Born in Malaysia photographer, Kenny Loh on capturing the nation through his lens and his favourite Malaysian photo
Photographer Kenny Loh has journeyed extensively through Malaysia to capture unique and memorable photos of the country as well as its citizens. His labour of love resulted in the best-selling book, Born in Malaysia, which showcases the country and its people captured through the lens of this renowned photographer.
But Born in Malaysia, was but the first step for this talented lens man. He hasn’t wavered from his passion and has since accumulated more photos for his upcoming exhibitions as well as projects such as Anak Malaysia, which will be released in August. We caught up with the Ipoh born photographer to find out more about his new book as well as his adventures in photography.
What have you discovered most about the country in your years travelling across Malaysia for your book?
I would say that the discovering the country and its people all over again. For example, I actually know more about Ipoh than I used to. For example, discovering the businesses located in old shop lots who are still operating after 70 plus years. There are still a number left but each time I visit Ipoh, it seems another shop has closed.
Where would you recommend visitors go to capture a memorable photo in your hometown?
Most visitors are looking for destination style photographic opportunities which isn’t what I’m usually looking for. But Ipoh certainly has its fair share of spots. As for me, I prefer to take a lazy walk around town to capture the old shops and people going about their business. A walk through town is definitely worthwhile and you will find many photographic opportunities. Concubine Lane is a pretty nice location for photography with the old buildings on either side of a small lane.
What are your favourite places in Malaysia to go for a photoshoot?
I love Malaysia and it’s difficult for me to pin down a specific location. The most accessible would be Penang and Melaka but if you’re willing to drive a little bit, Taiping is always nice and even small towns like Bukit Koman, Pusing, Kluang could be interesting. When I was growing up, my dad used to drive us from Ipoh to various towns in Malaysia via the trunk roads and that is what I still do.
Any advice on where to go specifically?
I highly recommend taking a drive without any specific location in mind but avoid the highway. For example, driving from Penang to Kuala Lumpur using the trunk road will bring you to many small and quaint towns. You could stay the night at some of these towns. Gopeng for example, Teluk Intan and the list goes on. East Malaysia is also one of my favourite destinations especially Bario and Ba’kelalan in Sarawak and the Danum Rainforest in Sabah.
A photo tells a thousand words. What would a typical Malaysian photo say about the nation?
A typical Malaysian photo would not be of a location but of the people. The diversity of Malaysia, it’s different cultures and customs and the races is cause to celebrate. That is why I’ll never run out of subjects to photograph and interview for Born in Malaysia. A refugee I spoke to commented on how beautiful the country is with our diversity of people and to see Christians living beside Muslims was amazing to her.
You’ve photographed people and places all over the country. Tell us about your favourite one and why was it so memorable?
My favourite photo is the one I took of a man preparing the ubiquitous ‘teh tarik’, (pulled tea) at his coffee shop in Kota Bharu. I remember well how he asked me how many times I wanted him to ‘tarik’ and I said five times whereby everyone in the coffee shop started to count down as he did it. At that very moment, everyone in the coffee shop bonded and I felt truly proud to be part of this amazing culture of Malaysia.