in My Work, Project

4D Project 1: Picture Story – Curating Self

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Task 1: Me 

I spent some time thinking about which faucet of myself should I introduce, one that will be engaging and interesting to the viewers. Then I decided to do a project that most people probably wouldn’t have the experience of – being an individual of a mixed race.

Me and my parents wedding photo

My parents wedding photo and  I. The photo is done by using a visualiser to create the backdrop behind me. My father is a Singaporean Chinese whereas my mother is a filipino from Cebu.

I was questioned why I chose to use my parents wedding photo. Marriage is a deep rooted symbolism of two people coming together to be one. And from that very day onwards this combination of my parents resulted in me, a Filipino Chinese that happened to be raised in Singapore.

Race is something that runs deep within individuals, and the way people perceive and treat me (even so subtly) is according to the of race they identify me as.

Most of the time, I feel that race is often stereotyped by the way one look. One of the most distasteful things I’ve heard was when my mother and I were in the Philippines and a foreigner nonchalantly said “yea, you look very filipino”, to a lady who is seated next to both of us.

Which got me thinking, what actually identifies a race? Is it based only on the outer appearances or does it run deeper than that?

Task 1 explores this question and expresses how I feel being a multi racial individual.


Characteristics that people say make me look Chinese, slanted eyes and yellow skin


Comments that I heard from people who said what characteristics made me look filipino. Prominent eyebrows, wider set eyes and tanned skin.

I chose to place my portrait next to each other in the photo presentation, signifying that these two cultures I stemmed from forms me. I am not me without one race or the other.

This article is something I can relate to (don’t worry, my situation isn’t so exaggerated)

17 Struggles Of Being Mixed-Race


Artist reference:

Ms Lei pointed out that my ideas is similar to John Clang, who used the visualiser to take his family portraits when he was studying overseas.

Upon referencing from him, I started to take note of my positioning and how I wanted the background photo composition to be like. I specifically wanted to stand in the middle of my parents, and thankfully I managed to dig out a wedding photo that fits my criteria.

Another artist I was referred to was Orlan, who does plastic surgery as a form of art and photographs the journey. This was very relevant especially since I wanted to draw the comments on my face. I took inspirations from her drawings and tried to replicate some of it on my face.

Areas of improvements:

  • The lighting on the different sides of my face was different despite it being cropped out from the same photo. Should probably take note of  lighting  in future
  • I wrote the words “yellow” at the sides of my jaw and unfortunately it didn’t occur to me that it couldn’t be seen until I took the photo


Concept 2: Object

If you were to ask me to name a significant object in my life, it would definitely be my stuffed toy who has been around with me for almost 10 years.

For this task, I want to capture how important my stuffed toy is to me.


Me going overseas with my stuffed toy

Me going overseas with my stuffed toy

With the luggage and my toy above it, it signifies that my toy is so loved by me that I want to bring it overseas (though I don’t do it now because I am an “adult”).

I took this picture by myself with a tripod and it was quite an experience to run back and forth to make the necessary changes. I also purposely positioned the camera at the certain angle because the road leads the eye to me, the main subject.

I did not make use of the road for the first few shots and this resulted a very messy shot as the eye did not know where to look. Did not help that there was a messy background too with all the pavements and street lights.


Mandatory shot of the main purpose of my stuffed toy

Mandatory shot of the main purpose of my stuffed toy, to cuddle!

For this shot I wanted to avoid making my room too dark. Had to play around with the curtains to get the light to shine at my stuffed toy.


My real dog and my stuffed toy are the same breed

My real dog and my stuffed toy are the same breed

One of the funniest things I noticed is that my puppy is actually the same breed as my stuffed toy. It is purely a coincidence!

Artist reference: 

I had to look through Cindy Sherman, who dresses herself up and compose the shots to portray a certain meaning, to find some inspiration. Looking at her photos made me think of what kind of props and outfits I can use to express this point.

The rest of the photos in this task is done my experimenting and trail and error. I did search for bedroom shots in Pinterest to see the kind of lighting I can replicate for this shot.

Areas of improvements:

  • For the first photo I was actually holding onto my passport but for this photo (which was the best shot) it didn’t look very obvious
  • I personally feel that the third photo is slightly overexposed due to the strong light from my window

Theme 3: place

My father is a scuba diver and my mum is a fisherman from the province of Cebu. With this, water is a huge part of me and my family’s life. In fact we are going to Bali to scuba dive this December!


Taken with an underwater digital camera that my friend kindly lent

For this photo, I wanted to to portray that it feels like I am birthed out from water.


A guy’s hand, which represents my dad’s

My dad is not the kind of person that openly display his love. When we go on diving trips his love is more obviously shown more when he holds me by my tank, afraid that I feel sink to the deep bottom. He also saved me from drowning a few times and the imagery of his hand pulling me out of the water is stuck strongly in my mind.


If you look into my heart and into my soul what you’ll find is water

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Me and how I feel at peace with water

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How I perceive water, the sun representing shallow waters and the dark which suggests deeper waters. Both I experienced and love

Artist reference:

Again, was search through Pinterest and I stumbled across Elena Kalis, Alice in waterland and looking glass series where she did photographed a girl reenacting Alice in wonderland underwater. With the lack of gravity and unique props, the results were beautiful and it seemed like the subject was in a timeless space. Definitely, it was difficult to recreate the quality of her photos. But giving underwater photography a try was a unique experience that I would definitely love to explore again.

If you want to see her works, click on the link below:

Areas to improve:

  • After taking my first round of photos and looking back at Elena Kalis’s work, I realised that I could’ve played with even more angles in the underwater shots (despite already taking quite a bit of shots)
  • Things would be much easier if I have underwater lights and weights, because my friend and I kept on floating up. Realised that maybe I could’ve tried putting some torchlights in ziplock bags because #whynot

Overall conclusion, 

There is a lot of areas where I need to grow in photography. After looking through the class works, I realised that the next thing I should work on is lighting and exploring different angles. I looking back at the way I lay out my work, I realised that I could’ve laid it out better. For example, placing the undershot in the middle of the wall not at the top since it was one of the better photos.

One way to improve is to look through more photographs by artists and study their shots.

Excited to learn more in 4D!