Online Connections Made Real

Social media is sometimes portrayed as evil. A place for people to seek the approval of the world or lose themselves in the lives of others. However, it is can also be a place to learn, be inspired and maybe, contribute to the general pool of positivity. In this world of social media, I have migrated from Facebook to instagram. I find that instagram allows me to be inspired by the photography of others in a positive mindset.

In this big wide world of instagram, I’ve connected with people close and far. Lorenzo (originally from The Phillipines) who lives in Singapore together and Richard who lives in Auckland, New Zealand are some of the few friends I’ve made online. While online friendships like pen pals from days of old enrich outlives beyond instagram likes, nothing beats a handshake and a chat over coffee or food. I tried to meet Lorenzo when I went back to Singapore in 2019 but the birth of his first child meant that he was back in The Phillipines when I was in Singapore. A little disappointing but hopefully in a post covid world we can connect in real life (IRL).

On a more positive note, I caught up with Richard for lunch today, connecting him also with my friend Carlo. We met at Ponsonby Food Court for lunch on a pre daylight saving Saturday afternoon. Almost similar to a blind date scenario, us two grown men were sending messages on instagram to make the “date” and provide descriptions of what we’re wearing or caring to help with the identification. And no, there was no yellow or red rose on the lapel. I did however were a bright yellow T-shirt. The three of us had a very good lunch, sharing our interests in photography, taking about gear; why it does not matter and what our current approach to photography is. I also tried to explain poorly why I share a lot of my shots on instagram stories rather than the more permanent regular posting. I don’t think I understand my intentions well enough to convince myself or anyone.

Following lunch, Carlo headed off to town while Richard and I walked along Ponsonby Road talking about what catches our eyes when we walk with a photographer’s mindset. I’ve never done a photo walk before. Photography is generally an exercise I do alone. I go into my zone and I physically disengage from the world as I enter in a singular existence with the classic chrome world around me. It was a new experience for to share photography insights with Richard as we walk. I was so keen to share with him the parts of my neighbourhood that I hunt for shots at and hear what he thought of it. Richard was busy shooting away and I played the part of the support crew, making his shooting “professional” and “legitimate”.

Just past halfway down Ponsonby Road, we talked about shooting people and how being brave can reap rewards. We discussed how we want to capture people and not make it a point to not intrude into their personal time and space. While we love interesting characters, we also discussed how we would avoid shooting people who are interesting because of the situation they find themselves in. Yes, there maybe a documentary aspect to photographing such scenes. But I personally struggle to justify the scene.

Shortly after parting ways with Richard, I walked past a scene that looked very interesting. I took the following two shots.

I love how the person was hidden in this scene. But as I walked up to there person, I found him with his head in his hands. He could be tired or sad. I don’t know because all I did was take a photo of him. I’m ashamed to say that I did not step up to ask him if everything was ok. I found many reasons to not reach out. I’m not going to post the photo I took of him. From a photographic stand point, I thought the photo was really good. But I rather write about my inability to connect after glorifying my efforts of connection above.

This is the reason I call my site Good Intentions. I do want to do go. I do want to be a better person. But sometimes all my efforts remain good intentions.

Author: Jason Phang

Hailing from Humid Singapore, I’ve been calling Auckland, New Zealand home since 2005. I love making photographs and I generally veer towards street photography.

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