I am very honoured recently to have received a special feature and also be interviewed by ViewBug. The topic centered around how I discovered photography and what photography means to me. I also answered some questions on gear, my favourite lens, and quick tips to better photography in general. The full interview is reproduced below.
Also posted on Viewbug blog.
ViewBug community member truphotos discovered photography via an unexpected route.￼ “It was a rather unexpected route. I had a good buddy who had just bought an advanced compact camera. Although I had already planned to get the same model, he introduced me to the world of dSLRs when we went on a trip together. I remember it was before daybreak when we reached Fukuoka, Japan on a night bus where he suddenly whipped out a book he had borrowed during breakfast! I was inspired to purchase a dSLR and from there my journey began.”
Read the conversation below to find out more about his photography and to learn some tips.
What was your first camera and what do you shoot with today?
It was a Nikon D60. I later moved on to the D300s and D700. I am currently using the D810.
When someone looks at your photos, what do you want them to take away from it, what are you trying to communicate?
Hopefully, my work can convey the value of photography. To me, photography is all about life’s most precious moments, and photographs can only get more and more valuable with time, especially those of places or of people that mean a lot to us. At the same time, I aspire to create work that inspire people to dare to dream and to chase their dreams. I believe having a sense of adventure, getting out from your comfort zone, is also important to a person’s overall well-being.
What is it that you love about photography?
I love how photography provides us with a tangible way to preserve our memories. I see photographs as keys to unlocking drawers containing our memories. Some event may be forgotten temporarily, but they can be evoked again and again when we see the corresponding images linked to those memories.
What has photography done for you?
Photography has allowed me to see the beauty of places and people as they are as well as from my own perspective.
Do you try to be conceptual or do you prefer to show the feeling behind a photo?
I prefer to show emotions and expressions behind photos. This goes for both my travel and people photography work.
How do you describe your style?
I would describe my travel photographic style as dramatic, colorful and expressive.
If you had to choose one lens, which one would it be and why?
For travel work, I love using the Nikon 14-24mm lens for the wide angle perspective it provides. For children and people photography, I never get tired of the Nikon 85mm f/1.4 for its colour renditions and extremely shallow depth of field.
What are your 3 tips for others who want to become travel photographers?
Pay attention to foreground, middle ground and background elements, develop a personal and distinct style, and keep looking for new perspectives.
Have you received negative feedback from your work? What did you do about it?
When I receive constructive negative feedback, I try to pinpoint what could be done better, internalize it and strive to achieve that for my future work. If the feedback deals with something related to shooting style, you have to decide if incorporating elements of it help strengthen it.
Where did you learn to take photos?
I learnt through looking at work of other photographers, getting inspiration from other genres of art, and lots of trial and error.
Raw vs jpg and why?
For travel and landscapes, I always shoot Raw because it gives me a larger latitude in post-processing to achieve the final result I envision.
What do you carry in your camera bag?
For my trips, I usually bring the Nikon D810, 14-24mm f/2.8, 24-70mm f/2.8 and 85mm f/1.4. My Gitzo GT1541T travel tripod is also a must, together with Singh-Ray GND filters and a circular polariser.
If you could have the gift of a great photographer who would it be and why?
I admire photographers who are successful not only because of their technical skills and creativity, but also because of their business and marketing skills. I have a few favourites but one of them is Julia Kelleher who is amazing as a photographer, educator and for running a very successful photography business.
What is the most common mistake you see people making when shooting these days?
Placing too much emphasis on equipment. It’s true that certain tools help achieve a certain look, but ultimately I feel that the focus should be on the creation of the photograph rather than what is used to create it.
What is your dream location to shoot?
Currently, a dream location which I have yet to visit is Iceland. Among countries I have visited, Japan is a favourite.
How do you decide on where to shoot a photo?
I first look around for foreground and background elements. After that I study the light and decide if the location would look best during sunrise or sunset.
What is next for you? Any planned adventures with your camera?
I was very honoured to be invited recently by the Kagoshima prefectural government in Japan to hold a solo travel exhibition in Singapore. If possible, I see myself trying to expand in this area and shoot more material for the local and overseas promotional efforts of Kagoshima.
Apart from that, my personal project is to document as much of the beautiful Japanese terrain as possible. Some trips that are in the works are Northeastern China, Taiwan and Western USA.
What is your goal with your photography?
My goal is to create a strong, successful personal brand and to be able to document beauty around Asia.