Thursday, March 16, 2006

A Generous Heart

Back of Paul's studio

What amazes me is that a lot of the people I respect have generous hearts. Some of them may be particular, some of them are extremely busy, but when I have engaged people honestly and without ill-intent, I have been rewarded generously. I found Geoff Ang very willing to share on his fashion photography course. I have found Paul very generous with his knowledge with me. I have also met some very good dancers when I was studying dance at the London Contemporary Dance school who were generous of heart.

What I and other people do not like are users who think that they can get a quick buck out of us. To think that the amount of knowledge and experience an artist holds can be encompassed in something as trivial as a lighting technique or a certain film type is not only useless, it is crass to seek such tips. Succesful photographers spend a lot of time studying their craft and searching their souls. Some photographers like Paul, or photojournalist like Sebastio Salgado, have deceptively simple technique. Yet, a lifetime of experience goes into each act of pressing the shutter. When you start trying to understand a photographer completely, his background, his rationale, his goals, the trivial information like film techniquewill be revealed. Approach a photographer with an inquisitive, open mind and you will likely be rewarded with an honest considered response. Ask for a quick tip and you will get contempt in return.

I must say that even though most photographers and artists I meet are forthcoming with their artistic insights, they will hold out on business intelligence. This is because business is a sensitive issue. Pricing and deals that are cut cannot be revealed because they can seriously damage relationships. Business is not art, it is more a form of war. You do not broadcast your position to your enemy.

Back of my apartment


Eric Chan said...

Good evening Heng,
Real pleasure reading your well articulated thoughts and musings in your 2 most recent posts.

These days I'm doing occasional photomicroscopy for work, and some silly snapshots of friends and family on weekends....nothing special. Last October, I took an old Leica M3 with 50mm collapsible Summicron and grabbed some B&W's shots at a Buddhist ceremony in a Menlo Park house. Bringing this up because: (1) This Chenrezig Abisheka was located very near Stanford University where you and I made a quick stop to get some groceries....perhaps you'll recall that neighborhood. (2) Following your Blog's line of thought, I hope to think that these amateur shots were more about the inspired moment of shutter release than about media and equipment. Two of the shots are here for your comments:

Wonder if you saw my earlier comment re: another photographer in Chicagoland, Andre Napier, (847)-912-5384. I was impressed with his showcased work at

Warm regards,

Heng said...

Hi Eric, I do remember you pointing out a house on top of a hill. Your shots are pretty nice. Simple but effective. If you pay attention more to how the people and objects in your frame relate to one another, you can find more interesting compositions. I see this a lot with younger photographer's, who can identify a moment or an object to shoot, but do not use framing to enhance the experience.

I am afraid that Andre Napier's work leaves me cold. It is too cheesy. The sexual subtext of his work is too in your face. Maybe its a question of upbringing. So many guys salivate at Victoria's secret. I feel like I am being hit over the head with the breasts of some supermodel when I look at Victoria's secret. Same for Andre's work. I think that the work that Laperla uses is more laid back but actually more erotic.

I hope I am not too candid. :) I believe in honest replies, but I also know that my truth is personal. It is not absolute.

Eric Chan said...

Hi Heng,

Thanks for your views and advice ~ it is important to stick to your opinions because everyone has a fresh viewpoint and one's own set of collective viewpoints help to define one's 'style'.

By framing I assume you mean projecting the mind's eye onto the scene and expressing a component of one's psyche when pressing the shutter release, rather than just following compositional rules like the "Rule of Thirds"?. Someone else has said that rules are meant to be broken - and as in life, only the true savants can lick honey off a razor blade without any harm (uh, just figuratively)!

Having said that, which crop do you prefer of these two (photo by Carina Berlinger)? See:


My more 'serious' work is at, which you've visited before. Admittedly once again the "artsy" attempts are interspersed with the casual shots.

About Andre Napier, he has a set of B&W work including close-ups of hands/fingers in interesting arrangements, which reminded me somewhat of your own experiments with close-ups of subjects' hands. Of course, the styles are different, just that the subject matter is within the same theme.

Following your lead, I will now have to check out Laperla.

BTW nice paired digital-duotone shots on your latest post!

Have a great weekend, Eric

Heng said...

Hi Eric,

I like the cropped version. The original is too dead center.

Andre does have a couple of decent black and whites, but there are a lot of people with much better and natural black and whites.

Have a good weekend. :)