“One Last Dance” M’sian photographer wins international acclaim at the 2023 International Photography Award (IPA)

Capturing the world through his unique lens, a young photographer has gone where not many have with his acclaimed photo series. Meet Harry Ho Zi Le, an avid photographer who has transformed his passion into award-winning masterpieces.

“One Last Dance” M’sian photographer wins international acclaim

Malaysian photographer Harry Ho Zi Le secured first place at the 2023 International Photography Award (IPA). Source: Provided to Wau Post

At only 19 years old, Harry has marked an impressive achievement on the international stage. His photograph series titled “One Last Dance” has received global recognition at the 2023 International Photography Award (IPA).

“One Last Dance” was awarded first place under the Non-Professional Book, Documentary category. The stunning photo series captures the makings behind Aik Hoe Dim Sum Restaurant in Penang.

A photographer with a desire for storytelling

Nurturing a desire to capture the story behind each photograph. Source: Provided to Wau Post

Touching on how he got into photography, Harry expressed his natural love for the subject. “My interest in venturing into the photography scene was sparked by a profound desire to tell stories through images,” he told Wau Post.

Furthermore, he believes that pictures are powerful mediums that can be used to convey narratives, encapsulate moments and resonate with viewers. True to his belief, a photograph speaks more than a thousand words, which was what drew him to exploring the world of photojournalism.

As the man behind the lens, Harry views himself as a director of a visual symphony. “It’s about evoking emotions, fostering connections, and allowing the viewer to immerse themselves in the richness of the captured moment,” he asserts.

The story behind “One Last Dance”

The people behind “One Last Dance”. Source: Provided to Wau Post

Speaking to Wau Post, Harry said that he was inspired to photograph the restaurant when he first came to know of its closure from his mother. “The impending closure presented an extraordinary opportunity to immerse myself in the world of photojournalism and capture the essence of life within this historic establishment,” he explained.

The title itself is poignant and nostalgic, as is what is instilled in each of Harry’s photographs. “One Last Dance” symbolizes bidding farewell to an iconic eatery that has been part of the community for eight decades.

The photo series encapsulates life and community against a backdrop of rich heritage. Source: Provided to Wau Post

A unique celebration of life and culture

Harry attributes the owners’ hospitality to allowing him to photograph organic human connections. Source: Provided to Wau Post

However, the entire experience went beyond just taking pictures. For Harry, his journey in photographing the establishment became a personal one. “The owners’ hospitality, allowing me to explore the inner workings of their kitchen, added a layer of authenticity to the project.”

Harry further adds that the owners were dedicated in sharing their craft, reflecting a commitment to preserving the restaurant’s legacy. As such, that was what he hoped to convey through his photographs. Serving as a tribute to local heritage, “One Last Dance” is a final celebration of Aik Hoe Dim Sum Restaurant.

The man’s raw emotions captured on camera stands out to Harry as his treasured piece. Source: Provided to Wau Post

When asked about his favorite piece, Harry picks out the picture of the elderly man. “This particular image holds a special place in my heart because of its unique subject,” he muses. Adding to that, he points out the man’s emotional expressions as he enjoys his meal and savors life’s simplest moments. Moreover, the presence of colonial elements of the building add to the photo’s nostalgic charm.

What’s next?

2023 is in the bag, now he’s also gearing up for 2024 IPA! Source: Provided to Wau Post

Currently, Harry is pursuing his studies in Business Innovation and Sustainability Management at the University of Glasgow in
Scotland, UK. Despite his busy schedule, he still manages to squeeze in some time towards developing his art. Not only that, but he also envisions to merge his interests and apply it into his studies.

“Photography has heightened my awareness of the intricacies of human experiences, environmental dynamics, and societal nuances, ” he relates, “This awareness, in turn, has fueled my passion for sustainable business practices and innovation.”

With regards to his photography, Harry is already aiming towards his next big goal. That is, to achieve the title of ‘Photographer of the Year 2024 in IPA.’ “To accomplish this dream, I have started planning a photo book titled ‘6600 Miles Away.'” Dedicating it to Scotland and his home country Malaysia, Harry hopes to capture the distinct perspectives of both aspects in his life.

“Trust the process”

A final ode to Aik Hoe Dim Sum, but its memories will be always here to stay. Source: Provided to Wau Post

Indeed, Harry’s remarkable achievement has put Malaysia on the map. As for fellow aspiring photographers, Harry says, “Trust the process.” Maintaining this is as his mantra, Harry firmly believes in embracing the learning experiences and challenges that come along.

And, his extraordinary feat proves that age is just a number. Harry advises young people to bring forth their fresh perspectives, and utilize it to their advantage. “Most importantly, stay passionate about what you do, and let that passion fuel your dreams and aspirations. Success may not come easily, but you can achieve greatness with dedication and a commitment to your craft.”

Well done and well-deserved Harry! Wishing you many successes on your journey ahead. 

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Also read: Meet Cherry, 18yo M’sian Latin dancer who bagged 3 gold medals at national dance competition in Spain

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