Interview #10 - Fadza Ishak


I want We Shoot Souls to be diverse covering a wide range of portraiture interests - from shooting models to documenting cultures. I'm still a bit far from getting that objective but I'm learning.

Knowing Fadza Ishak through social media, he travels frequently to cover assignments that involve aspects of human life - something that fascinates me and leads me to approach him to ask about what he does.

You can find more of Fadza's work on Behance and Facebook. You can also check his Favourite Five - our regular feature.

Let’s start by introducing yourself?

Hi, I'm Fadza Ishak. I am 30 years old. A freelance photographer who is still trying to find his way in the photography world and try to make a difference in every story I document.

What’s happening lately? Life in general

I was busy freelancing, learning and trying to get my weight down to what I was 3 years ago. Life is okay, but hazy. But today - Hey! - I can see sunshine again.

What draws you into photography?

I guess everyone would blame it on the same society -  National Geographic. I will get my heart pumping like a drum every time I read and look at their photographs when I was in high school.

What attracts you into shooting portraits?

There is a saying - "You can tell a lot by the look on their face". I seek to do that. Mostly, I just request from a person whether I can take a portrait of them as I find them having some sort of connection when I talk to them for the first 5 minutes.

I notice you travel a lot. How does travelling affect you as a photographer?

The more you travel, the more you learn about other people’s customs and ways. That is actually what I want to seek while travelling. I always stress this to my wife. Because I believe travelling is a chance where we can learn new things, learn to respect other cultures and customs. As a photographer, it is an eye opener. Not everything is what you think it is. 

How does the environment (the place you live at) influence the way you shoot?

I usually prefer to stay in a hostel or a guesthouse or even bunk-in the house of the person that I have been keeping in-touch in that certain country. It will make you feel intimate and closer to the person. You tend to mingle a lot and talk to different people too. Although I admit, some prefer not to talk. 

What is the difference between travelling for fun and travelling for assignments?

One, you get travel fee expenses and the other one, you have to pay on your own.  Actually, if you travel for assignments, you have no time to relax because you are constantly on the move to get your photos done. Meeting people, fixing stuff and also try to think ahead. If you are travelling for fun, you get to fix your own time. I mean for assignments, you get to fix your own time too, but it is limited.

What are you documenting in humans?

I seek to document things like “what’s your story”. Or what is actually happening here. Something like that and document more than just a face looking back at you. More than that really.

What is the photography scene like over there? 

Competitive. Some take it positively but some take it too seriously that you tend to complain more about others rather than get to know the person and the reason behind why it is what it is. It is a growing industry and you can see some young and top notch photographers always on the move and have new projects to do. Yeah, if you ask me again - really, really competitive!

What type of subjects are you looking for?

I like photographing anything related to human interest, crisis or environment. I’m not really good with landscapes. Well I am still learning about photography to this day.

Any works of other photographers that you follow?

Obviously, Steve McCurry, Kevin Frayer, Alex Webb, Paul Nicken, Ron Haviv, Micheal Yamashita, James Withlow Delano, Renan Ozturk, Jimmy Chin, Jose Villa, Hugh Forte, The Blog Is Found, Jeff Newsom, Jonas Peterson, Dan O’Day and the list goes on.

(PS - I highly suggest you check the works of Steve McCurry but Fadza's list of photographers is very legit as well)

Do gears or camera apps matter to you in creating images?

Yes and no. Are you a wedding photographer? Documentary? Sports? Of course, you have to pick the right gears, but if you think you are confident with what you have now, why not. It depends for me

Are you earning enough as a photographer?

Haha, maybe. Someday you get more, there are times you get just enough to get you by. But if you want more, you have to find more, right?

How much you think people will value your work?

Not that much. I am still learning from my friends here in Malaysia and in South East Asia region. If you were to put a value to it, maybe . . . I don’t know. But personally, I would value it high, but people might think otherwise.

Do you still enjoy shooting like before?

YES! It is my passion. For me, if I give up on my passion, I give up on 2/3 of my life and I have nothing to look forward to.

How do you deal with the attention you get as a photographer?

I didn’t get much attention other than my friends. Maybe to answer this, it is like me commuting on a train, and minding my own business and when someone notices me, it is either by mutual friends or someone I have met before.

What do you want out of photography?

To get my message across and being recognised by the right people

Any music you listen to? Movies you watch lately? Books?

I am currently addicted to Tame Impala’s latest album - Currents. Particularly “The Less I know The Better”. It's so addictive, man! As for movies, I always love "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" and recently, Everest.

Books? I have background in law but I hate reading. Nothing in particular, as long as I can see the photograph and learn the story behind it.

If you’re not shooting, what do you do to wind down or relax?

Watching movie with my wife in my mini studio or maybe a quick drive back to my parents’ placeand get coffee with my mates and wife.

Do you enjoy the process of shooting or just the end results

Everything. But honestly, processing really takes a lot time. To sort, and edit and delete and edit and so on. I like it and hate it!

Any last words?

When are the next Vikings and Game of Thrones series? Well, thank you Ezra and the WSS team for the interview. It is truly a big honour. Thank you so much.

(PS: We Shoot Souls is run by me alone for now)