Interview #4 - Husaini Mustapha

FOREWORD:  I am a big fan of Husaini's photography. His photos simply give me this amazing aesthetic pleasure. I am grateful that he could spend his time doing the interview.

You can check out his Favourite Five and Instagram

Just introduce yourself

Well, my name is Husaini Mustapha and I'm turning 23 this month. I'm a huge fan of Star Wars and comic book movies, and I am a portrait photographer.

Any favourite comic books?

That would be Batman - the answer is always Batman!

So what draws you into photography in the first place?

Back in 2007, I had a Myspace account. I mean, we all used to have this back in the days, right? So seeing a lot of my Myspace friends, they had really nice pictures. So I was like "Hey, maybe I should pick up photography. It seems interesting". I was hooked ever since.

So ever remember your first photo shoot?

Haha, yes definitely. It was around 2010 when I did mine. I asked this girl from school, she was my junior. I was like "Hey, can you be my model?" and she agreed. I had a lot of positive feedback after the shoot.

Do you mind posting the photo here?

I didn't know what I was thinking back then!

These are not bad!

Thanks, man!

After that first shoot, what did you feel you need to improve on your photography?

Well, obviously composition and angles - and colour tones. I felt like I should have inserted more content to my photos.

Content? Any specifics?

Like stories to tell. I think that in a series of photos, it should have a story/photo essay to it.
 

So you live in Kajang. Does living in Kajang influence you into your work?

I recently moved here so I have yet to explore more. But no, it doesn't really because I always travel far from my place just so I can get shots that don't look like Malaysia. But really, every single photo that I've taken is actually from Malaysia

How is the portraiture scene like over there?

Oh, it's really blooming here. We are competing with wedding photographers

Is it welcoming or intimidating?

I'd say both.

Competing for what though?

Not really competing, actually. It's just from a sense that we are because everyone has their own niche/strength.

So what is your niche?

A lot of my friends told me, I am able to make my shots look like it's not from Malaysia, like it's from overseas or maybe the tones that I applied to the photos

Are you a Photoshop ninja?

Hahaha, not really

How important to you on using Instagram?

Very important - all my sources of inspiration came from Instagram. Well, not all because I have other platforms like Pinterest to look for inspiration.

How people will value your work? I mean, what do you expect when people see your work?

I assume people could somehow glimpse onto how I feel, as I always ask my models to portray how I feel inside

That’s deep

Thanks

What are your source of inspirations?

A lot of things could inspire me, but mostly would be Instagram, Pinterest, movies and TV series that I binge watch.

Any recommendations? TV shows, websites, albums or movies that I should check out?

For TV shows, maybe you could try and watch Mr Robot, and House of Cards. For movies, Wes Anderson's. As for music - Tame Impala's "Currents", and Bring Me The Horizon

How do you prepare before doing a shoot?

I usually prepare a moodboard before I do a shoot, or put the references that I have on my phone/tablet so I could refer to during the shoot. Then, I would find some props to add and set up the time, date and venue with all the people involved.

Any specifics with the models or subjects you choose?

Not really, I guess because most of the models I worked with are usually chosen by my friends, or they are my friends. I have a certain taste to models, like those Korean-looking Chinese people (Ed: oriental, perhaps) for me. They have the looks that I always secretly wanted to portray.

I'm curious, can you show me those Korean-looking subjects?

I do.


So what’s your process on the actual shoot?

The process is usually not that complicated. Basically, everyone comes to the location of the shoot, and then I run through the specifics with them before I shoot. Then, the shooting commences, and later we wrap up. And then, I'll do some post-processing to be shown to the models, just so they are satisfied with it.

Simple! I prefer that way. Ok, going back to Instagram. I notice you have this project - Disposition Collective

Care to explain what that is?

Okay, so the definition of disposition is basically not a process or event in some duration in time, but rather the state, preparation, or tendency of a structure "in waiting". So, the hashtag serves as a purpose of me, saying that every work of mine is a work in progress and basically, Disposition Collective is just a collection of my artwork only.

They look like a finished photo - or are we expecting more?

Expect more!

Going back to your Favourite 5? Any reasons you chose that 5? Is it easy or difficult to choose?

Mainly because of the sentimental value that I have to those photos, and also it was because they are visually pleasing. Obviously, it was difficult to choose among many!

The sentimental value? Is it because your relationship with the subjects?

That, but mostly of those who were with me during the photo shoot

Whose who? 

Friends, mostly

Are you doing photography as a career? If you aren’t, are you planning to in the future?

Yes, actually. Since I am a degree holder of Creative Photomedia. That's a fancy way of saying photography course.

What do you want out of doing photography?

I would definitely want to show that in photography, there's more to it than just being all nice and pretty models. There should be a story and content to it, rather than them being just photos. Everything we do should have reasons. I wanted to show that my country (Malaysia) is actually filled with hidden gems - you just gotta go find it. My lecturers taught me these. I am eternally grateful for whatever they have shared with me. Without them, I wouldn't be able to take make photographs.

That’s true. I just feel whatever we do right now is a transition to something bigger in the future

Exactly!

What aspects do you find challenging as a photographer?

I always find it challenging when it comes to improving myself, because people keep giving compliments instead of constructive criticism. So, I feel like I have no room to improve. I just wish that people would comment on my photos, saying that "maybe you could go lower angles" kind of thing.

Do you feel okay with the attention you get as a photographer?

I enjoy it from time to time, but I prefer when everything was when people didn't know I was a photographer. It feels real, because they don't have expectations from you. But being who I am today, I have met a lot of talented people along the way and I am grateful for that. Art is slowly being accepted as a norm in the eyes of our society.

Anything that keeps you excited in the future?

Photography-wise? 

Anything at all

Well, I am mostly excited for some upcoming movies like Star Wars Episode VII, Batman vs Superman, and also, Captain America: Civil War. Geek at heart!

Any shout outs before we wrap it up?

To all the photographers who may or may not know me, let's collaborate! Join me for a wondrous, adventurous time!