Dear Malaysians Who Use Smartphones To Take Photos At Events, Here's A Message For You

"Let's selfie, don't be selfish!"

Cover image via Eesan Photography

A photographer is pleading Malaysians to rethink the way they use smartphones to take photographs at important events

Eesan is a wedding photographer based in Kuala Lumpur and he has been in the industry for 11 years now.

Recently, he had the privilege to attend his cousin sister's engagement ceremony in Sungai Buaya, Banting in Selangor.

Eesan (left) attended his cousin sister's engagement ceremony recently.

Image via Eesan Photography

"I get excited too when I get some time off to attend events as a guest rather than as a photographer," he said.

It was indeed a beautiful event but the 39-year-old couldn't help but to notice that smartphones were a disturbance to the photographers.

That prompted him to write an impassioned open letter addressed to 'smartphonegraphers', referring to people who use their smartphones to take photographs.

"The national crisis at almost all events these days — the existence of the smartphonegrapher," he wrote.

"The smartphonegraphers are now becoming an intimidation to event photographers nationwide and with the increase in their numbers on a daily basis, it's becoming a far too alarming situation.

But, before you curse me for writing this, let me clarify that I am a smartphonegrapher too, like many of you, especially when I am not on my job. I love to photograph stuff even when I am not working on an event, especially when I want them to be uploaded on social media.

But what makes it different here is that, I take my own selfies with the wedding couple and I do not hand over my phone to the already busy photographer, who has his hands full with his camera and other gadgets."

As someone who has attended and photographed numerous events across Malaysia, Eesan has a fair share of experience when it comes to dealing with smartphonegraphers

He wrote: "I see guests walking up to the photographer and handing over their phones without saying a word, as though there is an unwritten understanding, that by them handing over the phone, the photographer is to get a group photo taken for them. Not even a "please"? Appa amma never teach ah?

Guests of the same group hand out a few phones to the photographer and I have seen the photographers taking the trouble to put down their gadgets just to make sure they can fully utilise both their hands to shuffle through the phones at the same time, making sure they do not drop any phones and crack a screen. Never heard of media sharing apps like WhatsApp or Telegram ah?

I have seen photographers declining to take a photo for the guests using their phones in order to avoid starting a culture that will encourage other guests taking advantage of the same. And what happened next? The groom or bride takes the same phone from the guest, and asks the photographer to capture a photo. Over here, I noticed the frustration on the photographer’s face but smiles on the guests' faces.

I have been told to move, to give way, so the smartphonegrapher can get a better shot of the couple during the ceremony or rituals taking place. I was even scolded by a particular guest for blocking his camera view and when this happens, someone said that they only see the photographers' and videographers' butt. Thank goodness, I do squats!"

It's an honest plea, for he understands the frustration of professionals who want to give their best work but people keep getting in their way

He explained: "Of late, the hours spent to take the group photos have increased. The hours spent on taking group photos are way longer, that the couple has to rush right after the session.

Some photographers even get scolding from the couple’s parents to end the portrait session as soon as possible (portrait session are normally done after the group session is over).

If you would like to punctually adhere to the good timing of an event - it is an Indian tradition to follow a certain time perceived to be an auspicious hour to do certain things - make sure you control your guest list.

Do not expect to follow the timing if your guest list is at 1500 to 2000 people."

Eesan agrees that there is nothing wrong in wanting a photograph taken but he's recommending guests to be smart about it

He said: "Just like the piracy issue, smartphonegraphers are just an extension of the ever-growing technology. So my humble request is for the smartphonegraphers to be extra smart. Use your gadgets wisely.

If you need a photo with the newlyweds, take your own selfie.

Come prepared. Have your phone ready. Don't go searching for your phone in your pockets. Don't waste time wearing your glasses to look for the camera app. Don't waste time walking or handing over the phone to the photographer and later taking it from him or her.

There are people waiting in the queue behind you. And lastly, that is not the photographer’s job!"

It's worth considering that good practices might just save you some money

"Let's help each other before this gets out of control and photographers start charging the newlyweds to bring in extra hands just to do this work for the guest," Eesan said.

"I have been hearing talks that this might be happening, just saying," he added.

His final message is a simple one - "Let's selfie, don't be selfish!"

Eesan's story is one of many others featured on the Malaysian City Life series on SAYS. Do you have a story or experience to share, or have you seen any we should write about?

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Previously on Malaysian City Life #54, we featured Khoo Cai Lin, who spoke about the struggles that she had to go through to become one of the best swimmers in Malaysia:

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