FREMANTLE photographer Seng Mah has won a gong for his stunning images of everyday life in India.
Despite only being a member of the Australian Institute of Professional Photography for two years, Mah was named WA Professional Documentary Photographer of the Year and shortlisted for the WA Travel Professional Photographer award.
Mah pays the bills by teaching amateur photographers how to take shots in exotic locations, running photo tours in countries like Bali, Cambodia and Kenya.
His award-winning photos were taken during a tour of India in February.
“You have to photograph and document the rich tapestry of daily life, while keeping in mind that the power of a photograph also lies in the strength of its composition and in the way the scene and subjects are lit,” he says.
“Our time in India brought us close to people who lived and worked at the coalface.
“They were potters, wrestlers, street barbers and vendors.”
Mah says photo opportunities were everywhere.
“You drive past a field all green, and in the middle are women in colourful saris.”
Mah’s photo of a man sweeping the forecourt of the Taj Mahal is a nice contradiction.
“It could be 60 years ago, but in the bottom corner are two plastic water bottles.
“It’s a risk when you put something small into a photo that people don’t see it.”
There’s an element of luck in getting a great shot, as Mah’s group discovered when they were about to snap the entrance to an Indian temple.
At that exact moment, an old man wearing robes and sunglasses, with a walking stick, appeared and walked down the stairs.
“I had only time for two or three shots,” Mah says.
Born in Singapore, Mah grew up in Perth and studied fine arts at the University of WA.
He’s run photo tours in Bali, Cambodia, Kenya, Madagascar and New Zealand, and next he’s off to Mongolia and Bhutan.
by JENNY D’ANGER