This is a shot I took in a wedding sometime ago. As most of you know, I slowed down in wedding photography over the last 3 years, concentrating on other types of photography which my soul needs. I didn’t want my passion in photography to reduce to just a money-making job in my life, though we all need money to live.
Striking a balance between what I really want to do in photography and what is required to make a living using photography is a forever impossible task in my life. But one thing stays true to me, I strive to be honest to myself, to my vision, and live on to develop my personal vision in photography, as an unique expression of my soul, which each individual is and should be different in his/her own way. My previous blog post HERE has what I think each photographer should live by.
The images from today’s digital cameras have greatly reduced the variety of the different characters found in different types of films, produced by different types of cameras, from toy cameras to large format, from pinhole to old brass lenses to large format lenses… “All” we see today, or most images we see online, are either from a Nikon DSLR or a Canon DSLR. And how many of us can differentiate the image from a Sony DSLR from a Nikon? In addition, most of us use the same post-processing software from Adobe.
We are losing a great deal of characters or “flavors”, I called it… from the old days. This is one of my saddest experience in recent years.
Apart from seeing an overload of similar digital characteristic images online in terms of colors, sharpness, digital touch-ups… which make me sick… we also see the other extreme: the surge of lomographers who’s hunting down expired film wherever they go, hipshooting, not looking, not thinking, not studying what’s C41 or E6 processing means, or what’s underexposure. Most of them end up with images underexposed because they know not the aperture and shutter speed value of a Holga, the recommended film speed to use, or what cross-processing means. The pain doesn’t come if the images are of interesting content and reasonably exposed, but the pain comes when they insist it’s ART for the badly exposed thoughtless mistake images. Of course, there are incidents that ART does happen through a mistake, I am definitely NOT referring to that.
As photographers, we all tend to replicate images we admire at some point of our lives, let’s face it. But let us not forget to develop our own signatures, something we can be proud of till we die.
Of course it’s not just the type of instruments we use to make an image different from the others, but it’s the way we see things. We should all have our own uniqueness. After all, God didn’t make us the same. Life is not just about seeing someone else’s image which you admire, and going about finding out and using the same tool and method to replicate it. At some point, it’s time to stop seeing what others have produced, and start making images of your own.
There’s really no right and wrong in arts. It’s only “Like” and “Dislike”. And it all depends on who you want to please.
Without beard it probably helped… (I shaved it off recently)… hehe… if you remember my previous post HERE, this is the same boy I see this year… NO MORE FEARS!
But now, as I look back at my previous shot… reading back my post… I realized I can’t find “the hidden maid” in the picture…. my hair stood up… I shivered in fear for a few moments… LOL.
I don’t need a thousand images to make me happy. I just need a dozen. I am super frustrated looking through the thousands of digital images which I snapped without the worry of wasting film, trying to select and delete them. What the hell? I don’t need this pain! This is another one of those times when I just feel like giving up all my digital cameras and concentrate on film.
I am already using digital cameras much like I am using my film cameras without snapping mindlessly and constantly previewing. But somehow, they still end up thousands. I understand the advantages of digital cameras in capturing action and expressions, the supreme advantage of clean high ISO for lowlight shooting, but I still prefer film.
The limitations of film cameras, the lack of film choices today made the craft of photography more enjoyable. Yes, “craft” is the word. It’s not just about moving your finger behind the computer to get what you want with some sophisticated photo-imaging software. It’s about a lot more hassle (and fun!).
After so many years in photography, I still get more “wow” pictures from a roll of 12 or 15 shots from a medium format camera than a memory card of images. I end up happier shooting film than digital. I don’t need the previews, they are distracting. I don’t need batteries. Remembering to charge them up and the fear of not having enough batteries for the day is painful. I carry “enough” film for the day and if I finish them, I stop. It’s no longer about “missing the moment” but “capturing the shot”. Like I said, I don’t need the thousands of repeated, similar, mindless, mediocre images to make me happy.
But the mindset of shooting digital makes you keep wanting to shoot more, shoot another frame, just in case. And so, we end up with 3-4x more images than usual, maybe more. We lie to ourselves we are good when we post a worthy shot out of a few hundred lousy shots. The only person who knows the truth is the photographer.
The above shot was taken last week at a waterfall with my Mamiya m645 and I accidentally fell into the water with my camera. The first thing which crossed my mind when I got out of the water was “Thank God I wasn’t shooting with my digital cameras!” The Mamiya m645 is a fully mechanical camera and it operated just fine after I dried it with a towel. (It was just a quick dip but a non-weather-sealed electronic camera wouldn’t have survive it.) I continued on with another roll.
Having said all that, I know my digital cameras still come into good use for some commercial purposes. I am always treading on the thin line of pleasing myself and my clients. And I am thankful that most of my clients don’t really care what I use to shoot with. They just want “The Images”.
Sometimes, you don’t need a reason why you love a photograph. It’s just like sometimes, you don’t know how to explain why you love someone, why you like something or why you enjoy certain moments in life. God gave us two sides of the brain, the right side for emotions and creativity, the left side for rationalization in which everything must come with a reason. Just imagine if you live life entirely on rationalization, how would life be for you? (vice-versa of course)
But in photography or paintings, I find that there’s really no absolute way to explain why you love a photograph or a painting. I have taught many students photography by now, but I still find that there’s something in photography which can never be taught. It is what’s deep inside you. Your character, personality and the way you express it.
A sharp eye can often tell a photograph that’s made from the heart apart from a photograph that’s made from the mind.
I love the photograph above. Maybe it’s because I grew up with a dad who’s often not around. I remember my grandma being the closet to me when I was young, and then my two sisters who are much much older than me.
My memory of my dad consists of certain times when he would bring us swimming at the old East Coast Park Lagoon in Singapore, early hours at the Singapore Botanic Gardens where I picked up tadpoles home to see them turn into frogs (probably my mum’s idea), and the rest of it are probably scoldings when I turned Christian during my teenage days.
I guess my dad is not too bad after all cause I still have some memories of him spending time with the family.
Today, I am a dad myself, pretty much a “hands-on dad” (recently got lazy though). I was the first one to hold his little palm when he was born, and I pretty much stick around him most of the time. He’s six now. Time flies.
I love the intimacy in the image above. The silence, the quietness, the look in their eyes. It’s as if their thoughts are crossing each other, communicating in silence. Jun Ching and Michelle, thanks for making this picture happen!
Father’s Day is coming on the 17 June, I am launching a promotional portrait session for all fathers here! For RM200, you will receive a studio session which includes one framed portrait free. For more information, please contact me at email@example.com or call me at +6012 636 2128. Promotion ends 30 June 2012.
Sometimes, good stuff comes last minute… I suddenly feel like giving a promotion… A Studio Portrait, 8 x 10 inches, framed with wood and glass for Mothers for only RM200 for the 1st 8 customers who book the portrait session with me!
Valid only on May 12 (Sat) and May 13 (Sun). OFFER Extended till 31 May 2012!!!
To ALL the mothers in the world, I wish you a Happy Mother’s Day! Your sacrifices are beyond what words could describe!
studio portrait done in my studio
It’s my pleasure to photograph this local artist. Here’s his current website which is yet to be updated: http://www.khylune.com/
Portrait of an Artist
I have recently shifted my studio to a landed property, a link house. My studio size has shrunk by half but I am happy with my new setup. I am also happy to be working more privately in my own little space, a good place for thoughts, for sorting out my mess, and an ideal place to serve my clientele in my preferred homely and private manner. As such, my new studio is only open to my clients and not to the public. Stay tuned as I gradually update my portfolio in this website. I thank all of you who love my works and who supports me.