“I was in my teens when I was first introduced to photography. And there came a point in my life where I felt like I had nothing more to lose – I picked up my camera and went for it.”
kG Krishnan began his career as a fashion photographer. But more recently, he has transitioned into photography on social issues and lifestyles. His projects include Street Sisters, a series consisting of photographs of transgendered sex workers in Klang. A few months ago, he started work on another project, Home. Home is a chronicle of the living conditions of migrant workers in developing cities such as Kuala Lumpur.
“I’m drawn to shooting these specific groups because I feel like I can relate to them in a strong way in which I can’t explain. I feel as though everyone has a story and an idea of what home is to them and I could really relate to that – their struggle and confidence. They know they have baggage, but they still get out there and do what they do best to make a living.”
The photos in the first series were taken at a megamall development site. “I gained the migrant workers’ trust by approaching the camp and speaking to one of them who seemed to be very talkative and confident. In fact, he came up to us as soon as we approached the site.”
“I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I first approached the migrant worker camps. I didn’t expect to see homes made from crates exactly like storage units with six to seven migrant workers cramped into one space. So yes, it really was an eye-opener for me,” says kG, who relies on his DSLR’s and 50mm lens most of the time.
However, the photos that kG took are not the sole focus of Home. The first edition of Home is a printed zine of photographs – not taken by kG, but by a Bangladeshi migrant worker named Saiful. kG Krishnan and his collaborator Beatrice Leong handed a disposable camera to Saiful, who told the story of his life in the city of Kuala Lumpur with the use of limited film. It was a conscious decision to have the photos printed, rather than published online, to maintain a sense of privacy both for the photographer and the viewer.
kG Krishnan now runs the Home project solo with aim to help more people comprehend that the majority of people in this world have similar stories and struggles but are each seen in a different light and perspective. He has made a point to prove that the idea of home varies for each and every individual. At the end of the day, everyone one finds comfort in their idea of home.
He plans to take the Home project across Malaysia from Penang to Johor Baru and anywhere else the world may take him. “I’m looking for artist housing in Penang, considering the fact that Penang has been the most hospitable to me and my work. I then plan to scout homes and locations of where migrant workers might be in Penang and Johor Baru as these happen to be developing cities and evidently that is where you can find a number of migrant workers with stories that are so different yet so similar.”
“I’ve learned that everyone’s idea of home varies – it’s all so different. Whether it’s a storage space, a penthouse, a street, a group of friends, family. Various individuals may define home as things, people and places and that’s what I believe I’m discovering myself. I don’t know what home is to me as yet. I feel like I’m still searching to find what I define as home.”
Photographs by kG Krishnan. Interview by Kathryn Rao.
Volume 1 of Home is priced at RM10. Find out more about kG Krishnan here.