Sunday, April 5, 2009

Déjà vu 3 - Dr. M and His Words

The old man is at it again, first he quit UMNO and now he is rejoining the ruling Malay party.

Fast rewind to November 2003, after 22 years; Dr Mahathir spend his last day as Malaysian Prime Minister. On the same day I arrived back to Wellington with my wife after an eventful 29 days stay.

Of my "short" visits, I spend a night in KL and finally got to meet up with Jeff Ooi! "A THIRTY years wait!" Jeff exclaimed... not bad, considered Dr M "DID IT" in 22! :-)

It was a most memorable day in KL indeed, Jeff took me to the National Art Gallery to see the "1,000 faces of Dr Mahathir" where I saw my "famous" shot of young M walking past his famous slogan... it was a HUGE print, if not the largest but arguably, my friends told me; was the most memorable picture of Dr M, EVER! I leave the judgment to you.

Fast forward to Thursday August 19, 1982... I was a young Photo Editor for The Star, waiting patiently for Dr M to come out from his meeting at the Second Army Division at Northam Road in Penang.

Standing beside me were photographers from other "larger" papers, Star was "nothing" to NST, Malay Mail, Straits Echo, Nanyang, Sin Chew and even Sin Pin and Kwong Wah Yit Poh!

Alas on that fateful day, the other photographers did not notice the Dr M's trademark slogan "Bersih... Cekap... Amanah" (Clean... Efficient... Trustworthy) that were hanging along the corridor!

I knew the shot I wanted and I chooses my lens for the best perspective to bring Dr M and his slogan together. The rest, like they said; is history.

This was the front page of the Penang edition of The Star, the next day.

At the same time The Star in KL used the same picture bigger on page 5, but the impact was lost because of the really slag caption!

Below is the ORIGINAL picture in all its sharpness!

(Click picture for a larger view!)

Oh.... I shot the picture with a Nikon F2 with motor-drive on Kodak Tri-X film. The lens was a Nikkor 80-200 f4 "one touch" zoom which was about the best zoom lens you can get in 1983! I remembered vividly that after the picture appeared on the front, we got an order from the PM's department to print a giant near life size print for him; I was amazed how sharp the zoom was when I can see the name tag "Mahathir" above his pocket, sharp as!

Until today I still wonder why others did not get the same shot and also imagined how the other photographers got creamed by the bosses for being scooped by a "small paper". Ha ha ha...

Famous last words:

Dear young and rising star news photographers, I said rising star.... NOT Star, OK? ;-) Always look for the obvious during a news shoot, what is, are; obvious to you might not be to the others!

Ask yourself what is the crux of the coverage, what is the news angle? Can you see "out of the box"? Can you find another different picture angle to illustrate the same story? Make every jobs, big or small; important to you... say to yourself you will take a better news picture than "the rest". Impossible? Then may be you should go and find another job instead of being a news photographer :-)

Below is the picture taken by Jeff of me with "the picture". Thanks Jeff!

The picture below was taken by me using Jeff's Nikon D100 digital camera.

Finally... All the best Dr Mahathir, thanks for letting me record some of your moments! Oh.... I still remember fondly that I try and take your picture in Alor Setar when you were drinking tea and was given a strong scolding from you!

Dr M, you either love him or loath him... but he is a legend, no less!


Simon Gotlieb said...

Very nice work, as always CY. - Simon Gotlieb

heather said...

ha ha.. nice scoop! Interesting story. I googled him and found out he has his own weblog.
Interesting guidelines for taking news photos.

this is the site for Dr.M`s blog

Anonymous said...

Hi CY,
I believe this (Dr M picture) is your greatest decisive moment masterpiece just like "Behind the Gare St. Lazare" to Henri Cartier Bresson or the Sharbat Gula's portrait to Steve McCurry.

I am looking forward to more postings from you especially those relating your photojournalist experience in the past.

Keep up your good work.