FROM the war in Salvador to the atrocities in Cambodia, Halim Henry Berbar has captured it all on film.
But for him, nothing is more special than the ordinary – a hawker making noodles, or a man sitting on a stool and enjoying a meal, oblivious to his surroundings.
In the 40 years he has been clicking away, Berbar has seen the best and the worst of humanity – conflict and peace, abomination and kindness.
For the ordinary man, his eyes have also been a window to a world of picturesque landscapes, the buzz of a city street, beautiful architecture, and art.
“I am your eyes. I bear witness (to what’s happening around the world) for you.
As a photographer, I am also recording stories to be retold in the future,” he told theSun.
He said the most important quality of a photographer is to know when to press the button. “My eyes are trained for this. It’s in my genes, my blood.”
Berbar’s love affair with photography began when, as a little boy, he watched a documentary on the Vietnam War.
Naturally, the person who has had the greatest influence on him is war photographer Tim Page, he said.
He still lights up with excitement at the mention of his idol. He even got to meet Page, but it was more by chance than planned.
“I was in Cambodia at the time. I nearly bumped into him and I was shocked when I realised it was him.”
Berbar’s work has taken him across Asia, and when it was time for him to find a permanent base, he chose to settle down in Malaysia.
“This has been my home for 20 years now,” he said.
These days, he has settled into a more sedate lifestyle. He continues to click but his subjects are not as dangerous to his well being.
Berbar has been nominated for or won no less than 17 international photography awards, but these pale in comparison to his love for the ordinary – the many things we see but do not notice.
He recalls a shot he did of a 90-year-old chicken rice shop owner busy preparing meals for his long line of customers.
“I paused and waited when I saw him.
“When he looked up, I could see the smile in his eyes, telling me that it was okay for me to take a picture of him.”
Berbar has produced a coffee-table book titled Ipoh: The Untold Story, a project that took him six months and 12 hours on his feet daily.
His book project had its start in a documentary that he helped produce seven years ago.
“My partner and I agreed that we would also produce a book from our work on the documentary.
“Ipoh is rich in history and architecture, just like Penang and Malacca.”
Sharpened Word, a platform for local writers and artists, helped him uncover hidden treasures in images he now shares in his book.
Part of the proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to a home for the elderly and an orphanage in the Klang Valley and Ipoh, which have been badly affected by the movement control order.
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