For the first time in over 15 years as a photographer, I decided to head on down to the heartlands this year to check out the Getai scene. Translated literally as "Song Stage", a Getai is usually a boisterous affair held during the 7th Month (or "Hungry Ghost") Festival in Singapore and Malaysia.
Originally meant for the amusement of wandering spirits during this time of year, the Getai has evolved into an eagerly awaited annual event. Performers dressed up in gaudy outfits are ferried around with military precision to different Getai venues by minders, belting out Mandarin and dialect (mainly Hokkien) tunes to the crowds that throng these open spaces in the heartland.
This time, I made a conscious effort to not bring the usual assortment of big camera bodies and lenses opting instead for a simple set up of two point and shoot cameras, one with a 21mm and another with a 28-90mm zoom. This gave me the flexibility to blend in (however much a large, non-Chinese looking man can anyway) and not appear too serious. Also, the small cameras help to stave off the onset of EPBP (or Eventual Photographer Back Problems) which is always a good thing.
Most of all, I did this because it was fun, because I had no brief, and because I could just go out and shoot what I saw and not have the pressure of having to make pictures for anyone other than myself.
So here are some pictures of this work in progress and I definitely hope to add on more over the next couple of weeks.
Lastly, one cannot talk about Getai photography without giving mad props to photographer Bob Lee who has just published a book on the whole phenomenon entitled "Onstage Offstage". A definite keeper.
I'll write up another post on that as soon as purchase details are out.