Acacia Diana stumbled upon photography when she was pursuing her master’s in architecture at the University of Greenwich in London. Travelling to European countries to study buildings and structures and taking photos of them eventually evolved into a passion for photography of landscapes, people and streets. “I stumbled upon it and I fell in love with it because it was so satisfying when you finally get that shot that you want,” she tells UNRESERVED.
Her passion and eye for angles have certainly paid off because she has been selected as one of six young photographers in Canon’s EOS Youth Ambassador programme. KL20x20, a photography exhibition that celebrates Kuala Lumpur and its inhabitants is Acacia Diana’s most recent project and we spoke to her to find out more about it.
Tell us about your collaboration with Canon.
I was appointed as a Canon ambassador in 2018. The programme had open calls for Malaysian youths to submit an application to enroll for the programme. It was probably like an eight or nine month programme that we had to go and join almost every weekend. We were exposed to a lot of aspects of Canon and lots of photography as well. We got to go to classes and a lot of local photographers who use Canon showed us how to take photos. They were experts in different types of photography. At the end of the course, we were evaluated and at the end of it, six of us were chosen.
What works are you exhibiting for KL20X20?
I explored aspects of Kuala Lumpur based on the idea of familiarity. I named the project KL in Symmetry for the experience of walking around the city and finding something that you thought you’d seen in another part of it – like something that looks familiar but is not exactly the same. After the MCO I just spent weekends walking around with my camera and photographing things that caught my eye. I went home and sat down to find familiarity, for example, a motorcycle against a wall that looks similar to another motorcycle near a wall in a different part of KL. So the project studies various patterns, visuals, architecture, and street phenomena that are connected visually.
What inspires you?
For me, as a visual person, it can be almost anything, really, I think, for me it comes from a sense of feeling when something connects with you. Visually, you are compelled to record, photograph or connect with it. It could be a painting, a movie, music, a conversation, the idea of just travelling that sparks an idea, inside me. For instance, during MCO, I did a project because we weren’t allowed to travel and I travelled a lot. It was about travelling at home where I did landscapes made out of household stuff. So anything can be inspiring. With photography, you’re not really limited to a certain idea. That’s what I really enjoy about it.
What message or feeling do you want to send or have people take away when they view your work?
The basic idea of, if you are able to explore the world, if you’re able to get out of your comfort zone, you should. Not just travel or physically be somewhere else, it can be in terms of ideas, the people you meet or the subjects you shoot. So whenever I put out work I always try to add that level of motivation or inspiration for people to look at my work and see myself and be like, “Oh my god, I want to see what she sees, I want to be where she is, I want to go to that place”. So with KL20x20 and my project KL in symmetry, it’s all the little things that I found throughout my walks around KL that people see but they don’t really take a moment to notice, so I’ve captured it and paired them together so I hope that when people come and visit the show, they’ll think, “Oh yeah, this is a part of KL, of Masjid Jamek that I’ve never seen in this angle”. So I hope to ignite a sense of curiosity.
What’s next for you?
I’m planning to take on a lot more photography projects. I’m hoping to delve a little bit more into fine art photography, actually, which I think can be interesting because it’s not a very big scene in Malaysia. Normally you see a lot of people doing wedding, production and commercial photography in general. So I want to study a bit more on fine art photography, and hopefully take a bit more projects abroad, when all the borders open.
Acacia Diana is a Canon Youth Ambassador. You can find her and her work on Instagram at @acadiadiana
KL20X20 runs from 10 to 20 September 2020. Find out more here.