‘Caring Matters’ exhibition: Photographs capturing the humanity in caregiving

Opalyn Mok
Leong found her niche in photography by combining her two passions; one in caregiving and another in photography. — Picture courtesy of Karyn Leong

GEORGE TOWN, Nov 21 — A wife doing up the buttons of her husband’s shirt, a woman hugging another or two sisters grinning at the lens.

Moments captured when people were at their most vulnerable, sometimes with pain etched on their faces and sometimes in resignation, acceptance or glowing with love and care.

These are images captured by photographer Karyn Coxall-Leong in her upcoming exhibition titled “Caring Matters.”

Moving from portraiture to social photography, Leong has been capturing raw and evocative images of people in various healthcare and caregiving facilities this past year.

The former nurse who was has been a caregiver in a hospital in Australia for over 38 years has found her niche in photography by combining her two passions; one in caregiving and another in photography.

“I have found my niche in social photography, I love capturing these raw moments of caregivers in the precious moments they spend taking care of their loved ones,” she said.

There is, of course, a thin line between capturing these moments for the patients in care and exploiting their pain and suffering for a powerfully poignant photograph and Leong is careful not to cross this line.

Leong says the point of the photographs is to document the love and care between the caregivers and the patients. — Picture courtesy of Karyn Leong

She asks permission from the patients and caregivers before taking their photographs and she gives them copies of the photographs taken.

“I made sure to be respectful of their wishes and if they don’t want to be photographed, I won’t push them,” she said.

She said the whole point of the photographs she took of these people is to document the love and care between the caregivers and the patients.

She also used her photography to help showcase the work of caregivers in places like the Penang Hospice Society.

She held an exhibition — for charity — in July this year for the Penang Hospice Society with images she took of the patients and caregivers.

The message behind her thought-provoking exhibition is apparent.

“I want these photographs to remind us to value our lives, to respect people giving care and those being cared for,” she said.

Leong has travelled to Penang several times this year to capture the images of families for the “Caring Matters” exhibition.

Through her connections and friends here, she captured poignant moments of 11 families in Penang.

“Caring Matters” opens this Friday (November 22); each photograph will be accompanied by poems and quotes from the people photographed to tell the stories behind the picture.

The exhibition will be at the Upstairs Gallery in Viva Victoria, Lebuh Victoria in George Town until November 29.


Leong has travelled to Penang several times this year to capture the images of families for the 'Caring Matters' exhibition. — Picture courtesy of Karyn Leong

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