2 minutes and 40 seconds with Raphael Ong

Today I interview Singaporean photographer and videographer, Raphael, who stretches the 2 minutes and 40 seconds idea! While he is of succinct, blunt outbursts of rage and humour on Twitter, in this interview he shows that he is definitely not a man of few words.

Well, my twitter bios are 87.3465% accurate representations of me – the last two being “joke of the year 2017” and “designing disappointment creatively”; but anyway, I’m an 18-year-old media student living in Singapore that works on photos and videos for people (and myself) and occasionally designs things. I also really, really love music and film (I run SGNewWave, a film appreciation society with a bunch of fantastic people, and we could do with a little more exposure!) and a little part of me wants to be part of an electropop band. One can always dream, right? ;)


What is the last thing you legitimately got extremely furious about?

I don’t really get extremely furious about things much, and I especially don’t want to remember the times when I am, so I really can’t remember what was the last thing I legitimately god extremely furious about. I do remember getting pretty furious when I got into a Clients From Hell-esque situation a couple of days ago though, heh.

Would you rather have no eyebrows or have a thick and bushy monobrow?

I would rather have no eyebrows – I’ve always found the look of it – in fashion magazines and portraits and such to be really really cool, and I do know people that shaved their eyebrows and look absolutely kick-ass, so no eyebrows over thick and bushy monobrow, any day. It’s certainly interesting to see how eyebrows somehow complete one’s face, thinking about it.

Who are your favourite artists at the moment?

If you’re talking about music here, some of my favourite artists that I’m going absolutely crazy about would have to be up-and-coming DJ SOPHIE with his distinctive bouncy bubblegum-laced bangers, God Help The Girl, a collaboration between Belle and Sebastian and a couple of female vocalists (and they’ve released a movie about it recently!), Vampire Weekend and the ever fantastic CHVRCHES, who are always my favourite artists out there.

I’ve been really drawn to the work of a couple of photographers recently too, like Vivian Maier, Singaporean photographer Nguan and this rather obscure photographer I’ve found on Tumblr named Maxime Imbert – I’m madly in love with his raw and real style.

What is the last thing you ate?

I had rice with chicken, potatoes and soup. Nothing special, it’s just a regular dinner at home, but there’s always an allure that home cooked food has. My grandmother’s also a fantastic cook, so the food at home is always awesome.

What do you wish was the last thing you ate?

I wish that last thing I ate was steak. Always steak. Steak is fantastic.

A dinosaur walks into the room. Why?

To eat me, probably. A dinosaur that exists in today’s age would probably be pretty hungry, especially when their original food intake would have been the flesh of other dinosaurs. (assuming that the dinosaur that walked into the room is carnivorous)

A purple dinosaur walks into the room, but it’s totally not Barney, and it has six legs. The dinosaur has a good friend who follows him in… who is his friend?

(why does a dinosaur have six legs are you sure they exist)

Barney. He’d probably make a pretty decent friend, with all the singing and everything.

If you had a laser pointer, what would you do with it?

The first thing that I do when I get my hands on it would be to try to point it as far as I can. And then I’ll try to shoot light trails with the laser or something. It’ll be cool if someone made laser pointer light trails part of a portrait shoot, for instance! (now I’ve got a couple ideas for my shoot for this band soon!)

You wake up in the middle of the night and find your room has flooded. What are your thoughts and what do you do next?

Pick up my camera first and shoot a really really hipster photo of it – it could be an awesome surreal piece, for what it is- but then I’ll start to worry about my hard disks and books and magazines I’ll drop the camera (hopefully not in the water) and scramble to chuck everything in a higher position in my room – in a drawer or cupboard or something. And then I’ll probably stare in cluelessness as I try to figure out how in the world I can get the water out from a room on the 4th floor.

Do you prefer tea or coffee?

Tea! I just find that it’s a lot “lighter” to drink – taste wise and stuff, I don’t know how to describe it – and I really really like Earl Grey tea. I’ve been starting to fall in love with TWG’s Vanilla Bourbon Tea, too, so I might have just discovered my second tea love.

Pants or shorts?

Pants! It doesn’t hurt to look a little more put together and formal, whatever the situation is. (except unless you’re going to the beach, or something [which I have done before I ended up wearing pants to a beach and it was a disappointing experience])

Ice cream or cake?

Ice cream – although I have sensitive teeth and take 500000 hours to finish it. Cake’s a little too overbearing and overwhelming and sweet for my tastes.

Would you rather cycle in the rain or use a scooter in the rain?

I’d rather cycle in the rain – I’ve done that before and it’s great fun, being able to feel the rain pelting your face as you have full control over your speed and everything. It’s quite a liberating and therapeutic experience.

Would you rather have a nosebleed at random but frequent intervals throughout the day, or need to visit the bathroom once an hour on the hour?

I’d rather have a nosebleed at random but frequent intervals throughout the day because I really doubt I can bear to spend so much time in the bathroom – not doing my work – and at least dealing with a nosebleed can be done right where you are, just with a couple of tissue papers, but imagine needing to visit the bathroom once an hour during a concert, or a film, for example – that would be pretty annoying.

What is one thing that has made you lose faith in humanity?

I don’t think I have the right to lose faith in humanity, because there’s just so so so much more to humanity than just that one thing, but if you were to ask me, I’d have to say people’s overemphasis on things like GPA, for instance – and reducing and defining themselves through that number. We’re more than just numbers.

Imagine a world where everyone was defined by numbers – the world isn’t going to be a very good place to live in.

What superpower do you wish you had, and what would you use it for?

I wish I had the ability to fly, because that would make for some really really fantastical photos and aerial shots. Not to mention being able to fly would effectively eradicate the need for a steadycam or a jib in a production – the cinematic possibilities are endless, and especially so in everything else.

Okay, I’ll be honest, I really like your tweets. What is your general opinion on how you use Twitter?

I’m really really surprised you like my tweets, actually, because most of my tweets are completely stupid and the rest of it is just general no-context tweets, but whatever it is, I’m happy to know that you like my tweets! :)

I’ve used Twitter for so many years – 6 years, actually – that it has really become second nature for me to tweet something ever so often. I rarely even notice that I’m using Twitter, for what it is. I use Twitter as a way to make friends, communicate with friends, but mostly to be a complete joke and hopefully tweet things to make people happy.

Honestly? 71,402 tweets later, I still have no idea what I’m doing.

If you could command one famous person (dead or alive) to do something for you (may not make sense for a dead person unless you want them to come back to life), who would it be and what would you get them to do?

I’d command, not really, command, but more like ask very very politely, I’d ask the lead singer of Daughter, Elena Tonra, to give me a minute or two so I can tell her how important her music has been to me – and how Daughter is a band that I hold very very very
close to my heart.

As a prank, you get to fill someone’s backpack with food. What do you choose?

I’ll just fill it with whatever food I can find, man, for the very reason of being able to eat the food from the person’s bag later on without needing the carry the load. ;)

Last but not least, what is the last thing you got really, really, really, really excited about?

It has to be the day when CHVRCHES announced their show in Singapore – it’s going to be my second time seeing them this year, but I full on flipped out in the middle of designing for a school project. I got so excited that I could barely compose myself as I called my friends up about it as I tried my best not to hyperventilate, hah. I probably looked like a complete joke then.

Thumbnail photograph by Raphael (_vrches on Instagram).

You can catch Raphael at: