belief in the book himself, and our belief that this book is a book for all - from batik lovers to art enthusiasts and even photographers :)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Unique Asian Corporate Gift

We are proud to say that the Batik Inspirations book serves as a high end corporate gift. So far, we've had companies and even individuals who would like to give a unique Malaysian or for that matter, Asian corporate gift.

The book serves as a corporate gift idea because of its uniqueness of having both the book and the additional magnifying glass. Bundled together, it makes a unique gift.

Some clients who have bought directly from us have given this book as a corporate executive gift - from giving it to their employees, some even to their bosses, and of course, a lot have given this as a gift to their clients who deserve it.

To make things a little more sweet, the book is also purchased as a corporate gift not only from the region but also from overseas, making this gift sweeter, as a gift from Asia.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Batik Artist/ Batik Producer/ Batik Manufacturer

Along the course of marketing this book, Ive encountered with many batik manufacturers, some of which are batik designers or batik artists themselves, but also many who are owners of batik factories with a handful of batik artists under them.

Proud to say that there is quite a good response from them. Many of them bought the batik book because they would like to find out the latest batik motifs/ batik patterns/ batik designs from these top designers from Malaysia.

Of course, some of them use Batik Inspirations as a reference book, as the pictures themselves are able to tell them about batik and the ideas behind them.

Many batik artists also bought the book as a representative of Batik Malaysia - batik artists from Malaysia, Indonesia, and even from USA and India :)

Monday, September 3, 2007

Malaysian Fashion Designer

Today was a pleasant surprise. I was at one of my friend's (a fashion designer) boutique.

There was a customer there, who talked to me. She was saying that she wanted to get a list of Malaysian fashion designers - who specializes in batik, but couldn't find any catalogue of such.

I sincerely mentioned to her about the Batik Inspirations book, which has the addresses of some of the most well known fashion designers who incorporates with batik pattern/ batik design in their works.

She immediately took upon the book, and was very happy with her purchase as it showed the fashion spread by Malaysian top names with inspiration from the bold, beautiful batik colours.. All these with the complete list - address and contact of Malaysian fashion designers, some award winning and some members of Malaysian Official Designer's Association.

This was further enhanced by the employee of my friend who mentioned that the book is sufficient for all information she needs as its a compilation of Malaysian haute couture designers. What a compliment! :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Batik Information

We've had a few requests for information of late from tertiary students - from Malaysia, Thailand and also Singapore.

Though we do not claim to be experts in the field, but we will ensure we can help these students as much as we could - whether it is about the topic itself, eg. batik making, batik history, batik today... or linking them up with the relevant Yayasan (Organisation) or relevant batik makers.

We understand the process of information searching on batik can be very tedious, especially if you are new, as we experience it ourselves. While we were getting information on Batik Inspirations, we realised that there were not much information available on batik, and those available are rather limited.

Hence, it will be good to be able to share what little knowledge we have on batik or batik malaysia. Again, it's all about promoting the beauty of this hand crafted works.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Website Update

We've recently updated and edited the Batik Inspirations website to give it a more pleasant & easy going feel - with the usage of blue.

There are also additional batik articles contributed to provide more information to all those who like batik or am just learning about the age-old tradition :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Asia Review

Our latest review is by Frequent Traveller, a travle lifestyle magazine. It's heartening to see a full page write up on a magazine that is distributed in many cities in Asia... and it's also nice to know that Batik Inspirations is continuosly getting reviews :)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

2 Beautiful Covers

Recently, Ive passed the cover of the 2 books to a few friends and associates. Many who saw the new cover immediately liked the new cover and are very impressed - which Im really proud :)

Some like both covers just as much - to them both are beautiful in their own way. They mentioned the International Edition Cover is very bold and daring and represent an Art book, while the Malaysian Edition is more subtle but still unique on its own - together with a nice combination of colours & represents Malaysia.

There are also quite a handful who says that if they really had to choose one, they would still go ahead with the first original cover.

All I can say is that, Im proud to have 2 versions out now - which both are adored :)

Friday, April 13, 2007

Editions BLUE Released

Finally, Batik Inspirations: Editions BLUE is released :) Featuring 2 butterflies on the front cover, the story behind this chosen cover of the butterflies: firstly the butterflies are closely related to Malaysian batik. But, at the same time, it's in line with the spirit of 'Malaysia Boleh' (Malaysia Can)!

What makes this book more special are featured messages by Prominent Malaysian Leaders, who I thank them for their kind words, support and encouragement.

And to those who've supported us this far, including my family and friends, this one is for you :)

May this new edition continue to inspire on how beautiful Batik Malaysia can be!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Release Date: 8 April 2007

Yes, the date is fixed. 8 April 2007 will be the date where the Special Malaysian Edition of Batik Inspirations: Editions BLUE will be released.

Watch out for Messages by Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage and also from the Minister of Tourism Malaysia. There are also a few other Prominent Malaysian Leaders who have contributed their Messages.

And to humbly add, a special update message by myself, as Author of the book.

It just gets better :)

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Special Malaysian Edition

Malaysia's Living Heritage - Batik Inspirations: Editions BLUE

That's the title for the Special Malaysian Edition that I plan to release come early April.

We are most honoured that for this edition, we've gotten messages by some prominent Malaysian Ministers.

This is the edition that we really dedicate to Malaysians for their strong support for the book. Hence, we've specially designed the book for my home country - especially the cover where it's 'wrapped' in traditional batik cloth. The 2 butterflies are chosen as they are normally associated with Batik Malaysia, but more importantly because this also reflects the spirit of 'Malaysia Boleh' (Malaysia Can) :)

Watch this space for picture and release - wow, are we excited! :)

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Review by KLue Magazine

We've been rather busy, and it's this Chinese New Year that I'm back in hometown, Malacca... and have had the time to get hold of the KLue's Magazine which featured our book in their November issue :)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Review from GetThat

Another thumbs up for us getting a review from another lifestyle magazine, Get That (Singapore) - Feb 2007. I first bumped into their issue, and am most impressed that the magazine's tag is Lifestyle That Inspires... and I figured it will be a good fit with our book, which aims to inspire either in batik, fashion, or for any other possible way as well. So, here it is, their review under the book section :)

Monday, February 12, 2007

Straits Times Review

It is with utmost delight to finally have the mainstream media of Singapore to review our book :) It just keeps getting better! (Featured on 4 Feb 2007).

Thursday, February 1, 2007

MPH Quill Reviews

Here are 2 articles from MPH Quill (Jan-March 2007 Issue), Malaysia's premier bookstore's magazine. The articles is with regards to the the event we co-organised with them in October 2006. Such lovely memories :)