Malaysian photographer, Daniel Adams made his mark in the world of photography with unique projects where images seek to challenge common stereotypes in society. His project, ‘Why Is Your English So Good?’ which went viral worldwide via The Guardian UK, portrays casual racism encountered by young Malaysians studying or working in the UK or Ireland.
A Passion For Photography
Born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, the 23-year-old was quite a traveller since his younger days, having spent a considerable amount of time living in the United Kingdom and even Puerto Rico. “I got my first compact camera when I was 14 and I really enjoyed taking photos with it. After that, I decided to get a proper DSLR and I would photograph just anything and everything,” said Daniel during our interview.
What started off as an experimental hobby soon became a path he wanted to pursue professionally, which led Daniel to England where he graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Photography from Falmouth University.
Breaking Down Stereotypes
What makes Daniel stand out as a photographer is his style of work as a conceptual, portrait photographer. His projects often revolve around social, political and cultural issues in Malaysia.
Daniel points out that he creates a lot of “Malaysian-orientated work” because he relates to it – “Back then, I used to base a lot of my work on my emotions and nature but as time goes by, I wanted to start showing a more mature side of me hence I decided to portray Malaysia in a more distinct way. I want to focus on individuals and send a message through my work.”
Through photography, Daniel hopes to “shine some light on minority communities and to empower them”. He goes on further to emphasize that his work is all about inclusivity. For example, the ‘Dark Skin Project’, a collaborative effort with his friend, Catherhea, focuses on beauty that melanin exudes and celebrating dark skin by speaking out against colourism.
Determined To Convey A Powerful Message
The idea for ‘Why Is Your English So Good’ was a huge success but what many people don’t realise is the hard work behind it. After his mother’s passing, Daniel had to cope with grief and manage work. Despite the odds, he was able to produce powerful images through sheer hard work and determination which eventually garnered 22,000 shares within two to three days.
The planning stage of this major photography project commenced in 2017 but Daniel took a break after the death of his mother – “I managed to finish everything by May and then sent it out to almost 50 different publishing platforms. No one replied except for The Guardian. When it was published, it just blew up and everyone started sharing it. It was mostly because it was a very relevant topic at that time with a lack of awareness,” he recalls.
As a professional photographer, Daniel continues to strive for perfection and producing meaningful work. Some of his projects may take up to two years to complete. His recent exhibition, ‘A Love Once Lost’ took over a year to materialize. “For ‘A Love Once Lost’, we raised RM21,954 and the proceeds went to Cancer Research Malaysia. It was a memorable achievement and a tribute to my mum as well. I have been working on it for so long and to see it come together was absolutely amazing,” he says proudly.
Nothing Is Impossible If You Set Your Mind To It!
Daniel admits there are days when obstacles are abound, but what matters most is a positive attitude – “Last month, all my hardware got stolen when I was in Spain. So I had to buy a new laptop, camera and lenses! Not to mention, I get mental blocks a lot. Trying to constantly find new inspiration is something that can be tiring and difficult. So, I have to be in my thoughts all the time, surround myself with creative people and do a lot of research but with a little faith, eventually, everything works out!”.
As for constructive criticism, Daniel welcomes such criticism as it has helped him improve his work and constantly grow as a photographer.
Daniel’s enthusiasm inspires us to expand our horizons and seize every opportunity to do so for a greater purpose!
*Feature image credits – Daniel Adams/The Guardian UK. L-R images – “No filter/Enjoyable slavery” from Why Is Your English So Good? photography project.