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Gong Xi Fa Cai 2013: Constellation on Steroids

For a few years now, I took great risks shooting in close proximity to exploding fire crackers – thinking back, it may have been too close for comfort and not something I want repeated. So this year while my dad continued the tradition of lighting the long string of firecrackers, to entertain the kids, I stayed on the first floor appreciating what’s happening downstairs from the balcony. And, each year my immediate neighbour would light the first blast and what followed simply dwarfed every other fireworks in our area — Gong Xi Fa Cai and happy holidays everyone! 🙂

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JAN_5530A-WPFireworks lights up like a constellation on steroids completely canopying the midnight sky.

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The thing with shooting editorial photos for magazines is that you are engaged months before publication is due and sometimes do not get to see the pictures published until a year after. From the first Reflections of Aidilfitri seasonal themed shoot last year comes biG magazine’s Gong Xi Fa Cai feature, Festive Flavours! This season, ‘biG gets in the spirit of the Lunar New Year and meets with four charming personalities who share their fond memories and favourite traditional dishes.’ It wasn’t that long ago when we celebrated school end of term break, Christmas and ushered in the new year and it won’t be long before we brace ourselves for Chinese New Year festivity. So I managed to obtain a copy of the 2011 Jan–Mar edition from the magazine’s associate editor before it hit the shelves and the first thing I noticed was that the photographs appeared consistently darker than my submissions although the examples below do not reflect the anomaly. That’s another thing with magazine assignments—that outcomes as far as print quality something photographers have little or no influence over.


Virginia On is a full time homemaker who manages a beautiful home. Being from Hong Kong, she serves traditional Cantonese cooking we had the pleasure of savouring.While scouting the location, I chose this vantage point to bring depth into the composition by extending the view outdoor right into her garden.
Steamed seabass in ginger and onions, herbal soup, roast chicken, cabbage with scallop, black fungus mushroom. Shown here are the ingredients used for the delightful herbal soup.


Meet Gwendolyn Lee, entrepreneur and steamboat queen (not an official title). Scouting for location, rearranging the host's furniture and experimenting with various poses all part and parcel of the shoot.
An eye for presentation, biG magazine editor Wan Zainal puts the finishing touches to Gwendoline's choice of raw ingredients who believes, "Chinese New Year falls during winter in China so steamboat would be served to keep warm and in keeping this Chinese tradition, steamboat is great way to welcome people into her home and say 'thank you.' There's so much warmth and love during this time of the year ...
This is another composition which works equally well as the published one.


biG associate editor Stella (right) checks out the large, fragrant Shiitake mushroom in the midst of interviewing Restaurateur couple Priscilla and Wuei.