Blithe Spirit

L'officiel Singapore - - Contents - ROSALYNN TAY

“I love cap­tur­ing the por­traits of or­di­nary peo­ple and their ev­ery­day lives. All I want is to doc­u­ment re­al­ity. I want to be a vis­ual sto­ry­teller, and tell sto­ries with pho­to­graphs the way au­thors do with words.”

No one em­bod­ies joie de vivre quite like Rosalynn Tay, es­pe­cially when you peruse the list of things she’s done. In fact, what has the woman not done? The vi­va­cious 52-year-old’s first job was be­ing a crime news jour­nal­ist for Malay lan­guage news­pa­per Berita Har­ian. “I gave up to be a full­time house­wife when my daugh­ter was born 23 years ago,” she re­veals.

When her daugh­ter was in sec­ondary school, Tay picked up ball­room danc­ing to keep fit. “That hobby even­tu­ally be­came so se­ri­ous, I started to com­pete pro­fes­sion­ally,” she says. Af­ter train­ing for less than a year, she clinched the top spot in sev­eral am­a­teur com­pe­ti­tions. Re­cently, she picked up ski­ing, an­other of the many hob­bies she ap­proaches with much fer­vour. “I think I’m pretty ad­ven­tur­ous,” she ad­mits. “I love try­ing out new and un­usual ex­pe­ri­ences. I learnt how to ski at the be­gin­ning of this year – at an age when most peo­ple are scared to fall!”

But the leisure pur­suit that takes cen­tre stage now is pho­tog­ra­phy. “I al­ways wanted to pur­sue it, but was put off by how heavy a DSLR is,” says Tay, who bowed out of ball­room danc­ing when she in­jured her knee dur­ing train­ing. That re­sulted in her search for a new hobby. Serendip­i­tously, a friend rec­om­mended that she check out the Le­ica M Typ 240 two years ago. “Up to that point, I had al­ways been us­ing id­iot-proof, point-and-shoot cam­eras. The Le­ica M Typ 240 helped me dis­cover a whole new world of pho­tog­ra­phy and proved a god­send for street pho­tog­ra­phy. I take it with me wher­ever I go,” says the zeal­ous trav­eller, who has tra­versed In­dia by train, taken a solo month-long cruise from South Amer­ica to Antarc­tica, and spent a month in Ethiopia off the beaten path, where her en­counter with the spar­tan lives of the Suri tribe, the harsh weather and vex­a­tious tsetse flies formed the sub­ject mat­ter of her first solo ex­hi­bi­tion sim­ply en­ti­tled Ethiopia.

“I love cap­tur­ing the por­traits of or­di­nary peo­ple and their ev­ery­day lives. All I want is to doc­u­ment re­al­ity. I want to be a vis­ual sto­ry­teller, and tell sto­ries with pho­to­graphs the way au­thors do with words,” says Tay, who also pro­fesses to hav­ing a great love for flora and fauna, which is un­sur­pris­ing, con­sid­er­ing the Pe­nang-born adventurer grew up on fam­i­ly­owned plan­ta­tions that pro­duced duri­ans, nut­megs and cloves. “Life was sim­ple and I was sur­rounded by Mother Na­ture,” she re­calls. “I watched the sun set ev­ery evening and watched the drag­on­flies and but­ter­flies flit around the stream. It was beau­ti­ful.”

Of her brand of pho­tog­ra­phy, Tay says, “I like to cap­ture ‘the mo­ment’ and al­ways try to add a touch of hu­mour. And I like con­tra­dic­tion, which abounds in places like Cuba – the last bas­tion of com­mu­nism at the doorstep of lib­eral-demo­cratic Amer­ica.” She adds, “I also love the hid­den­ness of un­touched cul­tures.” Truly, Tay has learnt much from her trav­els, one of the great­est lessons be­ing the il­lu­sion of wealth. “I have pho­tographed some of the hap­pi­est faces in the poor­est of coun­tries,” she says. “It re­ally shows that we don’t need much to be happy.”

On her bucket list of coun­tries she would like to visit are Iran, Is­rael, Pak­istan and Bo­livia. A visit to Sri Lanka is com­ing up soon – “I will be go­ing there to at­tend a friend’s birth­day party and to shoot.” – as is a trip to Paris where she will be tak­ing a fash­ion pho­tog­ra­phy course con­ducted by ac­claimed lens­man Paolo Roversi at Speos Paris Pho­to­graphic In­sti­tute. It is Tay’s in­ces­sant hunger to learn, her un­stop­pable spirit of ad­ven­ture and a de­sire to be al­ways in and of the mo­ment that keeps her go­ing.

“What I do, I do for fun. It’s a hobby. But my dream is to turn my pho­tog­ra­phy into a form of phi­lan­thropy,” she says. “Hope­fully, by doc­u­ment­ing these colour­ful, cul­tural as­pects of hu­man­ity and im­mor­tal­is­ing them in my pho­tos, I can make a dif­fer­ence in the world one day.”

Ethiopia by Rosalynn Tay runs un­til 14 July at the Le­ica Ga­lerie Sin­ga­pore, Raf­fles Ho­tel Ar­cade. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit www.le­ica-store.sg/ga­lerie/.

Por­traits of the Suri tribe peo­ple – all shot on a Le­ica M Typ 240 with a Sum­milux-m 35mm lens – are the main sub­ject mat­ter in Rosalynn Tay’s ex­hi­bi­tion sim­ply en­ti­tled Ethiopia.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Singapore

© PressReader. All rights reserved.