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.
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 formeasurement ofso-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
2. Photo-enthusiasts express freelyall 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 during a dinner
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 photographicequipments 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 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. Effects added in photoshop then.
5. Photo-enthusiasts also do not constantly need to prove to others by shooting with newgimmicks 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.
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’m a professional photographer who believes in being a photo-enthusiast for as long as I live, to keep my innocent passion burning without being restricted by how much I earn from it and being caged by the world’s so-called standards.
A meaningful way of introducing newly wed to their new family members
This is the start of a series of classic wedding images I intend to post, pictures I believe that can last forever with no expiry dates tagged, images not overdone with photoshop effects. Though they may not catch the common eye with a SHOCK, and make them crack their heads thinking, “how did he ever do that? what lens? strange effect. he must be really good!” My images are meant to show off as much as possible, the true essence and ambiance of the actual scene captured through my eyes and NOT to show offmy equipment or my knowledge in photography gimmicks. I’d rather choose the path of faithfully creating real and honest photography. Well, that’s the direction I’m taking now.
Photographed with a toy camera. Litter Bugs' Doing - Common scene in Malaysia
Cleaners who start work while we are sleeping, cleaning up our rubbish
LET US ALL APPRECIATE THEM! Before we conveniently drop a tissue or throw some used parking ticket on the floor, let us remember the unsung heroes who wake up before the sun rises each day, cleaning up our rubbish. Let’s be reminded to have some self-respect, and remember our basic social responsibilities.
There’s no place better than home. Let us all remember the many homeless out there each day when we are travelling comfortably in our air-conditioned car. At the end of each passing day, it’s good to have some time to yourself, quiet and alone. Sometimes we work so hard for what we’re after and pass it without realizing it.
Hope this picture cheer you guys up out there in this gloomy world – Michael Jackson died, swine flu, economy down, Malaysia’s political situation, more-and-more-“photographers” charging cheaper, nasi kandar still so expensive, sucky photographers winning awards(subjective), everything getting more expensive(except for digital SLRs), poor getting poorer, more and more babies being thrown away, homeless not fed and dying, children being sold to prostitution daily, etc, etc… never-ending human rights violations. Let’s all not forget life is not just about ourselves.
A passing moment of clouds travelling past. This happened just for a few seconds before the light is all flat.
Shot of the day – 12 Jul 2009, with my new toy (all my buddies know what it is). Good photographs depend on great imagination NOT gear. (Though the Olympus E-P1 grainy film art filter really helpsthis time… haha…) The best camera is the one in your hands. Let’s all focus on expressing our IMAGINATION!
1. I quit shooting weddings after weddings, which is what I have been doing for many years, no time to think of what I really want to achieve artistically, neglected many clients in my busy schedule which I feel bad till today.
2. I quit from the repeated routine of shooting weddings. Artists need to break their usual routine, that’s when they can breathe some fresh air, and mature in their thoughts and feelings, thereafter reflected in their works.
3. I quit following the world in believing being rich and famous is an essential. There are just too many things in life that money cannot buy.
To all who cares for me and love my works, don’t you worry. I still shoot weddings, just that I only shoot a certain number of weddings per year. 38 weddings per year is way too many for me. I am a part-time wedding photographer, freelance teacher, freelance editorial and non-profit community photographer now. I love training people, believe in effective personal training and mentoring, enjoy the sincere company of my few associates from 1 Avenue Photography.
Are we aware that there are many children without a home, without a family, without the love of mum and dad? They are just around us, near us, everyday, unnoticed, living their lives daily not knowing what’s going to happen tomorrow. To know how you can help, click here.
Rumah Kids 2 is the second home set up after Rumah Kids 1. There’s about 20 children in Rumah Kids 2 today. Today is the opening ceremony. It’s in an urban neighbourhood in USJ1 Subang Jaya, where we could be spending at The Summit, often forgetting that a home just near us needs our help. Time, talent or treasure… I’m sure we all have at least one of them to give. Agree?