If you’ve had any interaction with Singapore’s arts and photography scene over the last few years, chances are good that you’ve met Rubin Hashim at least once. After all, the instantly recognisable photographer is pretty hard to miss, what with his rather Volstagg-ish nature.
Don’t be fooled by his eagerness for a hard drink and a good time though. While this man-mountain may exude a charmingly playful exterior, it’s underlined by a serious dedication to the things he holds dear, like his craft, which he refers to affectionately as “an addiction”.
Rubin, whose obsession with photography can be traced back to when his dad gave him a Yashica point when he was a kid, was at the Singapore Tat2 convention earlier this year to snap some pictures for a small tertiary school publication.
“I’ve never been to these conventions before,” he says. “I always thought nothing special of them, even for someone like me who appreciates this whole culture of beautifying the body in different ways. But when I was there in person, it felt like there was some kinda weird mojo vibe thing going on in the air and it was excellent! I cannot compare the convention’s quality to others simply because I’ve never been to another, but I’m sure to start going for future ones!”
Enjoying himself at the show was essential for Rubin. “For me its crucial that I feel for what I’m photographing. The technicalities of it has never really had much weight in my process. If I feel the composition is right and the subject is in a perfect moment, then my finger hits the shutter button. I guess it sounds cliché, but I’m sure some photographers out there can relate.”
This may have been the first tat con that Rubin’s been too, but it’s certainly not the first time he’s photographed inked folks. And it never gets easier. “Photographing tattooed individuals is the hardest easy thing to do,” he says with a laugh. “Everyone there has this exhibitionist attitude and that allows me to really get the best compositions I want. On the flip-side, these people are so proud of their tattoos that you feel a great sense of responsibility to put them in the best light possible.
“Most of these people have a story to tell with their tattoos and I am the bard who tells these stories to a larger audience.”
Rubin’s currently working on exhibiting his works with other artists of varying disciplines in a number of showcases throughout the year. The first will be on the 25th of February 2010 at the Praxis Space in Lasalle, College of the Arts.
“The next big thing I’m planning on is publishing my first photo-book which is, at the moment, titled I will ruin everything eventually and one day you will see,” he says, that boisterous sense of humour coming back to the forefront. But his demeanour reverts back almost immediately to that familiar sense of dedication when he adds, “I got this title from a special girl, Cheyne Saunders.”
(Photos are © Rubin Hasim)