Street Photography Malaysia – The Mean Streets of Kuala Lumpur

street photography malaysia - on the streets of Kuala Lumpur ( KL )
Mean streets of KL, Malaysia.

Street photography Malaysia, on the streets of Kuala Lumpur. Well, this is turning out to be an amazing holiday. But it’s not really a holiday now. More a “journey”. I’ve been on the road for coming up to seventy days. My main jobs each week? Booking the next week’s worth of hotels, researching the best places for cheap local eats, and hitting the streets to capture the locals with the Fuji (my current travel camera).

Kuala Lumpur is not only a holiday destination for me – it’s a city I would be happy to call home. The food is spectacular, and incredibly diverse. A local population of Indians, Chinese, and Malay, with countless thousands of restaurants competing against one-another for customers, means that your taste buds will be perpetually satisfied. Hotels are cheap. People are friendly. It’s a little hot and humid at times, but really, there isn’t much to complain about.


street photography Malaysia - it must be Friday
Street photography, Kuala Lumpur, 2012.
KL street photography - Malaysian food Hawker
Street photography, Kuala Lumpur, 2012.
Outside a Jewellery shop on the streets of Kuala Lumpur
Jewellery shop on the streets of Kuala Lumpur, 2012.
The word means "disappeared". Kuala Lumpur streets.
Mean streets of Kuala Lumpur, 2012 – the word translates as “disappeared” in English.
kuala lumpur street photography - Mr Happy
Mr Happy. Kuala Lumpur street photography, 2012.

I’ve been located in two districts during my time in Kuala Lumpur. My choice of location in a new city always comes down to two factors. Firstly, I need the busiest streets. Busy, as in people. The second factor is a good value hotel. I am partial to old, run down, but clean, hotels. Find the right family run hotel, and there is an authenticity and homeliness that the big hotel chains just can’t offer.

Street Photography Malaysia – A Well Worn Path Between China Town and Little India

With this combination in mind, I’ve ended up spending the bulk of my time in an area of Kuala Lumpur known as Masjid Jamek. I did spend a few days in Chinatown, as I’m a huge fan of Chinatown’s all over the world.

Almost all of the photos here are from these two areas, and points in-between. It’s less than a ten minute walk from Masjid Jamek to Chinatown – a walk I’ve done many times. A walk that provides endless photographic opportunities. If only I wasn’t so distracted by the many dining opportunities along this same route, I may have taken a few more shots.


malaysia street photography - she was surprised
Kuala Lumpur, 2012.
Malaysia - the bus drivers smoke
Smoking bus driver, Kuala Lumpur, 2012.
Great example of how not to take a candid street photo - KL, Malaysia
Great example of how not to take a candid street photo, KL, Malaysia, 2012.
Typical mayhem on the streets of kuala lumpur, malaysia
Typical down-town street scene – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 2012.
epic malaysian street phone box
Kuala Lumpur, 2012.

Street photography Malaysia style is an absolute hoot. The Fuji XPro-1, as usual, got a workout.  My biggest problem shooting the streets of KL, was that so many people wanted to pose for the photos. Candid close-up’s proved more difficult, as the cheeky KL locals were so quick to ham it up.

I’ve spoken with many locals over the last couple of weeks, and everyone has an interesting story to tell, making my time on the streets all the more enjoyable. OK, not everyone. I’ve had my ear chewed off by excitable and friendly Malaysians about “family in Australia”, more than once.


malaysian streets - another Mr Happy
Salam, KL, Malaysia.
Kuala Lumpur Street Photography - mother and son jus' chillin
Kuala Lumpur street photography – mother and son jus’ chillin.
Malaysia photography on the streets of Bukit Bintang - SAVE ME
Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Portrait of a skater kid - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Portrait of a skater kid, riding the subway in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Smoking bus driver, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
Smoking bus driver, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia
the streets of bukit bintang
Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
KL street photography - massage? No thanks!
Massage lady, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

This week, my “holiday” takes me from the mean streets of Kuala Lumpur, to the mean streets of Tehran, the capital and largest city of Iran. I’m really looking forward to it. However, “Street photography Malaysia” may be the last post on Yomadic for a few weeks. Facebook is banned in Iran, as is Twitter, and gmail. They’re my primary online communication methods, so I may be somewhat “offline” for a while. We’ll soon find out.

For now, I’ll leave you with the mean streets of Kuala Lumpur.


BTW, I would love to send you the next dispatch, posted from some-where random around this planet (and you'll soon find out why YOMADIC email followers are my favourite followers):

18 thoughts on “Street Photography Malaysia – The Mean Streets of Kuala Lumpur

  1. Nice! Some of these are badass – like the bus driver, and the guy with the ace of spades tattoo. There is so much attitude in their eyes. I also like the second last one of the couple crossing the street. They already look like they are in some intense debate, and they guy behind them is glaring at the camera – perfect!

    1. Hey Audrey! Appreciate it! Love that you got something out of the photos, stick around, I’ll have some more photography from the streets of another city soon…

  2. Nate, real artistic photo essay. enjoyed different type eye’s thirst quenching stuff. photos deliver more than words. waiting Tehran eye tanning stuff. :-) bb

  3. Loved the shot of the laid back kid on the wall. I wish I was that chilled.

    I think a video of you doing your street photography thing is in order. Maybe Phillipa could follow you around and show us how much fun you have doing this?

    Kudo’s on the bold choice of visiting Iran. If you’ve not had enough sand and sun after that you could always aim to be in Cape Town in about March next year when our weather is hitting the apex of awesome.

    1. That kid is chillin’ for sure! Barely batted an eyelid as I took three photos. Video? Hmmm. To be honest, we have no decent way of capturing video, but will keep it in mind. And Iran should be interesting for sure…today is the day!

  4. Bus driver image is brilliant. Also really like the one of the girl drinking.

    Have these had much post work done on them or are they pretty much OOC?

  5. Most of the time I went to KL, I always stayed at a place near Masjid Jamek. You’re right about this district being busy with people. And I can’t believe you’re traveling to Iran! That is such a great news because I myself have been dreaming to visit Persepolis but I think that needs to wait for now. I hope you’ll have an amazing trip to Iran!

    1. Hey Bama, nice to hear from you. Masjid Jamek is a great area, always busy. As for Iran, Persepolis is definitely on my agenda, I’ll tell you all about it soon!

  6. Really stunning collection of photographs here. Found the site searching for XPRO1 information, and find you’re doing wonderful work with the camera.

  7. Nice work from Kual Lumpur.
    From your writing, you seem to like Kuala Lumpur alot. As a Malaysian, I suddenly feel proud about it,haha and your work in Malaysia will definitely inspire me to do the same :)
    Anyway, Did you come to Penang before?? :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *