Anang Hanafi photographing life on the streets of Malaysia

Anang Hanafi photographing life on streets of Malaysia

Interview with the hobbyist street photographer on his work

Welcome back to our Talk photography series, we’re here to day with Anang Hanafi from Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia. He’s going to share with us some of his street photography from his homeland. Don’t forget to leave him a comment and subscribe after reading it over to receive regular inspiration from photographers creating amazing imagery.

Welcome to Talk Photography, we’re happy to have you with us today. We always like to start out by getting to know a bit of the photographer’s background. Could you tell us a bit about yourself and and about your photography?

“I am Anang Hanafi, from Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia. I currently reside at Port Klang, Selangor as I’m working here in a government sect. I always spend my weekend in Kuala Lumpur whenever I’m free to experience and capture what may catch my attention on the street. I make photographs for myself and treat this hobby as self-therapy after being busy with my working life.

I started my journey in photography with landscape and nature as I am very active with hiking and mountaineering but then I realized I did’t have enough time or money to keep doing that. During that time, I just took my camera with me, not knowing any technical things or how to operate the camera manually. Starting from May 2016, I tried to go a different path and that brings me street photography. Initially, I always thought Street Photography was an easy thing to do. Just shoot people walking by and just simply record normal activity that people do daily. It was not until I saw photographs by Alex Webb and a few modern art street photographers such as photographers from Magnum, Thailand, India etc. Street photography is not only just that. Capturing the moment, capturing something extraordinary from ordinary life event can be very exciting.”

When you’re out shooting in the streets, what type of situation do you look for in a scene?

“I am infinitely curious about people. Therefore I usually prefer any place where many people gather and do their activities. I only focus on moments and compositions. Capturing something extraordinary from an ordinary life event can be very exciting. The activities on that scene can tell so many stories about the person’s life, culture, religious etc. For me, the success of a  photograph is the combination between good composition and an outstanding moment.”


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Can you tell us about the specific situation in Malaysia in regards to street photography?

“Street photography in Malaysia is expanding and keeps growing. People in the city especially around the heart of the city are already well informed of what we are doing as many of us go out and shoot nearly every weekend and public holiday. More people started to appreciate this type and photography and some even try to get involved with it. All of these photographs will be the historical materials for future references. The real life of our place. Here in Kuala Lumpur we have a lot of places with different culture and characters. As a multiracial country, each place will portray the life and culture of certain peoples. The interesting part about this is all of us are living in harmony and tolerate to each other. All the while the street photography community keeps growing.”

Do you face any challenges to your photography, and if so what steps do you take in order to overcome them?

“Taking photographs of strangers on the street can be risky as we don’t know exactly what their life struggles and hardships are. What I’m doing right now seems like I’m taking advantage of their situation to get what I want. Most of the time I’ll try to communicate with my subjects to make sure they know that I’m not a threat to them, but sometimes things just out of my hand.

Some people, street vendors, homeless or random people on the street often think that street photographers are reporters or local authorities on duty – photographers who then take photos and publish negative things about them in the media. Sometimes they overreact to my presence, start yelling and if that happens, normally I’ll walk away to prevent something much worse from happening. So far, there’s been no physical contact but the most important is to make sure they know who we are and what we are doing on the street.”

Now it’s our time to invite you to share some of your favourite photographs and the stories that they tell.

‘This photo was taken at Jalan Tiong Nam, Chow Kit area. When I’m at this place, the think that really get my attention is the stairs. For me is very unique and most of the new building design don’t have that kind of stairs anymore. There’s the dog there and when this photo was taken, luckily there’s a guy walking up the stairs and the dog keep barking on him. When I look back at this photo, it really tells a lot of stories between all subjects and the surrounding in the photo.”

“The guy in the photo actually try to fix the broken water pipe in the sewer and it’s raining during that time. I just waited there and managed to snap this photo. In the beginning the guy felt a bit awkward because I stayed there quite long to get this one particular shot. After explaining to him what I’m doing, he just continued doing his work.”

“This photo was taken around Bukit Bintang area. This is the time when people rushing and walking really fast because of the rain. I’m used freeze flash and a slow shutter speed to get this shot. I can consider this as a lucky shot and because of the rain these 2 people didn’t really pay attention to me at the time although I’m using the flash right in their face.”

So you prepare to leave your home for a day of street photography, take us with you on your routine.

“Normally I’m going out for a photo hunt during weekend and when I don’t have plans with the family and such. Most of the time our group starts gathering at one of any local restaurants nearby and around 8:30–9:00am. We take a walk together.

Our regular spot in the morning will be around Petaling Street area, which is located at the heart of the city. In this area, we can see a lot of interesting subjects with very unique characters. People in this area nowadays are already very  familiar with photographers as this area is one of the popular tourist attractions. We usually would hang around this area until noon before we decide either whether to keep going or stop.”

“In the afternoon, our regular spot will be around Bukit Bintang, where the characters of people here more to modern and sophisticated style. In this place we normally focus more on facial expressions, gestures, fashion, and also the architecture.

There are two normal spot that we always go but from time to time we also try going to another places like Chow Kit area, Pudu area and many more to look for something new and inspiring. All of these places are located in Kuala Lumpur.”

For others starting in photography, and street photography what advice would you offer?

anang hanafi

“If you’re serious about street photography, study the works of other photographers, always have your camera with you, shoot a lot and really study the environment around you. Although you do it for fun, doesn’t mean that you cannot do it as good as other professional photographers. Look for one camera with a single focal length and try to master it. Photography is not about how expensive and advance your camera is, but it’s about the photographer himself and photographs that are produced.

The extraordinary moment is waiting for you just outside waiting to be captured. Go out and shoot!!!”

Thank you for your motivating advice! I got my camera in hand, and I’m ready to head out! I’m sure our readers are just as motivated.

Anang Hanafi is a passionate street photography hobbyist, spending his off days and weekends shooting when ever he is free from family obligations. He creates beautiful colour photographs in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Find more of his work through Instagram and Facebook.

We’ve had the honour of interviewing some of his friends from Malaysia as well including Marvin Buhian, Affendi, Sinsee Ho and Zamri Jasi. Don’t miss our major project with street photographers, either.

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