I have been questioned many times, "Robin, don't you ever get bored shooting the same thing again and again?" Or more crudely put "What? You shooting the streets again?"
It has been getting more and more exhaustive to explain myself, the reasons why I do what I do. To some, shooting the same thing (same photography genre) is a waste of time. To others, once they have done or tried something, they moved on. I have so many reasons and answers to the above questions, some of them have no relationship with one another at all.
All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Lenses: 11-22mm F2.8-3.5, 25mm F2.8 pancake, and 50mm F2 macro
Local Malaysian Breakfast: Char Kuey Tiaw. Nothing beats a scrumptious treat before the start of a shutter therapy session.
This is how Malaysians have breakfast, at "kopitiam", usually by the roadside.
A friendly stall operator in the morning, washing up the dishes.
Rain does not deter the spirits of morning business. Simple improvisation using plastic bags as caps to prevent the hair from getting wet. .
Rain does not stop my shutter therapy sessions. Rain does not stop the streets from being busy.
Portrait of a breakfast stall operator
Waiting for customer on a gloomy morning.
Discipline, to Stay in Shape
Photography is like any other sports out there. Kirk Tuck compares photography practice to swimming. I compare it to tennis. Whichever you want to equate photography to is up to you, but it is clear, practice makes perfect. I do take in paid photography assignment from time to time, mostly wedding photography (actual day ceremony and dinner receptions) and event coverage. How can I confidently shoot for my clients, if I am not in the best shape? The fact that I work as a full time engineer in my day job and only do photography as part time shows how little time I spend with my photography gear. We all know that in order to improve in photography, we need to shoot more. It is the same when you are in court playing a tennis game against another player. If you did not do enough practice, you won't be able to serve consistently and your strokes will be all over the places. Regular training is the key to consistently good photography, keeping your mind sharp, making sure you are familiar with the camera technicalities and efficient in controlling them. Street photography is my weekly activity, I do it, partly so that I can stay in shape, and perform to my fullest when I need to.
I am new to street photography, I am not ashamed to admit that. I have just started to shoot on the streets about two years ago, and there is plenty much for me to learn, explore, and definitely to improve on. No one can instantaneously become professional or good at something overnight. It all comes down to how far or how deep you are willing to go, to get to where you want to be. Most photography peers that I know of would just "try" something, explore in it a little bit, and once they have accomplished certain standards in their photography, they are satisfied and they STOPPED there. I think that there is no end in this journey called photography. There is no ultimate right or wrong, and there is no set of fixed rules on how to shoot, and how to define the finishing line. Well, some may even say that there is NO finishing line in this context. The only truth is that, I can only improve, I can only go further, and I can only move up my game, if I keep on shooting. Yes, I have received many compliments and praises on my photographs (some are not deserving) and I appreciate the overwhelmingly positive response and encouragement from my readers and friends, but I know where I stand, and I am not pretending to be someone I am not. I am still in the process of discovering my own photography style and identity. I know well enough, the only way forward is to dive in even deeper. I will not just stop after touching the surface. There is an entirely different world beyond the surface, and I intend to find it.
Love What You Do
The fastest answer I would give when I was asked why I shoot every single weekend and never get bored, is that "if you love what you do, you will do it again and again and you won't get bored at all, because you will love doing it more and more each time". It is the same with music. If I like a particular singer and a song, I can listen to it again and again, and I enjoy just as much every time the song plays. If you claim that photography is your passion, and you have only been doing it for a year or two, and by shooting similar things just for a few times, you already started to feel bored, I believe you have to examine and re-evaluate your passion in the first place. If you truly love fishing, you will not complain sitting on a boat doing nothing for a few hours just to catch that fish. You will not complain being bored while waiting, because you know, when you finally caught that fish, the feeling of accomplishment is so over-powering that the initial long wait does not even matter. It is crucial to love what you do. If you do not like it, do not force yourself or pretend to love shooting. Photography, like any other things in life, takes a lot of patience. If you do not love it, you will not have the patience for it.
Newspaper, good for reading, and covering your head from rain drops
I am not sure if he knows what a camera is. Most kids would shy away.
I'm getting better in panning shots !
Lots of trolleying around in the morning, at Pudu Market
At the end of the day, every photographer intends to get better and better in their game.
Lets take a simple plain flower for example. If you have shot it once, or twice, you may have only discovered the characteristics of the flower, and the initial technicalities of close up/macro photography. The subsequent trials will have you experiment with advanced controls, such as additional lighting, or optimization of macro shooting to reveal more interesting textures of the flower petals, and perhaps, better illuminated with good lighting. Some photographers would have stopped there, because they thought they have done it all. They claimed victory and spread their glory. Now ask yourself this, what makes you think that you have achieved a "good standard", when you put that photograph of your flower out there in the open, where millions of other photographers may have shot the same flower, but in different shooting conditions and setup? Are you so blatantly arrogant to claim yourself better than everyone else, based on that limited experience of shooting that flower? Some photographers realized this and they continued to experiment, again and again, shooting the same subject, chasing that "perfection" (though I believe photography is not about perfection, but lets talk about this another day). Only by constantly shooting, even if doing the same thing again and again, but improving bit by bit, no matter how tiny the steps are, you will jump in standards, and rise from the rest who stopped there before you. What separates a passionate photographer from the rest, is the willingness to go the distance. Willingness to accept that "good photography" is not easy to obtain, and acknowledge that hard work is needed, consistently.
I want to be a good photographer. And I hope someday, I will be there.