The Mamas of Chowrasta

The Mamas of Chowrasta

This is a multimedia essay by Nate Watkins and myself. We have been working on this for months. We first approached this essay thinking we wanted to help preserve two dying trades among the Mamas in Penang, butchering and fish mongering. Through the process of making this we found out that, while we may have felt sad that these trades are dying out, this current generation is content to be the last. Their children are the first generation to become professionals among them. As a result of the time shooting these images and footage we have made lasting friendships with many of these men.

Check out more of Nate’s work HERE:

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About The Author

Matt Brandon

Matt is a Malaysia based humanitarian and travel photographer. Well known as a photographer and international workshop instructor, Matt’s images have been used by business and organizations around the globe. Matt also on the design board for Think Tank Photo, a camera bag manufacturer. In 2013 Matt founded the On Field Media Project to train the staff of non-profits to use appropriate technology to produce timely as well as quality images.


  1. Joshua Smith

    Love it guys. Great piece. I I think you have great partnership going.

  2. Jack

    great work Matt. I really liked it. jack

  3. Ray Ketcham

    Fantastic piece of work and story Matt. The blend of video, stills and audio is incredible and has created a very powerful essay. This is how multimedia should be done and a prime example for anyone wanting to create meaningful visual essays in the new paradigm. My hat is off to you guys.

    • Matt

      Thanks Ray. It was a blast to do. I think Nate and I are pretty please how it came out.

  4. Craig Ferguson

    An excellent piece. The flow from the markets and into the home really helps take this a step above most short documentaries of this nature. While an Asian wet market may feel exotic to many viewers, everyone can relate to the family, and this brings it closer to home. Great work.

    • Matt

      Craig, we knew we were missing something. We felt we had to make it more personal. After thinking about it we felt the only way to do it was to get into someones home. Farouk was very hospitable and it worked out for us. You are right, it would not have been the same without that segment.

  5. Monte Stevens

    I made a business trip to Penang a few years ago and loved the food. You’ve brought up some good memories. A great story!

  6. Ed

    Matt, this is great work, nicely paced, calm and matter-of-fact. So interesting that everyone you spoke to did not want their sons or daughter to follow them into a career there. I saw several opportunities for divergent story threads too, one of which I think you mentioned in the vlog where you covered your Drobo problems – how climate change is affecting their business. This reminded me very much of Ami Vitale’s work in Bangladesh for Oxfam following the story of Mamtaz:

    Since you followed very much the pattern of putting in stills with the video I’d be interested in your thoughts on this kind of work and the comments of people on the WPP multimedia winners here:
    Best wishes,

  7. Bernard

    Really well done Matt and Nate. I was just wondering, do you make an effort to go back and show the mamas the final edit?

    • Matt

      For this one, we actually delivered several DVDs to the men there. Sometime, it is very difficult, but we try.

    • Nate

      Yeah, it’s nice to get a final copy to the people of these essays. But beyond being a nice gesture, we want these pieces to represent them accurately. When possible, we want to connect people with our work so they give sort of an informal “stamp of approval”.

  8. Tim

    Great piece guys. 20+ years from now it will mean even more to these subjects, their family, and the history of Penang! Awesome.

    • Matt

      Thanks Tim.



  1. History made in Historical Penang | CORPORAT . FAMILY . LIFESTYLE . WEDDING - [...] here to see the [...]

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