For Sarah Garcia, a hotel front desk staff in Manila, Christmas came in early in what could be a career, or even, life-changing trip to Kuala Lumpur.
After qualifying as one of the four contenders in the first AirAsia Travel Photographer contest, Sarah Garcia set her foot in Malaysia the first time, in the hopes to win the contest.
Under the tutelage of pro travel photographer George Tapan, Sarah Garcia tried to learn as much as she can about photography in three days.
In those three days, Sarah took on practical and on-the-job learning. It is a very rare occasion that George Tapan teaches one-to-one session to would-be photographers.
Powered by Nikon DSLRs, George Tapan and Sarah Garcia, together with AirAsia Philippines and ThinkDharma Inc. – Nikon Philippines as witnesses, plus me, took the early morning flight of AirAsia last July 27.
#TeamKL, as they are known, the duo of George and Sarah did not waste any time. So by the time the two met in NAIA Terminal 4, the coaching started until the seven of us boarded flight Z2 948 bound for Kuala Lumpur.
So, it was, the adventure began for the whole team.
As soon as the captain turned-off the seatbelt signal, it was coaching time once again. George Tapan continued orienting Sarah Garcia on her Nikon D7200. During the three-and-a-half hour trip to Kuala Lumpur, the two were doing their tutorial amidst the two having lack of sleep for the early flight. It goes to show how the two were dedicated.
Sarah even practiced taking photos on her inflight meal for starters. That’s why it didn’t came out as a surprise that the George Tapan and Sarah Garcia agreed to take a photo of one of the cabin crews.
By the time we arrived in KLIA2 at around 10am, we headed straight to KLIA Express train to get us the fastest to Kuala Lumpur, so we can all check-in and rest for a bit.
We got to our hotel the soonest possible time. After checking-in at LeApple near Petronas Twin Towers, we went out for lunch.
Our first meal turned out to be a photoshoot as well. With both George Tapan and Sarah Garcia geared up with their Nikon DSLRs, it was inevitable that the two will maximize every opportunity to shoot.
So, what intended to be just a quick lunch and rest afterwards, did not turned out to be like that.
With George’s instinct not to take quick rest (that can lead to long rest and a complete time-waster for us), we all maximized our first day in Kuala Lumpur to take as much as we can cover.
After our quick munch, we went straight to Petronas Twin Towers to take photos of it in the day.
After Petronas, we went to the one of the shopping districts in KL, the Bukit Bintang where modern day architecture is evident in malls and boutiques in the area.
And just before it got dark, we headed back to Petronas to take a glimpse of its beauty at night, which is my personal favorite ever since my first trip to Kuala Lumpur.
The first night photography of Sarah Garcia is about the majestic twin skyscraper. As for me, whether for contest or not, I would DEFINITELY take a photo of the Petronas Twin Towers at night.
After which we dine for the night to celebrate also the birthday of THE George Tapan which coincidentally falls on the 27th.
The next day was no different from Day 1, with the challenge at the hand, #TeamKL got up early to go to the National Mosque in Malaysia (Masjid Negara).
It was my first time to be there. It is the place of worship for the Muslims in Malaysia.
As a visitor, women are obliged to wear a robe. While men, who wear shorts, like me, need to wear a robe as well.
So, while inside the mosque, the George-Sarah duo took photos of the architectural design, people and objects inside.
After that, we walked going to Merdeka Square.
All of us went to the Kuala Lumpur City Gallery to get a quick knowledge about Kuala Lumpur.
After the photo-tour, we went for a quick lunch and shopping while waiting for a photo-friendly natural lighting.
#TeamKL proceeded to Petaling Street or KL’s Chinatown for much needed subjects on food photography. There we dined for a taste of a Chinese-style cooking.
If the two previous were challenging, the third day is not to be disregarded, as this day took on the Batu Caves and Menara KL Tower.
Early in the morning we took the train from KL Sentral to Batu Caves. After about 20 to 30 minutes of train ride, the AirAsia Travel Photographer duo of Sarah and George reached the foot of Batu Caves where the biggest statue of Lord Murugan is located.
The more than 200 steps of the Batu Caves did not halt the 61-year old George Tapan to teach his student Sarah Garcia. As the pride to be the mentor of the first AirAsia Travel Photographer winner bears more weight than just minutes of long walk.
So, after the Batu Caves, #TeamKL went back to the city straight to Menara KL Tower to get a shot of the Petronas Twin Towers at night.
Though, we went there early, it did not stop the two from staking out for the much needed shot.
While waiting to get dark, Sarah Garcia learned what most great photographers know:
- Patience in taking the right shot
- The beauty of the subject after the rain
After the much needed night shot of the city at night, it was time for us to head back to our hotel.
Now, that the three days of tutoring and shooting, there was more time for everyone to chill and relax.
Getting to know the duo – George Tapan and Sarah Garcia made this trip memorable for me.
Being a witness how to THE George Tapan teaches photography plus getting to know Sarah Garcia, who might be a pro photographer herself in the future.
I just hope that whether win or lose, Sarah will pursue photography. Only few people are taught by one of the MAESTROS of Philippine photography, and it would be a waste to see the knowledge-transfer go to naught.
It was a great four days for me with AirAsia Philippines (Gen Tan and David Viray) and ThinkDharma Inc. – Nikon Philippines (Bern Ong and Kenneth Navarro) team, George Tapan and son Harold, plus of course Sarah Garcia on the trip. I have to say that this one is quite different from the usual trips that I do for my blog.
Sarah Garcia’s photos will be showcased starting August 20 at www.airasiatravelphotographer.com. The winner of the AirAsia Travel Photographer will be based on the votes on the photos.
See Sarah’s photos and the other contenders soon and vote for who you think fits the title. Winning AirAsia Travel Photographer contender and one lucky voter gets to win BIG points from AirAsia and a Nikon DSLR. Sweet!
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