Why I Think Photo-Enthusiasts Are Cool!

Engaging a typical professional? Think again.

After more than 12 years of being a photographer, I have recently re-discovered the joy of being a photo-enthusiast once again. Sometime ago, I discovered that I have sub-consciously lost the true joy in photography after being stuck in the commercial photography world, where each shot better make some money.

As I think deeper and deeper into it, I realized it’s partly Chinese culture where my parents used to teach me when I was young, that I better grow up doing something that makes lot of money like a lawyer or doctor, rather than being an artist. So if we discover something that we are good at, we tend to use how much money we make out of it to measure how “successful” we are! And there we go digging for money, comparing ourselves with our competitors, and get stuck in the “Gold-digging Game” that never ends. How Sad!

Taken from "Project-Disillusion". Shot with Olympus E-P1 with kit lens during a photo-outing with friends.

Taken from "Project-Disillusion". Shot with Olympus E-P1 with kit lens during a photo-outing with friends.

As a person who really loves photography, photography is my everyday life and not just a 2-hour weekend hobby. When I was stuck in that “Gold-digging Game”, photography became unhealthy competition and comparison, and money became the ruler for measurement of so-called success. Here’s why I think photo-enthusiasts are cool… …

1. Photo-enthusiasts shoot what they like, how they like it without having to think whether it makes money or not, or whether it must be better than a competitor’s shots.

Shot with Canon A480 point-and-shoot, a reflection of a glass panel near my office

Shot with Canon A480 point-and-shoot, a reflection of a glass panel near my office

2. Photo-enthusiasts express freely all the time without the fear of rejection. But many professionals will call their daily mundane shots “nonsense”. Probably, “nonsense” to commercial photographers means it doesn’t make money OR it’s not up to commercial standards of sharpness, megapixels, photoshop retouching, bokeh… … etc. I shoot “nonsense” all the time.

 

My Boy's Toy Cars, shot with my Olympus E-P1 using 6:6 format

My Boy's Toy Cars, shot with my Olympus E-P1 using 6:6 format during a dinner

My leg, shot with Olympus E-P1 and 14-42mm kit lens on 16:9 format

My leg, shot with Olympus E-P1 and 14-42mm kit lens on 16:9 format. This shot was taken spontaneously during one of my photo-outings with my friends out on the streets.

3. Photo-enthusiasts are never tired of shooting. Sometimes, a commercial photographer will rather “take-a-break” when it comes to shooting for pleasure, shooting streets, shooting a family’s outing.

4. Photo-enthusiasts NOT equipment-enthusiasts, I must emphasize, are not insecure about what sort of equipments they own. They can shoot from their mobile phones and be happy. They do not need high-end equipments to prove to others that they are professionals, cause they don’t need to. Many of them own the simplest photographic equipments and produce works that can put many commercial photographers to shame. When I was stuck in that commercial rat race, I was stuck in upgrading my equipments every 1-2 years. And I recently discovered some of my best wedding shots are only done with my humble Canon 20D camera I used to own.

Shot spontaneously during a wedding dinner using Canon 20D I used to own

Shot spontaneously during a wedding dinner in year 2005 using Canon 20D I used to own

Shot in year 2005 with my Canon 20D I used to own during a Sikh Wedding

Shot in year 2005 with my Canon 20D I used to own during a Sikh Wedding. Effects added in photoshop then.

5. Photo-enthusiasts also do not constantly need to prove to others by shooting with new gimmicks every time, just to attract attention to themselves, or prove that they are knowledgeable in gimmicks, or to “stay ahead” in their particular photography industry.

6. Photo-enthusiasts can stay happy, really happy, just within their small group of friends and families without the need to prove to others that they have a multitude of supporters.

7. Photo-enthusiasts have the time to learn new skills, whether it’s from the internet, from books and magazines, or from another individual. It’s hard for a commercial photographer to suddenly slow down and cut down their number of jobs, just to spend time learning.

 

Taken with Canon A480 Point and Shoot Camera. The Sky's the limit in learning.

Taken with Canon A480 Point and Shoot Camera. The Sky's the limit in learning.

8. Photo-enthusiasts loves to share. They are not insecure about what they know. They have no fear of competitors. They are humble and real. They are not living in disguise. They have no need to put up a false commercial front to attract business or fool their competitors. They basically are themselves and expresses themselves freely. They shoot purely for pleasure.

As a commercial wedding photographer for many years, I was forced into thinking, my shots must make money, they must be approved by my clients, or I’ve gotta be better than my competitors. I’ve got clients who came showing samples of other photographers’ works asking if I could do the same. I’ve got clients who bargain over 50 bucks! The point is, I have lost myself. I shot for people to approve, I shot what people will approve, I shot what people wanted. There’s nothing totally wrong in that but it’ll be wrong if you just do that.

Now that I’ve found myself, I’m not gonna lose it again. I shoot from my heart. I shoot what I feel, what I love. Photography is the best hobby I’ve ever had, that’s why it’s stuck to me longer than many other hobbies, and I’ve found out that if you do something that you genuinely love, you’ll excel in it and you’ll have your supporters!

I am a photo-enthusiast once again!

10 comments to Why I Think Photo-Enthusiasts Are Cool!

  • My ‘nonsense’ is only nonsense to nonsensical people. No apology for that. Bro I really like your sky is the limit shot. There’a a sense of majesty to that image. Shows how small we are in real sense. Too many self declared ‘pros’ have heads as big as hot air baloons. Sad.

  • Chris Low

    Hmm….,sometimes we really need to look back to our past and compare what we became now.You know…”everybody stay in a life of disillusion “.Especially i choose to be a full time photographer.Always suffer in this kind of situation,haha.I like the sky & the cloud,the baby,blur gate and your foot shot.All this shot tell me a story,give me a lot of feel.You know David,your picture is talking to me.Great job!!!

  • Thanks guys! Great to receive so many comments one shot! Hahaha.. Louis, it’s good to hear the truth, know the truth, accept it and face it. Let’s all be truthful to ourselves and to our loved ones at the end of the day.
    signed, ex-hot-air-balloon… hahaha

  • hey David,
    this is one heck of a good entry !! I totally agree with all your points. I also believe that the heart and passion must be at the right place, and photography from the way you describe it, seems like an awesome hobby. And it is. Thanks for sharing mate. Also keep the great pictures coming.

  • stumbled upon your blog when robin linked it over to your site. I totally agree with what you say. I sincerely hope all photography hobbyist can really understand what photography really means.

    another totally unrelated thing is that I am very sorry for what happened to the item you bought from me.

    orenzai :)

  • Did I buy anything from you? You must have mistaken me for someone else. :) Thanks for all your support, Photo-Enthusiasts!

  • heh yeah I think I mistook you for the wrong person. It was david CHAU. :D

  • Joshua Chua

    Hai David… i just stumbled upon your site while surfing the net… and I’m glad i did… i really enjoy checking out your photos and reading your blog… especially this entry… it really inspiring and reminded me why i took photography as my hobby in the first place… thank you… I’m proud to say that I am a photo-enthusiast myself…

  • Thanks Joshua! Keep spreading the positive spirit!

  • CERTAINLY!! *group hug* for that :D

    can i take parts of this journal and post it on my own? ill credit you of course

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