Interview with Catherhea Teoh

Catherhea Teoh is a photographer from Malaysia. She is better known for her Instagram moniker as @dreamerehab.  Her style leans towards portraiture, fashion and conceptual themes.

“Is it weird that I have a fear of being photographed? It absolutely stresses me out. I get anxiety attacks every time and it’s worse when I get to look at the pictures after.”

You can find more her work on Instagram

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What is your most favorite photo that you’ve taken and why?

Can’t really say I have a favorite at this point, because my work needs to be viewed collectively, and I’m always doing something that’s different from my previous attempt(s). Plus, it’s really difficult to be content. After one concept is done, I just wanna move on to the next thing.


What inspires you in doing your photography?

One time, I received a text from a friend, who told me the pictures I took of her reminded her that she quite likes herself. It’s the beauty I see in people around me, and how much I want them to see what I see. When they go ‘wow’ at their own pictures, that’s exactly how I feel when I look at them.

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How do you prepare yourself before shooting or doing any assignments?

Some research, and a lot of winging it to be honest

What is your one tip/tool/mantra when you’re shooting or creating work?

Tear sheets or mood boards. Those things are very useful, when you’re trying to build a solid concept, art direction, a collection of poses, styling, etc.

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Is there an element that you incorporate in your photos?

Diversity. I’m not sure if I’m getting there yet, but I’m attempting a collective of diverse people in somewhat more glossy-type photographs. Given my work experience in the fashion industry, I do have the resources to reach out to industry-standard models but there is a reason behind my selection of muses, and I’m quite picky.

What are your go-to songs when you’re shooting?

I got a playlist called issa.vibe// on Spotify, 

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What is ultimate goal in your photography?

We’re so used to consuming mainstream media, that anything we see outside of that is received as negative. Even ourselves, which is where a huge chunk of our insecurities stemmed from anyway. I’m hoping people see their own, and others’ beauty through my work. Having dark skin is beautiful, and I mean people who are born in black and/or brown skin, not your regular went-to-the-beach tan. 

Chubby people are the shit but you don’t see as many plus-size models in pictures. Round noses with undefined bridges are cute. Chinky eyes are the bomb, and fuck double eye-lid surgery! The list goes on, but you get the drift. 

My point is, I’m hoping to change the perception of what beauty is, so that the concept of ‘being comfortable in your skin’ doesn’t end when you see how people around you treats you differently. Both sides of the table need to be educated.

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What is your advice to other photographers?

Honestly don’t think I’m in a position to advise other photographers, but there are a few things I try to remind myself - keep moving and creating. Don’t lose yourself in the numbers and whether or not you’ll make it big. You’ll never be as good as that artist/photographer you look up to, because you’ll only be as good as you, and you’ll only keep getting better. You’ll eventually find your own voice in your art, as long as you keep going. Also, humble the fuck down! Stay low key and keep grinding.

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