Digging into the thought process of a photographer

I bought the book “Magnum Contact Sheet” quite a while back but was not able to really to have time to sit down and read it through. Well, finally I did now. For those who enjoyed shooting streets or documentary style photography, this book can easily be the “bible” for one to own and keep. Of course there’re a lot more to offer in terms of content inside the book, which I believe is useful to all photographers out there.

The book shows contact sheets, which are series or sequence of photographs taken by the photographer for a particular event or moment. Looking through the contact sheets, you will be able to understand how the iconic pictures were made back then. The first thing that struck me was that there’s almost always more than one frame being captured in order to arrive at that one iconic shot. By looking through the contact sheets, you will get a sense of the photographers’ thought process in arriving at the final image.

Is it a decisive moment? Is it spray and pray? Is it staged? Is it cropped or post processed? I’ll leave it for you to explore and find out the answer on some of the iconic shots. You’ll be amazed. My key takeaway from this book is this: it doesn’t matter if you take multiple shots in order to get that one shot you want, it doesn’t really matter if you crop or post processed your picture, all that matter is the mind behind the camera. The thought process when moving from frame to frame, changing of composition, waiting for different subject, playing with the light and shadow… if there’s a thought being put in for each frame, you will eventually find the “one frame” that defines your thought.

This is indeed a good photography book for me to kickstart the year. Although there isn’t much plan for me on photography this year, reading books like this does keep my spirit and interest going. Highly recommended.

Wherever I will be…


“I know what I don’t want, but I don’t know what I want.”

This is a typical answer I have as I’m trying to explore and decide on what’s next for me in my career. I have been working in the same industry but different role for the past 8 years, I was hoping to change both role and industry but I know it will be difficult. Perhaps I should look into changing industry first, and that brings me to the question of “which industry?”

I really have no idea and I’m lacking of understanding on some other different industries out there. I have been trying to learn more about them through the course of my study, but there are still a fair bit of unknown to me.

Perhaps the easier way is to get rid of those that I don’t want, I know I don’t want to go into consulting, I know I don’t want to involve in finance related industries… perhaps slowly from there I can have a list of potential industries that I can consider to move into. In terms of job function, the same applies.

What’s next? I wonder. Let’s see what the future offers. This is a troubling phase, but once I get over it, hopefully things will eventually get better. Till then.

Hello 2019

New year, new me!
Jokes aside, a whole new year, it’s good to at least have a simple plan on what I’m going to do this year.

For a start, I’m hoping to switch to a new job, and hopefully a new industry as well. I may need to start all over again from lower rank, but that’s okay for me. So I’ll see what’s going to happen next. I do know there are some weaknesses and problems with me, and I’ll try my best to improve on those, and hopefully starting a new job will help as well. I really need new goals and challenges in life to keep moving forward.

I have a whole backlog of books to read, and I’ll probably do that and get them cleared this year. Probably will focus more on reading business related books, especially those that can help me to improve on some of my weaknesses in work. Also I had planned to resume my study on Japanese language, not sure whether I will take up further JLPT exam, but I will continue to learn for sure.

For photography, I don’t really have any plan at the moment. We’ll see how things evolved along the way. In terms of writing, it would be good if I can finish a book or two for the year. As for travel, I don’t have specific plan yet, but I do wish to travel back to Japan again this year for a specific reason… I won’t reveal too much at the moment, we’ll see how things unfold throughout the year.

Any plan for buying any new stuff? Well, not really. Probably will be changing a new phone this year, have not thought about spending on camera related items yet, probably will spend lesser on books as well since I have a bunch of ebook waiting to be read. Perhaps this is the year where I can start saving some money? (Probably not… lol)

Other than that, I’ll continue my gym training and stay healthy, perhaps spend more attention and care over some of the little problems that had been bothering me for awhile, hopefully its nothing major and I can live much healthier this year in order to tackle all the challenges ahead of me.

Life goes on.
2019, please treat me kindly.

Thank you 2018

I believe every year I will feel the same: “perhaps it’s because when we got older, we felt that time passes by much faster”. The year of 2018 was no exception, even so when most of my time were occupied by studies. Just when I manage to catch a break from study, the year has already ended. Well, looking at it from the brighter side, it does serve as a reminder to me that time waits for nobody, stop wasting it and start getting things done!

The year of 2018 had been pretty kind to me, apart from a few little dramas here and there that stirred things up a little. Nothing has changed in my work, except my disappointment and dissatisfaction level has gone up. Nothing has changed in my life as well, still married and still no plan to have kids.

For photography, I had sold almost all my gears and left with only Fujifilm X100F. Still haven’t decide what’s next, let’s wait and see. Glad that I had travelled a few places this year and still get to do some photography in Vietnam, Japan and Taiwan. Also continued to write something along the way and managed to crunch out a book for Vietnam, and the one for Taiwan is coming soon.

What else… oh, other than textbooks, I managed to finish 24 books in total in a year. Was only targeting 12 earlier this year but ended up doubling that, surprised! There were some very nice reads that I would highly recommend, and there were a few below average ones. All in all, a great year for readings, and hopefully next year will be another productive one.

Overhauled my wardrobe and now I have 90% of my clothings from Uniqlo, got into using fountain pen, finally got my wisdom tooth extracted, bought Apple Watch earlier this year, been working out in gym for the whole year but still not fit at all, bought new mattress, bought new chair, bought new headphone, cutting my time on social media, shifted away from Google services… well, nothing major, really.

There were of course some ups and downs, in my work, in my life, in my studies, in my relationships. Glad that I had weathered through them for the year, and hopefully next year will be better. Thank you 2018, and goodbye.

It’s time to change

I realized that I had not put some of the good things I learned along the way into good use. To be very honest, I’m not a fast learner myself, hence a lot of time I will need to study, practice, learn and reflect (and even restudy) before I can actually put something into application.

Taking my MBA course for example, there are knowledge, tools, frameworks and skills that I learned and yet I had not managed to either practice them at my work, link them together to form a more holistic picture, or dive deeper to understand them further.

However, there are those from my class who managed to make sense of the concepts learned and apply them quickly across other fields and subjects, and sometimes I truly admire their strength in this regard. Anyway, it’s okay if I was a little slower, I just need to make sure that I’ll be reaching there eventually.

The same goes to photography. It’s easy to learn pieces of skills and techniques here and there, but the important thing has always been joining the dots together and get the shot when the time comes. Learn, understand, relate, practice… and hopefully perfection will follow. There’s no shortcut to get there.

By the way, I had decided to take an extra elective despite the core modules has finished by early December. The elective will drag my completion date into the end of January 2019, hence another month of extra classes. It’s okay, I had survived 18 months after all, one extra month is bearable. Hopefully I can learn a little more and start to digest all the knowledge for future use. Till then.