Say Chunkie! Studio Represents A New Class of Memory-Makers - Men's Folio
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Say Chunkie! Studio Represents A New Class of Memory-Makers

  • By Vanessa Grace Ng

A new generation of memory-makers has risen, carrying with them a fresh perspective on the value of remembrance. Mayle Kor and Ryan Wong of Say Chunkie! Studio reminisce their year of capturing the momentous.

Two of the three founders of Say Chunkie! Studio divulge a few details of the portraiture studio’s next “season”. There is not much to go on, but enough to captivate — especially when considering the larger-than-life approach they adopt to the ideal of memory-making.

Mayle Kor, Ryan Wong and Chan Ying En are busy in the not-so-proverbial studio, storming up the next big conceptual draw that has proven successful in attracting an alternative clientele motivated by the art of capturing a moment in time. A couple of weeks after the interview, the band of creatives unveiled a festive theme, complete with a colossal reindeer and a frosty, alpine backdrop — all handmade and imbued with an “artisanal” touch. Concepts that have been realised prior include grandiose flora and fauna and bespoke mise-en-scènes that teleport to elusive parts of the globe. Recurring through every season, though, is an 80s glamour signature that stands out among the intricacies crafted by the team.


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What first unfolded as a university project soon evolved into an opportunity for the imaginative to run rife. “Quality, fun, memorable, bespoke, personalised, nothing like you’ve seen before,” describes Wong of the space. “For a typical experience with us, we will have at least two people on set in the studio who will teach our clients to pose and interact with the props. It’s really different from the experience of self-automated booths,” surmises the co-founder on what distinguishes their brand. Thus far, the Studio side of the business has served as the trio’s side-gig-cum-creative-outlet, a tangent to their similarly named filmhouse. “To create an out-of-this-world photo booth. All very tactile and much less digital,” retells Kor on the brief.

Essentially, the studio emerged for the leeway it presented to “play into intrusive thoughts”, hoping that its offerings would garner appreciation from an audience out there. “You could say it was born out of necessity. Because we are very much creatives coming out of art school, right? As much as you want to push it artistically, we still have to follow a client’s brief. We can’t do what we want. So it is an outlet for us to have fun and not be bound by any limitations,” offers Wong on his positions of passion and practicality. Kor adds, “We were moving into our first space, and we were like,‘Okay, we need to make money from this space, not just use it to edit videos.’ And it has worked out to be very fun.”

Despite an already divergent concept, the trio worked to establish a deeper air of exclusivity, with a limited run for each season and a wholly handmade policy for the studio’s fixings. Trademark Say Chunkie! Studio settings like The Fish — the almost two-meter-long prop that inaugurated the studio — will cease to exist as a selection upon the season’s closure. The Fish, crafted out of an old worktop from Kor’s home, will then metamorphose into a different creature. A statement that restates the team’s commitment to resourcefulness and environmental preservation and works well given their befitting vicinity to industrial parks. “We usually just use things that are around to spend as little as possible. So a lot of things are [listed as] free on Carousell or second-hand. It may be cheap materials, but at the end of the day, it’s about the artisanal touch.”

But beyond the team’s pragmatic surface is a more sentimental side. “We’re hoarders. And a bit sayang (a Malay colloquialism for affectionate). We wanted to do a ritual or funeral or film a video for The Fish,” Kor says when talking about the prop’s ultimate fate to be stripped and rebuilt into a different prop.


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And when remembrance is a creed held close to one’s heart — and spills over into one’s occupation, the incidental experience makes for a great product. “I think the value of memory is the feelings you experience at that moment. It’s okay if you don’t remember what prop you used, what picture you took, or even if you lost the picture. But it’s important that you remember how you felt when you had this experience with us,” says Wong. Among other demographics, the team most frequently works with couples and friends to commemorate occasions and has engineered images that have hallmarked events as big as weddings, graduations and anniversaries. A vision of empowering and caring for their clientele has earned them some “street-cred”, which they attribute as a factor to their growing Rolodex of returning subjects.

Naturally, the youth of the Say Chunkie! Studio team lends itself to a certain level of realism. Both Kor and Wong feel a pinch from the studio’s analogue proclivities and scaling the brand sustainably. “I feel the longevity of this is until we get damn bored of it [laughs] or when we find someone to take over, yay [laughs],” offers Kor in acknowledgement of the bandwidth limitations of juggling both Say Chunkie! Studio and Chun-Kie Filmhouse. While there are yet to be concrete objectives of another Say Chunkie! diffusion, the trio have dreamt up adaptations, in the likes of the more mass self-automated booths. “What differentiates us from the rest is this element of human touch. So if we are to do an Express version, the set design or experience will have to be really different,” Kor adds. “It is a lot of work and person-hours to construct everything. And that’s why we only have done it two or three times a year because that’s what we have the capacity for,” says Wong. “Many of our customers prefer us over automated ones because there are no restrictions to angles or poses. We can really go crazy and work together to achieve whatever vision they have. And it makes us happy to have played a part in creating something to look back at.”

Book a session with Say Chunkie! or discover more about Chun-kie Filmhouse here. Once you’re done with this story, click here to catch up with our December/January 2024 issue.