Majulah: Reflections of a Nation






Photography: Jayden & Noel
Makeup & Hair: Gigi Sng
Model: Munique L. (UpFront Models Singapore)

This is the first full-on fashion test shoot collaboration between Noel & I, and I’m very pleased with the results! It was definitely a struggle trying to produce this shoot; aside from makeup and hair done amazingly by my BFF, the other components of the shoot were all cold contacts. But thankfully Noel pushed me on and trusted my vision of the idea behind the shoot.

While the model embodied the spirit of National Day styled in red & white, the mirror images of iconic Singapore structures carry a pun within the word “reflection” – the physical reflection and the thought reflection.

I count my blessings to have had the opportunity to work with Munique from Upfront. She was amazing, and instantly understood what we wanted and gave us more. The shoot is most certainly impossible without Noel’s expertise and Gigi’s magic hands, and I look forward to craft more awesome fashion imagery with them again!

This is indeed a labour of love and I wouldn’t give anything to do it over and over again.



Don’t Compete

Find something to be obsessed with, and then obsessed over it. Don’t compete, find what’s uniquely yours. Take your experience of life and connect that with your knowledge of photographic history. Mix it altogether and create an artistic world that we can all enter into. If you only like shooting cellphone photos, then do that. If your dad works at a construction site that looks cool, use it. If your mum breeds poodles, then put them into your photographs. Use the camera to take what you know that others don’t, what you can access that others can’t. And the people are things you connect with to construct your own world. Be busy, see if you find a way to do what it is you want to do. Identify what that thing is, and do it. Don’t stand around too long having conversations about it; do it. Refine it, do it more, try it a different way. Keep at it until you break through to the next level. Don’t talk or think yourself out of doing it. Put one foot in front of the other and let it happen organically.

[...]

Say yes to almost everything and try new things. Don’t be afraid to fail and don’t be afraid to work hard. Do your pictures, don’t try and do somebody else’s pictures. Don’t get lost inside your head and don’t worry what camera you’re using.

[...]

When you’re working hard, really hard, opportunity will come. And when it does, you’d better be ready for it with your camera in hand. Remember, it’s romantic as hell what we do. See the beauty and the uniqueness in this world. Be a keen observer of life. Photography is about questioning, and the root of the word ‘question’ is ‘quest’. Keep seeking out whatever it is that excites and inspires you – make it your quest. Be very open to the idea of chance and surprise. Respect and honour your artistic insanity. If you work hard enough, you’ll experience the happy accidents that are the art.

unfazed.

Today marks another milestone in my life – I’d just gotten my first ever tattoo.

Between almost inking the combined initials of my ex and me, and this real one today, I have had many ideas and many a time that I “wanted” to get a tattoo. A lot of hemming and hawing, and mostly just being a wuss because of the fear of pain and regret.

I have heard some people say you should sit on a tattoo idea for at least three to five years, and then, you can proceed with no regrets if you still want it after.

I tried and it doesn’t really work that way, well, at least for me. What I came to realized is that tattoos are like battle scars. They should come in the heat of a moment, and no matter how they look, what leaves behind is something you are proud of because this mark has a story behind it.

Without going into the details of what I went through recently, I decided that I needed to get “unfazed” inked. Unfazed means calm, unruffled, unperturbed, untroubled, poised, relaxed, self-possessed, etc. I needed to ingrain the idea of ‘unfazed’ in my head during a tough, tough period like this. I needed to get a hold of myself.

Typed out “unfazed” in Photoshop, styled in my favourite typeface, kerned properly, and I started looking for a good tattoo artist. There are limits as to how perfect a tattoo can be, especially when it comes to text and geometrical ones. But being a typography person means I have to find someone whom I can proceed forward with a peace of mind.

I was immediately sold when I looked at Wendy Fong’s work and the caption went something like, “she’s the one if you want sharp lines that can cut through a shoe”. Also, that photo was of a Thai word tattoo. My love for Thailand, though unrelated to this subject matter (but what are the odds right?), further confirmed she’s the one!

Fast forward to today, it was… quite an embarrassing experience. All good at first and the pain wasn’t that bad. It felt like when Junior mercilessly yanks his teeth into my hands/legs – which is rather bearable.

But I was so nervous halfway through the process, I started to feel lightheaded and break out in a cold sweat. We had to take a break and the other tattoo artist jokingly told his customer not to behave like me since it was her first time as well. So fazed while getting “unfazed”, can somebody hashtag #fail already? Heh.

We carried on after a can of coke, but not long later Wendy decided to stop and continue in a separate session. She was afraid that my skin will break or something, so I’ll be back in a month!

Apart from the letters having different font weights now, I am really happy with it. I cannot stop staring at it and feel like how it was as though someone had printed the text on my wrist. And most importantly, I feel empowered already.

***No photo of it publicly until it’s finished!

#firstworldproblems

Lately I’ve been wanting to streamline my different online “facades” into one single identity, but I ALWAYS ended up in a catch-22 dealing with jayleif and jaydenation. The latter’s the sexier “professional tone”; the one which I’m more inclined to keep. But JAY-DEN-NA-TION is quite a mouthful and a whooping 11 characters – a far cry from jayleif being short and simple, and the nickname people had known me for quite a while.

This is such a first world headache and a frivolous vanity problem, albeit arguably a branding exercise. I’m constantly laughing at myself for getting so worked up by it.

Nonetheless, I’ve used my Instagram account to attempt some sort of an A/B testing on the reception of the change. Let’s see if I can drop the jayleif identity eventually.

#youdontreallycaredoyou

FIDé Fashion Week 2013 — Anne Fontaine

The Anne Fontaine models walked the runway in a minimal series of monochromatic shades, with splashes of cobalt, vermillion and beige. The ready-to-wear pieces detailed with lace and flounces, added a romantic touch to the juxtaposition of hard and soft silhouettes. The collection in three words: modern, classy, feminine.

Runway photos by Noel: