The World Through a Lens
The New Sabah Times (19th December 2007)

Photography as a whole has recently started to fascinate me. The idea of capturing something, be it comical or grim, defining or loving, greatly appeals to me. That moment itself is forever secured, never to be forgotten.

Now I've always believed that travel photographers are an interesting breed all on their own, set apart from their other lens-minded counterparts by a serious appetite for travel and the desire to capture and catalogue their experiences. Most of us, at one point or another, have lived vicariously through them or indulged in a little wish fulfillment when looking at photographs of exotic or appealing locations.

Suchen is a perfect example of what a travel photographer should be like. Armed with a genial disposition, he towers above many here in Kota Kinabalu with his long dreadlocks and trademark shorts and t-shirt. Sociable and good-humored, Suchen is always ready with a smile, especially so when one has queries about his profession. He appropriately quotes Confucius and says "Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life". A sentiment that most artisans usually adopt as a personal maxim.

Even a glimpse into Suchen's online photography portfolio will have you agreeing that his passion for both travel and photography go hand in hand. Growing up in West Malaysia with a father who was an avid photography fan, I wondered if this was the main reason for his interests. "Not really," explains Suchen. "My father gave me some tips when I was younger, the point and shoot variety. But when he was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, that's when he gave me his camera equipment. I only really got into photography in 2003."

Suchen's first proper stint abroad was when he went to Australia in 1997. After obtaining a degree in music production the next thing left for him was to "get a degree in life". States Suchen, " Not being very poetic, I guess the camera was my best friend as I never left home without it. Being a friend to technology has had its advantages as well. Picking up a camera and figuring it out was something that came naturally. Being a person of a curious nature, I always wondered how other people made their photographs look good. Their techniques, angle, equipment and whatever else they used to make a photo stand out. I have always been a big fan of photography and gadget magazines."

Spending the last 10 years traveling has taken him to 36 countries around the world, most notably to Krakow , Poland where he met his Hungarian wife Szilvia Pinter, an economist who nurtures a serious dedication to cooking as a hobby. Suchen proposed in Slovakia after 3 months and they married in Gibraltar 8 months later. The black and white photograph featured in this article is of the cafe in Krakow , the setting of their first chance encounter. If you look at the vehicle in the picture you'll notice that it's the only object that is in color. It is a method termed "Selective Color", a post-processing technique that Suchen excels at.

All that traveling brings with it a wealth of exposure. Apart from speaking English and Bahasa Malaysia as first languages, Suchen can communicate in basic Tamil, Japanese, Swedish and Dutch while Szilvia speaks English, Hungarian, German and Italian. A total of 9 languages between the two of them. Suchen is also about to enroll in Korean and Mandarin classes here in KK as he feels that it would give him an added advantage with tourists.

Suchen has over 70 thousand photographs in his library and has plans to sell them to hotels, travel agencies, restaurants and other outlets of a similar vein. A photo exhibition for customers of a leading bank in town is currently on the cards as well. Suchen in also in the process of setting up a proper gallery in Tanjung Aru Plaza where he will be showcasing his work for photography fans and buyers alike. He currently sells to buyers in the USA, Canada and Europe. his biggest fan is from Finland who buys most of his works and noted Malaysian celebrity Amir Yussof recently purchased one of Suchen's photographs for his new home.

His main source of pride however is a recently completed book of photographs entitled Borderless Frames. Explains Suchen, "Borderless Frames is a collection of pictures of people and places taken during my years of traveling around Europe and Asia . It is a personal collection of how I see the world. This edition covers 18 countries with over 400 photographs. It is a piece of work that is part of my life?s journey of growing. It is the visual journal of a traveler through the years that have defined who I am. This is a piece of work for anyone who appreciates art, freedom, and the pursuit for human excellence." Borderless Frames is only available for sale online, mainly for the American and European market, and Suchen is currently in the process of looking for a local publisher. With any luck you'll be able to find it at your local bookshop soon.

Apart from travel photographs, Suchen also has an extensive collection of portraits as well as nude photography for private clients which he declines to show as he wants to respect their privacy. But he adds that this is something he used to do while living abroad.

It goes without saying that anyone who is able to thoroughly indulge in whatever moves them is living a truly blessed life. Imagination, drive and verve are all virtues that should always be encouraged regardless of circumstance. I'll leave you with the first stanza of William Blake's Auguries of Innocence, which articulates the spirit of passion for creativity far better than I ever could ; "To see a world in a grain of sand, and heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand. And eternity in an hour." A highly apropos excerpt given the theme of today's column.

- Shan Sandhu

Visit Suchen at www.suchens.com


Photograph Copyright © 1997-2009 Suchendran Sivaraman K
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