15 Photos That Prove We Have Not Seen the Real KL

We love Kuala Lumpur because there’s no other metropolis like it. It’s a melting pot of diversity with so many races and influences that blend so well. It’s a good mix of first world and third world charms (wtf is second world btw?), and more importantly, KL still has the ability to let people make creative things happen if they’re willing to put in the work. Just like how 25-year-old Farhan Iqbal started a photo series dedicated to our beloved city, Kuala Lumpur. We initially found his project through a Twitter thread that linked to his Instagram and discovered that he had an Instagram page dedicated solely for this project. Suffice it to say, we instantly get why people were falling in love with his point of view of KL.

JUICE had a quick chat with him about these images and compiled his top 15 pictures that truly represent the Documenting Kuala Project.

Who is behind the project Documenting Kuala?
I am (Farhan Iqbal) the main person behind the project. Currently all the photos showcased on Instagram were taken by me. My main partner is Shahrul Nizam, who has been with me for most of my photo-walks. He is involved in Documenting Kuala (DK) projects as well. Currently I am recruiting other fellow photographers who are passionate about the art in the many projects I have in the pipeline. So there will be a few other featured photographers brought on to DK.

What is the history of this project? When did you start and what inspired you?
It started of about three years ago, when I came back for the summer holidays with a few friends. Exploring KL and some other parts of Malaysia as a ‘tourist’ with them was actually an eye opener. I came back from studying abroad mid-2016 and tbh, I was quite saddened to see how much KL had changed in the span of four years. It felt like KL was losing its character with all the new developments and ‘facelifts’ it underwent and still is undergoing. I decided to start this project, hoping that the photos I took would tell the narrative of the city.

Photography work also serves as a way for me to discover things. Up till earlier this year, I had never been to Batu Caves for Thaipusam and I can tell you that it was one of the most wonderful experiences I’ve had my whole life. Documenting Kuala has also become a platform for me to bring the many negative aspects and problems that exist within KL such as the plight of the homeless and the effect of rapid modernisation.

Why did you choose Instagram as the main platform to share the photos?
Many Malaysian youth use the platform daily more than any other social media sites. The account is accessible to everyone with a smartphone, whether or not these stories are actually being viewed is a different question altogether. I hope it is.

What is the most unforgettable memory you have while shooting this series?
Hidden in the alleys of Petaling Street is a vibrant wet market that hosts probably not more that 20 shops. There was this uncle who, having recognised me from my previous trips, called me from afar. “Boy come here. I got something to show you. You can take photo.” As I approached him, he plonked this half-cut pig’s head onto the table and posed with it. Might not be the most unforgettable memory but I was touched at the fact he recognised me.

Here are the top 15 pictures (in no order) that Farhan choose himself to represent Documenting Kuala:

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To see the full project, check out Documenting Kuala Instagram page here