Life on the streets of Malaysia with Agoes Alwie

Life on the Streets of Malaysia with Agoes Alwie

An interview with Kuala Lumpur based Street Photographer

We are here with Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia based street photographer, Agoes Alwie with an interesting look into his street photography street and insights into his work and thoughts.

Welcome Agoes, we’re happy that you’ve come on for an interview could you tell us a bit about your self and your photography?

“Hi, my name is Agoes Alwie, from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I was appointed as one of the Nikon Malaysian ‘ambassador’s’ who are also known as D-photographers, in May 2017. I was also selected as the Nikon Club Malaysia Photographer of the Month in January 2015. Even winning a few local photo contests and being a  finalist of EYE-EM Photo Awards’s in 2016. I’ve had the opportunity to present several talks at events on street photography, locally.

I am a founder of Street To Street (S2S), Malaysia, where we organized a photography events such as exhibitions, talks and other events for sharing. Street To Street was appointed by Malaysia Tourism Centre, KL as their strategic partner under National Blue Ocean Strategy(NBOS) since October 2016. Which made me a curator for their Art Gallery.

I personally started my photography in 2013. At first I began shooting mostly urban architecture but soon I got interested and began doing street photography.”

What do you focus shooting on when you’re in the streets?

“I shoot almost everything on the street. From people to still object. I do not put any”principal” to what and when to shoot because to me every single thing, a person, animal or an object, all have their own moment and story to tell.”

How do people generally respond to street photography in your country?

“The Malaysian street photography scene is very good. There are a lot of talented, fast learning, young photographers here in Malaysia especially in Kuala Lumpur itself. Maybe, I repeat, Maybe the awareness by the public toward this genre may need a little more work. That is the “responsibility” all  of us, street photographers in Malaysia, have. To educate the general public about street photography. To me this is very important, because without ‘smart’ audiences, the progress and process of the genera in Malaysia will be very slow or may I say probably ‘stagnant’. I believed, the demand from smart audiences (society) will push things forward. This will make artists work harder in creating their work.”

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Are there any specific challenges you face in your street photography? And how might you face those situations?

“Photography is an Art. Doing art needs a fresh, clear and strong mind. To me, this is the difficult part. When my mind not be able to communicate with my camera. A simple solution is to maybe sit down with a few friends over coffee, talk about photography, projects, and photo-series.  Or maybe, travelling. Short are a great way for me to refresh and clear the mind.”

We are very interested in photography projects and believe they are very important for an artist, including photographers, and street photographers. That leads us to ask, what personal projects have you done, either past or present?

“I have a few projects, both personal and group projects. The one that I loved is called PEARL OF THE BINS. A photo series about the thrash pickers here in suburban Kuala Lumpur. A story about a group of people who pick thrash to sell in order to make a living. Another ongoing project is to”reconstruct” the 100 years photos for Nikon’s 100 year anniversary. Also the ‘now and then’ photos of Kuala Lumpur’s streets and architecture.”

Can you share with us a few of your favourite photographs and tell us a little about the story behind them?

“I love forced perspective, it creates surrealism. And I just love surrealism in street photography. In this photo, as I can see, sometimes God doesn’t gave u what  asked for, he gave you ‘someone’ instead. Someone that leads to what you asked for in the first place or maybe even better.”

“This silhouette tells me; the circle of our life. The person at far right represents a new born, who coming into this world (into the frame). 3 people in the foreground represent people who are leaving this world (died). [going out of frame]… and the center silhouette, a person with luggage represents us now. Who sometimes just do not know what to do and where to go. Basically we just waiting for our ‘turn’ and our luggage simply represents wealth/belonging.”

“This is totally lucky shot. Off cause with deep observation and anticipation involved. This is also reflects our life, our role. Sometime we are just lucky (or really good) be at the center of the ‘world’ (circle). Other time, maybe just follow instructions (arrows), and maybe sometimes just trapped in our own box (rectangular). And definitely it just black and white (taking over) every now and than.”

Could you tell us briefly what’s your approach to shooting a day of street photography?

“Different from portraiture, they dont really love bright sunny days to avoid shadow in their subject face but I love it. Maybe many street photographers love bright sunny days. I love shadows, I love silhouettes, I love mysterious shots, hidden in the shadows. I love surealism in my photos at the  same time it’s easy for me to capture architecture. So, I can say my typical day of shooting is bright sunny day. Hot, but satisfying! Sweaty, but pleasing!”

What advice would you give to fellow photographers, and others starting out in street photography?

“To newer ones, start with photos that please your eyes, go to the area you comfortable with, don’t go to areas that make you feel unsafe, they may indeed, be unsafe. Look at others works of art, A LOT! Study and observe. Ask for tips and advice from more experienced shooters. To Others: keep on doing projects, photo stories, and series. It helps our mind focus and to set goals and give us   direction. Work with others, closely and honestly. Keep LOVE for photography, make PEACE with others, with fellow photographers, subjects and the environment, and RESPECT others works of art.”

Thank you so much for your time and effort in joining us for an interview!

agoes alwie

More of Agoes Alwie’s photography can be found through his Facebook.

Or on his Instagram account.



You may enjoy the interview we did on street photography with Trevor Gwin, Kevin Lim, or an interview with Yudy Zukara on his travel photography throughout Southeast Asia. Be sure not to miss our collective project featuring street from all over the world.

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