Unexpected trip in April

There’s this unexpected trip that popped up this month, it’s a company incentive trip for high performers all around the world to gather, share our knowledge and experience, and to unwind and reward ourselves with the hard work we had poured in to achieve the result last year. And I was unexpectedly being shortlisted in the finalist.

I was shortlisted in last year too, but due to my marriage arrangement and upcoming honeymoon schedule, I decided to give up the opportunity to join the trip to Greece last year. And for this year, the trip will be held in Hanoi. I’ll be spending a few days there, though I doubt there will be sufficient time for me to go out and explore the city itself as we have already some pre-planned schedule that we need to follow.

Nevertheless, this will be my first trip for 2018 (excluding the two trips I took to went home in Malaysia). Will see if I’ll be able to spare some time to wander around the streets and snap some photos. It’s really been awhile since the last time I just shoot and without worrying about anything else. Let’s see what Hanoi has to offer for me. Till then.

Something about coffee…


I had always been a tea drinker since… the day I was born! Coffee was not something I fancied all along for some unknown reason, and I wonder why. Perhaps it’s because the “low grade mass produced” coffee that taste bad in my mouth, giving me trauma and bad experience, but I can’t really recall. Anyway, yes I had not been drinking much coffee for most of my life, until last year, the year of 2017 that is.

The tipping point was the moment when I sip in a cup of coffee from a specialty coffee shop, while reading a story book titled “Before the coffee gets cold”. It’s a Japanese novel that has been translated into other languages. While I read the final chapter of the book and took a sip of the coffee into my mouth, it kinda resonate with me on the taste and the feeling I have while reading the ending chapter of the story. And it was like some cosmo reaction followed by the birth of a new planet, and I had been drinking coffee regularly ever since.

As I am pretty new to coffee, I do not have any preference at the moment and I’m eager to try out and explore what coffee has to offer. I will order whatever that’s new to me on the menu, and I attended a small coffee brewing workshop to understand more about coffee brewing techniques. The next step for me is probably trying out different types of coffee beans, different brewing techniques and identifying the different taste from different coffee.

Why am I becoming a coffee enthusiast all of a sudden? Hmm… I’m not sure, I don’t really see myself as a die hard coffee enthusiast at the moment, I’m just interested to explore and learn more about coffee. Perhaps it’s the part within me that wanted to try and craft things with my hands, making me feel like brewing my own coffee instead of drinking instant one. Just like why I still shoot film in the age of digital, just like why some still prefer to drive a manual car over a automatic one.

I am still a tea lover until today, but now I am equally enjoying a cup of coffee as I did with a cup of tea. We shall see how far coffee will infuse into my lifestyle in the days to come. Till then, for all coffee lovers out there, cheers!

Advice from Sara Lando

This article from PetaPixel which talks about the author, Neil Ta, reviewing his photo series with Sara Lando had caught my eye. The article talks about what have been discussed through their conversation when reviewing the photo series, and some of the topics discussed really triggered me to think deep on it’s meaning.

First, a disclaimer. I got no idea who is this Neil Ta, nor I got any idea who is Sara Lando. They could be some famous photographer, or just anyone. But that’s okay, as I had always been into the artistry side of photography than the photographers themselves.

A few questions and remarks from Sara to Neil really hit the mark and should really be something for us to stop and think awhile before we pick up our camera. And these advises are really helpful for you to improve further in photography.

Shoot with intent

Sara asked a series of question to Neil when he showed her his photo series in Cuba.
“Why did you take this photo?”
”What are you trying to say with this photo?”
“Why were you in Cuba in the first place”
“What is it about Cuba that interests you?”

These questions essentially questioned him about the purpose and intent when he took the pictures. Shoot with intent, that was something I had discussed in another post previously. Think about what it is that you want to capture and what story your are trying to tell before you go out and hit the shutter. When you want to create photo series, projects or assignments, this is perhaps the best way to keep you focus and in check. You don’t end up coming back with a bunch of pictures and then only trying to force a story out of them.

There must be something that you would like to say through your photography

“Photography is a language. To most of us it’s a foreign language we are learning how to speak, but even if you are fluent in shutter speed and aperture, even if you know everything about bouncing flash and own the best camera on the market, the thing is if you don’t have something to say, then you’re pretty screwed.”

This was another strong remark from Sara to Neil. Photography is a language, is this the first time I hear this saying? Probably. But it certainly is an interesting analogy. You try to learn the basic, master the technique, and ultimately you would like to be able to speak fluently, and also getting your message across… in this regard, photography does work like a language, and it’s a common language across for everyone, allowing us the freedom to express ourselves in equal terms.

Don’t try to be someone else. Be yourself.

“Your images are more intimate and relatable when you’re not trying to be someone else.”

The last learning point I managed to grasp from the article is that one should shoot for yourself, don’t try too hard in copying others or mimicking others. You are truly you, hence you should follow your heart and shoot with your own style, tell your own stories, and just be yourself. When you try to copy others, you are deviating yourself from the true you, hence your photograph will not resonate with you.

It may sounds pretty fancy, but as with many other artistry work, one can hardly improve, be great and shine if one does not listen to his heart and letting his voice to be heard. Hope these tips help you in some way. Till then.

PERSONAL PROJECT: A BOOK ABOUT MYSELF

After much delay, I had finally completed another personal project of mine. This time around, this project is more on the words than the pictures. Initially I thought that I would like to reshoot all the pictures to make them relevant to the words written, but sadly I have to scrap the idea in the end as I simply do not have much time to do so.

Anyway, for those who is interested, you may find my new personal book here. This is a book with collection of passages, stories and thoughts of mine throughout the years. You may get to know me in person a little more by reading them (I guess…). Sorry that it was written in Chinese instead of English. Similar to my previous Japan Travel Photobook, I felt more comfortable in expressing myself in Chinese words than English.

That’s all for now. Hopefully I’ll have time to complete some other projects this year, though I do not really have any plan yet at the moment. Till then, thank you.

Coffee Brewing Seminar at Starbucks

Recently I joined a small workshop organized by Starbucks. The “Starbucks Coffee Seminar” was held at Starbucks Waterboat House with a nice and cozy atmosphere. The seminar started off by introducing the participants with the basic on coffee tasting, followed by demonstration of different brewing methods and ended up with hands on session for you to try and brew your own coffee.

Iced Pour Over

The brewing methods discussed during the seminar were chemex, pour over, cold brew and french press. The instructor explained to us the differences between each brewing method and how they affect the taste of coffee, including acidity, body, aroma and flavour. There’s also brief sharing of information on food pairing with different types of coffee.

Chemex

The hands on session was fun, as we get to try all the different methods and get a feel of it. All the methods shared are easy to be replicated at home, so you can brew good coffee at the comfort of your home. Last but not least, all participants were given a pack of coffee beans and voucher to purchase the necessary brewing equipment, giving you a push to kickstart your brewing journey.

French Press

It was a very fun and enjoyable event. As a newbie to coffee drinking, I learned a lot from this seminar and hopefully I’ll get to brew my very first cup of coffee soon. Till then.