Malay Mail, 22 November 2005
More than just a pet through Debra’s lens

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 22: After 15 years of capturing ‘emotional moments’ between pets and their owners, professional photographer Debra Tan still finds it a challenge.

Speaking at the pre-launch of her inaugural solo exhibition, themed Instantly Involved, at the Wei-Ling Gallery in Brickfields yesterday, Tan said the transition from photographing humans to animals proved daunting.

She said although it was tough as animal subjects involved more abrupt movements, the special bond captured on camera was well worth the effort.

“For me, photography is not about the camera, but more of the subjects and their reaction to the context and to me. Through the lens, I am involved with them,” she said.

“It is the relationship that interests me. How did their paths cross? How do they bond? What is their story?

“In the end, you are left with just a taste, wanting more information about the subjects but there is none. The perception is left to your imagination and before you know it, you are instantly involved,” she said.

A total of 50 black and white photographs will be on display, showcasing the special bond between 24 pet owners from Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong with their 31 breeds of dogs and four breeds of cats.

Some of those featured are St Bernard, the Siberian Husky and French Bulldog.

“Despite the uniqueness in each of the relationship, the underlying message in the photographs is that cats and dogs are not just cute and cuddly toys, they have feelings too,” said Tan.

Instantly Involved will not only introduce Tan’s works to the art world but will also help the pets.

The year-long project, in collaboration with art dealer Lim Wei-Ling of the Wei-Ling Gallery and ABN AMRO Bank Bhd, also saw the birth of the Instantly Involved 2006 calendar.

Proceeds from the sale of the calendars, priced at RM38 each, will go to Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ (SPCA) new project.

The calendars are available at the Wei-Ling Gallery and SPCA in Ampang Jaya.

Admission to the exhibition, from Nov 26 until Dec 6, is free.

For details, contact the gallery at 03-22601106 or 017-8877216 and 019-6041815, or visit

Also present at the event were SPCA chairman Christine Chin and ABN AMRO Bank Bhd country head Harry Naysmith.