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The Symmetry of Seaweed - An Interview with Photographer Jenny Ng

By: totallyrandomman Posted: September-12-2011 in

Malaysian-born photographer Jenny Ng talks about her upcoming first exhibition of works at The 240 Gallery.

How did you get into photography?

I bought my first camera in 2003, but I was working as an accountant until 2009, so it’s only been in the last few years that it has become serious.

What made you switch from accountancy to photography?

Managing a team of 60 people is very tiring work. I was stressed and exhausted and decided I needed to take time off. While I was resting, I began to realise that my passion, taking photographs, could be my work too.

I got some work with the Cambodia Sin Chew Daily, it’s a Chinese newspaper, going out into the countryside taking photos for the Adopt A Child program. That was really rewarding work and it took me to all corners of the country.

How long have you been in Cambodia for?

Eight years now. When I first arrived, all I could see from the plane was dust and flat land, no high-rise buildings. It just looked so empty. I almost turned round and went straight back home. But it’s changed so much and is changing so fast, with lots of new apartments and condos and new high-rise developments; there’s about 4o banks now and western culture like coffee shops and things appearing all over. Quite a lot of people are getting more well off in Phnom Penh and they’re starting to want the little luxuries like good photography.

Did you always want to be a photographer?

When I was young, I didn’t ever think about being a photographer. We were very poor and I couldn’t imagine being able to afford a camera. So I thought I would maybe be a sketch artist, just drawing to catch the moment. Photography is so instant though, which is perfect for what I want to record.

What inspires you as a photographer?

The great thing about photography is that it really captures the now. Not so much the past or future, but what’s there at a particular moment. I’m not so interested in beauty, not the normal idea of beauty. For instance, a lot of people would say a picture of an old man, it’s not beautiful, they wouldn’t want to hang it on their walls. But I’m fascinated by the wrinkles, the lines of what’s happened. It’s not so much about beauty, but a record of life.

What can we expect to see in the exhibition?

The photos are images of seaweed on the shores of a fishing village in Fu Zhou in China. Not all of seaweed actually, some are of where the seaweed has been, of after the seaweed. The pattern of it not being there anymore. I’d get up very early in the morning and lug my heavy equipment, camera and lights and two telephoto lenses up a hill (all the shots are taken from up high) and just stand and wait for everything to be just right; right light, right time, right movement, right shape. A lot of certainly felt like it, but it was worth it.

What do you want the audience to take away from the exhibition?

One of my paintings that they’ve bought (laughs). No, I haven’t really thought about it to be honest. Just to enjoy the paintings and hopefully see something new. I‘m not sure, but I think I’m the first Malaysian photographer to have a solo show in Cambodia. In Malaysia, the photography scene is much more developed, there are many more experienced photographers, but in Cambodia everything is new and vibrant and that gives me the opportunity to get experience and try new and different things out. I’m very grateful for that.

Jenny’s exhibition 'Season of Seaweed' opens on Friday the 16th of September 2011 at 7pm at The 240 Gallery and runs until Thursday the 6th of October.

For more information on her work go to


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