Captures from Colombo

Charlene vagabonding 8 Comments

November 2015 Colombo was white hot and turbulent slate by turns. We picked Sri Lanka on a whim. It was somewhere neither Flemming nor I had been before, and didn’t cost a fortune to get to from Singapore, where we were at the time. I was looking forward to my habitual approach to anywhere new: walk around the city everyday, get to know its rhythms, and learn something about it. Hopefully make a few decent pictures along the way. While I generally do a fair bit of walking everywhere I can, two things slowed the frequency of daily peregrination: first, the weather. Colombo in its cool season scorches the way Singapore does in July, the height of tropical heat. The ceaseless wet heat sucks the energy from your bones with every step that you take. I was …


Charlene vagabonding 4 Comments

“I have learned that if you must leave a place that you have lived in and loved and where all your yesteryears are buried deep, leave it any way except a slow way, leave it the fastest way you can. Never turn back and never believe that an hour you remember is a better hour because it is dead. Passed years seem safe ones, vanquished ones, while the future lives in a cloud, formidable from a distance.” ― Beryl Markham, West with the Night I made the picture above in the middle of September, on the train from Hamburg Central Station to the little town of Flensburg, Germany, near its border with Denmark. It was the day Danish police shut down the rail, ferry and expressway links from Germany …

On the roving life

Charlene journal, vagabonding 12 Comments

Picture: Denmark to Germany –  ferry from Rødby to Puttgarden. When I first left for this voluntary nomad life at the beginning of 2013, I was scared. Throw-up-on-my-pants-at-boarding-gate scared. I was secretly hoping that a whole other me would emerge after some time intrepidly living in strange places. You know the one – the smart, courageous, bull-horn-grabbing adventurer. Pffft. Right after I started this journey, I fell sick. I was sick for 3 months out the first 12. My body, subject to the effects of the preceding 10 tense years, immediately realized that it could relax and fall to pieces without repercussion. My memory decided to do the same. Waking up and not knowing what the date was, was normal, but not recognizing my own name when it was called, wasn’t. When my father died at the …

The significance of walking

Charlene vagabonding 7 Comments

Picture: Streetside, downtown Copenhagen, Denmark. Safety is something that is always on my mind. Wherever I happen to be, I look to the local women to show me how much range I have. In a new place, how free women (like me, or not) are to walk, speak, dress, etc without inhibition, is the greatest reflection of how I can expect to be regarded as an individual. Do women and girls walk alone with head high, regarding the world in the eye? Are they comfortable in their surroundings? Or do they step watchfully, taking the shortest amount of time between origin and destination? Do those who are brown like me, have the same liberties as their sisters who are a lighter color, or do they actively downplay the spectacle that is their …

Public Passage

Charlene journal, vagabonding 15 Comments

My earliest photographic project, and the only one that’s stuck after all this time, is the one that revolves around public transport. It currently lives on Instagram. I’ve spent most of my life riding buses and trains, so it seemed natural to shoot on them when I got a camera. I was working in Perth (Western Australia) when I started taking pictures on my daily commute to and from the office. It started out as something to distract myself from where I was headed, and the dread of what awaited me at journey’s end, and eventually got me re-engaged with where I was. I lived in Perth for a decade and a half, and never got beyond its sunny, social, extroverted face. Shooting the elements that made up the city’s exterior didn’t get me any closer to …

What The Banksia Said

Charlene vagabonding 15 Comments

I took the picture above on a warm evening in March, getting to know a new camera while out walking. I was frustrated. Flemming and I arrived in Perth at the start of February, and stagnation set in immediately – office work (which I came back for), website work, creative work. Nothing I had done since, had provoked any movement. Frustration mounted. The light was beautiful, but blindsided by the over-familiarity of West Aussie suburbia, I could not see. Long, low slung roofs, capping walls which protected people from the big bad world outside, regulation footpaths and intermittent vehicles zooming by, all brought back the less-than-joyous associations I have of this landscape. Street lights drew dark bars on the ground in the setting sun. Deciding against further yelling in a vacuum, I padded to the bushland reserve across the road. There, in stately repose upon its …

States of being

Charlene journal, vagabonding 9 Comments

I didn’t shoot a single still frame the whole of December. Largely due to making the XF 16-55mm F2.8 promo movie, but that was a more productive photographic dry period than usual. I don’t invoke these dry periods deliberately; they happen when my brain has had enough of one kind of input – in this case, photographic – and they last for various lengths of time. Much has been written about the perpetual flood of images on the internet. For me, this is enriching because of the many lines of inquiry it offers, but taking a rest from thinking about images all the time is equally restorative to the general self, creative or otherwise. In these times, I read, I write, I consider (read: drool over) graphic and industrial design, I agitate over my experience of the world through its products, …

Georgetown, Penang

Charlene journal, vagabonding 10 Comments

Singapore and Malaysia have a history of mutual distrust. Nevertheless, being only a kilometre apart, the two nations have strong cultural and social ties, and a lot of Singaporeans have family in Malaysia. On a personal level, both my parents were Malaysian before leaving to find a better life in Singapore. I’ve spent a lot of time in Malaysia as a kid, but I’ve not experienced much of it. It was never different enough to pay too much attention to, and having family there made it even more home-like.

2 Years A Vagabond

Charlene journal, vagabonding 1 Comment

On 17 January 2015, I celebrated my second anniversary on the road. Two years have gone by so quickly, this realisation hit and ran. I have absolutely nothing profound to say about the last two years. It’s been a whirlwind, one that’s often left me staggering from the highs and lows. It’s always intense. Life is unpredictable. I’m still catching my breath, and my memories. A timeline of notable milestones, by location, because my memories are heavily flavoured by place. 2013 Departing Australia Leaving my old life. Puke-scary. Mexico La Paz, sun, sea, and a first encounter with Mexico. Mexico City: a complete shock to the system, and stepping into a darkroom for the first time. The USA Making my first movie – Beyond. It proved somewhat popular. Learning to shoot landscapes in Texas with Jerod Foster at …

Strange Grief: Memories of My Father

Charlene vagabonding 12 Comments

30102013. 30122013. I lost my father on the 30th of October last year. He would have turned 75 exactly two months after. The construction of those dates was distressing in those early, not-entirely-compos-mentis days after his death. The asymmetry of 1s. 2s and 3s. Numbers, when neither he, nor I, had ever been people who went by them. It was curious to be troubled by a random occurrence of digits, when I was mostly unfazed dealing with the logistics of him his death: funeral arrangements, helping my mother pack his clothing away, selling off his beloved fishing gear. I expected to be immobilized by Dad’s death. I was close to my father. We had a lot in common as people, not only because we were parent and child. We didn’t see eye to eye half the time, but we were alike in many …