Thursday, May 28, 2009

Answers to Quiz

I have been busy with my projects that I haven't been updating. These are the answers to the 1 AVENUE's Quiz:
1. Camera in the picture is NIKON D3
2. His favourite lens now is Canon 35mm F1.4L
By the time I post this, he may have a different favourite lens again.

Changing a favourite lens after a few months(or weeks for some) does freshens up our perspectives and how we see things, don't we? Using PRIME lenses forces us to walk nearer or away from our subjects to crop our shots when we shoot. This builds a discipline in us until the perspectives become a part of our intuition, a second nature.

Challenge: Try achieving 6 shots worth to be hanged on your wall with one lens(one fixed focal length if you are using a zoom lens) before changing to another lens. Give yourself a week or two to achieve it. If you are disciplined and can live with the minimum, you can do this for a longer period. Having a whole arsenal in your backpack does not necessarily make you a better photographer. Half the time you don't use all the equipment. Having the best equipment is not gonna make you a better photographer too.

For "The Quiz Photographer", you can refer to
He is the GURU when you have questions on what equipment to buy!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tips on Wedding Photography

After more than 9 years shooting weddings as a professional, and now turning it part-time as I'm pursuing other artistic projects, I have these simple but yet important keys to leave behind for all interested in shooting weddings, whether part-time or full time.

1. Speed
Some snap-shooting is definitely necessary at certain times when action and movement are happening quickly BUT that does not rule out "PREVISUALIZATION", which is still the basic discipline in outstanding photography.
I always crop my shots before I press the trigger, make full use of whichever camera format I use edge to edge, frame my shots with a concept in mind, decide whether to stop down my aperture, whether to use a slow shutter speed to depict movement, etc. before I ever point my camera at my subjects. A weak composition is a weak composition, no matter how you crop it afterwards.

2. Quick Thinking
I personally find it stupid, to use "Manual" mode if your camera has "Aperture Priority" and "Shutter Priority". I only use "M" when I shoot with my Nikon FM2, Bronica SQA, Leica M6 or Sinar F, when I'm given no choice. C'mon guys... we are on the move in weddings, we are photojournalists, we need to be super-quick, and all the modern cameras since Nikon FE days already have "A" mode to help us cut down one step in thinking so we can concentrate better on framing our shots! And not-to-mention the advanced "Matrix Metering" by Nikon and "Evaluative Metering" by Canon.
BUT please please, don't set your camera to multiple-shot mode and start spraying throughout the day like an insect repellent! Although, today's "Repellent Shooters" do win multiple awards from associations like WPJA. It's QUESTIONABLE how much do we really take pride in our works. A retail salesgirl in Japan probably takes more pride in her job than most of our local wedding "professionals".

3. Advance Planning
Always plan 2-3 steps ahead of whatever that's gonna happen next. Example: Be at the gate before the bridal car arrives, enter the house before the groom enters, be at the car when the bride gets out of the car at church, etc. We've gotta plan our shots. Conceptualize our shots. String up the whole event well with minimum "missing links". All these come with experience. Never rely on 2nd and 3rd shooters assisting you entirely. Ask yourself the question: "If there's no 2nd and 3rd shooters, can you deliver?"
Also, if you are used to shooting with 2 cameras, ask yourself, "If one camera fail, can you still deliver?" And we are talking about delivering a similarly good job. I have been shooting alone in this career for more than 7 years. It's only about 2 years ago, I started using 2nd shooters to kickstart my teaching career.

4. Some Choreographing
You can't shoot a wedding like a dumb person. We need to communicate. We need to get along, get into the environment and blend in, celebrate the event like a part of the family, enjoy, and no matter how troubled you can be on the day due to whatever reasons (once, I had the saddest day of my life when my dog has gone to heaven), SMILE!
A smile gets your subjects to reciprocate. A smile starts a conversation. A smile makes you get the shot you want.
See a piece of tissue paper in the background? Get rid of it. Some idiots will still shoot it with their F1.2 or F1.4 aperture hoping to blur it, but I'm telling you, it doesn't work that way. You can still see a nice blurry dirty tissue paper.
Some annoying video cameraman gets in your way? Don't fight. It pays if you have greeted him in the morning when you first met him. Tap him gently on the shoulder to let him know you are going in for your shot and do it quick, step out of it. Remember, you are a professional, you are supposed to get your shot precise and quick.
You spoil the mood when you point a video light at someone, miss a shot and ask the bride to pose for you again(especially when you take your own sweet time getting the shot). Even if you badly need to ask the bride to pose a little for you, do it in less than 3 seconds please. The longer you drag, the more you spoil the mood.
You also will spoil the mood when you talk too much.
We should be good secret agents, blended in the midst of the wedding crowd, choreograph only when necessary, shoot without being obtrusive, absolutely likeable among the crowd.

I'm often being asked,"Are you a friend of the couple? Are you doing this for a living?" Ha ha.. :) Instead of feeling offended, I feel so delighted. My standard reply,"Oh yes, I know the couple, I am asked to cover the event.. with a big smile :)" - My "secret agent mission" successful. Confidence should come from the end-results-your works! NOT your super-huge "L" lenses or camera bodies.

Lastly, for all interested in taking lessons from me, I do it in a "NON-CLASSROOM" environment, casual and practical, results-oriented personal style. I've just finished a course on wedding photojournalism, and into my 4th batch of Basic Course.

Saturday, May 09, 2009


Oh.. I feel so ashamed. Never have I feel so ashamed in my life to be called a wedding photographer. So, from this moment, please, let me declare, "I am officially not a wedding photographer anymore!"

You can call me, a Black & White Photographer, an editorial photographer, a community photographer, a part-time wedding photojournalist, a street photographer (where many of my works on film are still under compilation), a portrait photographer, a non-profit photographer or a crazy photographer... up to you. I'd love that!

As I have concluded earlier, "rot, let it rot!"

JV Epidemic

Latest Industry News:
(This post contains explicit and sensitive content meant for the Malaysia Wedding Photography Industry. Offence is only intended if you imagine it to be.)

Lately in the midst of the deadly H1N1 Virus is another "JV Epidemic" potentially spreading! I've just heard from reliable sources that some self-acclaimed professional wedding photographers with strings of awards from DBKL, oops.. sorry, it should be WPJA or AGWPJA has started accepting students, teaching courses and conducting workshops.

Professionals who are genuinely concerned about the development of the wedding photography industry in Malaysia should be aware that in the name of "bringing up our standards of photography" in the industry, we're actually killing it by unknowingly(or knowingly) encouraging certain untrained professionals to start a new money-making path in teaching photography.
Oops.. sorry again.. who am I to say "untrained" when WB'kl' has accepted and awarded them.

That probably explains partially why a well-known wedding photographer in Sabah quit WPJA lately. I'll think it's a wise decision. You can read it here.

Awards definitely does not necessarily prove anything, especially when it's subscription-based.

Guess the good old days when we get real teachers who practice what they preach is long gone! Today, everyone and anyone can teach. See? You don't necessarily have to do it first before you teach someone. It's sad! Have we all become con-artists instead of real artists?

(Of course, not all awarded photographers in WPJA/AGWPJA/PPA/etc. are crap. Please read this post like you eat a fish-that is, leave the bones, you are not a cat!)