Tuesday Jun 02

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Meet Fayen, a 23 year old with a very old soul.

FayenProfThere is a saying that goes, "Variety is the spice of life." I like that saying. It is more than sentiment. I have found it to be true. The more I take the road less traveled, the more people I meet, the more I broaden my music intake, the further out of my comfort zone I step, the fuller my life becomes. Of course, colour and adventure do not come around every day, but this should not stop us from looking for them.

I was looking around, and I came across @Fayen's journey on Instagram. I cannot recall when exactly, but one day I noticed she posted up a picture of a typewriter. And then of a tlr camera. And then of a bunch of other really vintage-y photographs. I made it a point to connect, and she agreed to share her story. Check out her other photographs here.

Who are you?
A girl who believes that everyone has their own story and their own little ways in shaping their lives. As for me, I graduated from UBD last year with my first degree in something I did not expect to major in, which was English Language & Linguistics and have since been trying to get myself a job. Apart from that, I always feel like I am this 23 year old with a very old soul and always so sure that I might be having some kind of quarter-life crisis, however, that’s not necessarily a bad phase.

Describe yourself.

mary and max2

This is Max Jerry Horrowitz, a character from an Australian clay-animated film called Mary and Max. I know this may be an unfamiliar movie to you, but this is one of the most beautiful movies I've ever seen in my life. It is basically "a tale of friendship between two unlikely pen pals: Mary, a lonely, eight-year old girl living in the suburbs of Melbourne, and Max, a fourty-four year old, severely obese man living in New York" (IMDB). 

An old friend once described me as, "a girl whose spirit is stuck in the vintage zone, who takes pictures and uses a typewriter. She writes letter too." I see myself somewhere in between Mary and Max, a girl whom without reasons would just randomly sends letter to people (like Mary) and then always feeling anxious about (mostly unnecessary) things (like Max).

What get's you going?
Meet my little family.


I don't exactly remember when was the first time I held a camera and took my first picture but I've always been drawn to them, especially Analog Cameras.

When I was 12, my family and our relatives went to visit Mt. Kinabalu. My parents were so kind to let me hold the camera at that time, it was a Canon Automatic Point & Shoot camera, and everything about the place was so beautiful and there was this really bright yellow flower that really caught my attention so I took a picture of it. When we finally developed the film, and printed out the pictures -  it was the only one that made me realised how much fun capturing moments can be.

Would you say you've pursued photography ever since?
According to my parents, pursuing Arts at that time was not exactly an ideal approach. As parents, they ought to seek for the best in their kids so they were hoping I'd choose something that would benefit me in the future, career wise of course. However, I was stubborn and tried to convince them day to day on why I made my choices on wanting to study Photography, alongside Design & Technology until eventually my father gave in and bought me my first Analog SLR camera, which was a Nikon F801-S (I call her Casandra). It's semi-automatic, has both auto and manual focus, fairly modern and pleasant to work with.

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Your thoughts on Analog vs Digital photography?
I took Photography for my A-Levels and I spent so many hours being in the darkroom; it's located at the basement of my school, since it's a darkroom, it's always dark and cold. Nothing about it is quiet though since you can always hear water passing through the pipelines. To me, there is something beautiful about taking a picture and then processing the film with your own hands. I am glad that I’ve been given the opportunity to learn on how to do so because most camera shops and photo studios in Brunei are no longer using these manual methods to process their films, which is a bit frustrating.

So in my final year of A’level, everyone in my class seemed to slowly move away from the analog phase and jumped into digital photography. I didn't want to be left behind, so I saved up some money and bought my first DSLR. It was a second-hand Canon EOS 350D (I named this one Fayera). The first two or three thousand shots were meaningless for me but with a digital camera, there was plenty of room for improvements. Also, with the power of editing, a digital image can be so easily manipulated and you can even turn a bad picture to a good one.

Tell us about your other cameras.
An item becomes a lot more valuable when you worked really hard just to get it. In my case, I’ve done a lot of savings in the past to be able to afford all the cameras that I’ve own today, and the main reason why I kept buying one after another was because I’m always hungry to capture moments in different mediums.

I got my second DSLR, Canon EOS 40D (Leora) because the shutter of my first camera was broken and I had to send it away for repair. The retail value was still high then but it was worth every dollar. One day, I was browsing at the most hipster store I’ve ever been to, called the Urban Outfitters and I saw the pink Fisheye Lomo Camera (Ferra) and I just couldn’t resist myself so I bought it. It uses a 35mm film and every picture came out pretty awesome. My other 35mm camera, Olympus Trip 35, was found at this place called Camera Hospital in Singapore. I could’ve bought a refurbished one at Peek! Store but when I saw the scratches on the camera, it showed that at some point of his life, he was someone’s first love too, as he was to me. I got my first Instant Camera, which was a Fujifilm Instax Mini 25 from Tokyo because it has more function than the one available in Brunei at that time. Instant camera has got to be one of the most fun cameras I’ve had, unfortunately, the film is still a tad pricey.

The story of my first TLR still lingers in my mind because it’s like finding treasure in the oddest place. I was walking around Bandar in hope to find something vintage & worthy of buying and then I stumbled upon this camera shop. I dropped by to this shop more than once just to ensure that I wasn’t making an impulsive decision but that particular Seagull 4A-105 TLR was really calling my name, so I started saving up. Wednesday has been my least favourite day of the week, but not that Wednesday afternoon when I finally got enough cash to buy the TLR, and that’s why I named her Wednesday. Today, although I am happy with all the cameras I currently have, I still am looking forward to add more to my collection.

Photography aside, I noticed the picture of the typewriter. Pray tell.
I received this typewriter on my 21st birthday from a very dear friend, who knew me all too well. People think it's weird that I have a habit of giving names to objects but what it really does, is that it added sentimental value to it. I named my typewriter, Max and I think it's pretty obvious why. It's actually just a Royal Portable typewriter.


One time I found this red automatic typewriter at this building I used to work at, and it was past working hour and the whole floor was empty so the young and curious person in me was just so drawn to this typewriter that I immediately, without even thinking, plugged it in and started typing random things. There was nothing more sexy than the bell sound when you reached the margin. And everything about typewriters are simply magical. That's when I fell in love.

Your thoughts on Art and Creativity.
I have known people in my life who don't see Arts the way I do, who finds it difficult to appreciate all these little (great) things like Contemporary Arts, Photography, Movies of all genres especially Independent films, Jazz and Indie music, Books, Letters, postcards, vintage items, coffee and especially stealing/keeping moments in still images. I think I know myself well enough to say I'm not that creative (I can't draw or think of creative stuff instantly) , but I do enjoy painting and taking pictures because it's something that I'm interested in. And when I think about creativity, it always reminds me of one person I'm very proud to be friends with, Kate Yamin (@scrappedbykaty).

Moreover, I’ve found people all over the internet who continue to inspire me day by day. The Internet is a wonderful thing, which allows you to connect and to be inspired by those who aren’t reluctant to share their work. It’s amazing that there is no limitation to how you define Art, and I am so thankful for those who do great things with it. It adds colour and beauty into our lives and push the thoughts that not everything is in Black and White.

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What does it mean to be passionate?
Simon Sanek once said, "Working hard for something we don't care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion." I understand that "passion" sounds like a very strong word to use but I wouldn't do things that would make me unhappy. So as a formula, it'd probably look like this:

P + E = H
Passion + Effort = Happiness

So for example, I have passion for photography, so I make an effort, i.e. take pictures, capture moments - then when the result comes out, i.e. the actual photo and if I'm happy with it, then voila, instant happiness.

I guess what I am trying to say is that, if you are passionate about something and you put enough effort into it, great things will happen. Somewhere in between the process, there will be times when you feel like giving up (because I almost did) but when you are passionate about something, it is not easy to just quit or stop from letting it conquer you.


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