Photographs by Callie Eh
Words by Jegs Santos
Published on November 6, 2021
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The Switzerland-based Malaysian photographer fell in love with the magic of photography as she narrates stories of people she met in her journeys.
Born and raised in Malaysia, Callie Eh has been on a journey, living in the U.S., Singapore, Poland, and Switzerland for the past 10 years. Her travels have inspired her to capture life through photography; she got her first DSLR back in 2008. What started off as a pastime, capturing special moments of her time around new cities and environments, eventually evolved into a career she never foresaw coming. This very passion drove her to use the camera to express and deliver narratives previously unseen and untold. For her, photography became more than a way of creating memories. “Photography has become a tremendous support for me and it has been a refuge for me during difficult times and a safe space to explore a multitude of emotions,” she notes.
Callie’s works mostly refer to life “in the moment”. She captures people to reveal honesty and express the authenticity of their individuality, heritage, and life. The raw power of her images makes us want to know more about the subjects, their life, and their personal stories. “For me, each photo is like a tiny documentary on different lifestyles and situations my subjects experienced and the feeling I had in each moment,” she explains. Her work brings in a unique filter of how the world is perceived – unsystematic and full of optimism.
Take her “Happiness” series. In the project, Callie delves into the nuances of happiness, defining its meaning taken from individuals across the world. The project dates back to 2016, hoping to bring a different story to people, one that is away from the tragedy, fears, and sufferings of the world. “I encountered many photo projects that document the sacrifices and suffering of people, which made me feel quite sad”, she recalls. This made her tackle an approach to her craft that gave hope, realisation, and happiness.
Happiness cannot be constricted to a single line of text. There are no words to fully describe it. Happiness is a unique, personal feeling in every person’s life and this uniqueness was the main foundation of Callie’s series.
Living in different places has exposed her to multiple cultures divulging the commonality of humankind offering unity and love. Her work unearths precious lessons that have changed her viewpoint on life; from a teacher in India, a 56-year-old vintner, to a young artist from Xinijang, China., no culture remains untouched. No matter the colour, race, and social status, happiness can be attained through following the heart, chasing passions, and their truths. “Happiness comes to people that enjoy the moment and create a better, more joyful life through their passions,” she explains. It is not about material objects, fame, or superficial aims, it’s rather the joy that stems from passion, from work, from loving every single moment in life. Her work unravels this very thread that connects humanity: fulfilment and happiness.
Unbounded and fearless, Callie continues to develop her project, in the hope that viewers will be touched by the human stories told through her lens. Her passion to motivate people allows compassion and happiness to permeate into their heart and soul.
“My passion is photography, and I would be happy if I could communicate the feeling I had during each moment to my audience,” she explains. “I hope to warm their hearts and bring some happiness in their lives.”
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