The Final Ember - Concept Notes

After sharing my latest photostory on ClubSNAP, the leading photographic forum in Singapore, there has been a few comments and questions regarding the portrayal of the character in the photostory. Basically, some viewers felt that the portrayal of a sick and dying cancer girl is glamourised.

Their argument lies along the lines that a girl who is ill cannot look so pretty. Nor have beautiful hair. Or doesn't look skinny. Or has radiant skintone. Along those lines, you get what I mean.

So I decide to post my thoughts regarding the intended concept here.

I never have the intention in the first place to do a true portrayal of a person in her final days. I have no intention to find a scrawny girl with severe eye bags or balding hair or a bloated face to do my photostory. I have every intention to dramatise the story into beautiful images and showcase the model's talent in portraying the bitter-sweet emotions.

When I create a photostory, I look at the subject that I shoot and decide how I should structure the theme. Should it be glamourised or should it be realistic? When I see the reference photo (refer to my original "The Final Ember" post) and Zoe, I knew I will be creating a glamourised theme.

For the sake of justification, I could say that the girl in the story did not actually die from the illness. Rather, she died because she fell from the stairs and injured herself. I only mentioned she has cancer, or in the story, a tumour, but I did not specify what cancer and the severity.

If I were to truly create a true-to-life photostory portrayal, there will be a few things that I would want to bring in:

- The interaction of the dying girl with her loved ones. You notice that there is no one except the girl in my story.

- Create low-key images such that it mirrors the emotions of the subject. My story images are mainly high-key.

- Less pretty wardrobe. This girl would not be dressed up nor will she be going out for walks.

- A portrayal of the sufferings she had to go through due to the illness. She'll be bedridden, on drips, throwing up, messed hair, basically showing all the signs of final-stage illness. My story is about her doing the 'pretty' things like writing letter, going for walks, playing with water.

Surprisingly, no one actually commented on the areas that I feel I should really be improving on - areas of photography and acting, to be specific. And I won't reveal here so as to give viewers a chance to share their opinions, if any.

And if you want a clearer view of the photostory, you can watch the 640x480 WMV file (35 MB) at

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