Interview #21 - @shafiqanaksaleh

shafiqanaksaleh (or his real name, Shafiq Salehuddin) is a photographer from Malaysia. In We Shoot Souls, we usually feature portrait photographers, but we couldn’t pass the opportunity to feature Shafiq’s work that focuses on urban lifestyle and city landscapes. His work is gold standard in this region.

You can find more of his work on Instagram, 500px and his website. You can also reach him on Twitter.

Tell us about yourself? 

I’m Shafiq Salehuddin aka shafiqanaksaleh on my social media. I’m a freelance photographer. I was born in Negeri Sembilan but raised in Johor Bahru. I’ve graduated from a local university in Bachelor of Petroleum Engineering.

What’s happening with you lately?

I’ve done few collaborative projects with some brands such as SuperSunday, Haval Malaysia, Sole What, Stoned & Co., Wolfgang, etc. Recently I was given an opportunity to showcase my work through a photo exhibition during IM4U Day.

What draws you into photography?

It all began when I first started shooting with my 4th generation iPod back to 2010 and that was when Instagram first launched. I signed up and then started shooting. I was exposed by a lot of talented people from Instagram and I just get inspired. I started shooting alone after I’ve finished my class. I went to my first Instameet back in 2013 and from that, I got to know more people and meet them personally in real life. Plus, some of them have been my best friends until now.

Do you remember your first ever shoot?

Not really, because I’ve taken so many photos.

How’s the photography scene over there in your perspective?

It’s been competitive and inspiring.
 
What are your challenges being a photographer?

I love being different. For me, that’s the main and important criteria to be someone who can inspire others. In this case, you must have your own identity. At the same time, you can shoot whatever you want.

How does the environment you’re living in influence your photography? 

It helps me to see things in a different perspective.

Most of your images involve city landscapes and urban lifestyle. What made you interested to do this type of photography?

I love geometry, patterns, shapes, shadow and lighting.

There are so many photographers doing this style of street photography. How do you make sure your work stands out from the rest?

For me, everybody has their own preferences, style, interest and scope of photography so I have to respect that. For me, the word “beautiful photography” itself is too subjective. It can be translated into so many perspectives that we ourselves don’t understand but someone else does.

Do you have certain aesthetics or method of shooting?

I’m not sure because theory is the same from what we have learned but it all depends on how you see things — your art of seeing. If it's good, with great technique, I believe you’re just a step away from being a good photographer.

Describe how do you do your shoots and what tools you use for post-processing?

I always go out scouting places to shoot. It also depends on what kind of photos my clients require. I prefer to shoot in the morning as early as 7 am till 11 before noon. I’m using Lightroom to edit.

You also started to do shoots for clothing brands. How do you incorporate your style with fashion? 

It depends on our discussions before the shooting day. I have to know what they want so I can apply what I can do for their brand to look fabulous in photos.

How different it is when you shoot for commercial brands and shoot for yourself?

It’s far different especially with you’re on paid assignment — the stress you go through where you deal with people’s expectations and trust. So far, Alhamdullilah, I can say all my clients love my work.

Do you shoot portraits?

Yes, of course. I really wanted to shoot portrait but for now, I keep my focus on one thing before I challenge myself to another style.

You also travel outside Malaysia. How traveling affects you as a photographer?

I want to be flexible and universal. This is where my perspectives grow. When I reach new places, I’ll watch on every inch of the country. I’ll look on their culture, their language, the lights, the shadows, the people and everything. I don’t really shoot on my first day of travel. I love to observe and study.

Any other works or photographers that you follow?

Trashhand, Insighting and Rockkhound. I follow too many now.

Do you value quality or quantity?

Quality, obviously

In what ways that camera gears or cellphone apps matter to you in producing the work?

It doesn’t really matter on what gears you use. It’s only about 10% of your progress. Focus on your knowledge and skills, your art of seeing, your desire to go out to shoot and your effort to get the killer shot.

Do you earn enough as a photographer?

Alhamdulillah.

Who do you think are the audience of your work?

Probably, the youth and new photographers.

How much you think people will value your work?

I have no words for this because I’m not shooting for the sake to gain attention or popularity or what I will get if I’m doing this or that and how much money I will get for shooting this. It’s more on developing myself, letting myself grow everyday to be a better photographer. If they have been with me since I first started this career until now, I really want to thank them personally.I really appreciate it.

How do you cope in getting the attention through social media or word of mouth?

I don’t talk to random people, especially in social media. I keep my circle of friends, small but tight.
 
Any music that you listen to lately? Books that you read? Movies that you just watched recently?

I love action/science fiction movies. I just watched X-Men and Captain America: Civil War. I love all kinds of music.

Anything that keeps you excited in the future?

I’ll be travelling quite a lot soon.

Any last words?

Be you, be original. You can be inspired but don’t copy. Focus on what you can achieve and make it happen. Appreciate yourself first before you start giving it to anyone else.