Monday, 20 October 2008

Introduction to KOJ3433

Assalamu alaikum and May Allah be with you,

Let me introduce myself first. My name is Ishak Abd Hamid. Hey, isn't that a nice name? Simple, short and easy to remember. Given to me 52 years ago, my mother Juai Haji Idris, said the name was suggested by my grandmother Siti Zubaidah. According to her, the name Ishak is a good name, printed in the Quran dan the Bible (as Isaac), and I always believe in her. But you don't have to call me by that name. Just call me Pak Ngah. Easy isn't it? There was a student who could not pronounce those two little words. Instead, he called me Pak Nyah and I have to act like one. Disgusting!

I have been teaching KOJ 3433 Photojournalism for the past 6 years. I love this course but not to some students. They said KOJ 3433 robbed them of their leisure and comfort. Well to me, if you like to be successful, the comfort zone should not be entered! Matsushita (the Japanese guy who provides the air-conditioner to your classroom or perhaps your own bedroom) warned that being comfortable would not lead you to achieve anything. Since I am a person who believes in what he said, therefore I am going to give you assignments that will definitely deny you of any comfy, softy, leisurely, and whatever. I believe this will make you stronger, more empathic and a persistent student ready to be the best journalist on earth. Who will work not for Utusan, Berita Harian, Bernama, NST, The Star but for the Al-Jazeerah, Reuter, AFP and other international media or perhaps you can work for your own goodself, an empathic freelance journalist or writer.

Joining my class is not without conditions. Firstly and the most important of all, you must have the passion for writing. If you don't like writing, this is not the course for you. If you have to change, remember this "WRITE WITH YOUR HEART AND REWRITE WITH YOUR HEAD".

Secondly, you must know what photography is all about. You understand what aperture, shutter speed, ISO or ASA, wide angle, long toms, composition, panning, cropping, etc mean. If you don't, I am not going to teach you again.

Thirdly, you have to be creative. Creativity is not inherited. It is learned and practiced. You will learn from me but you have to practice yourself. Show me a work that I have not seen in my life. Write something that I have not read before. Promise me that you are going to be a heck of a student and I will be proud to claim one day that "Dia tu dulu student aku".

So what are we going to learn this semester? Look up for the word EMPATHY in the dictionary because we are going to learn its meaning. We are going to take pictures of poverty and hardship. We are going to write about frustration and disenchantment. In short, we are going to learn the meaning of life.

Are we going somewhere for the assignments? Oh yes! To the poorest place in Malaysia. Are there really poor people in Malaysia? I don't really know. That's why we are going to search for them.

You are going to meet these people, shoot theirs pictures, talk and listen to them, live with them for a couple of days and observe if there are ways that the authorities can do to ward off their destitution and deprivation.

Tough assignments? Are you thinking of quiting this course? Don't! I promise you that this course will not frustrate you in any manner. When you are done with this course, I may not be surprised to hear you say "Pak Ngah, thanks for everything".