Interview #32 - Preston Liew

Preston Liew is born and raised in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. He finished his studies in Kuala Lumpur last year and recently had been hired as an assistant architect in Singapore. He started photography in mid-2014 with his group of friends, sharing the same level of enthusiasm on this field. 

Can you describe your style of photography?

Moody & mysterious with a pinch of fire.

Any photographers/other creatives that you follow?

Big names such as Hideaki Hamada, Aik Beng Chia, Che' Mad and local Malaysian photographers such as Husaini Mustapha, TTFGA, Roshan Menon, Happyfingers & Jseng Soh

 What camera or lens do you use to achieve your work?

At the moment, I only shoot with a Ricoh GRii and my iPhone 5S.

How the social media (e.g. Instagram) helps you in sharing your work?

Social media has definitely turned into a great platform for photographers and muses to reach out to one another and get the attention they need. But for now, I just want to share my passion to whoever's interested and enjoy life!

 What are your aesthetics in photography?

It depends on my mood. My work translates from what I feel during that particular moment. Some days, it's warm and vibrant and some days, it's moody and somber. Photographers are humans as well, we have our transitional period and we have our ups and downs.

Have you received any opportunities from presenting your work in the social media?

Never, but hopefully soon!

What’s your major goal in photography?

Ultimately, my goal is to be happy with what I'm doing and maybe one day, to be able to share more of my stories with friends and family who have supported me along the way.

Every photographer has their own struggle, for example, lack of creativity, not happy with their photos or self-doubt. How do you overcome those obstacles?

My everyday struggle would be time, passion and money.

Working a full-time job in the construction field definitely drains you out. The constant meetings with clients and consultants, amendments of design, revision of drawings, solving problems on site etc. would mean that we have to spend many hours to produce work that can meet the deadlines. It's definitely not a 9-5 job because it requires more than that - every inch of your passion and dedication needs to be present 24/7 including weekends!

If you have architecture friends, I'm sure you've seen hashtags like #architortured or #sleepisfortheweak. It's not easy to find time for shoots nowadays when I'm loaded with work. Work definitely kills my passion for photography.

Not much I could do to overcome this, because no work equals no food on the table! But as of now, I'll just appreciate whenever I have time to hit the streets for a few snaps!

What’s your one tip/advice to those who just started photography?

Stay humble, stay passionate and opportunities will come.

Do you have any preferences with your subjects?

Not really, but attitude and personality are the keys. Otherwise, it's just gonna be a bad time for all of us.

What is the one picture from your work that represents you as a photographer?

I guess it's this one - my mind is fogged up haha.

What is your process during a photo shoot/project? How do you plan? What do you do during the shoot?

Due to my time constraint, I am never fortunate enough to properly plan for shoot. But I do work out some basic ground rules with the muse such as ideas, locations and attires to know what we want to achieve. It's all about the power of collaboration!

It's pretty easy going during the shoot - realizing what we planned for and to find spots and angles to make the muse look good.

How’s your workflow in post-processing?

It's pretty basic, I don’t like to overcomplicate things. For mobile editing, I'll select the photos from my album then upload the photos to photo editing apps such as VSCO and Snapseed.

When I have a bunch of photos from shoots & travels, I'd dump them into Lightroom, apply free VSCO filter and delete the ones that don't look good.

Fun fact: I'll never spend more than 5 minutes on a photo, ain't got time for that!

What is your signature style that people can recognize your work?

To be honest, I've never heard someone saying "This style reminds me of your work" or "Wow! This is so Preston!". I guess I just haven't really developed a style yet. It's fine, it just means I have to shoot more!

Any music that you listen to lately? Movies that you just seen? Books that you read lately?

Been listening to the playlist Afternoon Acoustic by Spotify.

My favorite from the playlist would be Carry You by Novo Amor-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdzKagaiebo

 Any last words?

I know it sounds cliché, but live life to the fullest and enjoy the time spent with your family and friends. Life is so much more than just taking photographs.

You can find more of Preston's work below: 

Instagram

Facebook

Portfolio

Interview #31 - Amin Fitri

Amin Fitri is a photographer based in Terengganu, Malaysia and born in the 90s. His passion for photography comes from finding delight in capturing portraits of people. He also co-founded We Are Grafy in 2012.

You can find more of his work and We Are Grafy on:

Portfolio

Vimeo

Facebook

Instagram

What’s happening with you lately?

I just submitted my work for “Tanah Kita” exhibition organized by The Biddy's. The exhibition is mainly highlights the culture around us through our lens. Besides that, my team and I also released music video for a local band earlier this year. We feel that this project has put us outside our comfort zone.

What draws you into photography, specifically shooting portraits?

I like shooting portraits. I am fond of it because of the secret behind every smile, the tales of the moment and the emotion of the natural beauty shown by the subject. For every shoot that I did, there is always something different.

Do you remember your first ever shoot?

It was back when I was 16 years old, I went for a street outing with my school mates and realized how fun and exciting photography is.

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

Only some people can accept my style of shooting.

What are your challenges being a photographer?

To constantly experiment, while maintaining my style in order to improve my artwork and to gather some audience here.

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

Terengganu is surrounded by its magnificent nature that is hard to ignore. Therefore, I try to capture the emotion of the subject to match the nature’s beauty.

Do you have certain aesthetics or method of shooting?

I try to keep it minimal. Less is more, right?

What has drawn you to into shooting film?

The unique smell of film and the light leaks draw me close in using it. But I just shoot film as my hobby.

Do you think it is still relevant to shoot in film?

Sure, it is still relevant depending on the photographer’s style because sometimes, certain projects is more suitable in using film.

What is your go-to camera and film?

Fisheye No. 2 and Olympus mju II, with Color Negative 400 and Agfa Vista 400

In your opinion, what is the difference shooting film and digital?

Shooting film needs extra caution before clicking the shutter because we don’t want to waste the frames. Photographers who rarely use film need to experiment before hand in order to get used to the settings. With a digital camera, it’s easier to adapt in any conditions since we can easily meddle with the settings.

Describe how do your approach your work

I will do my research beforehand regarding the location and I will always review my previous artwork for improvement.

I will identify the advantage of the location such as its natural lighting. I will also try to make the model comfortable in front of the camera.

I will select a few photos and try to edit it first until I find the best result that I wanted to achieve. When I’m done, I will send the end result to my client.

What’s your post-processing like?

I would go for minor editing. I’ll adjust the brightness and contrast when necessary. I like my photos to be a little bit dark.

Do you have preferences for choosing subjects or models?

My personal favorite would be models who can create this 'resting bitch face' look.

Any other works or photographers that you follow?

Rahman Roslan, Nicoline Patricia Malina, Jacob Messex and Theo Gosselin

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

I prefer camera gears that can be used in any kind of lighting. Since I do minor editing on my works, I rarely use smartphone apps.

Do you earn enough as a photographer?

So far I’m satisfied with it.

Who do you think are the audience of your work?

People who enjoy portraits that incorporate with nature.

How much you think people will value your work?

I feel a bit under appreciated and it’s probably due to less exposure of my artwork. I am still working on that.

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

I don’t let it get my way. I believe it’s a bonus that my artwork gets the attention but at the end of the day, I’m focusing on the quality of my work so I can deliver amazing output to my clients.

Any music that you listen to lately? Books that you read? Movies that you just watched recently?

I’m into Alina Baraz and I've recently watched Lion.

Anything that keeps you excited in the future?

I hope more opportunities will be coming my way, especially in music video projects. I would also like to be more involved in editorial photography in the future.

Any last words?

One of the quotes that I abide by is that if we want to make a change, we have to start it first. Anyway, I would like to take this opportunity to show my gratitude towards people who has inspired and assisted me in my life, especially my family and close friends. I am also humbled by the opportunity that We Shoot Souls has given me

[ed: Thanks]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview #30 - Kix Navidad

Kix Navidad is a portrait and event photographer from Cavite, Philippines. He is also a singer/songwriter and he claims himself as an orphan drifting in the cruel world

You can find more of Kix's work in the following below:

Portfolio 

Facebook

Instagram

What’s happening with you lately?

I have recently worked with our photography group’s anniversary in Cavite. It was quite successful and we have invited great photographers from the Metro and had a fashion shoot with our best models in an excellent location. It was a photographer’s heaven and I’m glad I was part of the planning.

What draws you into photography, specifically shooting portraits?

For me, it’s actually the people. I like capturing moments in the life of my subjects and making sure that they learn something along the process of making the photo. I love creating portraits and seeing their reaction to it. I enjoy stories of both the models and photographers and people I meet along the way.

Do you remember your first ever shoot?

Yes, it was with my cousin who dreams to be a model and that led to me shooting more. And I still remember my first ever shoot with a non-relative. That was very special.

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

Photography in my area is quite challenging especially me being an events photographer. The competition is fierce and new photographers are delving into events more and more. Being that the profit is alluring, so I have to be on top of my game and never slack off. But it’s still great! I have met quite a lot of photographers that became my friends after I’ve worked with them.

What are your challenges being a photographer?

A lot. But I face them one at a time. Primarily funds on better gear, shoot costs etc. But I make the most of what I have. I believe that is what makes my photos special. I make them with minimal budget and simple gears. I love the challenge of making a good photo out of any available location and ambient light. Imagine if I have the means of having better gear and locations. That keeps me excited.

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

It affects my moods and that influences the output I’m producing. Since I don’t have a lot. I work with what I have and anything readily available. It is also great that I have good photographer and model friends that I can tap into whenever they are free. The Philippine government does not support most of its talents and overlook photographers as artists that need help since it cannot help itself. So, we make groups locally through social media and we help each other in the craft that we love.

Do you have certain aesthetics or method of shooting?

I actually am not fond of technicalities. As long as the output is great it’s fine. I just shoot in RAW, use ambient light at any time of the day, make use of what is available at the location. No special methods or anything.

Describe how do your approach your work?

It starts with an idea, a photo, a movie or music that inspired me to create something. Then comes the planning, searching for the best model that fits the idea, preparing the dresses, props, the overall look, talking to people that will be involved in the shoot, setting a date that will be favorable to everyone and finding a good location.

At the day of the shoot, I make sure that they are all good and in the mood of creating something special. I mostly talk to my subjects, guiding them since I mostly work with non-professional models. Sharing them the idea so it comes across and understood by everyone from the makeup artist up to anyone assisting me. Then comes the fun part of shooting! I show my models the photos so they can see and adjust to make anything better and shoot some more. This makes it fun for them and produces better quality photos for me. I select the best photos, about four to five photos out of the lot and post them online where they can be viewed by everyone.

What’s your post-processing like?

It is quite simple, since I am only using Lightroom. But I need inspiration before doing anything and that takes a lot of time. I need to improve on this part but that’s how I do things. My mood sets what I produce creatively and hinders my ability to make quick edits. I am not satisfied by photos that do not have any part of me.

Do you have preferences for choosing subjects or models?

It depends on the shot I’m trying to achieve. Since most of my models are first-timers, I pick those that have potential in doing the looks and moods I am trying to portray. I prefer Asian looking models that have eyes that are sad, as most of my shoots are like that.

Any other works or photographers that you follow?

I follow Shaira Luna, Joed Barallas, SamAlive, Mehran Djoajan, SiuMing ST and Yen Baet 

Do you value quality or quantity?

I value quality over quantity. That is the reason why I have trouble in producing more outputs. Every photo I make is a part of me. I leave something behind each photo, my mood, my story and a part of me. Most of my models/clients do not understand this and want their photo instantly. I only give them the best of what I can do at the moment.

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

It’s not the gears that make a photo that is why I focus more on the skills rather than the actual gear. I use apps in my phone for my mobile photography and for putting them out on social media.

Do you earn enough as a photographer?

For now, it’s not enough since I have people to support and I need to earn more. But I believe it would be, after a time investing in different endeavors related to photography.

Who do you think are the audience of your work?

Mostly creatives and my friends. I would love to meet my few followers since the start of my photography journey.

How much you think people will value your work?

I love receiving compliments of my work and how it influences other artists and new portrait photographers. I think most, if not, all my clients were satisfied by my work at the current time when I did their wedding or special occasions and value them more. This fuels me to do better and keeps me hungry to learn more.

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

I have just recently learnt promoting my work in Instagram and being more active in social and photography sites.

Any music that you listen to lately? Books that you read? Movies that you just watched recently?

I have been listening to Rico Blanco’s Dating Gawi. I haven’t read anything lately due to being busy with photo shoots, but I still remember seeing Heavenly Forest and The Liar and His Lover.

Anything that keeps you excited in the future?

Yes. I have plans for doing a high fashion shoot with a great stylist/designer. I need to improve my skills further and explore new things that push me forward as a photographer.

Any last words?

I would like everyone to support their favorite local photographers. A simple like, comment or share will do wonders for them. Message them privately and tell them how you like their work to keep them producing better photos. Dead artists don’t need the money.

Interview #29 - Jasmine Abdullah

Jasmine Abdullah is a super talented photographer from Malaysia. She started creating images at 13 years old. Her work has gained some recognition in Instagram, and recently featured in Pursuit of Portraits' account.

Tell us about yourself? 

Hi and hello! My name is Jasmine, and I love making portraits. I’m currently based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and I’ve been taking photographs, diving head first into this realm of visual creativity since I was gifted my first DSLR at the age of 13. Fast-forwarding life by 11 years and a 3-year hiatus recently from photography, here I am today. 

What’s happening with you lately?

Where do I even begin? I’ve just recently graduated and moved back home from Singapore and actually, starting work in a few short weeks. Though it’s been quite the roller-coaster ride making this transition, I’ve also been pretty busy getting creative with love, from behind the camera. From conceptual portraits, I do that pull on my heartstrings, all the way to fashion shows, lookbooks, weddings and family sessions. I’ve been keeping myself occupied most days. Channeling creative vibes to the fullest because you know, I’ll only have the weekends to do that soon!

What draws you into photography, specifically shooting portraits?

It wasn’t until recently that I really thought about what draws me into portraiture, and really, there are many things. I love every facet of it. There’s just something about seeing an idea or vision come to life, and becoming art. I especially love how we have the ability to make something, or maybe even a moment that’s so ordinary looks so peculiarly beautiful. Portraits allow us to share the way we look at things, or maybe even the world.

Do you remember your first ever shoot?

Yes! My mother recently reminded me that I actually had an album of photographs that I took when I was 13. Looking through those, the first actual series I did was make do. It was also the time I fell in love with black and white images.

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

I’ve been following (and a fan, really) of works by several photographers from our neighboring country, Singapore, for the longest time and it wasn’t until recently that I discovered and even connected with like-minded creatives here, in Malaysia! All thanks to the social media. I'm so proud of the great works that many photographers here are producing, which I hope continue to inspire more budding photographers to step out of their comfort zone.

What are your challenges being a photographer?

1. Getting outreach. 

Portraits. What is it about them that makes it so easy to look at, but harder to appreciate? I love portraits, and I appreciate all of them. If you make portraits as well, you’d know what I mean. It’s sad that it’s always the things that are aesthetically pleasing that gets the most outreach. In actual fact, art was never meant to always look pretty, but instead, it’s supposed to be able to make you feel something. To give you butterflies, pull on your heartstrings and some, maybe even make you feel a little uncomfortable. I strive to tell stories in some of the images I create and the likes or views don’t really bother me. What matters to me is that people feel something upon seeing these images. That people resonate with them. That’s the challenge. 

2. The need to specialize. 

I’ve been told time and again that to be “successful”, I should specialize. Though that might be partly true, I look at photography as a spectrum, and there are many different “genres” that make up this spectrum. I’m not saying that we need to be great at all of it, but I think that we should be able to explore, and even pick up more than 1 facet to photography.  The challenge surfaces when potential clients write or call in, more than often highlighting the fact that I do so many things, but what’s my “specialization”.  It’s personally a challenge for me, but I’m more than happy keeping it this way.

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

Well, Malaysia does revolve around its socio-religious climate. Though many of us are all about freedom of expression, it does take a second (or days) to think about how much, can be too much. I’m all for celebrating individuality, sexuality, freedom and liberation. 

However, I’ve already had fellow photographers come up to me, pointing out that I like “extreme stuff” upon seeing my favorite series called Breaking Barriers X Joash , beautifully created with this dear friend and androgynous beauty. I agree to disagree on that statement. Yes, we try to make a difference, and maybe push the limits just a tad bit, but we still keep it tasteful, and respectful. I guess you could say I’m a little more thoughtful in what a put out there. Positive vibes, people!

Do you have certain aesthetics or method of shooting?

I’m drawn to moody images and tones but really, I adapt to any particular shoot. Aesthetics and methods vary from shoot to shoot, and I really enjoy trying new styles of producing a photo, especially in the post-processing phase. 

What draws you into shooting fashion?

Just a few months ago, I never thought I’d be shooting anything to do with fashion! It wasn’t until a dear friend, threw me into the fire. After going out on an image adventure together, we spoke about her career in fashion as a model and all of a sudden, she gets me a pass to this fashion show. I fell in love. One show lead to another, which then was followed by several lookbooks and here I am! Actually, if it wasn’t for that first fashion show, I don’t think I would have tapped onto it. I even landed my first job in a career path revolving around fashion (which will be revealed in due time)! 

How’s the fashion scene over there?

I think it’s really good! There are so many local and regional talented designers, and I’m blown away every time they showcase their work on the runway. It’s so crazy, and just like what I said about making portraits, fashion, too is art in itself! Shows are a way of expressing, and it’s a beautiful art form. I love the artistry that goes into designing, and I hope the scene here keeps expanding! 

What are you incorporating when you do your fashion shoots?

I try to capture moments that people often miss when it comes to taking photos, be it during a styled lookbook or off the runway. This includes movement, lots of it, and details because the details do matter. 

Describe how do your approach your work

Sometimes I’m methodological and other times, I wing it. Some of my favorites are completely spontaneous, and almost unplanned. When it’s an actual project, I do draw up mood boards, looking for visual inspiration on Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram. When an idea I have in mind doesn’t have an existing sample, I tend to draw it out. In stick figures, though! I’m never very tactical, and I’m completely flexible and alright with it if the shoot goes in a totally different direction. Like I said, it’s a joint effort my subject has got to enjoy, and be in the moment. 

What’s your post-processing like?

I like to keep it quick, and simple. I’m an avid Lightroom user, and I love creating my own presets! I always save presets as I go along. It’s amazing what you can do once you stop relying to ready-made presets like VSCO! Nothing against it, though. I use purchased presets now and then for a quick fix but really, it’s rewarding when it’s my own preset I’m using.

Do you have preferences for choosing subjects or models?

Not at all! I love getting creative with people. I believe that a great image is created together, and it really is a joint effort. I love figuring out what complements that particular model or subject, and making sure they are comfortable in their element. I find that I learn the most from shooting people of different shapes, sizes, ethnicities and so on. But I do very much prefer natural-light portraits, and shooting outdoors! I’d hike for hours just to get to a location, so I’m pickier in regards to location more than anything. 

Any other works or photographers that you follow?

Many! If I listed them all here, it’s never going to end. I discover new favorites almost daily, So I guess checking out the follow list via Instagram would have to do. 

Do you value quality or quantity?

Quality, without a doubt. 

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

I believe that you don’t need great gear to produce great images. I shot on my dinosaur-aged Nikon D40 for the longest time before switching, and some of my favorites were done using that camera. It all depends on what you do with it. I can’t say much about cellphone apps because I seldom edit on a smartphone, but I know that phones today has come a long way in terms of quality, too. Even Leica has been collaborating with phone brands, and that’s pretty awesome. 

Do you earn enough as a photographer?

I can’t really answer this question, solely because I’m not a full-time photographer. However, I won’t say that I couldn’t be earning more. If only people knew the time and effort we put in actually producing these images.

Who do you think are the audience of your work?

I really haven’t taken notice on that, but I know that other fellow creatives are part of them! It’s so nice how Instagram connects us all, and everyone’s supportive. I don’t have a specific target audience, though. 

How much you think people will value your work?

I believe that it’s very subjective. Different people have different aesthetic preferences, and it’s those who appreciate your eye that will value your work more than anyone else. 

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

I’m a firm believer in both social media and word of mouth. Either way, I’m just very glad that people do appreciate what I do!

Any music that you listen to lately? Books that you read? Movies that you just watched recently?

Looking at my most-played tracks on Spotify, it’s currently Frank Sinatra. I love to read. I have a mini-library in my room, and my favorite has got to be Harry Potter. Unsurprisingly, Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them is my current movie obsession.

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Anything that keeps you excited in the future?

2017 is just around the corner, and I’m just excited in what the year brings. I look forward to seeing work, photography, love and life progress.

Any last words?

Always trust the process. Keep shooting, editing, practicing and it’ll come. This applies to everything in life. 

 

You can find more of Jasmine's work below:

Website

Instagram

Facebook

 

 

 

 

Interview #28 - Harry Dunkerley

Harry Dunkerley is an artist and photographer from Bournemouth, England. His artwork which combines rich textures with intricate line work and graphical elements, often explores themes of place, belonging and human relationship with the natural world.

Tell us about yourself?

Hi, my name’s Harry and I am a conceptual and fine art photographer from the UK. The three things I love most in life are travelling, my wonderful family, and creating art any way that I can - music, photography, illustration - anything that allows me to connect with people and make sense of the world around me. With my photography I aim to portray to depict a moment of struggle or uncertainty on the cusp of resolution, using the medium of portraiture as a means of exploring one's own emotional states, memories and connections with the society in which we live.

What’s happening with you lately?

I’ve just moved down to the coast to begin my degree in Illustration at Arts University Bournemouth, which is really exciting. Being in a space with so many other like-minded creatives is something I’m really looking forward to - sharing ideas with one another and entering such a new environment is no doubt going to kickstart my creativity. Until my course starts I’ve been exploring the area and enjoying the last little bit of summer weather with ice creams on the beach!

What draws you into photography, specifically shooting portraits?

Photography to me is a remarkably performative art form - especially portraiture. I shoot as much for the experience of being outside with the camera, bringing to life these imagined narratives, as I do for the end result. In a way, it feels less like producing a piece of art and more like exploring, discovering, playing. With conceptual photography you’re taking the world in front of the lens and reshaping it into something new, condensing these familiar settings into static moments and imbuing them with a sense of mystery or wonder. It’s a form of escapism, really, of understanding the world by rearranging and framing it.

Do you remember your first ever shoot?

I think I picked up my first camera at the age of 7 or 8, but it was only a few years ago that I truly began to view photography as a means of expression and an art form in itself. Discovering the work of other portrait and fine art photographers online was a key factor in motivating me to think that much deeper about the medium. My first ‘shoot’ was probably about three years ago with a friend in my photography class - we headed out into a forest with bags full of tea candles and laid them all around him as if they were fireflies. Although I cringe at that photo now, I remember how pleased I was at the time, and how that feeling of achievement urged me to keep going.

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

Now that I’m attending an arts university I feel as if there are a lot more opportunities to get involved in the wider photographic community than when I was at home. It definitely feels like there’s loads to explore in terms of arts and culture, lots of events and festivals to go to and so on. Apart from that, social media is obviously an incredible resource to connect with other photographers from so many different places, and that was a big thing in helping me develop and build a kind of online presence.

What are your challenges being a photographer?

Probably the majority of it comes from my own self-criticism - I do judge my work quite harshly, which is a good thing to do but you have to make sure it doesn’t inhibit your creative process. Of course the challenge of getting your name out there and maintaining an online following is a key aspect of building a career in any creative art, but I feel like that is more of an opportunity to develop than an obstacle to overcome. Working out your own visual style is another thing, but again, it’s all part of shooting and the satisfaction I get outweighs any of the difficulties that may arise.

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

My work very much revolves around the natural world and our relationship to it as individuals. At home I’m so lucky to be able to walk out my back garden and have miles of unspoilt fields and forests to explore. The tranquility and solitude of those natural environments definitely works itself into my photographs, alongside other feelings, perhaps of melancholy or uncertainty - most human emotions seem to find their equivalent in nature. Besides this I’m very interested in politics, mental health, and the role of art and technology in our everyday lives. I sometimes feel that as a society we’re quite pessimistic by default, with so much exposure to media outlets, so I try to work a sense of optimism into my photos, even if they’re dealing with serious subjects.

Do you have certain aesthetics or method of shooting?

I would say my visual style typically includes quite a dark colour palette - blues, deep greens, greys - although that changes with the mood and the concept I’m trying to portray. At the moment I’m really into shooting wide angle, usually with a large depth of field. As much as I like shallower focus, I find that it can sometimes flatten a picture, especially if the surrounding environment is just as integral to the image’s meaning as the portrait itself. I’ve been told my photos also typically depict solitary figures, usually with the gaze directed away from the camera. What that symbolises I don’t know, but I’m sure there’s some hidden reason behind it somewhere!

Describe how do your approach your work?

So the first step for me is always putting pen to paper, sketching out a few basic ideas for each photo. Usually this is little more than a stick figure and vague scratchy outlines of props, but it helps me keep a record of ideas so I can come back to them when the time is right to go and shoot. Sometimes I’ll come back to a sketch a year later with the final element that completes the image, other times I’ll draw something out and go out and photograph it immediately.

For the shoot itself, I’ll usually just head out by myself with my camera gear and any props I might need. As I typically do self-portraits there’s little need to plan or arrange anything in advance. I do wonder what it looks like for passers-by to see me shooting - I will do almost anything to get a photograph! I’m sure when I get to doing larger shoots I will work in a more structured way, but at the moment I just go with the flow and see how things turn out there and then. Too much planning and I just won’t ever shoot anything!

What’s your post-processing like?

Although I typically use Photoshop to construct my images, I try to keep complex editing to a minimum. One key component of my process is stitching together several photographs to artificially expand the frame. Earlier on in my photographic journey I tended to use Photoshop as the primary means of communicating a message to the viewer, however these days I try to use it as a vehicle to enhance other elements of a piece, such as colour and composition. I find that when you allow the post processing to become the main focus of the image, the true meaning of the piece becomes diluted. Learning to portray a concept through the manipulation of light entering the camera, rather than the manipulation of pixels on a screen, has been one of the most important things in allowing me to develop my craft.

Do you have preferences for choosing subjects or models?

I’d like to start working with models for my photographs, as up until now I’ve mostly focused on self-portraiture, which understandably results in the images taking on at least a partially autobiographical nature. On the one hand doing things myself is easier because I know exactly what I’m trying to achieve, but I’d like to push out of that comfort zone and work with other people who will bring their own views and their creativity to the process.

Any other works or photographers that you follow?

I could list hundreds! One of my all-time favourite photographers is Gregory Crewdson - his masterful use of lighting and attention to detail is something I greatly admire, as well as the overarching sense of detachment and obscurity he is able to weave into such familiar settings. Another body of work that I keep coming back to is Evgenia Arbugaeva’s ‘Weatherman’. It’s about a lone meteorologist working deep in the Russian Arctic, miles from civilisation. The photographs are so evocative and convey such a powerful narrative, and I just find them utterly captivating. And of course I follow loads of fellow photographers and artists on places like Flickr and Facebook, all of whom consistently inspire me to continue creating and sharing.

Do you value quality or quantity?

Quality, undoubtedly. However, I’ve found that the most important component in ensuring high quality is making sure you create as often and as regularly as possible. The two go hand in hand, I think - without discipline, the quality of your output will inevitably drop.

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

I wouldn't consider myself a gear head, no way. As long as I have a decent camera that does what I need it to as quickly and as easily as possible then I’m not too fussy! Of course when I’m shooting fine art work or for a particular purpose I’ll use an SLR, but I love that we have access to such a wide range of options in terms of apps and phone cameras, as each provides a different opportunity to create.

Do you earn enough as a photographer?

At the moment I’m mostly doing photography as a hobby - I earn more through my illustration work which I sell online as well as at local galleries and craft shows. I’m working towards a career in the creative arts - whether that’s as a photographer, illustrator, fine artist or combination of all of these I’m not sure yet!

Who do you think are the audience of your work?

I think a large portion of my audience are fellow photographers and photography enthusiasts, which is nice because it allows us all to support each other’s work and help each other progress. Naturally as a young photographer I think the themes I’m exploring are probably also somewhat more focused towards the experiences of my own generation, but I’d hope that there is an element of universality to my photos as well. I don’t really think too much about my ‘audience’ because you can sometimes get bogged down in trying to cater for a particular demographic, which takes you away from why you’re creating in the first place.

How much you think people will value your work? 

I would be really humbled if people were inspired to overcome obstacles in their own life as a result of my photographs, or to engage with a particular topic. Ultimately I think we make art in an effort to communicate and connect, and if I can achieve that even with one person then that means a lot. Of course, my photos are very personal as well so my primary purpose isn’t for popularity. I shoot for myself first and if others appreciate my work or relate to it then that makes it all the more worthwhile.

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

I think it’s just a case of putting yourself out there. I’m still young and quite early on in my photographic journey so I try not to focus too much on numbers or statistics - there’s plenty of time for that. The key thing I think is to be proactive and take all the opportunities that arise - keep building relationships and get involved in the photographic community that already exists on places like Instagram and Flickr. I’m always amazed at how wonderfully supportive people are and ultimately that is far more important than sheer numbers.

Any music that you listen to lately? Books that you read? Movies that you just watched recently?

I think I have about six different books on the go at the moment! I’ve been reading Murakami’s ‘The Wind Up Bird Chronicle’ recently, which is so wonderfully imaginative and surreal, and has provided me with a lot of inspiration for artwork. Hunting out new music has long been a love of mine - two vastly different artists I’ve been listening to lately are Gallant and The Japanese House. Each has a mesmerising ability to create atmosphere and evoke deep emotions in the listener, which I’ve been inspired to translate into my own photographic work.

Anything that keeps you excited in the future?

I have a long list of photo ideas to work my way through, which is always exciting. Having just moved to an entirely new place with so many new people to meet and a whole degree to get stuck into, I don’t think I’ll be running out of inspiration any time soon! I’m really enthusiastic about what the next few years will bring.

Any last words?

Find something you’re passionate about and that you want to say to the world, and do it. It doesn’t matter what everyone else is saying - your opinion is important and it deserves to be shared. And thank you for the interview. I have enjoyed it!

You can find more of Harry’s work and illustration below:

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Interview #27 - Kevin Brent Sanderson

Kevin Brent Sanderson is an aspiring fashion photographer, residing in Manila. If you haven't seen his Favourite Five, here it is.

How are you? 

I’m actually in a great place in my life right now. I feel like I’m on the right path to get to where I want. Equally as important is I’m getting there with the support of the people who mean the most to me.

What’s happening with you lately?

I just finished moving houses! It was quite a lot of work because prior to moving in the new house, we had to put up wallpaper, paint, etc. But yeah, it is also exciting since I get a new environment to shoot in.

What draws you into photography, specifically shooting portraits?

Everyone wants to leave a legacy behind. And I believe that strong photos can fulfil that want to be remembered. 

Do you remember your first ever shoot?

I do! It was for this class requirement back in 2012. It was a photo of one of my close friends smoking by a window. I didn’t know what I was doing back then but it was still pretty exciting.

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

Everyone is helpful here. Or at least the photographers I know. They even do collaborations with one another in order to make shoots smoother. There’s a lot of passion and talent around here. It makes you stay on your toes and keep sharp.

What are your challenges being a photographer?

I’d love to have a stable team to work with. I usually shoot with my girlfriend, who also happens to be a photographer. But we are still short-handed when it comes to the production of the shoot. To find a consistent stylist and make-up artist with the same standard of excellence is the next challenge for me I believe.

In general I think another challenge is how to get your name out there. I’d still love to believe that excellent work will get you places. But unfortunately it’s a mixture of great photos and the network of people you know.

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

I always make do with what I have. There are so many spots around where you live but since you see it every day, it doesn’t appeal as much to you so you don’t think much of it.

Do you have certain aesthetics or method of shooting?

I want to end up shooting for magazines. So usually when I shoot I always have that in mind. That this layout should potentially look like it could end up in a magazine.

Describe how do your approach your work

I’ve been doing a lot of test shoots lately so I will talk about those. I look for models or respond to ones who inquire about a shoot on Instagram mostly. I shoot either during the daytime, or I do hard flash stuff in the evening. I decide which to do depending on the availability and location of the model.

When I meet the model I do my best to befriend her/him and try to establish comfort around each other. I believe that when you both have a common ground of comfort to work on things go smoother. I also have a playlist on Spotify that I always use when I shoot. It gets really awkward in my opinion if there is complete silence on set.

I send the photos via Google Drive. It’s really convenient for both parties in my opinion.

What’s your post-processing like?

I just use Photoshop actually. And the colour really depends on the mood of the photo. But when it comes to black and white, I do try to keep it consistent by keeping the blacks black and the whites white.

Do you have preferences for choosing subjects or models?

Not really. If someone looks interesting to me then I’d love to shoot them.

Any other works or photographers that you follow?

Mark Nicdao is a huge influence on my portraits. His work is what convinced me that fashion was the road I wanted to take with my photography. Then, there’s Nicco Santos. The way his photos looked so natural made me want to do the same. Lately I’ve been checking out a lot of Mario Testino’s works.

Do you value quality or quantity?

Quality, of course. I’d rather have one great shoot than have 10 subpar ones. Quality of work beats quantity when presenting your portfolio to companies as well.

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

Photoshop is my bread and butter. I even have it on my phone. Now that there are Instagram stories, instead of capturing straight from Instagram, I use my phone camera then edit the photo in the mobile version of Photoshop. The photo looks a lot crisper that way.

My camera of 5 years actually gave up on me a week ago. It was a Canon 7D. I cried after letting the news sink in. I’ve gotten far with that camera. So it honestly felt like losing a friend. But yeah on a positive note, “full frame” here we come.

Do you earn enough as a photographer?

As of now, not really. But eventually I will.

Who do you think are the audience of your work?

I’m very honest with my photos. The way it looks and feels. I guess the people who value that appreciate my work the most. I often get the feedback that my photos are very classy. Which I appreciate since that is what I aim for.

How much you think people will value your work?

I seem to get consistent positive feedback from the people who matter to me. And I believe that’s enough for me to know that I’m on the right track.

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

It is all very humbling. But at the same time, I can’t let it get to my head. Complacency kills consistency.

Any music that you listen to lately? Books that you read? Movies that you just watched recently?

I’ve been listening to a lot of The White Stripes and Jack White. In contrast I’m also listening to Ta-ku and Mura Masa as well. 

The last book I read was one of Neil Gaiman’s. And that was a good 6 months ago.

I’m a huge DC fan. I actually grew up buying and reading the comics. Suicide Squad was okay. It entertained me enough for me not to dislike it.

Anything that keeps you excited in the future?

My girlfriend and I have our work exhibited in a gallery! She paints on my portraits. It’s our first solo exhibit and the love we’ve been getting for it is amazing.

I’m going to have my first shoot in the new house next week! I’m really looking forward to it. There are more things in the works as well. But I’d prefer to keep it to myself.

Any last words?

Thank you for this interview! It actually helped make me think about my process in a more solid way.

You can find more of his work in the following below:

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Interview #26 - Francesco Sambati

Francesco Sambati is a photographer, residing in Lecce, Southern Italy. He first approached photography as an autodidact three years ago. Francesco only started publishing his photos about a year.

What’s happening with you lately?

I started to publish my pictures because a friend of mine who owns a gallery, convinced me to make a small photographic exhibition with my pictures and from that moment I started to take seriously what began as a hobby

What draws you into photography, specifically shooting portraits?

In my portraits, I try to just show what I see at the time. Sometimes I have the impression that photographers strive to portray something hidden in a face when in fact the beauty and already there, before their eyes. We are surrounded by the beauty of every person close to us.

Do you remember your first ever shoot?

Of course! Although a little banal, my first picture was of a girl on the beach, watching the sea. I liked it so much that I continued with photography.

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

I must admit that in south Italy there is a decent attention to photography and a lot of activity and movement. There are many good photographers although I must admit that there is often a lot of competition and so I try to stay out of the environment: I photograph to relax, not to compete

What are your challenges being a photographer?

I do not have challenges to overcome. I just want to take pictures as a matter of personal well-being. Perhaps, the only challenge is to find out how I can continue with photography.

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

I'm very influenced by the land where I live - a land surrounded by the sea, which during the winter months, it gives me a strong sense of melancholy. Here, where I live, beauty and melancholy would not exist without the other, and I would not exist without them    

Do you have certain aesthetics or method of shooting?

I have no particular methods, the only important thing is the spontaneity of the subject that I have to shoot. I do not like too much the pictures made from or posing. So, spontaneity and quiet are the only things I need to photograph

Is your approach to taking images minimalistic? 

Absolutely, I never liked the photographs too full of details or "heavy", so I try to keep a minimalist style or at least that shows only the essentials. I think that too many unnecessary details distract too much from the real subject of the picture.

How do you compose your photos using available shadows? They look amazing!

I know I might sound trite, but all I do is take advantage of shadows that I find ready. I'm very lucky because where I live there is always an excellent natural light so it is easy to find areas with interesting shadows and slowly I learned to use them in the way that I need.

Some of your photos are taken using 35mm film or Polaroids. Why analog?

For two reasons - the first is that analog photography is absolutely more exciting compared to digital photography, it's like a challenge. The second (and for me the most important) is that I believe that the essence of photography is mainly in the instant. With a Polaroid, it really captures the moment without being able to add or remove something at the time that I wanted to stop, however with digital photography the temptation to correct errors is strong.

Why do you think shooting analog is still relevant now?

The analog photography is now more important than ever, in this world of continuous streams of images that become the past after a few minutes instead of many years. Now, the physical photo, printed by analog, holds together the past, present and future.

Describe how do your approach your work

First, I try to take new pictures as soon as I want, then start asking what friends are available. Next, I ask if they'd like to do some particular photo and try to find some common ideas to be developed

During the shoot, most of the time I like to make conversation, as if we were not there to take pictures, and when I see a gesture, a movement, an expression that I like, then immediately shoot a photo. I do not like to pose the people and it is something that I can not do well: first of all, spontaneity!

When I finished, I begin to select the photos (and even ask an opinion to the models) and started the post-production. When I finish, do not use right away my pictures, sometimes I keep them for future use, it depends on the amount of photos that I have kept in archives 

What’s your post-processing like?

Not much use in post-production, I do not like to change too many photos. The only programs I use are VSCOcam or Lightroom for any small changes. The only thing I like to change (without exaggeration) are the colours, sometimes the fun is in finding the right shade of colour that fits the picture.

Do you have preferences for choosing subjects or models?

I have no particular preference, although I prefer to photograph my friends, when this is possible. In this way it is already part with a good dose of confidence and much of the work is already done so.

Any other works or photographers that you follow?

There are two photographers that I follow with pleasure. The first is Aëla Labbé: was one of the first photographers I've discovered, and that made me involuntarily to continue with photography. The second is Greta Langianni: I think that despite being very young has a style and an exceptional technique and I am sure she will become someone and I'm anxious to see what will be able to do in the future.

Do you value quality or quantity?

I would say the quality, although I think everyone would like quantity and quality together

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

The cellphone is fundamental for me, because it was thanks to it that I started taking pictures and still can not stop using it. I also use it for post-production, often I transfer photos taken with my FujiX100T on the phone to change with my favourite app, VSCOcam

Do you earn enough as a photographer?

Well, I do not make pictures to win then, having no expectations, and when I happen to sell the pictures it seems anyway to have gained much. Soon after I spend everything in photographic equipment

Who do you think are the audience of your work?

I'm still trying to figure out. My photos are published on a variety of sites, from the commercial sector to the more "artistic" field, then I cover different areas but still do not know where I have to aim to enhance my pictures to the maximum

How much you think people will value your work?

I do not know, but when those who appreciate my photos, write me to congratulate me, I feel I have done a good job and I want to continue taking pictures.

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

Word of mouth helped me a lot at first, but then, of course, I switched to using social media, and I realized what can be powerful if used in the right way, in a targeted way, without exaggeration

Any music that you listen to lately? Books that you read? Movies that you just watched recently?

Currently often I look cine-comics - these are the films that we all expected from children and now that technology allows to achieve them, are to be seen all! As for the music, I'm listening to a lot of my favourite band, The Flaming Lips. Unfortunately, it has left little free time for reading, but after the summer I will try to make up the time to read.

Anything that keeps you excited in the future?

In the future, I'm waiting for two publications of two analogical photography magazines and partiolare. I'm waiting for the release in spring 2017 of a novel in America that has a photo taken by me on the cover

Any last words?

I hope that my photos will be able to bring any kind of emotion to those who observed: I think this is the purpose of the photographer

You can find more of Francesco's work below:

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Interview #25 - Rhiannon K.

Rhiannon K. is a fine art conceptual photographer from Sabah, Malaysia. Her work consists of self-portraiture, being highly inspired from her feelings, sight and dreams. She also incorporates poetry into her photography.

She recently has been featured into Favourite Five

Just briefly tell me about yourself?

Hey there! My name's Rhiannon and I am born and raised in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. I have been taking photos for about 8 years now and through all the experiments I’ve done, I found my calling in conceptual photography. I am currently residing in Subang as I pursue my bachelor’s degree in Advertising. An interesting fact? I have this weird habit of forgetting to blink as I pay close attention to things - which just happened as I thought of this haha.

What’s happening recently in your life?

The past few months have been a whirlwind. I just ended my studies in diploma and managed to finish it off with a high distinction, which feels amazing. I am currently in my hometown for my semester break so I’m devoting most of my time here in creating new photography pieces for my current project called “Identity”. I have also been rekindling my almost rusty drawing skills as a way to cope with having a creative block.

Do you remember the moment you picked up a camera for the first time? 

I do! Haha, I would have never thought my burning passion for photography started with the first photo ever taken - a shot of a blue teddy bear keychain. I was 13 at the time. Feeling upset over something, I decided to occupy myself by playing around with my 2MP camera that was attached to my phone. I started taking photos as a way of diversion. 8 years later, I tell stories and express myself through photography.

Do you remember your first ever shoot?

I remember going to a bunch of random locations with my good friend and we would takes photos of just about anything. But I would like to think my first ever proper shoot was in 2012, where I took the liberty to plan and create props. It was a flower themed series which featured two of my high school friends. The little project gave me an opportunity to experience what it was like to collaborate with others.

What draws you into photography, specifically shooting portraits?

I grew up trying out different creative hobbies like writing, painting, knitting, playing the piano and probably a bunch more that I can’t recall. But I always had a feeling of boredom and dissatisfaction hence, I kept jumping from one thing to another. When I discovered photography, it was like a breath of fresh air - I finally found something I genuinely love doing. I never leave my camera ever since. 

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

It’s definitely growing and becoming more competitive with the comings of mobile photographers. I haven’t heard much of conceptual photographers in the local scene though so hopefully that will change.

What are your challenges being a photographer?

Definitely, creative blocks! That is one of the most frustrating state to ever be in, haha. It visits me every so often when I’m full of motivation; but I have slowly come to appreciate it in a sense where, it’s a reminder to take a step back and re-evaluate myself. Aside from that, executing my ideas is another challenge I face - in terms of creating the right props, scouting for the perfect location as well as, compositing

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

My family and friends are always open to listening to my philosophical self, questioning the essence of life and what it has to offer. Having deep conversations with them provides me with a wider perspective on certain topics and issues. It indirectly helps me generate more ideas. From there, I begin to conceptualize my ideas.

Do you have certain aesthetics or method of shooting?

Most of my work has an ethereal and surreal feeling to it. I am always playing around with dark tones and smoke, to create a different world. But on some days, I tend to switch things up a bit with simple portraits and using soft coloured tones instead. I am constantly experimenting as I grow with my photography.

Why are you interested in doing self-portraits?

To me, self-portraits is personal - it welcomes you with open arms and tells you it’s okay to express what you feel. For the first 5 years of experimenting with food, landscape, nature, and event photography, I couldn't fully express myself. Until this one evening, I couldn't shake off this feeling of discomfort and found myself unconsciously grabbing my DSLR and tripod out to the garden with me. There and then, I started to capture what my soul truly felt at that given moment. I somehow managed to translate my feelings into a photograph. I reached an epiphany whereby I knew, self-portraits was something like no other. It builds me, it teaches me, and most of all - it is a home I can go to whenever things go south.

How do you prepare when you create your image?

Being a tactile creator, I start off with sketching out my ideas and writing poetries wherever and whenever I feel inspired. On days where I feel a creative block coming ahead of me, I’ll start looking through other photographer’s work on Flickr or watch crazy creative videos on YouTube to spark something. I do everything myself, from creating props and coordinating the outfit. Shooting is pretty straight forward - I've got my tripod and remote control.

I spend a few hours on editing a single image. It takes awhile because I love getting into details and making sure everything is up to my liking. After I’m done editing the first round, I’ll look at it again the next day - it helps me view the overall photo with a clearer mind. If I notice faults here and there, I’ll repeat the process again until it perfectly depicts my visualization.

Are you telling a story behind your photo?

Yes, I am. I process my heart, emotions and experiences into my art. I enjoy translating my feelings into photography as well as my writings. There is always a hidden life lesson behind every single photo of mine. I’d like to believe my purpose in life is to share my perspective towards the world and ultimately, inspire others to fully utilize the beauty of expressing one’s self through art.

Any other works or photographers that you follow?

Brooke Shaden was the first to inspire me to venture into conceptual photography - I even got her book! It’s my favourite. She’s so full of drive, optimism and passion, and that’s what I admire most about her and her work. I also lurk around Bella Kotak, Joel Robison, Alex Currie, David Talley, and Alex Stoddard’s Flickr for inspiration.

Do you value quality or quantity?

Quality! I believe no matter how many photos you take, it won’t be as good as that one photo captured the perfect emotion and composition. It gives audience an opportunity to think outside the box and to really explore the littlest details within that one photo.

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

Aside from the higher quality photos I’ll get through using my camera gears, it provides me with more flexibility like changing up the aperture or shutter speed. I don’t really do much photography on my phone, but it is definitely great when I’m on the go and I see something picturesque. Ultimately, it is important to keep in mind that gears are there to assist as opposed to dictating one’s talent and capabilities.

Do you earn enough as a photographer?

I currently do conceptual photography as a hobby but I would definitely love to create for someone.

How do you publish and share your work with others?

I mainly share my work through popular communities like Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, 500px, and YouPic.

How much do you think people will value your work?

I think people who find value in my work are those who appreciate my thoughts and perspective towards life. They enjoy delving deep into their mind, heart, and soul. I have had quite a number of people telling me that they tend to link their feelings to my work; they interpret my message/story on the basis of their own experiences. I am glad that my work has the ability to touch others and am always thankful for being surrounded and supported with so much love.

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

I don’t get much aTenRon but I do get featured on creative platforms once in awhile, so it is definitely a wonderful feeling to know more and more people are aware of my work; in return, it gives me all the more reason to continue creating with a bigger drive and motivation.

Any music that you listen to lately? Books that you read? Movies that you just watched recently?

Oh, yes! I switch things up every month, and this time I’ve been listening to a lot of James Morrison. It stirs a lot of soulful feelings especially with his track called “I won’t let you go”. As for books, I’m currently reading The Creative Fight by Chris Orwig. It is by far the most interactive book I’ve ever read, haha! It’s filled with creative exercises so I’m always writing as I dive into the chapters. Other than that, I have been watching tons of movies but the ones that caught my utmost attention has to be Big Eyes and Joy. I’m into those sort of films that gets me wanting to do even more with my life.

Anything that keeps you excited in the future?

I am really eager to work on my Identity project. It is all about self-exploration so I'm taking my time as I work on it. I have also met quite a number of creatives along the way so I am definitely looking forward to collaborating with them in the future. In general, I am really excited to be creating again and exploring more of my imagination.

Any last words?

Once you find something that you can connect with, don’t ever let that go. Along the way, you’ll find yourself stuck between giving it up or holding on to it, but fight for it anyway because nothing of worth comes easy. You are capable of so much more, so use your talents to empower yourself as well others.

You can more of Rhiannon's work below:

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Interview #24 - David Collier

David Collier is a photographer from Sydney, Australia. He’s been shooting in film since picking up an Olympus OM1 camera for the first time. I’ve noticed he has incorporated the 70’s culture into his images and they complement each other very well. He treats photography as a means to have a good time and it translates well into his images.

Check out his Favourite Five, if you haven’t

Tell us about yourself? 

Hi! I am based in Sydney, Australia and apart from photography I also work as a producer in Adland. I have been lucky enough to travel a lot over the past few years and always love exploring new countries and cultures. Being Australian, of course, I love a few beers as well.

What’s happening with you lately? 

I have been working full time in Adland for a few years now but am taking a few months break to focus more on photography and film making and also doing some travel.

What draws you into photography, specifically shooting portraits? 

I just like the challenges it brings and as I shoot a lot with 35mm films and Super 8, I love the anticipation of what I get back. I was doing lots of portraits a while back and just like to keep changing what I do as time goes on. 

Do you remember your first ever shoot? 

Ah, not really I think it was when I was about 15 and my dad gave me a camera. I did not really know how to use it and thought the photos were fantastic but they were really crappy.

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

Well, these days everyone calls themselves a photographer. It’s really buzzing though and especially with Instagram, clients really need a lot of images for their feeds so nowadays it can be more quantity than quality.

What are your challenges being a photographer? 

I just think the challenges are the ones I put on myself which I enjoy especially planning well for each shoot but having a calm attitude and not taking it all too seriously.

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

We are very fortunate here in Australia and blessed with great light all year round and fantastic urban and nature environments and as always ‘consider the light’. We are also fortunate to have great food and produce, not much pollution and a country free from a lot of the world’s problems in general (if we turn the television off, it is even better)

Do you have certain aesthetics or method of shooting? 

I try to capture moments that are candid at times and my work is always story-based. It needs to look real and believable.

Most of your work was shot in 35mm. Why film?  

I love the look of the film, especially the beautiful saturation and tones. You cannot get that with the digital medium. I do shoot with digitals in my projects but film is the winner. If I look at the skin tones and nice blue skies, digital is way too fine and cannot capture the tone as well compared to film. I like the anticipation of what might be on the rolls as they go to the lab and waiting for the results.

To what extent shooting in film is still relevant to this day? 

Same as the reasons I’ve mentioned, with particularly the popularity of Lomography as well as the resurgence of Polaroids and Impossible Project has helped. Some people think it’s hip to shoot films but they are missing the point of it all. In any case, this helps films keep on being manufactured and that’s a good thing.

What is your go-to film camera and film? 

I have a lot of cameras and have collected few over the years (as well as been given lots especially from local older folks who know me - they might go into a nursing home or don’t really want them any more). But to answer your question, I really love my Nikon F100, it’s such a great camera - a real workhorse and never misses a beat. I pretty much only use this with my Nikon 35mm F2 lens exclusively. I also use a Olympus mju II compact camera. It’s a great travel, point and shoot camera - weather proof and can take a beating.

I’ve noticed most of your images are majorly influenced from the 70’s or 80’s culture? 

I kinda just fell into it from a few shoots I did a couple of years ago. I think by trying to specialise is a good thing, rather than be the guy who can shoot everything but not well. I also like the planning and styling aspects of it all to keep it reasonably perfect. The market is huge nowadays for this style as well so that’s also a good thing for me.

Describe how do your approach your work

I spent a lot of time, planning and research including ra lot of recce, pre-production documents, mood boards, casting, styling (and working with stylists), props and grooming. So during the day of the shoot, I am super organised and my team knows what they need to do and we are not wasting time to get the job done. I also think casting is probably the most important thing to get right and I do spend a lot of time finding the right talent for the job. It’s no use having a model who does not suit the brief.

I stick to the plan we have set but always open to change things on the day. If I don’t like a set scene or shoot idea, I just stop and ‘can’ it. I also see things on the day and think, “Wow, this could look good so let’s shoot it”. I always have the best team I can find - people I have worked with before and also welcome newcomers to my team. People who are genuinely interested and want to help produce the best work possible. Also having a sense of humour helps, we always have fun and lots of laughs.

As I work a lot with 35mm films, I need a couple of days to get them processed. Digital images are downloaded and backed up the next day. I usually have a quick look at the images but I tend to step back for a couple of days at least then I review with fresh eyes. It works a lot better for me.

What’s your post-processing like? 

I am a true believer in not doing too much or any retouching. I only spend between 1 to 10 minutes on any image and about 90% of my 35mm film is not edited at all. Digital-wise, I only adjust the contrast and brightness and few other tweaks. I hate highly retouched work but then again each to their own.

Do you have preferences for choosing subjects or models? 

As I mentioned above, spending the time to get the best talent for each project is the number one thing for me. It’s no use getting a model who is not the right fit or has the right attitude. Just think of all the time we’ve spent organising shoots to have it go bad on the day. I find talent from agencies, talent directories and recently, on Instagram but they are all well screened. Instagram in general is a good thing to see any talent as it gives you an idea of their personalities as well as their photos.

Any other works or photographers that you follow? 

I do keep an eye on a few photographers. To be fair I can’t name them all.

Do you value quality or quantity? 

Quality for sure but these days, clients expect a lot of images from shoots so we need to be careful of what we send in the end to ensure what’s out there is good. 

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

I don’t use any apps, except a pocket light meter. I have plenty of digital and analog cameras. I am a bit of a hoarder of gears so I have enough probably too much.

Do you earn enough as a photographer? 

Not at the moment but I am working on it!

Who do you think are the audience of your work? 

The youth culture market - the 18-35s who love fashion and are media savvy. I do have a good following in Brazil for some reason, not sure why but that is nice!

How much you think people will value your work? 

My motto is if I like it then that is great. If other people like it, then that is a bonus.

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

I try to network as best as I can through Instagram, Facebook, Vimeo and also aim my every shoot to be published in either online or print magazines and I’ve had a good run so far this year.

Any music that you listen to lately? Books that you read? Movies that you just watched recently? 

I’m looking for tracks that suit my motion work. It’s kinda complicated but I’ve always been a fan of house. I’m reading Shantaram again - it’s a long but good book and it reminds me of my travel to India. I watch a lot of movies for the styling aspects, especially the 70’s movies. Last week, I watched Pulp Fiction and Marie Antoinette. My all-time movies are Blue Velvet and the Virgin Suicides.

Anything that keeps you excited in the future? 

I am going to LA and California in 2 weeks time to have some fun, travel around and do a few shoots. It will be a big road trip with 2 models with a car full of clothes and just drive around, find locations and shoot on the run. I might head down to Palm Springs and the desert as well. So if any models in LA or Palm Springs, who are interested, just drop me a line! 

Any last words? 

Consider the light. Don’t take photography too seriously. Have fun and enjoy it and thanks for featuring some of my work. 

You can find more of David’s work below: 

Portfolio

Facebook

Instagram

Vimeo

 

Interview #23 - Joed Barallas

Joed Barallas is a portrait photographer from the Philippines. He also works as a engineer in Manila.

I've recently posted his Favourite Five and you can find more of his work on Instagram, Facebook and Flickr

Tell us about yourself? 

Hi! I’m Joed Barallas. I started shooting with almost anything in 2012 but I got to do it seriously for the last two years.

What’s happening with you lately?

Lately, I’ve been busy juggling my personal shoots with my professional work. I’m a licensed mechanical engineer so I work on weekdays and I shoot and pour my creativity on weekends.

What draws you into photography, specifically shooting portraits?

With shooting portraits, I get to know other people and I get to know their stories most of the time. I tell them my stories too and eventually I became friends with my muses (or models)

Do you remember your first ever shoot?

My first ever solo shoot was with a high school friend. She was not a professional model but she needed some display pictures on her social media accounts so we got to stroll at the village near her home. She had some tattoos so I got to shoot them as well, made some photos and had coffee later.

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

I live here in the Philippines, the photography scene here is alive. Filipinos are creative and expressive with their work and every photographer/artist tries their best to reach their art to others, usually trough social media. On the downside, some bash others for their personal work. I think everyone is entitled to be creative and express his or her sentiments through photos -  photography is not a competition but a way of expression.

What are your challenges being a photographer?

The challenges that I’ve encountered as far as shooting is concerned is that sometimes I get short noticed about muses not being able to go to the set within the day but to be professional and being passionate for what I do I need to understand some emergencies. I also prefer shooting with ambient light so sudden change of weather could affect the mood of the shots, I usually have a Plan B, I plan my shoots beforehand because I only get to shoot on weekends because of work so I need to maximise them.

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

I am surrounded by people who are also passionate about photography, so I can say that they influence my work. Sometimes we talk about stuff that contributes to what I will do for a shoot on the weekend. I took engineering back on college so if you get to see my work, I am keen to compositions or symmetry. But I’m planning to have a continuing project wherein I will be more lighthearted with compositions soon. I love watching movies so I incorporate some cinematic gradings on my shoot to further enhance the mood of the photo.

Do you have certain aesthetics or method of shooting?

I own a Ricoh GR. I love the filmy aesthetic of my camera so I think that is the key for my portraits, I always “work the scene” I shoot from different angles even I think I got the shot.

Describe how do your approach your work?

I have some concepts in my mind usually a phrase from a song I’ve recently heard or a movie scene that I love that sparked my imagination. Then I will contact some of models through my social media accounts that hold my past shoots in case they wonder if I am a legit photographer. If they agreed then we discuss about the look and feel of the shoot. It is important for me to know about their limits in a shoot so I always ask it beforehand and to respect their rules. I am very particular with details so I need to talk to them about the outfits that they will bring on the set or sometimes I tend to buy outfits for them so that I get the envisioned look that I need.

During the shoot, I talk to my muse about why I am doing this set to remove their pre-shoot jitters. My shooting style during the shoot is that I move according to where the light is, then I work the scene by taking shots in different angles. I always tell my muse that they can also suggest some poses. I am very particular with backgrounds and foregrounds beforehand so the framing is good before taking a shot. I love improvising with any props available within the environment.
 
Usually, a 3 hour set will get me 500 photos at most so selecting an image will be tough for me, but I get to post process the best pictures first. I will send 3 best photos to my muse. The models are usually far from where I live so it is very convenient to use some online storage sites for them to get the edited photos. 

What’s your post-processing like?

Lately, I’ve been into coloured photos. I love the variations you can do with the treatment of colours in a shot. I love the filmy look of Ricoh GR so I enhanced them using a Lightroom and Photoshop in my laptop. I’ve tried using my phone to edit my JPEG shot once but I am not satisfied.

Do you have preferences for choosing subjects or models?

It depends on the theme that I’m doing

Any other works or photographers that you follow?

I have a ton of photographers that I’ve been following lately. I usually admire the quirkiness of Asian photographers and the sensuality of North American photographers.

Do you value quality or quantity?

I value the quality of a shot. I used to be trigger happy before but it starts to lessen after some time. I usually take 500 photos straight out of the camera but they will be filtered down to 5 photos to create a photo set.

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

I do not edit using mobile apps but I use them to post and share my work which is very convenient for me instead of using a PC or a laptop. I shoot using what is available with me as long as it produces the images that I want.

Do you earn enough as a photographer?

I earned once in a charity event when I exhibited my photos and sold some of it but the proceeds went to the people who needed it most. I’m glad I got to help others from what I love to do.

Who do you think are the audience of your work?

I have my personal group of friends, online friends, people in the same photography circle that told me that they love my work. I’m humbled that I get a positive feedback from them.

How much you think people will value your work?

I can’t quantify it but the love and the support I got from the people that believe in my passion is very much appreciated.

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

I do not believe in word of mouth. I have a fair amount of social media accounts that showcase my work and I am just happy to know that people appreciate my stuff.

Any music that you listen to lately? Books that you read? Movies that you just watched recently?

I haven’t watched a movie recently but I can recommend to watching Oldboy, Memento and The Truman Show. These are the movies that make you think. I’m not into reading so I can’t recommend any. I listen to bands like Deftones, Alexisonfire, City and Colour, Circa Survive, Saosin and Thursday.

Anything that keeps you excited in the future?

Photo shoots have been scheduled if you want to see my calendar on my phone! Hopefully a photo book or a photo zine before the year ends.

Any last words?

Go out and shoot, then let your work speak for you.

Interview #22 - Ian Kristoffer

Ian Kristoffer is a portrait photographer from the Philippines. I found his work through #weshootsouls on Instagram and has constantly checked on his images since then.

You can find more of his work on Behance, Facebook, Instagram and Flickr

Tell us about yourself? 

Hi! I am Ian Kristoffer, 23 year old Philippines-based self-taught photographer. I’ve been shooting for roughly around 2 years now. I love travelling, listening to all kinds of music, different genres, artists, as long as it fits my mood. I also like watching films, documentaries, anything videos and short clips that makes me curious. Most of all, I love food. I might die from diabetes for being a sweet tooth!

What’s happening with you lately?

Currently, aside from having a boring day job in the electronics field, I am currently having a hard time finding what will be my total focus in photography. For instance, I started shooting landscapes, then shifted to events, then conceptual, then fashion portraits. Up to this point, let’s just say that I’m still time finding myself, but that finding-myself-period makes me happy and maybe that’s my very reason why I still keep on shooting.

What draws you into photography, specifically shooting portraits?

I started using a camera ever since my mother bought a compact Kodak film camera. I like how you can preserve moments and tell stories just by a simple click and print. When I bought my very first DSLR (a Nikon D5100), I was amazed and hooked in shooting landscapes. I travel a lot with my friends. Camping, hiking and going to beaches with only few people are aware of is our thing and my camera became my tool preserving those precious moments, capturing the beauties of places that we have been to.

But we started losing time going out as time went by. We all became busy. I don’t know what to do my camera. As I was browsing Facebook, I met this guy, Joed Barallas. He shoots portraits, not just simple portraits but photos that make you feel something, like it was telling you his story without having a single conversation. Amazed by his work, I added him. He messaged me and commended my works. He also invited me to join him for a shoot. I was so excited to meet another photographer. I became more amazed when I saw that he was also using the same camera as mine. When me met, he told me about his inspirations, why he shoots and showed me some of his techniques on shooting. That day, my photography style changed a lot. I tried different kind of things, experiment with colours, set-up, light conditions, and the most important thing of all, I learned from him that shooting portraits is not simply shooting people’s faces, but also telling their stories and most of the time stories that reflects your own as well.

Do you remember your first ever shoot?

Before I really started portraits, a friend of mine invited me to this car show event. I shot cars and models. Being self-taught, just through YouTube and Google, basically that’s where I practiced my how-to’s but I never really learned the why’s.

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

From my personal experience, photography here in the Philippines is something that I’m not proud of. Let’s just say that it is true that there are so many great artists in the field, many with outstanding outputs and artworks that will make you say “wow”, but only few with the right attitude. The experienced bashing the amateurs, co-photographer treating each other as competitors, always makes gossips behind each other’s back. It’s sad. Photography is something that should makes us feel closer to each other, that make us understand feelings what cannot be expressed in words. 

What are your challenges being a photographer?

There are so many to mention, but the most common ones are finding the right subject for the concept and time. Having a day job is hard for me because I can only do shoots on my day offs. Offs that are usually set around weekdays and we all know that weekdays is working days for the most of us. Models usually work or study on weekdays. I’m having a hard time arranging sets because of this, so most of the time I leave work, my attendance and productivity are affected. But whenever I find the right subject and produce a solid output, all I have to say to myself is that all my absences and efforts are all worth it!

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

As I was saying, many here criticises your work, especially when you’re new to the field, there are so many “pros” that will try to pull you down, pretend to be your friend then stab your back right after.  It’s something that I don’t really like but also made me aware of who’s real or not. It reveals who the true inspiring people around, makes you continue to do your thing, that criticisms should not make you stop, instead it just proves how you love your work. Photography is not about others thoughts, but your own personal perspective and feelings. It’s not how the world see’s you but it’s how you see the world.

I am blown away with your work. Tell us how you become interested in doing fashion?

Fashion is something that I’m not really good at. I just wear some stupid shirt and jeans that don’t even match then go out. Like “whatever”. But I love it when I see people look really presentable even they’re wearing their “whatever” looks. It’s like they’re just doing their thing inside their own habitat, being comfy without minding others business. Just being you. Without really having proper knowledge about fashion, I just describe it as the first thing that you’ll notice to someone and gives you some hint of their personal life. It makes you ask questions like what the story behind those tattoos? Why the denim jacket when it’s really hot? Why wear revealing tops on public places? Why wearing those shades when it’s already night time?  As if she’s giving you a glimpse of some interesting story, makes you curious and makes you want to know more. 

Do you have certain aesthetics or method of shooting?

I don’t really follow specific rules and methods in shooting. I too, myself hate rules. I just tell them to their thing, don’t always look through the camera, talk to them casually then make snaps whenever they’re not really posing. Best photographs are not instructed, they’re caught naturally.

Describe how do your approach your work

a.    Preparing before shoot - - > (research, time, planning etc.)

Technically for the every shoot I made, most of them are prepared on the spot. Usually I contact my subject, ask them if they agree with the concept I prepared, then finalising the set like what are the wardrobes needed, any more locations that we need to go then lastly set the date and time of the shoot. Then for the most cases, there will be changes day or even night before the shoot, like we can’t find the suitable wardrobe, the location is not available that day, or even worse the muse herself has an emergency or something. So even when we planned the shoot like a week ahead, I still update them a day before if they’re available. Even wardrobes and locations change as long as the subject is available, details can be changed on the spot.

b.    During the shoot - - - > (your process, flow of working)

During shoot, I usually just bring them to nicely lit areas. Then shoot. I don’t usually ask for poses. I just talk to them casually, take snaps, and then talk again. Being lazy and comfy at the same time. I just make them pause for a sec whenever I saw that special moment and I need to change angles. Shooting for me should be more natural as possible. Talking makes the set more casual, it builds a better connection for you and the model.  It makes them more comfortable and not stiff in photos. Most of all, it helps you to get that natural look you want to see in them, like you’re not just looking to the photos instead you’re looking to their stories.

c.    After shoot - - -> (post-processing, sending photos to clients etc.)

After shoot, I usually secure my card first. It’s basically my whole life at that moment. I edit using Lightroom. I just use Photoshop for major retouches and editing. For people like me that doesn’t like too much edit and retouching, Lightroom suits me well. I just like the photos having warm colours and contrast, then black and white when there’s a need for a deeper feel. For my personal sets, it usually takes a minimum of 2 weeks or a max of 1 or more months for me to complete the whole set. I usually do edit depending on my mood. So my editing phase also differs depending on the client and my mood. I usually upload the finished product on Google Drive then send the download link to the muse and for clients I burn it to discs and meet them personally. 

Do you have preferences for choosing subjects or models?

In choosing subjects, I don’t go for the beauty, I go for their appeal. Models with amazing eyes really intrigue me a lot. Also those with deep collar bones and spine, ugh!

Why putting your photos in sets?

Photos in sets is kind of a story-telling for me. I like sets because it can narrate a story, it can build up and have a finale. It's like telling the whole side of the truth instead of just telling someone a hint of it that could possibly mislead him to a different story.

Do you prefer images in colour or monochrome?

I'd say I like black and white better but I do like photos both in colour and in black and white. It mostly depends on your mood while you're looking at or editing the photo. For me when doing photos in colour, you are set for a specific mood like when you're in a good mood or hyped colours could be vibrant, saturated, warm while in the opposite being depressed could produce a flat, less contrast, blues and darker shades.

Black and white is different. For me, it's not some specific mood or tension you want to show but its mostly the whole you, not specifically happy nor sad, just being you. It doesn't focus on a specific mood rather it defines your whole form, your blacks and whites and how they beautifully bend in your shadows and highlights. Its easier to define a photo that way, because most of the time, for me, we don't specifically shoot when we're happy or sad right? We just shoot because it's just who we are.

Any other works or photographers that you follow?

My inspiration, and became my close friend, Joed Barallas.    I also recommend these artists: Ian Jasper Olbes, Danix, Adriantheevangelist, Hannah Cepe & Jerferson Permejo.

Do you value quality or quantity?

Quality. Admit it, for every artist we know there’s only at least a single that makes him famous and remarkable. That sole photo that tells the world that he is unforgettable, a great artist and someone that leaves a mark inside their head and inspires anyone seeing it.

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

I’m not that tech kind of person that always talks about the gears and the new apps. As long as you have something to capture a photo, you have the greatest camera in the world.

Do you earn enough as a photographer?

No. I hope someday. But for now, I just love creating photographs, and for me that’s more than enough.

Who do you think are the audience of your work?

I’m not really quite sure. As far as I know, most of my photos are not good for minor viewing. Haha, I don’t really have specific target audience, I just share it with my friends through social media.

How much you think people will value your work?

I haven’t thought about it yet. But for me, I think we all need to appreciate our own works first. When you love what you’re doing, it blooms, and people know and appreciate works with the touch of blood, sweat and love.

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

I use social media. Instagram and other photo hosting sites. I don’t really much believe in the word of mouth. Stories coming from different people may change from time to time. It also changes depending on how the listener understands it. But with photos, a visual representation of your story doesn’t. People may have a different understanding from what they’re seeing but at least you know for sure that it’s you, and only you telling that true story.

Any music that you listen to lately? Books that you read? Movies that you just watched recently?

My music selection always changes every time, but the most influential ones are those coming from some underground indie artists and some coming from the Casual Majestic playlist. I don’t really read nowadays. I don’t have any reading materials on me, and when I’m browsing, I usually do editing or watching videos instead. For movies, I recently watched Comet, Lars and the Real Girl, One Week and lastly, Frances Ha. If you’re into indie films you should try out Frances Ha, it’s basically about someone who’s caught in between choosing her career or passion.

Anything that keeps you excited in the future?

I don’t have any major upcoming events or sets. In fact, I’m not really expecting something in the near future, I’m not thinking about the future at all. I just want to enjoy this very moment. Cherish this very second that we have right now. I guess it’s the most efficient way for us to enjoy and become more excited about the future. Living the life without expectations and without worries.

Any last words?

Travel. It’s the most inspiring thing you could do in your life. Sit and do nothing while watching the sunset. It’s a total waste of time actually, but something inside you will tell you that’s the most relaxing thing you did in your life and it’d make you happy! Cheers!

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.

Interview #20 - Razlan Yusof

Razlan Yusof is born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He describes his work as "constant documentation of life", mainly focusing on portraits and he frequently shoots in film.

You can find his work on his website, Facebook and Instagram

Tell me about yourself

Hi there, my name is Razlan Yusof, currently living in the capital city of Malaysia - Kuala Lumpur. I am 24 years old and I’ve been taking pictures since I was 18 years old.  I love sharing my photography knowledge to anyone who wants to learn so don’t be afraid to ask me how I shoot a particular picture. Ask away, I won’t bite.

What’s been happening to life in general?

I just started work in this company called Enso Mediaworks. We’re a creative agency that focuses on visual productions. Other then that, I’ve been doing the same thing I did for the past 8 years by taking more photographs. Oh and I’m getting married next year, so that’s in the planning stage now. 

What made you start photography?

If I paid myself 1 buck for every time I’ve explained this, I would be a billionaire by now, haha! I actually never liked photography when I was younger, to be honest. Ever since I was young, I’ve always enjoyed drawing. In college, I had a digital photography class and I scored a D for that class. But my dad kept encouraging me to pursue it. So I picked up his Canon EOS 20D and starting carrying it with me everywhere I go. I was that kid who always had his camera on his shoulder.

Most of your work was shot in film. Why film?

Learning not to see your image straight away is always a challenge. We are surrounded with digital cameras and phone cameras, which allow you to see the finish product on the LCD screen. Not knowing what you’ve taken takes a lot of practice. Another thing is that, there are a lot of cameras you get to play with! I have 3 different medium format cameras that shoot the same film but built differently. Its fun experimenting with film and cameras, you know?

To what extent shooting in film is still relevant to this day?

To be honest, digital cameras do produce amazing pictures. But there are a number of us who are still intrigued in the film photography as the mechanism of the film cameras do play a huge role in producing our pictures, and at the same time different films do produce different looks. Some films from Fuji produce blue toned pictures and it varies on how you use it. Some black and white films will vary in terms of grains, contrast and etc. At the end of the day, film photography allows you to play around with various factors that actually do keep the film photography very interesting. Apart from that, film will never die as we have brands like Ilford, which still produces films, chemicals for the developing process and papers for printing in the dark room. This shows there is still a demand for film photography at this day and age.

What is your go-to film camera and film?

For film cameras, I have to say my Leica M6 and my Rolleiflex T. Well, that’s because these two are my lightest cameras I currently have in my weapon cache. If I could, I would bring everything with me everywhere I go! When it comes to film, for colour it has to be the Kodak Portra 400 and for black and white, the Fomapan 400.

What is your end product when given an assignment? What are you trying to achieve?

For me, the end product has to be what I had envisioned it to be. If I had a picture in my head that this particular shot would look good, I need to make that happen. I’m not a fan of experimenting during an assignment. I like knowing what the shot is going to look like even before the shoot begins.

What was your favourite assignment so far?

It has to be my photoshoot with Fuad Alhabshi from Kyoto Protocol for Pestle & Mortar Clothing. When I was given this assignment, I didn’t want to shoot Fuad like how everyone shoots a rockstar. I wanted it to be different. After one week of brainstorming with the Pestle & Mortar Team, I got this idea where I wanted to show both the rockstar side and the side where no one knows about.  I got this idea from Superman actually. Clark Kent during the day is a journalist who works in Daily Planet and at night he is Superman. So the idea for the shoot is like a split personality. During the day, Fuad is a financial analyst; by night he is the front man of Kyoto Protocol.

I also notice in your work that you’ve travelled a lot. How travelling affects you as a photographer?

To be honest, I started traveling and taking photographs in 2014, which was Nepal & Sarawak. Before that, I frequently had road trips around Malaysia. It’s refreshing to see new things. And sometimes, just being at that spot you’ve never been to feels good. Taking a photograph of that place is an experience that is worthwhile. 

When you travel what are you documenting into your images?

I’ve always enjoyed doing street photography. I love photographing humans. Portraits are my forte - I love meeting new people and listening to their stories. 

What is your favourite place to travel?

I’ve been to Japan and Australia when I was a kid but I gotta say my favourite place would be Kathmandu, Nepal. Why? Because the culture there is super laid back, everyone is so chilled out and nice, and also that’s the only place I’ve been just to take pictures! I’m keen on going to India soon but I’m getting married next year and weddings take up a lot of money, so my traveling ideas are now are all on pause.

I’m a big fan of your portrait works. What do you look into for a portrait?

By just looking at someone’s face, you will have an inclination of the person’s emotions. And my camera is one of those tools that can freeze those emotions and capture it in a photograph. Just photographing them in their own element tells a story.

What aspects of social media do you think that can help photographers?

Instagram is a place where you can see different photographs displaying different things. It is one of the best tools photographers can leverage on to get inspired. I am always on Instagram just looking at other people’s work. I try not to copy them but get inspired and see what I can do to improve my work.

It’s inevitable that there are simply too many photographers. How do you work out to make your images stand out from the rest?

Well, a lot of people know me as the guy with that crazy ass film camera! But in all seriousness, I just try to do things that other people don’t. A lot of photographers are scared to go up to a stranger for a photo but I love doing that – I love engaging with people.

Do you believe camera equipment or smartphone apps matter in creating work?

It depends on the photographer itself. I’ve seen some iPhone photographers who produces amazing work with their phone. And I’ve seen professional photographers producing amazing work with their fancy equipment. There isn’t a right or wrong when it comes to this question. In the end, it’s just up to the person itself and where they want to do with photography. 

Are you earning enough as a photographer?

Hahaha, I guess so? Not too bad, I guess. Other then photography, I do venture into videography and graphic design as well. Those can be my income as well.  I did graduate with a Diploma in Advertising & Graphic Design, and that helps me earn a living too.

Any photographers that you’ve been following? To what extent they influence your work?

Man, where do I begin? I look at so many different photographers that take different kind of photographs. For starters, Paul Gadd – a British photographer based in Malaysia and founder of The Print Room, has been my teacher and mentor for almost 4 years. He specialises in documentary and now currently working on his Twisted Life series. He is one of the photographers, who has made a life-changing impact on me and without him; I would not be where I am today. Apart from that, I love looking at 13th Witness, trashhand, and Van Styles when it comes to Instagram. And as for the legendary photographers, I would say Henri Cartier Bresson for his street photography, Annie Leibovitz for her fashion photography and Richard Avedon for his powerful portraiture work. But, the photographer I look up to most has to be Jonathan Mannion – the man responsible for most of the hip-hop artist’s album covers in America. And here’s a little secret for you. My fiancée managed to contact Jonathan Mannion and apparently, he is going to send a personal video of him for me for our wedding. How cool is that?!

What music are you listening to lately? Any TV shows or movies you’ve recently watched?

I am currently hooked on to the new album from The Last Shadow Puppets – Everything You’ve Come To Expect and Fleet Foxes. But my music genre changes from time to time. It really depends on the mood, I feel. I can listen to hip-hop to rock to K-POP if I wanted to! The only TV shows I’ve been catching up on are The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow. I love the DC Universe but I am not a hardcore fan. I don’t read their comics that much but I love the idea of it.

Any upcoming projects for you?

I’ve got some stuff written on my notebook but so far I haven’t started on any yet. I’m still searching around for ideas and focusing on getting as much aspiration as I can from my environment.

Any last words?

For those who think film photography makes you a better photographer, it’s not always the case. Yes, you do learn to shoot without a digital LCD at the back of the camera — and that is tricky, but at the end of the day it comes down to you, yourself. Just use what is comfortable for you and if you prefer using your smart phone camera and edit them on VSCO then so be it. Just shoot with whatever you have and if that makes you happy then keep doing it. Find your forte, and everything else should just fall into place. Photography is supposed to be fun — and it is.

 

 

Interview #19 - Nadia J. Mahfix

 

Nadia J. Mahfix is a conceptual photographer from Malaysia.

She is self-taught with a background in psychology from the International Islamic University, Malaysia. Through philosophy, music, literature and concepts of life and death, Nadia forged her own view of the world through the freeze frames of the camera.

You can find more of her work at her portfolioFacebookTumblr and Instagram

I also recently posted her Favourite Five and you can find it here

Tell me about yourself

I'm a self-taught photographer from Kuala Lumpur. I can't exactly pinpoint how long have I been into photography but I can tell you that I have always been into it way back when I was still a kid. 

What’s been happening into your life lately, especially since getting married?

I just had a group exhibition - “Khabar dan Angin: An Excursus on Faith” with fellow visual artists from various fields at the National Visual Arts Gallery, Kuala Lumpur last February. Prior to that I attended a short-term art residency in Kelantan. 'Twas an interesting experience. Other than that, nothing much.

What fascinates you in doing photography?

Photography helps me to escape into another world, where I can just be the silent observer & interpret my surroundings with a click on the camera. 

I’ve been checking out your work for awhile, and most of them look dark and gloomy. I guess how are you interested in those aspects?

I just have a strange fascination for all things “dark & gloomy” and I guess it shows in my works. 

And most of your images are monochromatic? 

90% of them, yes.

How does your surroundings influence you as a photographer?

At the core of my being, I guess I am a very sensitive person. So my surrounding tends to affect me and my works. And as I take photography as my source of therapy, my surrounding pretty much influence me as a photographer. 

How do you find the photography scene in Malaysia generally?

It's evolving and I'm seeing an increase in the number of young photographers. Which is pretty cool. I just hope they can bring something more creative and new to the works they are producing. And not be just another Instagram-photographer, if you get what I mean. 

How challenging is to be a photographer?

Almost all clients would tell you that they have “no budget”. 

Your portraiture work is fascinating. Do you have certain aesthetics in doing portraiture? Do you have certain preferences over subjects, lighting, locations?

Thank you! I usually shoot with my gut feelings. Although I do have an idea of what/how I want the outcome to be. Also, I don't shoot with flash, so I totally rely on natural lighting. 

You also have created few projects of yours. Maybe if you can describe from the start of the project and the time it got done

To start a project you'll have to have a reason. Ask yourself why do you want to do it, how and what is your goal for the project. For myself it depends on the project, if it is a commissioned project then you'll have to meet a deadline. So you gotta be more objective with your work but if it is a personal project, it tends to be a little more flexible.

You have shown your work in exhibitions and did few talks on photography. How important it is to showcase your work to public? 

That depends on where you want your photography to go. If you intend to share your works to the public I guess it's important. If you are only doing it for yourself, then you don't have to share it with the public.

Do you think people will get into your work?

That is totally up to them. If they don't, they don't but if they do, that's great.

What’s your favourite work of yours so far? 

I have to be honest, I don't have any favourite work of mine. You can say that I have a love-hate relationship with my works.

You also do live shows, and they’re pretty amazing. How did you get into shooting these live bands? 

Other than photography, I love music and I have always been attending local music gigs since I was a teenager, and I always have my camera with me. So it was more like, shooting for fun and my own collection. Plus, most of the people in the bands are friends and acquaintances of mine. So that made it easier to get access. 

Any music you’ve been listening to lately?

Whatever that my Spotify is suggesting to me - a lot of alternative rock mostly.

Is there any upcoming project for you? Anything you’ll look forward to in the future?

So far, nothing. How bleak!

Any last words?

For all you photographers out there, just be yourself & drop the cliches.

 

 

 

Interview #18 - Happyfingers

Happyfingers or (his real name, Don Michael De Leon) is a portrait photographer, born in the Philippines, now working and residing in Malaysia. He is also a musician.

You can find more of his work on his website or on his Facebook page (Happyfingers Photography). He is also on InstagramTwitter and Snapchat

If you haven't checked his Favourite Five, go check that one first!

Tell us about yourself? 

Hello! I’m Don Michael, a portraitist currently based in KL.  In the portrait and music world, I go by the name of Happyfingers. I'm happy to be here.

What’s happening with life?

Life’s been good! I'm busy and could be better, but I get to devote my free time to do what I’m really passionate about. I’m in the pink of health, and so are the people I care about, and that’s always a good thing.

I’m guessing you’re from the Philippines but you are working in Malaysia?

That’s right.  

How do you adapt yourself staying over there?

Malaysia isn’t too different from home, to be honest — save for the spicy food and other unique touches! You have the niceness of Singapore and the laid-back feel of Manila, rolled into one place that is bursting with life and culture. Adapting always takes time — I still am — but it has been splendid so far.

How did moving to Malaysia affect you as a photographer?

Moving to Malaysia largely accorded me the flexibility to shoot essentially wherever I wanted, within reason. Back home, there are some restraints imposed on portrait enthusiasts who take casual portraits of friends and models without some form of shooting permit, and the guards are almost always mandated to ask us to show our papers or otherwise cease shooting. In Malaysia (KL to be exact), I have never been stopped whenever I shoot in the street or in a cultural venue. It makes me happy to know that as an artist, I am free to create without having to look over my shoulder every few minutes. 

What draws you into photography, specifically shooting portraits?

I rarely go for the obvious choice when it comes to models. For the most part, I would shoot the non-model friend who I’ve had a fun conversation with, and sneaks in a side glance at a nearby mirror. There is magic in breaking barriers and capturing otherwise unseen beauty. 

Do you remember your first ever shoot?

Hahaha, yes! It is both one of the most embarrassing and formative moments of my life as a portraitist. I had no idea what I was doing and just researched how to shoot with a wide aperture five minutes before taking the OOTD (outfit of the day) of my office mate. The set was severely overexposed, my horizons were off-point, but hey, we all started from somewhere.

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

It’s quite more similar to home and other Asian and Western bases, I think. Perhaps it’s because we tend to consume roughly the same schools of thought and artistic inspiration — the world gets smaller and smaller each day, thanks to social media. 

What are your challenges being a photographer?

Since my foremost objectives in shooting are to make myself, my muse, and people who see my work happy, perhaps the biggest challenge is ensuring that whatever I share on my channels meets all three points. 

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

Both Malaysia and the Philippines are known for having strong socio-religious climates. As my portraits are celebratory in nature, I’m all for liberation and freedom of expression, yet I also strive to keep a balance and fall within what is acceptable and tasteful within the spheres I live in. I suppose to make my life simple, I’d always ask myself before posting something: Is this something I’d be proud to show my loved ones? Thankfully, I’ve never had problems. 

I am blown away with your work. Tell us how you become interested in doing fashion?

Thanks for the kind words! I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I’m heavily grounded in fashion, but I do strive to capture a variety of looks based on the resources available to me. Cozy for Coffee, Structured and bold for Street, and Unguarded for Indoor. 

Do you have certain aesthetics or method of shooting?

I’m quite a warm person by default, and I’d like to think it shows in my work, with my choice of shooting styles, muses, and colour treatments. I shoot exclusively with primes, so my portraits are often tight and focused on the muse and her features

Describe how do your approach your work?

I always pre-plan and work within an agreed creative direction. If it is possible to plan everything to the very minute, especially for important shoots, I do so myself. I am responsible for everything that happens in my shoot – from the lighting conditions to the wardrobe choices, down to what the model and I eat after the shoot — as such, I need to do my homework. This is a very important lesson I learned from Vincent Laforet in a creative session I attended last year: when you pre-plan all the details, that’s what allows you the luxury of spontaneity, to “wing things,” because you’ve already covered the essentials.

I shoot as I envision, I explain to my model how and why I am shooting in a particular way, and I always show her the shots as a point of reference and improvement. Of course, I also allow room for creativity, fun, and healthy conversations!

I rarely post-process these days largely due to the lack of time (and unavailability of software). I have been running on mobile for more than a year now and I don’t see myself returning to my previous cumbersome workflow anytime soon. Contrary to what most people advise against, I am completely cool with sharing unedited photos with my models -  I lose nothing by being generous with my portraits, and it makes my models happy, too. 

Do you have preferences for choosing subjects or models?

Case-to-case basis depending on the shooting objective, but I gravitate toward soft and gentle features, I suppose. 

Any other works or photographers that you follow?

A lot! Just check out the “Following” portion of my Instagram page  

Do you value quality or quantity?

I think and shoot in sequences, so I tend to share more portraits than my peers, but I’m also about delivering the best possible work among the volume of portraits I shoot. So it’s more about balance than choosing between the two. 

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

I’ve done professional-grade shoots in mobile and colour-grade exclusively in mobile, so I’d say smartphone photography has definitely gone a long way since 2010.

Do you earn enough as a photographer?

Monetary-wise, not really, but that’s cool. I’d rather not monetise something I’m passionate about. Friendships, totally!

Who do you think are the audience of your work?

Based on my latest tracking, on both Instagram and Facebook, 80% of my followers are women of ages 18-25. The remaining 20% are either my mom and other photographers. Hahaha. 

How much you think people will value your work?

I’d like to think I’m doing something right with what I have been doing for the past two years. Thanks to people who believed in my work, I have done print and online campaigns, food catalogs, interior photography, sports, events, and have been featured in television as well. But more than that, it’s the little stories and personal messages of affirmation I get from my muses and loved ones that remind me, “Hey, that’s why it’s worth it.”

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

Social media is always a good driver, but it’s not my end-all-and-be-all. I am doing this to be happy, not to be the king of Instagram. There are at least a thousand portraitists out there who are way better at this than I am, anyway. I’m happy where I am.  

Any music that you listen to lately? Books that you read? Movies that you just watched recently?

Everything on Spotify’s “Your Favourite Coffeehouse” playlist, Majestic Casual, and my go-to instrumentals. I’m not that much of a reader to be honest, but I just finished Dan Brown’s “The Lost Symbol.” I just watched London Has Fallen for the usual dose of mindless pedal-to-the-metal entertainment and boy, did they up the ante on that sequel!

How long have you been playing acoustic guitar?

All of my teenage life! It’s my first love.

What’s your go-to song to play?

John Mayer – No Such Thing (in every possible variation). It’s my life song!

Anything that keeps you excited in the future?

I'm really looking forward to more friendships and portraits this 2016!

Any last words?

Go out and keep shooting! 

Interview #17 - Nicole Lim

Nicole Lim is a freelance portrait photographer from Malaysia. 

I just love how vibrant and subtle her portraits are. I have previously mentioned, I like how female photographers create beauty in their own perception.

You can check her Favourite Five here. You can see her portfolio, her Facebook page (The Pixel Bunny), her Instagram (@jesuistigerlily) and if you’re a Twitter geek, she is also there

 Credit: Happyfingers Photography

Credit: Happyfingers Photography

Tell us about yourself? 

My name is Nicole and I’m a 24-year-old brand executive from Kuala Lumpur. I’ve been doing freelance photography for about 4 years now. 

What’s happening with you lately?

I completed my degree about 5 months ago and jumped right into corporate slavery. It’s been tough balancing work and creative stuff but I still try to make time to shoot and meet people. Easier said than done though!

What draws you into photography, specifically shooting portraits?

That’s easy – faces. I’m drawn to faces and expressions. My thing is taking someone’s away insecurity about their looks and turning it into something they can appreciate and think, “Hey, I’m just as beautiful as any model in a magazine.” 

I have many younger friends and I know what it’s like to be insecure about my looks (and still am), so I started shooting to prove a point and it turned out to be something I continue to pursue, even now.

Do you remember your first ever shoot?

Absolutely. It involved flowers and glitter and some really amateur directing but that was the one that started it all.

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

I like that it’s becoming saturated with more ideas and perspectives but to be honest, my number one pet peeve is that anybody can be a ‘photographer’ these days without really understanding the amount of work and commitment it takes. While there are some who really shine, there are many others who drop this hobby because they don’t have the same drive as the rest do, and are just in it for five minutes of ‘fame’.

However, you can always count on great images from people who’ve been honing their craft for a while and are instantly recognizable by their style and the nuances in their imagery.

Are you comfortable shooting on your alone or collaborating with others?

A little bit of both is great. Being alone means it can go any way you want it to, but collaboration usually ends with camaraderie and some amazing variation in your images due to different directives and ideas from others.

What are your challenges being a photographer?

Not being able to deliver images to clients on time! My day job is relatively demanding and I just don’t have the motivation to work on deliverables even though I know I should. Time management is a bit of a challenge at the moment – still trying to strike a balance between work and other work.

Personally, I’m facing a bit of a creativity block at the moment. Being in a corporate environment all day doesn’t do much for my creative self and I’ve been trying to work on new processing methods and different perspectives. 

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

I have a pretty laid-back approach to life and I take things as they come. I would consider that a factor in my photography because I like things to appear effortless and as natural as they can be.

Define your style of photography

Ooh, this is a tough one. I struggled with my style for about a year before I kind of transitioned into something that people were saying they could recognize from the first look. That was great because it meant that I was getting the hang of things and becoming more consistent.

I think my style is subtly feminine and I do like emphasizing facial features like the eyes or bone structure. I have a penchant for fairly close up portraits with the subject fully engaging the viewer. The background also matters because I believe in an overall aesthetic, not just focusing on the subject alone.

Do you have certain aesthetics or method of shooting?

Try to fit everything you want into the frame, haha! Anything that’s not relevant, get rid of it. Honestly, if there’s something I’m good at, it’s making images look like they’re more than what they seem. I try my best to deliver a certain aesthetic to the viewer and I always have an idea of how I want the images to be processed, even before I start shooting.

Describe how do your approach your work

I’m quite methodical when it comes to preparing a shoot. There have been many occasions where too little planning went into the shoot and everything went completely off the rails. Total waste of time for everyone.

I look at Pinterest boards, other photographers’ work on Instagram and magazines to compile image samples and mood boards for everything from makeup to hair to poses. These are all really helpful platforms and I love using them because everything is already tried and tested, why not work with something that’s already produced stellar results?

As I said, I’m a pretty laid-back person and I’m totally cool if the idea doesn’t go as planned and shoot goes in a different direction. I usually have a chat with the model to explain the general idea and the look that I’m going for before getting some test shots done. I’ve also mastered the art of demonstrating a pose because there really is nothing else you can do to illustrate your vision! 

I take…a lifetime to post-process. I’m a Photoshop kind of girl and I’m so particular about processing that I will spend hours on one image to get it right. Lately I’ve sped up and started working more effectively but there are occasional relapses.

Do you have preferences for choosing subjects or models?

Yes. Portraits make up the bulk of my photos, so an interesting face is a priority for me. Good body language and the ability to take direction also play a part in my choices – though the former is usually harder to gauge especially when you engage a model through social media just based on her looks.

Any other works or photographers that you follow?

I’m constantly blown away by Bella Kotak, Siiri Kumari, Lara Jade and Zhang Jingna. These are women who have created impeccable images and made an impact in this male-dominated industry.

Locally, I admire the works of Chuan Looi and Carlos Khu. What they do is something I wish I could and would definitely like to be in their shoes one day.

Do you value quality or quantity?

Quality, any day.

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

I love cellphone apps. For a person who loves filters and layering, I never really fancied VSCO, but I paid for Afterlight in a heartbeat and never looked back.

Gears don’t matter that much but in terms of image quality, one cannot deny that a higher end body or lens will produce better results. 

Do you earn enough as a photographer?

I work in the PR industry to feed myself so; I could be earning a bit more from photography. If only clients understood the kind of work goes into post-processing.

Who do you think are the audience of your work?

When I started out (on Instagram) my audience was mainly teens and late teens from overseas like America and Europe. After some work with friends and word started getting out, my audience expanded to a local one, but I’m still relatively low-profile if you want to compare me with people like Jeremy Choy (@bboyrice) or Bryan Lim (@bryzoid)

How much you think people will value your work?

I get a fair amount of love from the general public and my friends (and boyfriend) are all very supportive. I am lucky enough to have them say nice things about my work to people they know.

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

Badly! I get slightly embarrassed when someone proudly introduces me to someone they know and tell them what they think of my work. More often than not, that person will have seen my work before and I get a very confusing mixture of pride and embarrassment, because I don’t really tell people things like “Oh by the way, my Instagram handle is @jesuistigerlily. Have you seen my work?” It’s super paiseh, but I am actually very happy to know that people appreciate my stuff.

How do you deal with people are uncomfortable looking at your work?

There hasn’t been much discomfort when it comes to my work, but I do get some horrible remarks from random people whom I have never seen on my account before and I get really defensive because they’re usually criticizing the model and not my work per se. 

I’ve openly told people off in comments and even through direct messages. I’m a big advocate of naming and shaming and if you don’t like it; don’t look at it.

Any music that you listen to lately? Books that you read? Movies that you just watched recently?

I’m into comedies and action flicks. Anything that keeps me engaged and entertained really. My boyfriend has started me on Star Wars (I’m a Lord of the Rings girl) and I’m enjoying it so far! 

I love books with intricate imagery. I draw inspiration from passages and descriptions. My favourites include The Historian, the Pendergast series, Wicked, anything by Haruki Murakami and at the moment, I’m reading Alice - a twisted, darker version of the original.

Anything that keeps you excited in the future?

I’m looking forward to editing my ridiculously large collection of backlog whenever time permits and curating submissions for each quarter this year. Also just booked tickets to Tokyo this spring and I will be sightseeing, shooting and working with several models that I’ve already contacted! 

Any last words?

Hustle while you can, hustle to get ahead.

Interview #16 - Raisa Azzam

Raisa Azzam is a female fashion and portrait photographer from Malaysia. You can find more of her on her website (Raisa Fatima) , her Facebook page (Raisa's Sozoryoku) and Instagram

Tell us about yourself

My name is Raisa Azzam and I am a fashion and portrait photographer living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I have an obsession with cats and I love taking ugly/funny photos of the people I love, which is ironic with the type of photography that I do!

What’s been happening with you lately?

Life has been a lot of lessons recently! I’ve been discovering myself this year and where photography stands in my life. To be honest, I’ve been stuck in a creative rut for a while, and I’ve got a new change in life coming soon so I’m looking forward to that.

What draws you into photography, specifically shooting portraits?

I remember as a young child, my parents loved taking photographs of us. My mum used to give me disposables to shoot with, then the age of cellphone cameras came in and I became ‘paparazzi’ amongst my friends in high school. Then, I got my first compact camera, then a DSLR, and every single turning point I’ve always, always shot people. I’ve always been drawn to capture the things I love, and I’ve always found the love in the people around me.

Do you remember your first ever shoot?

It was quite a while back in college! I think it was with my good friend Vivien (she was my muse at that time, she was always supportive with my ventures of non-sensical ideas and things I wanted to try) and I asked her to be my model so I could just practice a possible type of photography, which was portraiture.

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

It’s growing. The community is actually pretty small and there’s a lot of space to keep pushing for that creative scene in KL. The pool of talent is actually really good and I think we need to open up the idea of working together more as a community - art is all about sharing and caring!

What are your challenges being a photographer?

The business and networking bit, if I have to be brutally honest with you! I’ve found myself not being the type to always be in crowds and events, but as a growing photographer it’s good to get to know people. And when I say business, it’s because that’s how much I want photography in my life, I’m determined to make it my ambition. I’m a terrible businessman so that needs a lot of work!

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

The environment I grew up in was very interesting because of my family I’d have to say. Both sides of the family and especially my parents, are incredibly artistic, musical and supportive of the creative fields. I was surrounded by beautiful culture when I lived in Tokyo, playing music had a big impact on me and meeting an amazing array of people from international and local waters has played an interesting part in how my photography has been sculpted. If I had to go into detail of how each thing has affected it, this answer would be way too long though!

I am blown away with your work. Tell us how you become interested in doing fashion?

Thank you so much! I started shooting portraits and discovering different photographers and their styles, and I loved the aesthetics and creative freedom that fashion gave. I started posting my portraits up, and a bunch of young entrepreneurs approached me to collaborate with them for shoots, and from there, I began shooting fashion.

Do you have certain aesthetics or method of shooting?

I’ve honestly never thought too deeply upon it because I’ve always been the type to feel with the limited amount of resources that I had available. There are certain styles like shooting with strobes or indoors now, and I always love "golden hour" sunlight. I do a lot of post-processing and Photoshop plays a big part in my photography.

Describe how do your approach your work

The things that I prepare most are locations, checking the weather, getting the model, the fashion, possible concepts and ideas. I feel like my planning process isn’t still up to par with a lot of photographers, so this is something I need to work on.

I’m very impromptu, honestly. I love improvisation because sometimes situations won’t turn out the way you want, so I try to feel the surroundings, the light, the subject and everything and kind of "go with the flow" from there.

If the client needs the photographs as soon as possible, I have certain presets that I made and I’ll tweak the photos after the shoot, and send them to the client. Otherwise, I am very meticulous and like exploring different editing techniques and sometimes, spending long periods of time to get the right edits.

Do you have preferences for choosing subjects or models?

Depending on the shoot, and if it’s for my own portfolio then I can’t say for sure. There is a general type of beauty that I subconsciously look for in my subjects and models, but to pinpoint it to specifics would be difficult.

What are the 3 photos that would represent best of your work and why you chose them?

This photograph was a big turning point in my photography and when I realised how much I could push myself to be better. The photographs I’ve chosen were the best representations of my work in terms of aesthetics, feel, colour and what I enjoy most.

I have to thank my friend, Roshan Menon for dragging me for this shoot. I wouldn’t have gotten these shots if he didn’t push me to go to shoot and this was one of the photographs that made me realise why I was doing photography in the first place!

This photograph is the type of dream concept that I’ve been dying to do. And that’s to shoot subjects in beautiful landscapes and places. I’ve always dreamed of flying to mountains, lakes, caves and many places to capture my subjects in the most beautiful places in the world. I also love deep colours in cooler tones and more neutral plays on warmer tones. I love wide shots, but funny enough I only use a 50mm lens!

Any other works or photographers that you follow?

Yes, I do! My favourite photographer is Annie Leibovitz. She has been my inspiration for the longest time and a lot of my style is derived from her. I'm also in love with Zhang Jingna, Lara Jade, Chen Man, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Norman Jean Roy and the list goes on!

Do you value quality or quantity?

Quality - hands down. I used to be a shutter bug, taking way too many photos! Now over time, all you need is 1-2 shots enough to say everything.

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

Honestly, I’m a very minimalistic photographer. I’ve been using a 50mm lens most of the time and upgraded from one camera body to another. In terms of quality, it definitely makes a difference, but to say gears making you a better photographer - I’d like to change that perception and say that it’s all about the person and their capabilities as well.

Do you earn enough as a photographer?

I earn maybe a little less then what I should be earning, but that sounds like I’m sitting on my high horse!

Who do you think are the audience of your work?

I honestly have no idea! I’ve been humbled by many encounters where people have seen my work and loved it, and this ranges from friends of friends, people in the circle, social media, family friends, older company, so I can’t say for sure!

How much do you think people will value your work?

This is actually a pretty difficult question to answer! I would like to say that they do believe in my work, which is a really, good feeling. Especially in appreciating my work. I’ve gotten so much support - it’s insane! I really want to thank everyone who has been patient with my growing process.

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

This is quite funny. I don’t think I get very much attention at all. Whenever I do though, it really does feel like a blessing to have someone say how much they love your work and I am thankful to be where I am for it.

Any music that you listen to lately? Books that you read? Movies that you just watched recently?

I’m so bad with keeping up to date, and that I really need to work on too! I’ve got my favourite author, Haruki Murakami, I’ve been slowly reading his IQ84 and his daughter's short stories on Medium. I went all emotional with Star Wars: The Force Awakens and I was in love with everything about it! Music wise, whatever my friends and the radio sends my way.

Anything that keeps you excited in the future?

I’m going through a big transitional phase in my life right now, so I’m really looking forward to that change. This year is going to be a big one, and I intend to keep it that way! I’ve been dying to travel so I hope this year I get to step foot at least to a few countries.

Any last words?

To those pursuing photography, please continue to chase that passion. If you've just started shooting and you feel your own work is not up to par with your expectations - keep pushing. The one thing I've learned is that the only way for you to get better, is to just keep shooting. Open up your mind, look at your competition to push yourself harder but not to bring them down. Collaborate and share - don’t be afraid of people stealing ideas, knowing that if it comes from you, it will always speak worlds better than those who don’t understand it. Keep being positive even when you’re stuck in a rut, because once you get through that storm, you’ll see it being worthwhile.

Interview #15 - Ollie Ma'

Ollie Ma’ is a portrait photographer from High Wycombe, England. He first found photography through his love for music and has progressed into doing commissions for bands and portraits. He now studies in Nottingham Trent University

You can check out his portfolio here, on Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook

In case you missed his Favourite Five, you can check his picks here

Give us a little bit of introduction about yourself

I’m 21 years old and I’m studying photography at Nottingham Trent University.

How did you get interested in photography?

I first became interested in photography when my friends started a band and needed some press shots.

What fascinates you in shooting portraits?

For me, the most fascinating thing is that a photograph can preserve the image of someone.

How did your first ever shoot go?

It’s difficult to know what would count as my first shoot, so I’m going to consider my first commissioned shoot. I was photographing a band called The Running Guns, and we snuck into some landscape gardens to take some press shots. It was a lot of fun and I remember it being this shoot that made me want to be a photographer professionally.

How does living in the your area affect you as a photographer? 

Currently, I’m living between my university flat in Nottingham and my home in Great Kingshill. Both areas provide loads of interesting locations to shoot in. Great Kingshill is a small village though, which can be limiting when it comes to photography.

How is the photography scene like in England?

There are so many inspiring photographers from London at the moment. I find the most interesting work comes from editorials, and I see loads of that on Instagram.

You have also done shoots for musicians or bands. How is it different from doing, I guess, your personal work?

When I’m photographing a musician or a band, I’m still influenced by the themes and conventions that I use in my personal work. The only difference is that they might have a specific vision that I would have to consider alongside my own.

Is it challenging being a photographer over there?

I don’t think there’s anything stopping someone from being a photographer in England. The only challenges I can think of would be individual to the photographer.

Let’s talk about how you approach your work. How do you prepare before doing a shoot?

I use Google Street View a lot to find locations. I look at previous shoots to remember what went well, and what didn’t. I make sure my batteries are charged and that I have enough storage.

Do you have preferences for subjects or models?

I prefer to photograph people who have some kind of unique style and who are confident and open to trying different things.

What goes through during the actual shoot?

Usually I’ll meet whoever I’m photographing, and we will spend most of the time walking between different places that I found on street view.

If you don’t mind sharing your workflow for post-processing?

I use Adobe Lightroom mostly and I have a few custom presets that I like to use. I tend to look at my images collectively as well as individually.

Are there any photographers that inspire you?

At the moment I’m really enjoying what Laurie Bartley is doing. And then there are the big names like Gregory Crewdson, Hannah Starkey and Fred Herzog 

I assume you have shot in film before. Is it satisfying? Do you approach your work differently than in digital?

I used to shoot a lot of film, and I really appreciate the extra time that you spend planning on each exposure. At the moment I find it more convenient to shoot digital and apply those skills that I learnt when shooting film.

Do you feel that camera gear or apps matter to you in helping you to achieve what you want?

In my own work the gear doesn’t matter too much to me as long as the sensor size is 35mm. I think the only important thing to consider is how the camera you are using is going to affect the story you are trying to tell.

Do you feel you are earning enough as a photographer?

I’m not earning enough at the moment, but that’s because I’m only able to shoot part time whilst I’m at university.

How much you think people will value your work?

It’s hard to know, the people in the photographs are generally happy with them.

As a photographer, what do you think of using Instagram or Facebook in sharing your work? 

I think it’s vital. I get most of my commissions from Instagram and Facebook.

Those Instagram/Facebook likes - to what extent it’s a measure of people appreciating your work?

It’s hard to tell because there are so many fake accounts on Instagram, and it’s also really easy just like a photograph without thinking about it.

Do you feel okay with the attention you get?

I’m okay with it, I feel like any attention isn’t personal as I don’t post many pictures of myself on there.

Any music that you listen to lately or movies that you watch and books that you read?

I’ve been listening to a lot of Flying Lotus recently, mostly because I think their music videos are incredible. A couple of nights ago, I re-watched ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’ because I love how it was shot. I don’t read often, but I do find the work of Henry David Thoreau interesting.

What do you want out of photography? What’s your ultimate goal?

I guess ideally I’d like to make a body of work that people will still talk about in 100 years.

Anything that keeps you excited in the future?

I’m looking forward to shooting more, and to visiting Los Angeles next summer.

Any last words?

Nothing comes to mind.


Interview #14 - Aun Chua

Foreword:

Aun Chua is a photographer from Malaysia. Starting photography few years ago, he has transitioned well from shooting portraits into doing fashion and commercials in the country. I'd say he has progressed a lot!

You can find more of his work on Facebook and Instagram

Let’s start by introducing yourself?

Hey man, I’m Aun from Aunshots. I’m a 25 year old boy with a camera from Ipoh and currently working in KL. 

What’s happening lately?

Life’s not treating me too bad lately - keeping me busy. Well, I think that’s what you get when you are trying to juggle a full time job as a graphic designer and a part time job as a photographer. 

What draws you into photography?

It’s the challenge of creating a perfect, flawless photo. 

What attracts you into shooting portraits?

The beauty of each individual, I suppose. And it slowly becomes one of the ways of me interacting with people who share the same passion in certain things and yeah, to make it less sugarcoated or cheesy, I get to meet pretty girls & boys (not so much of the boys)

What was your first shoot like?

I was actually thinking to share a nicer and less amateurish photo but f - - k it, here you go. This was my first photoshoot. As you can see, I still have that lame watermark down there. But, I would like to thank Kittie Yiyi who is kind enough to lend me her graduation piece to shoot. 

I remember back then your were shooting portraits using direct flash but not so much right now?

Yeah, I was inspired by Terry Richardson back then. I love the raw & sexy feel in that kind of shooting style. But right now, I guess I want to experiment more on lightings, not just direct flash. 

How does the environment influence the way you shoot?

To be honest, there aren’t many but there are still hidden gems here that makes you want to improve and become better. 

What is the photography scene like over there? Is it welcoming, competitive or intimidating?

I think it’s a little of these three. But that’s what this industry it’s like, everyone wants to be the best.

How do you prepare before doing a shoot?

Research and prepare a mood board or at least a few reference photos. It’s to guide myself and my talents, in a way I think it’s fair to them as well because they are taking their time to collaborate or to work with me. 

Do you have specifics on models or subjects?

I am actually open to any sorts of models or subjects but the chemistry is very important between me and the models, that’s why I talk a lot to my models during the shooting process. 

Go through the process of doing the actual shoot

Preparing a mood board, getting the right model, the suitable outfit, the right location and - bang! -  shoot the model. 

You have transitioned into doing fashion. Your work is pretty legit too. What made you decide to do fashion?

I think doing fashion has more value in the photos because it goes from top to bottom - the hair, the styling, the make-up and the mood that it brings to people. 

And I think I’m tired of being labeled as the photographer who only knows how to take sexy photos. Don’t get me wrong. Who doesn’t like looking at hot, sexy girls? And yeah, the feedback from my viewers is good and I get a lot from other guys like “Hey bro, I wish I could have your job man - always meeting half naked chicks and so on” 

I just want to get out from that circle and create something that let people appreciate my work more than just the girls.


So shooting fashion for magazines/publications. Is this something that you wanted to do?

Definitely.

I read somewhere you work for Duogigs. How do you feel working under those amazing pretty twins?

It’s actually great working with them. They know what they want and they have great sense in fashion. They inspire me a lot. Rather than just two pretty faces, they are actually putting a lot of effort and doing their best in their work, not just “cincai” on handling jobs. 

Any works of other photographers that you follow?

For locals, Jewel Ling from Prounited & Danny Lim, who is currently in NYC. Their works are breathtaking as always and they don’t mind sharing their experience with me. I still keep track on Terry Richardson’s work from time to time, looking at what crazy things he is doing. 

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

Yeah. There are times when you know that the gears you are using can’t satisfy you anymore and it’s rather frustrating but you have to make use of what you have and give it your best shot. 

Are you earning enough as a photographer?

Oh well, I am working as graphic designer as a full time job. I think you know the answer. 

How much you think people will value your work?

Not too much, but a fair amount I think. But I am thankful that there are people out there who don’t mind sharing their experience and giving me chances in this industry. 

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

I need more attention. Give me more. Notice me, senpai! 

But nah, there’s not much to deal with, because there will always be haters and stereotypes, saying to you this and that, but just be true to your work and shut them up by keep improving. 

What do you want out of photography?

Good photos, the kind that inspires people. 

Any music you listen to or movies that you watched recently?

“Power” by Kanye West and I’m currently watching this TV series - Sense8 by The Wachowskis. It’s really awesome and beautifully shot. 

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

Coffee, shisha & anime (yeah, I’m an Otaku!)

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

Both. Finding the right lighting and angles in the process and keep experimenting different editing in post-production.

Anything else you want to say

Keep striving!






Interview #13 - Fitty Sense

Foreword:

I constantly try to look for new photographers, not just to add content for the site but to understand a certain aesthetic of their work. I find FittySense’s images fascinating because his work encapsulates a modern Singapore - the buildings, night life, lifestyle and the subjects. I’m glad to have him spend time for the interview despite his busy schedule.

You can find more of his work on his Facebook, Instagram and his streetwear brand

 Credit to    @mvhdirfan   

Credit to @mvhdirfan 

Give a little description about yourself?

FittySense came about because I started shooting with a 50mm lens and I was trying to make sense of it. Outside of Instagram, I’m known as Khairulazmas and I am a freelance photographer from Singapore. My dad is half Indian and half Chinese while my mum is Malay so you could say that I’m multi-racial. Oh, and I just turned 31 years old.

What made you started taking pictures?

Browsing through Instagram accounts of @trashhand and @_adli inspired me to pick up photography about a year ago.

What attracts you into shooting portraits?

After shooting landscapes for a bit, I realized that I enjoy shooting people more because I love meeting new people and listening to their stories.

I’m not that familiar with the photography scene in Singapore. Maybe you can tell me about it?

The photography scene, especially the ones who are on Instagram, are mainly made up of street photographers and iPhoneographers.

How strong is the community of photographers over there?

It’s not as strong as compared to Indonesia or Malaysia but it’s growing quite rapidly recently.

Has living in Singapore influenced the way you shoot?

Yes. Being surrounded by tall buildings makes me appreciate architecture a lot more and I pay attention to details, especially on ceilings.

Do you remember your first ever shoot?

My first ever shoot with a model was with Janelle Jaw. She’s the coolest.

It seems to me that you shoot almost everyday.

Yes, I shoot everyday.

What are you exploring or seeking around the places that you go to?

Lights, interesting ceilings and nice backdrops for when I have a model to shoot.

What elements in the streets that fascinate you?

I love neon lights, billboards and signboards.

Do you favour shooting in daylight or night time?

Night time, definitely.

How do you choose your subjects for your photos?

I like introducing new faces to the scene so I scout for them, preferably someone with a good fashion sense or distinctive facial features.

How do you prepare before a shoot?

I’ll search for images on the web suitable for the theme of my shoot that day and get my insulated bottle of Iced Ribena ready.

Take me to the process of doing the shoot on the day?

I usually start shooting from 5 or 6pm, just before the sun sets because I don’t like shooting when it’s too bright and warm. I would have briefed the model on what to wear and what kind of theme I’m going for by then. I might even grab dinner with the model before that. Batteries all charged definitely.

What’s your favourite place to shoot in Singapore?

Favourite place to shoot right now is Coney Island because it’s newly opened.

You have this signature bluish tone on your photos. Is it intentional or does it describe the mood you want to portray?

Yes, it is intentional. Because I love the colour blue and I want people to see an image and instantly know I took it just from the edit. I’m glad you noticed it though. 

Do you feel other photographers always check out your work?

I think so. I do get other photographers sending me DMs on a daily basis, asking me about my workflow and tips.

I read somewhere that you feel others buy their Instagram followers. What’s your opinion on that?

Yeah, I saw a ridiculous spike in followers on some accounts and I think it’s disgusting that people have to resort to that to get attention. Hopefully, Instagram will do another purge so we can see who the culprits are.

Do you feel that Instagram likes matter to you?

I think it does in some way. Because it’s nice to know that people appreciate your work. Although, I appreciate comments more than likes.

What do you expect when people see your work?

I expect them to feel something when they look at my work. If I could portray an emotion without writing a caption, that would be ideal.

Any photographers that you follow or inspire you?

People who inspire me are @trashhand, @_adli, and recently @blvnkminds. @blvnkminds is really an underrated photographer in my opinion. His photo editing is amazing. He’s very humble about it too!

Are you earning enough as a photographer?

Not as much as I want to at the moment but it’s picking up.

Any music that you listen to lately or movies that you see or books that you read?

Listening to The Weeknd inspires me. It also influences my shooting style. My all time favourite is “Wicked Games”

What’s your next project?

My next project is to organise another Instameet some time this year.

What’s your future plans?

To make more money from shooting and fly to New York City already.

You have a streetwear brand called yungazzkillaz. How did that happen?

It started off as a passionate project because I was bored in the office and I really liked brands like Stampd and DopeChef. And since the Singapore streetwear scene isn’t really that prominent, I decided to start my own.

How did you incorporate your brand to your photography?

It wasn’t in the plan initially but it just happened. Because I started shooting more and mixing with like-minded individuals who are also into photography and streetwear, that was when I knew I had to incorporate both together.

Any last words?

Someone once said to me that my online persona can be seen as cocky and arrogant but I’m just self-assured really. If you have the chance to hang out with me, you’ll find out that I’m just a chilled-out guy