Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Pictures Books with Passion

I honestly feel a bit sad that the MPH Writer's Circle meetings are so badly attended when they are an excellent way to learn about how publishing works in Malaysia and a chance to network. The last one was held for some reason on a Sunday morning (when most folks have better things to do like sleep!) and we had an audience which peaked at six people!

Last month's talk was about photography and brought together two very interesting speakers to share how their books came to be born.

Omar Ariff says that he started to take photography seriously in 1990 when he became a scuba diving instructor and bought an underwater camera. Later he was commisioned by the Petronas Adventure Team to take photographs of the Instanbul to KL Rally. He is now passionate about photographing both nature and motor sports!

His latest book Pusaka Bumi: Malaysia's Legacy of Nature is an incredibly beautiful journey from mountain to sea, exploring the rainforests and their inhabitants in full page plates. There is no text with the photos to break up the "album effect" (although there are notes at the end).

It's all about capturing moments, he said, explaining how he travelled across country at a moment's notice when he heard that he would be able to capture a particular animal. He also talked us through some of the technical details:
Keep it simple ...
he said referring to his choice of equipment.

The part of the project that gave him the biggest headache was the printing stage when he was working round the clock for 6 days to make sure everything was right.

The cost of the project? Around RM300, 000!

Mohana Gill was born and brought up in Burma. Food she says was always a passion, and when her children had finished studying and she had more time on her hands, she decided to write about it. She didn't want to write a conventional cook book though.

Her books Fruitastic! and Vegemania do a superb job of promoting understanding of healthy eating and are a visual delight as well as being full of tempting and unusual recipes. The former actually won her an international award - the prestigous Gourmand World Cookbook Awards prize for best single subject cookbook! (I bought a copy of the rather cheaper paperback Frutastic Malaysia which I'm delighted with ... fruit soup anyone?) The books are written with evident passion, and Mohana poured her own money into the project, more concerned to spread the message about nutrition than in breaking even financially.

All the photos for Mohana's books were taken in her kitchen ... and one of these days I am going to go and visit her garden to see all the fruits she grows - including mulberries!

The next writers circle meeting is this Saturday, 17th November, 11 a.m. at MPH 1 Utama and the speaker is Shahril Nizam (author of If Only) who will be talking about the art of illustration. Please do come along to support.

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