This summer I finally got around to doing something that I’ve been thinking of doing for quite awhile – that is, shooting portraits of every single member of my extended family.
Several factors have really contributed to my determination to finish this project, which has only just gotten off the ground. The first is the death of my grandfather last year at the age of 91, after suffering the after effects of a stroke for several years. He really lived a long, full life, not to mention a busy one with eight children, who are obviously my aunts and uncles today. So I’m extremely sad and regretful that I wasn’t able to photograph him before he passed away, however his condition probably wouldn’t have allowed him to be photographed for too long, especially with the setup I’m using.
The second reason I’m determined to finish this project is the shocking and sudden death of my Uncle Edmund, which happened last year. I won’t furnish you with details but suffice to say that we’re all still very much mourning his loss. He was universally loved by everyone in the family, especially his four children, and the world isn’t as bright without him. Needless to say, his sudden passing away made me indeed realise how ephemeral life can be – what’s here today can be taken away so quickly as to leave you breathless – and this has strengthened my resolve to complete this project even more. I say ‘complete’, although I realise that this project can truly never be completed – I’ll never have those portraits of Grandpa and Uncle Edmund to hang on the wall when it’s all done. Rest in peace Grandpa and Uncle Edmund; we all love you both very much.
On to happier grounds, my family consists of lots and lots of really wacky uncles and aunties and their children. There are lots of us – I’ve never bothered to count but it might be around 30 direct blood relations. Anyway, the point is that all get along really really well. The occasional Chinese New Years when we’ve all managed to get together, either overseas or in Australia, have been some of my fondest memories growing up. I’m blessed to have been born into this clan of nutbags, which seems to be expanding all the time. What I’ve posted here is only a small portion of our big clan – I’ll hopefully get around to photographing the rest as quickly as possible.
So, first and foremost is the matriarch of our family, our beloved grandma. She lost her husband of over 50 years last year which must have been terribly hard on her. She’s the most lovable and generous of us, often surprising us with a sharp wit that you wouldn’t expect. Every one of our family has a little bit of her in us, and we consider it to be the best part of ourselves.
Next – my mum. Eldest child in a family of eight brothers and sisters. She’s a retired school teacher who still gets offered jobs from private schools across Melbourne. She has a habit of just saying whatever she wants, when she wants, which is probably why the students love her. She’s very fond of her boys, so I feel bad that I’ve moved overseas.
Dad is a cool cat and takes it easy. Very little ruffles his feathers, and he’s a great source of sanity in the house, which counterbalances my wacky mother. Plus, he surprised me last Christmas with his virtuosity in the kitchen. I guess that sums up my dad – quiet but capable. I could learn a lesson or two from that.
Yours truly. Perhaps the most unfortunate photo of the lot, mainly due to the subject matter. I probably don’t need to introduction myself but it should be enough to say that I’m the youngest child in the family. I’m yet to photograph my older brother as he lives abroad too.
Those of you who know me will probably also have met my beautiful girlfriend Asuka. This is one of the rare times she’s allowed me to photograph her, so I’m glad I managed to do it before she changed her mind.
There here is Uncle Tet, who is the 2nd oldest after my mum. He’s a very jovial, lovable fellow who has the universal respect of everyone in the clan, partly because of his immensely successful business, partly because of his four fine young children, and also because he tends to get the bill at any big family dinner we have together. We try to stop him, but he’s too fast.
Aunty Pat, who is married to Uncle Tet. A devoted mum and housewife, she’s very close to her kids, which much be tough on her because they’ve all moved to Melbourne now.
Jason is the oldest cousin and one of the most humorous by far. He lets nothing, especially his lovely wife, get in the way of things he loves, mainly soccer, videogames and Coca Cola. Also, he somehow is very good at poker, despite not playing all that often.
Jasmine is Jason’s beautiful wife. She’s probably the nicest, most considerate, and most mentally stable person in the whole wide family, which is a good thing because we actually need normal people to balance us out. We’re all glad Jason managed to get his hands on her.
Megan is Uncle Tet’s second child. Right now, Megan has the most degrees out of any of us (3). She’s also super intelligent, but she spends a lot of time at home now, looking after her twins, who were born last October. Pretty amazing stuff, and we’re all very happy for her.
J.J is Megan’s husband, and is a connoisseur of fine wines, and more generally most alcohols, just like the rest of us. He’s a funny guy, as well as a proud new dad, and we all hope he gets enough sleep and still has opportunities to get cleaned out at poker at more family reunions.
Bevan is the third child of Uncle Tet, and closest in age to me. Adventurous and entertaining, he always has a story and is fun to have around at any time. He’s also known for he semi-nude taiko drumming exploits, and his undying love for a rather silly English football club.
Haruka is Bevan’s girlfriend, and is Japanese. She’s apparently embraced that we’re a family of nutbags and also that being involved with Bevan means having to deal with the rest of us all, and she’s taken it all in stride, to her credit. She’s a bright presence at any gathering, and we’re lucky she’s around to remind us of what sane people are like.
Wesley is the youngest child of Uncle Tet and Anuty Pat, and is quite possibly the most fanatical follower of a certain ridiculous English football club. His wardrobe alone is enough to convince anyone of his love for this club, as it contains an inordinate amount of soccer jerseys from said team. Our very own soccer hooligan. He also keeps very secretive on the subject of females, even though I know he has at least one going at the very moment.
Our most recent additions, the twins Jarod and Mitchell; Megan and JJ’s children. I don’t really know much about them, since they are pretty taciturn and don’t often contribute to conversations, so there isn’t much to write. Suffice to say I think their hobbies are eating and doing number 2s in the back seat. So I guess they’re pretty normal after all.