As I’m writing this now, the world is in a state of chaos. The COVID-19, a coronavirus disease have placed various countries across the world in a state of lock down emergency. This fact is relevant to this, because during these times I took the opportunity to reflect on my journey in photography.
My first camera was a Canon S90, which I decided to get after my parents have refused repeatedly to get me a DSLR because they thought it’d be an expensive hobby. Well, they were not wrong and despite starting with a compact camera, photography still piqued my interest. If any, it further enhanced my passion.
Not long after that, I found myself in the world of the Micro Four Thirds and I purchased my first camera from Olympus, the EPL5. I’ve been an Olympus user and have never switched since then. For a short period of time, I was an Olympus ambassador and was given the EPL7. These two were great for beginners and I later upgraded to the EM10-MKII which is an intermediary level. That remains to be my main camera and what I still use at the point of writing.
Looking back, I have been shooting for quite a number of years and it’s always been something I was passionate about. I learned my basics from a close circle of friends and I picked everything else up, just along the way by shooting.
Genre of photography
When I started out, I shot everything. When you’re young and new, that’s truly is the best time to explore everything. I went on photo walks, very often with and lead by my very good friend, Robin Wong and I did street photography. My favorite places were the dirty wet markets where it’s always a bustle of activities and absolutely gorgeous colors all around.
In retrospect, street photography have taught me so much about being technically competent, having a quick reaction and the focus on composition. When you’re out in the streets, there are plenty of moments to capture. The beauty lies in showing the world your perspective. These pictures were shot approximately 6-7 years ago, at the peak of what I would call as my exploratory photography phase.
Another genre of photography which I love and definitely should be mentioned is the macro photography. Hence, it’s no surprise that one of my favorite lens is the 60mm macro lens. Again, I have always seen shooting macro to be the absolute training ground for enhancing your technical skills. Being able to set the right aperture, manually focusing as well as triggering your flash and while keeping your hands extremely steady through this all, is a testament of how skilled you truly are.
Over the next few years, I then shifted my focus to another type of photography; lifestyle food photography. This was a natural transition for me, mainly driven by the love I have for (only delicious!) food. Food in itself is a visual experience as much as the taste is, and with photography, I wanted to convey this across.
Of all the genre I explored, food photography was the one I consistently stuck to. It’s not hard to find subjects to shoot when you do need to have three meals in a day at least. However, despite the now years of experience in shooting food, my photographs felt normal and boring even in some of them. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but years of experience doesn’t equate to better quality if you’ve never actively review your pictures, assess them and challenge yourself further.
This is where I felt I have failed myself. I had been complacent, never quite pushing myself to the limits. It may sound harsh, but that’s the reality. It also boils down to the expectations I have of myself which are obviously pretty high. Falling short of that is of course, a disappointment to myself. What I like to believe is that when you stumble and fall, the only way forward is upwards.
Right this moment
Writing this post has allowed me to think and reflect how far I’ve came since I started on my photography journey. The past few months had me questioning again and again on what I’ve achieved in photography which to me, felt like nothing by standards of comparison to more successful photographers around.
It’s simple to see how I arrived to that conclusion. You see, as much as photography was my passion, it wasn’t my only one. Once I started my career, I poured my heart into it. Working myself through insane hours, studying for my professional qualification and juggling these as I became a lifestyle beauty blogger.
Then, I moved to Singapore and again, I poured myself into my new job yet again. I love the work I do, I still do. It is so satisfying. Plus, one of the best part, was the ability to travel. In the last two years, I traveled so much and so far. That’s how photography took a back seat in my list of priorities.
I mean, I was always still shooting through out these years, during those times. But I didn’t enhance or develop my very own unique style. The pictures shown in this posts were all taken from the years ago. None of my current work have been good enough to be published save for a rare few, see below.
So, what’s next?
Honestly? I don’t know. I don’t know what exactly I’ll continue shooting but I know that I need to continue discovering what my style. I need to find a voice and create a signature style. Then when you see my pictures, you’ll know they’re mine.
So, here’s my plan. Fortunately, I have years of photographs which I would need to do a deep dive on. I’d end up using some of them to create materials for my blogs; I suspect mostly travel articles from places I have visited in the past years. At the same time, identify if I have unknowingly adopted a specific shooting style and narrow down my focus area.
Which genre would I be focusing on? I have always thought my core photography was in food and it was something I had related to. Having said that, I sometimes struggle to understand the “Why?” in doing so. I had thought that it was in trying to capture the essence of how food appeals to me and showcase them. But recently, I struggled to do that. I would agree some of my photographs are executed better than others, but essentially, it’s an image of delicious food. What is/was the story I was trying to tell?
Maybe, just maybe not all photographs have to have a story behind it. What I know for sure, is that this is a path of self-discovery that I must take. I’m writing this as immortalize my thoughts and hopefully review it in the years to come. I sincerely hope, I’d have improved by any measures I have set in place by then.
Wish me luck.
till next time.
Here’s the bonus part for reading this post all the way till this point. I wanted to share a little about modelling, which is something I occasionally do in addition to taking pictures. I do it for the fun of it, because it helps me feel comfortable with my self.
I’ve struggled with being extremely self-conscious and when you’re modelling, you absolutely need to get rid of that. This pushes me out of my comfort zone. Most importantly, it teaches me the importance of communication and building a rapport with the photographer.
As a photographer myself, I cannot stress how important that is. Although portraiture is my least explored genre of photography, I do see myself dabbling with that one day.
Having the experience of being a model would come in handy when I try to capture my subjects next time. I’m mostly inspired by Annie Leibovitz, after watching her Masterclass to pick up shooting portraits starting with my loved ones.