As part of our Portrait for Pixels campaign, we are turning the lens, so to speak, on the photographers who have generously accepted our invitation to take part in this innovative fundraising campaign. In today’s interview, we speak with the founders of Bloom Workshop in Malaysia.
Question 1: Tell us about the Bloom Workshop team – how and why did all of you become photographers?
Grace: I became a photographer because I was amazed at the art of photography and how important it is to daily life. We capture moments that are fleeting, emotions that show a connection between two human beings, and most importantly, we record history. I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives by recording bits and pieces of their life… and helping them remember these moments years down the road.
Anna: I started off as an enthusiast and never really thought that this could be a full-time gig. About a year into it, after getting requests from friends to shoot their events and portraits, I thought: ‘hey maybe this could be something to look into.’ Life’s too short to not take chances, so I left my corporate job and pursued photography full time after shooting about 6 commissioned events on a part-time basis.
Asther: I started off as an underwater photographer on a leisure/educational (to educate my dive students on underwater ecosystem) basis. Then I slowly progressed to nature and portrait photography when I received my first DSLR from my late father. When I got pregnant, I decided it is time I stop teaching scuba diving and start a photography business instead so I can stay home to be a fulltime mother while running my new business. I somehow stumbled upon the new niche of children and pregnancy portraiture. My friends around me were either getting pregnant or had new babies so I wanted to help them capture their beautiful moments for remembrance. And I found that I totally love this part of photography a lot more than weddings or commercials.
Fiona: I took up photography at age 14 and it has been a hobby ever since. I used to take photos of my travels and especially enjoyed macro photography where I would take macro shots of flowers in my mom’s garden. Although I majored in Business IT, my university offered Photography courses and I took 2 of them as electives. The Professor liked my work and had encouraged me to pursue the art, which motivated me to have my very first photography exhibition in Austin. After returning to Malaysia and almost 3 years in the corporate world, I had an Eureka! Moment – to sell my collection of photos as framed artwork to interior designers. With a lot of support from friends and a little bit of luck, things took off from there and I’ve never looked back!
Question 2: Why did the Bloom Workshop team decide to participate in “Portraits for Pixels”?
As four female photographers, we understand that Violence against Women is a very important topic and deserves our fullest support. We truly believe in helping this cause and making a difference, no matter how small it may seem.
Question 3: Have you been involved in other campaigns to end violence against women? If so, tell us about it and why you decided to get involved. If not, why you have decided to get involved now?
Grace: A number of years ago, before becoming a professional photographer, I was working in a television production company as a video editor and director. I was involved in a local Malaysian television programme called 3R (Respect, Relax, Respond) that educates Malaysian women about issues affecting them, including violence against women. Malaysia is a very multi-cultural country, but the programme reaches out to predominantly Muslim women living in Malaysia. We educated them on what to do when you face violence, where to get help, and even shared stories of women who went through similar experiences but came out as survivors. These issues were important to me because I believe in the value of each human being and that women should be treated with respect.
Asther: No… never been involved in such campaigns. I stumbled upon The Pixel Project which I found to be open and easy to approach, and I contacted them for the first time regarding donating under Bloom Workshops in March 2012.
I was a victim of physical abuse when I was a teenage girl by my boyfriend then and once again fell victim to a mental abuse by my college boyfriend during my early adulthood. It was an eye opener and since then, I decided to help anyone if I can.
Question 4: Violence against women is a sensitive, even taboo, issue in many cultures that is frequently shrouded by silence and denial. How do you think photographers and photography can help “break the silence”?
As photographers, our images speak a thousand words. Visuals tend to be more impactful than written words. Through photos, we can convey grief, suffering, strength and courage.
Question 5: What do you think would be the best way of encouraging more photographers to get on board the cause to end violence against women?
Widespread Awareness. Through the use of social media and social networks, we can all work together to help raise awareness of the issue.
Question 6: Besides participating in campaigns such as “Portraits for Pixels”, how else do you think photographers can help stop violence against women?
Fiona: Through sharing of photo essays.
Anna: By sharing our own experiences – when you see that someone who is similar to you lead a life of independence, it empowers you to strive for it as well.
Asther: I agree with Anna.
The second Bloom Workshop for semi-professional female photographers and photography students will be held from 31 August – 1 September 2012 at the Indicine Theatre at KLPAC, Kuala Lumpur. Tickets cost RM950 for both days and the Bloom Workshop team will be donating part of the proceeds to The Pixel Project.
For more information and to register, visit www.bloomworkshops.my