Gift to Mankind: Capturing Nature with Pearl C. Ee, Founder of Wild Borneo Photography
The Beginning of Pearl’s Journey and Background in Nature Photography
For the first 10 years of her life, Pearl, the eldest out of two sisters, spent part of their childhood in a small backwater town called Sri Aman. Situated on the Lupar River in Sarawak, Sri Aman is famous for its tidal bore and during that time, as an adventurous girl, Pearl would go to the waterfront to have a look at it. Her interest and curiosity for nature began when she was very young where she would catch tadpoles and raise them into frogs. Although her parents were supportive of her interest in the natural world, Pearl eventually gravitated towards other passions as she got older. She spent 5 years in Australia, where she obtained a Diploma in Nursing and was on her way to finishing her degree when she decided to take a year off to return to Malaysia.
During this gap year, Pearl took up a job at a private clinic and met a man (he later became her husband), who is a professional wildlife photographer with a biology background. Pearl states that her husband plays an important role in motivating her and rekindling her interest in nature which led her to pick up nature photography and created her Instagram account “jungle_pearl”, where she shares nature images she captured using only her phone. Pearl was also inspired and decided to pursue a degree in biology at Universiti Sains Malaysia through their distance learning programme.
Travelling and Exploring Nature through Photography
Pearl and her husband make a living by organising and leading specialised nature tours within Malaysia and also to several other countries. One of the advantages of being in a distance learning programme is that Pearl still gets to travel and co-lead tours with her husband, while studying. Most of their tour participants are nature enthusiasts, nature photographers, and some of them are also biologists. The tours they organise are geared toward providing their clientele with a unique experience of the natural world. Their touring journey was amazing! They have traveled and led trips to various countries: Indonesian New Guinea to catch glimpses of the otherworldly birds-of-paradise, safari-style excursions in Sri Lanka through grasslands and semi-deciduous forests in search of leopards and elephants; and to Madagascar for its unique array of lemurs and chameleons. One of the most magical moments as Pearl recollects, was waking up to the loud, haunting calls of the Indri (a species of lemur) on the first morning of their trip in Madagascar. But Pearl’s favorite place is still the Bornean rainforest, where she and her husband have led countless tours to showcase the biodiversity of the region. Alongside their touring and travelling journey, Pearl and her husband as well as their client would take photographs of the surrounding nature such as snakes, insects and frogs.
Besides that, she also captures a photograph which she also finds as magical, which are glowing mushrooms. These mushrooms grow in decaying bamboo or decaying wood which can be seen at night. Pearl found the mushrooms during a night walk. She had a headlamp during that time but when she turned it off, everything became dark and all of a sudden, she noticed a green glow starting to come out and it was like magic to see these mushrooms glowing in the dark in the middle of the forest.
Challenges faced by Pearl in the field of Nature Photography
Despite her in depth interest and passion for nature photography, Pearl has no immediate plans on making it a full time career. However, she will continue working alongside her husband in their specialised nature tour and nature photography business after she graduates. Regardless, despite this field being quite competitive among photographers in Malaysia, Pearl believes that if you have the will then you will find a way. Things will not be easy but you need to be persistent and willing to endure it in order to achieve your dreams. The challenges that she faced where she had only used her phone in capturing nature photography did not stop her from being involved in it. She was determined to prove that despite only using her phone, she was still able to deliver great and high quality photography. Even though it was not easy for her to master the techniques on taking good photographs using just her phone, she was dedicated and determined to learn. She looked up photography blogs and websites to gain a better understanding of the elements needed to take good photos, and learned a lot by observing her husband whenever they are out in the field taking photos. She has explained about these more at her personal blog, “Jungle Pearl”.
Pearl advocates that despite the challenges that you might face in pursuing your dreams, as lrealityong as you believe in yourself and are determined to achieve it, your dreams will become a . Photography is an amazing way to experience and learn about the incredible nature we have on this planet. Hence, if you have the same dream and passion as Pearl, you need to start believing in your ability and don’t let external circumstances prevent you from doing what you love.
We at MSGA believe that nature photography is a beautiful and needed field for young people to get involved in. Therefore, we hope to see more young people venturing into it in the future. Even though this field is competitive and challenging, if you have the will to do it, you will be able to achieve whatever you put your mind into.