By Kristina De Clara
Photos by Emily Clementi and Alex Choong
If there was one person on REGINA’s trip who could capture the astounding beauty and scope of Ireland’s lush, rolling green hills, it was Alex Choong (traveling camera man). REGINA writer Kristina de Clara recently sat down with this professional photographer and videographer to discuss his experience recording the trip on film.
REGINA: Where are you from?
ALEX: I am from Singapore in Singapore…We’re a city state; the whole country is one city of 5 million people.
REGINA: Where do you work?
ALEX: I am a Videographer/Audio Engineer/Photographer from a production company called Pixelmusica. We specialise in all forms of videos but are particularly dedicated to the mission of Christ and to the Church. We produce many kinds of videos, but with a largely Catholic staff base, we have a lot of focus on things like Catholic wedding videos, corporate videos or promotional videos for the local and overseas dioceses, as well as documentaries and other Christian content in general, all aside from our commercial work.
Alex and the Ireland he tried valiantly to capture on film.
REGINA: How did you find out about the REGINA trip?
ALEX: Ever since I came to know about the Latin Mass and the traditional community here in Singapore in 2012, I would look for groups online where I could learn about Catholic traditions. At some point, REGINA Magazine was one of those groups that I began following. One day, an advert popped up for a trip to Ireland, and I felt very strongly that this was something I couldn’t pass up – a rare opportunity to visit another country with a faith group to seek and learn more about the history of the country and have good, proper Masses and meet like-minded young adults.
REGINA: How long has photography been a passion of yours?
ALEX: My interest in photography began when I first watched films as a child. I even have a photo of me at about four or five years old carrying a small toy camera.
Alex hard at work photographing Fr Moore’s Grace before REGINA’s High Tea in Dublin.
REGINA: How long have you been working in the industry?
ALEX: I’ve been working in the industry for close to six years now: two years on my own freelancing, before being invited by friends to join this company that I’ve been with for the last four years.
Alex caught this moment of Consecration of the Blood of Christ on a Mass Rock in abandoned Muckross Abbey. (Photo: Alex Choong)
REGINA: Have you been to Ireland before?
ALEX: I had never been to Ireland before, but I’ve heard so much about it from various sources, from books and the stories on saints and St. Patrick, to things like the stories by the old Irish priests and nuns who were living in my country.
REGINA: What were your expectations going in (photographically speaking)?
ALEX: My expectations were that it would be a lot of green, rolling hills and wide open spaces. I prepared my camera and a few lenses and a drone to go in and capture the beauty of the place as much as possible. I also read up on all the laws regarding drone flight and usage.
REGINA: What made photographing Ireland unique from what you’ve done previously?
ALEX: This was the first time in many years that I would be operating alone without a team, and also in Europe. I’m more accustomed to having a group with me to bounce ideas off of and to cover one another…Also, I carried all my gear up a mountain. That’s new (we don’t have mountains back home).
REGINA: Any challenges?
ALEX: I think the hardest part was just keeping up or ahead of the group to get shots that were both dynamic and natural. I didn’t want anything to be posed, so despite being on holiday, I had to blend in and fit myself into even the tightest of corners with my large assembly of gear.
A green, green Irish graveyard. (Photo: Alex Choong)
REGINA: What were your favourites to photograph or video?
ALEX: My favourite sites were probably the various ruined abbeys and churches, because they had so much character. Masses there often provided a very unique setting for the photos and a much more rural and traditional feeling to the space.
Other sites were definitely the wide open areas such as travelling up Croagh Patrick or through Killarney. Places like Trim Castle as well as the Ring of Kerry’s smaller stopovers and small villages were very nice to shoot and take time to frame up because of the sheer amount of life and quaint character they had.
REGINA: What struck you most about the trip?
ALEX: I was surprised at how much more pleasant and lovely the West of Ireland was. That was the best part, because the place was so old fashioned. The food and drinks were great, the people were friendly and there was a lot of history and stories to be found.
REGINA: How did this experience deepen your Catholic faith?
ALEX: I felt that capturing it in detail did help me to preserve and recall the specifics of the trip, which will remain with me for a long time to come. Also, the style of the trip with the focus on the past, present and future of Ireland; daily Mass; many sacred locations and holy sites; the constant prayer and spiritual exchange with Father and all of us; as well as the culture and constant good food and drinks made it feel very homely to me.
REGINA trippers in Ireland, caught in Alex’s lens. (Photo: Alex Choong)