BOZO
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Art

BOZO Meets: Anang HanaFi – Malaysia's answer to Martin Parr

We sit down and talk to Malaysia's Anang Hanafi on what gets him out of bed and trawling the streets of Kuala Lumpur for some intimate shots of everyday people. Don't forget to check out his Insta.

Tell us something about yourself.

I am Anang Hanafi, from Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia. I currently reside at Port Klang, Selangor as I’m working here in the government sector. I always spend my weekend in Kuala Lumpur where I’m free to experience and shoot whatever catches my attention in the street. I take photographs for myself and treat this hobby as a therapeutic escape from my working life.

So What is going on in Malaysia right now? 

Street photography in Malaysia is exploding at the moment. More and more people are starting to appreciate and try to get involved with street photography. In the future I see these shots as being historical artefacts that detail the real life of our city. Here in Kuala Lumpur we have a lot of places with different culture and characters. Malaysia is lucky enough to be a tolerant and multicultural country, each place portrays the life and soul of different groups, and provides great opportunities for photography. 

How long have you been interested in photography?

I started taking photographs in 2013 and immediately it took over my life. After several years of shooting I decided to set off on a new path and began my search for a style of photography I could truly call my own. In May 2016, I started documenting the city’s bustling street life, searching for random moments and happenings in the street. The ordinary moments of everyday life often have a hidden meaning and can be interesting, humorous, bizarre or remarkable.

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Who would you say are your influences? 

I always make reference to the photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Alex Webb, Matt Stuart etc. Visiting street photography groups on Facebook and Flickr also help me a lot. I also love watching movies and try to obverse the cinematography for inspiration.

What was your first camera?

My first camera was Fujifilm X-M1. In December 2014, that camera fell down and broken. Then I bought Fujifilm X-T10. I stuck with that camera until mid 2016 when I got serious about going out on the street to document streetlife. The X-T10 can be considered too big for street photography. So I settled down with my current camera, the Fujifilm X70. That’s the only camera I’m working with right now.

Can you show us one of your earliest shots you are most proud of? Why?

This shot was taken with my Fujifilm X-M1 in 2014. This photo means a lot to me because during that time I knew nothing about composition or any camera settings. I just set everything on auto and let rip. When I look back at this photo, I can clearly see the line of compositions, layering, the shadow etc. This photo is my personal reference whenever I try to compose a layered image.

HOW DO PEOPLE REACT TO YOU WHEN YOU'RE SHOOTING ?

Taking photograph of strangers on the street can be risky as we don’t exactly know what their life struggles are. What I’m doing right now sometimes seems like I’m taking advantages of their situation to get what I want. Most of the time I’ll try to communicate with my subjects to make sure they know that I’m not a threat to them but sometimes things can just get out of my hand.

What do you mean?

Some people, street vendors, homeless or random people on the street often think that street photographers are reporters or local authorities on duty – photographers who then take photos and publish negative things about them in the media. Sometimes they overreact to my presence, start yelling and if that happens, normally I'll walk away to prevent something much worse from happening. So far, there's been no physical contact but the most important is to make sure they know who we are and what we are doing on the street. 

What are your hopes for the future?

Photography is never ending lesson. It's life-long study and there’s always something new to learn. I really hope that I can improve myself in the future in terms of composition, feel the scene, communication skill and be more observant.

Have anything you need to shamelessly plug?

One of my series, ‘Fragmentary’ is an ongoing project that looks like it will take a while to complete. Normally I don't think too much about my photography. I just enjoy taking photo. But after I look back at all my photos, I found something related that tied them together – that's the most interesting part of this journey.

Thanks Anang!