A photography journey – How it began

I will be doing a series of post, taking a peek into the journey of us… those who bought a camera, those who took pictures, those who enjoys carrying our camera around despite it being heavy and bulky. This is to the crazy one.

Where it all begin? There could be many reasons, many potential scenes that spark the interest and fire in you. Some were touched by a picture they saw, some were moved by the “dance” of a photographer in work, some were captivated by the magic of pictures printed from a roll of film, while some just wanted to look cool. Whatever reason it was, here we are, holding a camera in our hands, taking pictures, editing them, and feeling happy about the result.

For me, I lived through the age of film to digital transition (that made me sounded very old). I can still recall owning a point and shoot film camera when I was 14-15 years old (not exactly mine, but it was a family camera). You know, those automated film camera that automatically winds the film as you shoot, with zero capability in controlling any settings and not knowing whether the frame was in focus or not. I brought it to school and just snap away, “documenting” my daily life in school and friends around me. Rolls and rolls of film were burned through, and I was always fascinated by how a roll of plasticky… long… smelly… thing can actually turned into colour pictures.I enjoyed the whole process whole shooting to waiting for the film to be developed by a local store. However, at that point of time, I wouldn’t really say I am seriously into photography… just yet.

Then came digital cameras. My family do own an Olympus digital camera before, again, a point and shoot camera with god knows how many megapixels… 3 or 5 maybe? I do use it once in a while, but the time when I really started to take more photos was the moment when cameras are being slapped to the back of the phone. Boy, did I missed my Sony Ericssons camera focused K770 mobile phone! Although I was shooting more, but it had never came across my mind to buy a camera, probably because I simply cannot afford one.

The very first time I got to experience a “real” camera was the time when I borrowed my sister’s Canon PowerShot G10. I was out shooting sunrise with my uncle, who is a photography hobbyist himself. That’s when I was taught about the exposure triangle, how they can be manipulated to get different effect, and how it all adds up into a final picture. Experience from that morning had really struck me and sticked in my head. That’s when I decided that I want to learn more, I want to do more, and I really want to own my camera and start my own journey in the world of photography. I worked hard after graduating from university, and got myself my very first camera after saving hard. It was a Canon PowerShot G12, successor to the G10 which became nostalgic to me. And everything else became history.

Once in a while, it’s good to sit back and relook into your past, to see where it all begun, to revisit your emotions, to rekindle the spark that started the fire so that you could keep yourself going. I believe I must have shared this story a few times throughout the blog, and that’s the reason why. So what was your story in the beginning of your journey? Till then.

The chicken and egg story

People always argue whether chicken came first or the egg. Its a never ending argument with no right or wrong answer to it. In the world of photography, we do have a lot of such arguments going on daily.

Film vs Digital.
Auto Focus vs Manual Focus.
Straight Out Of Camera or Post Processing.

Just to name a few. Although I do encourage people to discuss their viewpoints about why they prefer one over the other, but often times people will just completely write off opinions from others. Instead, they will just force their theories and pushed it to everyone as if it is the only truth.

For us, we just need to keep our mind open, to understand others, to accept the differences, and finally to form your own view and decision. At least that is what I tried to do all along, try not to comment on things that I do not know, and when information out there is not enough for me, I’ll get my hands dirty and try thing out myself.

That’s the reason why I tried film and rangefinder camera. Now that I know what are they, I’ll know for sure in the future what’s best for me and what I really wanted. Well, that’s not to say I have never caught in the chicken and egg debate before, I did. But as time goes by, you start to learn and realize what really matters, and with that you become a little wiser.

So, what’s the hottest argument you are in lately?

Our memory

Learned an interesting facts recently. Our brain stores our memory. We would normally believed in what we remembered, but in actual fact, our memory is not reliable. As time goes by, our older memories will fade, and when we try to retrieve it, we could possibly end up filling in false memory. In other words, we altered our memory based on what we believed have happened, burn it into our memory, recalling it back and treat it as reality.As I recall some memories, I start to wonder are they altered? Are they real? Are they original? Well, there’s really no way I could verify at the moment.

Let’s bring this into the world of photography. A lot of times you may be asking yourself why are we taking so many pictures of our life, our surroundings. I think it makes sense now that it serves as a reminder, a permanent memory that cannot be altered (well, unless you photoshop it, of course) by us nor our brain. Taking picture is one thing, storing them and sorting them for future reference is another. I think a lot of people just dump their photos into cloud storage or other applications such as Google Photos. As AI evolved, perhaps it will become more intelligent in finding your memories on your behalf. But for now, I’m still using the good old way of indexing photos myself, storing them in folders either by year > month or by special occasion. And once a while, I’ll look back at some of the old photos and cringed… haha.

Are you one of those who stores a lot of old photos? How do you organize them and search for them when needed?

Just shoot it

The Missing Link

There are times when people questioned why are we taking so many pictures, pictures of streets, pictures of the environment, pictures of our surrounding and so on. I confess that I do question myself occasionally when I look at the pictures I took.

“Just shoot it” was the answer given by one fellow photographer I knew of. “Things are changing at such a rapid pace, everyday an old building got torn down, new building was built, lifestyle was changed, people has changed. My picture will provide a context of this instance for people to look back in years later.”

Of course it doesn’t imply that we have the social responsibility to document this moment of time, but if you are in doubt whether or not to take a picture of what’s in front of your eyes, perhaps this little reason can give you a push to press the shutter.

Come to think of it, it is especially true for a country like Singapore, where development pace was so rapid and things are changing on daily basis. Documenting moments like these will create memories of our own, and perhaps recalling memories of others.

It’s been awhile for me to just wander off the streets and shoot, perhaps it’s good to start picking up that habit again. Till then.

The end is coming, or perhaps its already here

The photography industry is approaching its end… everyone sees it coming, but perhaps most choose not to “see” it and still trying hard to crunch out as many camera models as possible every year. Having worked closely with the printing and photography industry in my current job for the past year, I get to see some data and forecast that pretty much shows the same as what you read from photography sites and forums. Sales declined, loss making, market shrunk, people are no longer buying cameras, the list goes on.

We’ve seen giants like Canon and Nikon struggling, we’ve seen long time camera makers like Olympus selling off its camera division. Even though we are living in a world where more and more video contents are flooding our screen, less and less of them were shot from a traditional camera. Smartphone has killed compact digital camera, and it will soon be killing entry level and amateur grade cameras as well. In the very near future, only serious hobbyist and professional photographer/videographer will remain as consumer of camera gears, while the rest would probably have moved on shooting with their smartphone.

Most companies are trying their best to diversify their products and portfolio. Fujifilm has a separate medical arm and cosmetic division, while Sony is making a fortune by selling its camera sensor to smartphone makers. It remains to be seen who will be the last few survivors in the end. How do you see the future would unfold? Who will you be placing your bet on? For me… I better start distancing myself from the dying industry before its too late 😛 Anyone hiring???