Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Portraiture.......its in the eyes.

I truly believe that a portraiture has to hve that connection with the viewer thru the eyes. It just make the pic just more compelling....but that does not mean that a portrait with the model not looking straight into the lens is not though. What I meant is that....it has to have that feel that connects with us. But speaking of eyes..........catch lights are a nice touch to have though.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Of rule of thirds and composition...........

Every now and then we've heard the importance of the rule of thirds and their significance in compositing our photos. In bringing out the best in your subject, and making them work.

Simply put, the rule of thirds is placing the subject in question on one of the 4 placements on the imaginary lines in your pic. But, lest we forget that it only covered a third of the photo. So what happens to the other two thirds then?

For me, its about striking a good balance between all of the aspects in the pic that make the composition works. If the FG, BG, didn't work...or even worse, over powering the subject....than to me the picture doesn't work. The other 2/3rd of the pic has to work in tandem with the main subject and vice versa.

Ohhhh btw didn't 1/3 plus 2/3 equals to = 1 ?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Street shooting...a character study.

For me, portraiture is about the character study of the subject in question. Street shoot somehow brings the best in a character.....because there's no pre-planned poses, props or controllable lighting. A good shot brings about the character of our subject in the final output. The 'feel' as some people say.......to show sorrow, misery and hardship in a 2 dimensional art piece needs a bit more patience and understanding of our subject's character. One has to feel their sorrow to transmit that same feeling from the subject onto print.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Of sharing knowledge and art........

There was once this Sifu who instructed 2 of his disciples to each go and seek out a different kung fu style each (one attacking style, the other defensive) so that they can share out and exchange them once they are back. One is a senior disciple, the other a junior. And to motivate them, as part of the task, the Sifu organized a friendly sparring session to pick out the winner among them.

But there’s a catch though……..they can only spar using the skills that the other disciple has taught them.

2 months had past…..and both had past on their knowledge and skills to the other. The day of the test of their new found kung fu skills came by….and they sparred, in front of the other disciples and their Sifu.The match ended with the senior disciple clearly won by a mile…..out witting and out muscling the junior.

Then the Sifu asked the others of their opinion who had won the match……the answer was rather obvious......its the senior disciple.

But the Sifu answered differently…for him, the match was not won by the senior. He actually had lost. The only reason the junior disciple lost instead of the senior is because the senior had not imparted all the knowledge to his colleague but received instead, everything that the junior disciple had learn from the task.

Every one was stunned……later the senior admitted his selfishness and made amends.

This is a real story........

The Sifu is Yip Man.
And the junior disciple is Bruce Lee.

‘Art is the expressing of oneself feelings……honestly and unselfishly’

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Do we have to be correct all the time?

Met up with an idol of mine recently, whom I've wanted to meet for quite some time now.....and all I can say of that meeting is that.....my beliefs has been renewed.

We sat down and threw ideas and beliefs at each other and I came back satisfied. His foresights on things are spot on…..and we shared the same insights on things. The only difference is….he did it in a more direct way…no BS kinda way. Which I love and respect.

In photography, some people are just a pain and just need to be correct all the time. Yes….ALL the time! When it comes to giving suggestions, comments or critiques….they just want the last word in everything. It has to be their way….and nothing else.

Do you still remember when your best friend asks you to tag along to advise him on a new shirt/shoe? And he insisted for your advise……on a blue shirt or a red one. …stating that he’s kinda undecided between the two. And being a good friend that you are……you chose RED. But he went for the BLUE!

Suddenly you felt defensive…..why the heck did he bring you along asking to advise him but in actual fact he already has the RED shirt already fix in his mind? Kinda irony isn’t it?

But sometimes we forget……that our advise is from our own perspective and preferences….but not from his. That is what we would have chosen…….if we were to choose between the 2….and if we were the one who’s buying/wearing it.

We forgot that it is merely a suggestion (and nothing else)……it depends for him/her to accept them. Do we really need to be defensive about it? Again at what expense?

Next time if you are the one asking for suggestion……please don’t do that to others if you’ve already set your mind on something else.

‘Sometimes winning is not everything’

p/s…to my new found friend…you know who you are. Thanks for reminding me.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Who is it for? (Photos we took)

When we exhibit/share/show photos of our work.....are we really trying to impress ourselves or others? Who are we to impress or please actually? Its a classic tale of 'The Man, the Boy and the Donkey' from Aesop's fable for me. A case of too many cooks. When one started out into the world of photography......the first thing to do is...of course to snap pictures. The more the better it is.....but sometimes it is a case of one too many snaps. Yes, I agree that one would like to progress swiftly.......but at what expense? We ask for 'Comments and Critics' of our photos from people in the know and rely on those info to improve. But we ask from too many of them.....one get confused. As this 'sifu' says this way and the other says the other.....when confronted.....both then defended the differences in thought as 'Art'. Wow....even more confusing.

My suggestion is to all aspiring photographers out there....get your basics right first, get it sound.....emulate, be open. Choose the style that you want to go for....and a mentor with that style in mind to guide you around. There's no point trying to impress everyone.

'Please All, and You will Please No One'

Friday, October 10, 2008

Hari Raya & kids

These are the time to capture your kids....donning new dresses with bright and cheerful colors. Just love them when they go out with their parents for Raya open houses with their smiling and cheerful faces.

Of Raya open houses, new houses & new born

Hari Raya means a new meaning to all Muslims....but to some it is a celebration of life. Welcoming a new addition to the family. Well......to Dr Asyraf & Dr Suraya.....congatulations on your new baby boy and Selamat Hari Raya....Maaf Zahir & Batin.

Sometimes less is more

I feel that whatever we do on camera, has to be in harmony with whatever we'll do on PP (Post-Process). I learn it thru the hard way.....but here are some of my principles when I shoot portraiture:

1. GIGO (Garbage In Garbage Out)....IMHO no matter how good ur PP skill is.....it is always good to capture them true to what u want first time around in camera.

2. Always shoot the Object & BG in mind. There are always cases whereby photogs will be so immersed with the model (in cases of leng lui) that they forgot to mind the BG.

3. Mind the lighting......when PP always mind the angle of the natural light when it falls onto their faces. So as not to emulate them on PP it in an unnatural manner.

4. Blemishes............too much of anything is not good. Too much PP of the blemishes is also not good & vice versa.

5. A little of everything will go a long way in PP.

These are all the minor/minute details that I look out for in my portraiture. But it all comes to a lot when it matters most....the final outcome.

Hope you guys benefit. Tq.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Sometimes to learn is to unlearn.....

For me photography its about sharing......of our experiences and of our knowledge.

Coz photography comes from everything...from our surroundings, the environment where we live in. I was trained formally by a Japanese Pro photographer for almost 4+ years in landscape and portraiture. But the first year I was only carrying his gears and stuff....never was I let to touch his camera. Coz for Japanese ppl, they believed that everything has a soul....and should be respected. Only on the 2nd year did he allow me to hold a reflector.

I once asked him.....how did he manage to get his 'photographic eye'....he never answered. It bugged me....A LOT! I pestered him.....and still he didn't budge.

Only later.....and after much later, when I gave up...did he whispered to me...and said....the eye wasn't there by its own. It is the accumulation of years and years of his life experiences....his trials n tribulations. All of that then translated into his photos....bcoz of that he then became sensitive to his surroundings.....

Photography is not about US....its about others....about giving...the ability to see what others can't....and sharing it with them. That's photography to HIM....

I was stunned for words.

It was almost 15 years ago today....and I still remembered what he has taught me.....about giving....UNSELFISHLY!

Sometimes we tend to forget....we always thought that everyone owe us everything. But we are wrong.....its the other way around. Sometimes we want everything to be ABOUT us......well its NOT!

Yes I've won 4 times portraiture awards before...local and overseas.....but for me its not about who we are....or what we have achieved......its about meeting new people and sharing.

Learning will never stop for me........

Coz sometimes to learn is to unlearn......only then one will understand.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Oh...Beautiful Maria........

Just like the song by Los Lobos featured in the movie Mambo Kings. Maria was so captivating in front of the camera.....she really is a gem. Love the song a lot....but now got the girl to match it. These pics were taken during the workshop I conducted to show the participants the different lighting set ups indoors and getting catch lights outdoors.

Had an enjoyable time conducting the workshops and of course with Maria.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Of actor and actresses....

I've always been fascinated with film making. How it's being done.....scripts, direction, behind the scenes. Well today I got the opportunity to do just that. These are the photos of the people that made them happen. It's a TV drama currently being shown on TV3 called 'Kasih Iftitah'. One thing that I can say about them is that they are very friendly and above all very professional in their work....kudos to our local film industry......the people that make it happen. Here's to all of them!

Photo of the month??

Yeayyy.....The elephant shot that I took awhile back won the 'Hot shots Photo of the month' by Digital Camera magazine for the month of September 2008 (a sister magazine of the UK company). I really love this shot for its powerful image and the strong connection. Just can't stop staring at it.

I've won top awards for portraiture on 4 different occasions previously (local and overseas)...but this one I hold dearly. Mind you the previous ones are no slouch either. They were organized by big companies (1 in Malaysia and 3 in Australia)....but I guess this is the first time I won it in the Digital category. Apart from these....I've won landscape, nature and general...but they are just top 10. But now I guess there's no turning back for me...I just want more! (crossing my fingers)

The prize for winning is a copy of the much raved editing software of the 'Adobe Photoshop CS3'. A friend of mine said.....I won maybe because of wishful thinking. For I'm always teased for not having the latest software and still using the old one. Well....now he won't have to.

But seriously for me...it's not the gears or software.....it's how you translate the image in your mind to print.

Here's the pic of the 'Gentle Giant' again.

Of workshops and more workshops......

These few months was quite hectic for me.....being asked to conduct a few workshops, week in and week out. I believe a good workshop has to have the elements of 'humanness' to it......what I meant by this is simply.....one cannot learn without first to unlearn what they've learned previously. Then and only then one can absorb this new knowledge in. Absorb and blend with what you know once it has been digested whole. Take in what's useful and throw away what's not. But empty your mind first and take this new info with open arms....

Make mistakes...and you will learn. Teach and pass this knowledge through and the process of learning will accelerate even more.

To err is human.

Portraits....the learning of people

I was always asked this question.....how did I manage to come out with strong and powerful portraits? The answer to this is to get that connection with your subject...as quickly as one can. It's a study of the human character....your subject. One can't produce strong images if there aren't any connection between yourself and the object. Create that bond....make them comfortable. Ask them questions..let them know you. Be their pals...NO be their best pals.

Only then you can concentrate on angle, timing, composition, lighting etc etc.

I believe that this is true in my case.

Nothing beats nature....

Here are some shots of mother nature at its best.....I really love the sound of gushing water and the smell fresh of morning dew. Even more so for waterfalls....these were taken not long ago with some friends of mine...in Hulu Langat..not far from Kuala Lumpur. One thing though about Malaysia.....one can hope to find mother nature not far from the hustle and bustle of city life. It seems that the calling is here for me to come back into nature photography...after so long into portraiture.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Photography is about sharing your knowledge. This month I'll be conducting workshops for newbies just for the fun of it. My specialty...portraiture.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Dr. HIsham & Dr. Ixora

Been wanting to do their portraiture for quite some time now...just couldn't match their time. Hey...medical doctors are busy, u can't just drag them out of their OTs....there are patients to attend to. However, this time around we did manage to squeeze and find time during a seminar in Malacca. Well here they are....cheerful n all. Let me extend my thanks to both of them who has been a sport during the entire shoot....n to both Dr Hisham & Dr Ixora, who r proud parents to be.....my advance congratulations. Hope to see you soon.

Animal Portraiture

Animals? What can I say? They can look cute sometimes......with their antics, their cute looks, each with their own unique character. But to me, some of them mimic us humans in one way or the other. I just love how they look on camera.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Portraiture........and capturing the moments.

Each one of us are not created equal.........a good portraiture needs to capture the essence of the subject so that it will show the character through. It needs skill & experience to make them connect. That extra something. A beauty shot needs to amplify the beautiful side of a person. Only then will the true beauty shines through the photos. For example, eyes tells a lot about the character of a person, they'll tell you whether they are sad, happy or lonely. But above all, a great portraiture will let you feel what they are feeling through it.

Living and telling as it is.......

Well.......what can I say but to thank all that has been supporting me through all these years. From the day I first started into photography till now. Thank God to blogs, people around the world can now interact. If not for it, you won't be reading this either. Here's to the border less world of the internet...my first blog.

Well like me, did you find photography astounding? How pictures can reach audiences from different cultures, races, religion and languages? Its funny isn't it, that we tend to smile, smirking at the same picture. And it won't matter whether you are living in San Fransisco, London, Christchurch or even Zimbabwe? We somehow appreciate the same pics.

For me pictures connect people together. They just do. It's just worth a thousand words.