Instagrammer Of The Week: Charlene Goh

Remy Millar

Every week, we bring you a #CultureTripper, a handpicked selection of the best Instagram photographers from around the world. From the islands of the Maldives to the mosques of Lahore, these photographers showcase their talents through their beautiful feeds and remarkable images. This week, we talk to Charlene Goh about documenting the changing world and her turn to a more minimalist style.

Where are you based?

I am based in Singapore, a tiny red dot located at the tip of the Malaysia Peninsula.

How did you get into photography?

It all started as a thought of having pictures as a remembrance of special events in my life and to serve as a travel diary.

What inspires you?

I get inspired by looking at the works of other photographers in exhibitions or on social media, as well as when I’m traveling to a new place and getting in touch with their unique cultures. I’m enthralled by the ability to transform thoughts into images that in turn convey those thoughts to everyone looking at that image.

What is the inspiration behind your Instagram handle?

[My] Instagram name came from a shuffling of the alphabets in my name: Charlene. I wanted something that sounded cool and had a significant meaning. Unfortunately, I’m absolutely terrible at coming up with nicknames, so I went with simplicity instead.

Whose work influences you?

I love the works of Ezra Stoller and Simona Panzironi. They take very clean images with beautiful contrasts. And for street photography, it’s definitely Henri Cartier-Bresson as well as the Hong Kong photographer, Ho Fan.

What do you want to say with your photographs? What message do you want to convey?

I guess my message would be the beauty of that moment — a message containing a blend of moments, thoughts and mood.

What motivates you to continue taking photographs?

The satisfaction from knowing that there are people who appreciate my images, and the positive feedback that I receive keeps me going. But most of all, I am motivated by my way of documenting the people and things that I’ve encountered. I’ve witnessed how the world has changed in the last 30 years, and I want to make sure I have something to remember them by even when they cease to exist.

How do you find the subjects for your photographs? Do you travel to locations you know you’ll find appealing, or take pictures spontaneously as you experience them?

I think it is a combination of both, but it will be more of the latter. Sometimes there may just be some preconceived ideas of what I want in my next shot that will drive me, as I believe that I’m bound to find beauty in something along my journeys.

Among your photos, which are your favorites and why?

I have two favorites. The first (see below) was taken during my trip to Myanmar. I recalled it was still early and the sun had just come up, the streets were empty save for a few cars and everywhere was quiet. I was about to get a shot of the building when a car drove by and sent the frantic birds fluttering into the sky. It was just beautiful, and I am very attached to this photo as it reminds me of the awesome experience I had in beautiful Myanmar.

My other favorite is this shot (see below). I really like this shot as I feel that it represents the distance between people. It reminds me of the quote from Socrates, ‘Sometimes you put walls up not to keep people out, but to see who cares enough to break them down.’

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