Friday, June 22, 2007

Doing it my way


I started taking photographs as a tourist, but it was dance that lead to my career as a photographer. After all these years, I am a people photographer. I work as a photographer because I love shooting people's faces and their bodies. I like shooting quiet portraits and dancers in motion. I like doing sexy fashion shots and sculptured nudes. I like creating textured images, with light creating moods for me.

To be honest, I am just able to balance a career shooting corporate work and shooting my own work. I already have clients and will continue to nurture these clients. Yet, it is tight and it would be nice to earn some more money so that I do not have to worry so much about paying salaries and outgoings.

The rebuff from the advertising agencies was actually expected, although I am still trying. I am trying now to get more corporate work, shooting portraits for corporations, annual reports and the like. I also recently shot some pregnancy photographs for two women and completely enjoyed it. I am going to pursue shooting more personal portraits and family portraits.

I also hope to have associate photographers in The Pond eventually, but I am very particular about who would become an associate. I rent out my studio to professional photographers. And I teach at Objectifs. I am also looking at parking some of my images at a stock agency.

I am not going to have a career in photography from the most obvious paths, but I will string together a group of things that I enjoy doing to make sure that I continue to have a balance of work for income and personal work.

I did have another interesting encounter with a Dutch photographer recently. It was at a bar and I could not catch his name. But he has seen my work and thinks that my work has character. He specialises in shooting musicians internationally. And he encouraged me to become and international dance photographer. Interesting idea. My mentor has seen my new portfolio and has also encouraged me to have a stronger personal style to make it internationally.

So the tension between getting work as a generalist in Singapore and a unique international talent is there. I always think that Singapore is an unexceptional country because we are a country without exceptions.

Anyway, if being a photographer was so easy, so many people would be a photographer. I know that a lot of people are joining photography now because the digital revolution has made the entry relatively simple. But with so much competition, making it to any decent level is awfully hard. But I see a light to the end of my tunnel, and I am determined to doing it my way.

1 comment:

tubbykat said...

hi ngiap heng, it's maryann koh from your studio class last aug/sept. i am happy to see you are progressing well in your commercial career and happy with what you are doing :)

i read your letter to the aspiring photographer on how much hard work it is and i so agree with you. to make overheads and pay myself a decent salary, i have been working 6 day weeks and am really getting very tired though i still enjoy the work but i dread the day when i will start to hate it as i get more tired of the slogging. any advice?

worse still, a week ago my studio was broken into and the burglar took my cameras and lenses (one of which was the 50mm f1.4 i bought from you) :( and even a very expensive video cam which did not belong to me was stolen. sigh. the police dusted for fingerprints but the burglar wore gloves so there's not much hope of catching him. the police even said that this person was probably someone who came to our studio before as he knew exactly where to get the equipment and ransacked the right desk for cash.

it's times like this when i feel like giving up. after working so hard and just as i am seeing some light at the end of the tunnel (as you put it), it is quickly switched off.

my partner and i have since moved on and bought new equipment but still quite "gek sim" and angry (we did not have insurance).

sorry to vent, just wondering if something like this happened to you, how will you overcome it and get inspired again...