Malaysia Independence Day: A Toast to Malaysian Photographers

August is a proud month for Malaysians as our country gained independence on 31st August 1957, and this year marks the 65th anniversary of our independence. In conjunction with our Merdeka Day, we at Zontiga would like to give a shout-out to a few of our dear Malaysian photographers and highlight some of Malaysian works that showcase the beauty of our country.


Brehi is an appreciation of the five performing arts that define the state of Kelantan – wayang kulit, makyong, dikir barat, menorah and main puteri. It is the personal project of Ariff Awaluddin and Soraya Yusof Talismail, fellow artists and partners in love and life.

For over two years, the couple made many trips and immersed themselves among the locals in this unique state to capture the spirit and soul of these living arts. They met tok dalangs, singers, choreographers, musicians, dancers; and equally important, the audiences whom they learned were integral to the performances.

This book features 85 images in colour and black & white, mainly of artistes in their element – behind, on- and off-stage – lending insight to the rituals, acting, dance, vocals, instruments, songs and stories. The photographs serve to de-mystify the arts, making it accessible to the lay person; they are portals into a culture not well understood. 




Browsing through this book, Malaysians may find the images familiar and many nostalgic. It documented the Kuala Lumpur from more than twenty years ago, almost like a time capsule.

Steven V-L Lee is a Malaysian freelance photographer based in London, UK. He began his photographic career as a documentary and travel photographer in the late 90's when began writing travel related articles for magazines and journals.

Released in 2000, Outside Looking In Kuala Lumpur consists of a collection of photographs with central Kuala Lumpur as its subject, capturing the daily lives and activities of the residents there, as well as documenting the rapid growth and development of the city landscape. This body of work has been awarded the Asian Prize 2007 by the selection panel for the General Photography Festival at Photo City Sagamihara, Japan.




The images in this book may look plain at first glance, but with a closer look, they are filled with overwhelming emotions. This is a bilingual photobook on the lives of stateless children in Chow Kit during the pandemic. These children are not refugees, “illegal immigrants” or foreigners; most of them are actually born and bred in this country, with no access to formal education due to their undocumented status.

Compiling the photographic works of 28 students of the Chow Kit Road Book, this book is an effort to document space issues, self-learning efforts and exploration of mental health issues during a pandemic. The series of photos produced is a workshop and interaction effort involving students from Buku Jalanan Chow Kit (@bukujalananck), professional counsellors, dance-therapists and mobilizers of the photography community in Malaysia.

Funds raised from the sale of these photo books will help to fund art and photography projects with the Chow Kit Road Book community.



Happy Independence Day to our fellow Malaysians! May we continue to strive for the betterment of our nation and future generations, in art and in life. More Malaysian works can be found here. Let’s support local! 😊

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