Shooting for Self-Pleasure

There are many reasons why people would pick up the camera and snap away, creating tonnes of images that bear different purposes and meanings to the photographers themselves, or their viewers and audience. Some would shoot professionally and earn their bowl of rice (or in non-Asian countries, bread and butter?), some would shoot to inflate their ever-expanding ego by growing a crowd of followers and worshipers, some would shoot just plainly to record daily memories to be kept forever.

Photography is a wide field, it encompasses so many genres, while it is mostly art, it is not always bound by rules and fixed guidelines. We are free to shoot whatever we want to shoot, we are free to express ourselves. We can shoot just to please ourselves. In this specific case, you do not have to think about clients, you do not have to think about what others think about yourself or your photography works, but simply, you just share your vision and ideas openly. It does not have to be artistic, it does not have to "professional" looking. You shoot because you have the urge and desire to shoot. You shoot for the purest fun of shooting.

This is shutter therapy at its truest form.

All images were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Digital 50mm F2 Macro

Anston (red shirt), Chun Chow and Wendy in the background.

My lens is sharper than those knifes.

Graceful and friendly.

Plastic Street Performer


Meow !!

I have my regular shutter therapy sessions at least once a week, more if I can find the spare time. I am bound by my full time engineering career (which I do love very much, in spite of numerous false opinions) thus I am only free to have photography walk in the weekends. My photography genre can be rather random. I used to hunt the shopping malls for fashion shows or any stage events that would be freely open for photography by public. I would also find tourist traps such as Zoo or Bird Park, and snap away. Most recently, I have attacked the KL streets rather religiously, and dived deeper into street photography. Whichever genre I was shooting, all I really had in mind is to fully let myself loose, after a long, long week of crapful load of work, and just stick my eye into the viewfinder and finding photo-opportunities, wherever, or whatever it may be. Photography is my therapy. I find solace and peace while I was in my photography-trance mood.

Many times, I would choose to shoot alone. Sometimes, i would invite a few friends, or join some friends for photo-walks. I rarely participate in a large group. I have nothing against shooting in large group of people, this is just my own preference to walk in smaller group of people, probably because I can talk and connect to everyone much better. The fellowship developed with fellow photographers can be quite refreshing, sharing ideas, thoughts and different perspectives on certain outlooks, may it be photography, art or even random life aspects in general.

I guess for me, I avoid joining groups where there are "master" photographers and "followers", or what we would locally call here "sifu". I do not really encourage teacher-student relationship in photography. In such relationship, the student would acknowledge the fact that he is much inferior and have to somehow act dumb in front of the "sifu", while the "sifu" would preach his so called artistic philosophies that may be blinded by nonsensical praises and empty worships from his followers. I have seen how many "Sifu"s misled and misguided the followers to do exactly what he instructed them to do, and abide by those rules. Such situation would end up as a false cult following, and the followers often lose their own identities, and worse, having twisted perception of what art and photography should be. Art and photography should be free, not restricted. Art and photography are freedom of expression, and self-exploration. Art and photography are NOT meant to be selfish, they are meant to be shared, and they require an audience you can connect intimately to. Art and photography are not making war amongst conflicting ideologies and philosophies, but they should encourage growth in diversity and infinite possibilities.

Let it burn, slowly.

Curious kid

Joy of selling vegies.

Squeezing through the narrow wet market.


Clinging to a pole.

It is amusingly contradictory, because some "sifu"s would proclaim how photography should be all for yourself only, but when you do not follow his set of "suggestions" and "photography principles", you become worthless and regarded as a second class photographer. If photography is really for self-pleasure, why do you care so much on whether I follow your rules or not? If that "sifu" is really shooting for himself, why did he care what others think of his photographs so much, that he would make such a huge fuss on how people fail to "read" his photographs? Why spend so much time and energy convincing others that they are not "up there with his artistic standards" to appreciate and understand his works? Concurrently, this conflicts with his own ideology of shooting for himself only. It is simple, if your photographs suck, they suck, no matter how you convince people otherwise, whether they are artistic people or not.

Everyone is equal, and has equal opportunities to explore photography in whatever way one may choose to do so. There is no right and wrong. While I do not encourage the "sifu" culture, I greatly support the sharing and learning culture. Photography is about sharing your vision and ideas, speaking loudly through your photography work. Through a network of photographers, we can learn from each other. Everyone has something to contribute, may it be small or big, it is important. Most importantly, everyone should be able to fulfill their own self-pleasure in shooting, not fulfilling their "sifu's" desires.

Traditional costume

Newly wed Indian Couple

Portrait of a shoe-caretaker

I am thinking of hanging that on my camera bag. What do you think?

A narrow alley

Cendol, a local desert, must try if you are in Malaysia.

Who cares what you shoot with? May it be film or DSLR or compact point and shoot. Just pick that camera up and start shooting away, Images are composed of light and shadow, whichever medium you choose to shoot, you still have to explore the world of lighting, play of composition and choice of good subject content. I particularly abhor those who have certain principles dictating certain specific uses of equipments, such as "if you do not shoot film you are not a real photographer" or "all the modern technologies are making you a lousy and lazy photographer". There are also those stereotypical rules saying "you must shoot with primes to improve" or "telephoto lenses are for lazy people". Seriously, enough with such ridiculously baseless non-sense !! Whatever you have, or whatever you plan to add into your gear collection, just make sure you use them, and use them to their best potential. There is no such thing as "photo-editing is cheating" or everything must be straight out of the camera. We should care less about the rules and just concentrate on shooting.

After all, photography is all about making images happen, whichever way you choose to make it happen. Shoot with what you have, be happy with your equipments and yourself, and let your happiness show in your photographs.

Anston and his baby, Nikon D300

Chun Chow (Nikon D7000) and Wendy (Olympus E-420)

Our lunch, beef noodles !! A good way to end a shutter therapy session is through our tummies.

In this particular blog entry, my shutter therapy session was joined by a few friends: Anston, Chun Chow and Wendy. We attacked the Petaling Street or Chinatown in KL. I have been visiting this place rather frequently lately, and I am starting to warm up to the streets there. It was one good session that I enjoyed myself tremendously, and it was even better because I was enjoying it with good friends.

If you have not discovered the joy of shutter therapy, wait no longer, go out and have a shutter therapy session !! Best of all, it is free, and self-pleasure is guaranteed.


  1. i really like the kid n grandma photos..the eyes really beautiful..AmyLi

  2. Thanks Amy !!!
    When wanna go shooting again? Long time no see you lar !!

  3. Correct! Craps = Craps... Only Rubbish collectors will have another point of view...

  4. This was a good read! I really enjoyed the text and photos. Keep that shutter clicking, Robin!

  5. hello anonymous,
    thanks for agreeing. everyone is entitled ro their own points of perspective.

    thanks mate!! sometimes I have too much in my mind I. pour them out on my blog hahaha

  6. Good photos! When I saw the photo of the noodles, seems so tasty, also thought at the film 'Tampopo'. That is a good film! bye.

  7. Robin you are my sifu!

    ... only kidding man :-)

    You have a great way of hitting the nail on the head with your philosophy of photography. I usually agree with what you are saying and am glad to hear someone else saying it. Nice shots as usual too!

  8. thanks phil!!
    that means a lot coming from you! your shots are very impressive as well, keep shooting and sharing!

  9. Wow! Great writing & spot on. Robin.
    The characteristic of the "sifu" you mentioned usually will blow their cover when given sufficient time. Usually it is their own contradictory words sold them out.

    Photography conceive of many area such as gear reviews, or artistic vision, or as a business, or telling story, or recording memories. It simply bring pleasure whoever get hooked to it.

    To me, "photography is made for man". People has the say of however they want their photography to be. But if we embrace the idea of "man is made for photography", then we shall see the result of photographer bossing people around of what gears they should use, what brand they should buy, how to make it work as a business, who opinions they should follow & etc.

    People know when you treat art or photography higher than them. I don't think photography was first initiated to be above human.

  10. choon wee,
    thanks! and very well said, I agree wholeheartedly with you, photography or art should not go higher than human!! thanks for sharing mate, really appreciate it.

  11. nice article robin,there is no right and wrong in photography.

  12. nice shots! btw, robin.. you used to have the exif data of your photos on your blog. you have removed it? would be nice to see the settings you used to get the photos. keep up the good work!

  13. Hello Andy,
    Thanks for the compliments. I used to manually type out the EXIF data one by one, but it got tiresome over time. I still left the full EXIF data intact in each photo.

  14. Ah, didnt know that you left it intact. Good to know! Yeah, must be quite hard to type them out manually.. I thought it was extracted after you uploaded the photos to your blog