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Tuesday, 13 March 2018 11:38

Ivan Lee

Capturing life

Article from the Sun daily by Mark Mathen Victor (posted on 8 March 2018)

TAKING photography to new heights, 22-year-old Ivan Lee is relatively new to the photography scene.

Yet his eye for shot composition, symmetry and colours has the young, self-taught photographer developing a growing cult following on social media.

“People know me for my work, and that’s something I’m proud of. You don’t have to know who I am, who is ‘Ivan’. If you recognise my work, I’m proud enough, because every artist has his or her own style,” Ivan explains.

“As an artist, if you work to the level where once your audience sees your photo and says ‘This is Ivan’s photo’, then no one can alter or copy it. You’ve already made it”.

Posting under the alias @kosherunit on Instagram, Ivan has begun to take his exploits to the skies with a Phantom 4 drone, resulting in stunning aerial photographs of Penang.

The extroverted Mass Communications graduate with an introspective view on life, art and photography recently took the time to speak to theSun.

How did you get into photography?

When I first started out as a photographer, last year around June, I started with an iPhone 6. I wasn’t really into photography, but life had a plan for me.

Before that I was a dancer, until I got appendicitis. So I had a major operation that made me stop dancing.

To me, I live and breathe in art. I love everything that has something to do with art. So I discovered that photography is one way for me to express myself in art form.

At the time, I was capturing images on an iPhone, and my parents encouraged me on. There was this one time I took a photograph of a really nice sunset in Batu Ferringhi, Penang.

And I told myself “This is one of the most beautiful pictures I’ve taken.

How am I going to overtake this picture next time?” Because when you do something, you want to get better.

How do you find locations for pictures?

I scout for it myself. In Penang, usually when I drive, I don’t really drive but I look around a lot. I’ll tell myself “This place looks really good”.

It’s just that I’ll have to be there, find the right angle and take the most beautiful picture I can get. So, I wouldn’t call myself a photographer, because he or she just takes normal pictures. I call myself a “visual creator”, because I alter my images into an art and style of my own. It’ll have my own colour grading, my own composition, etc.

How do you decide on which combination of camera, lenses and/or a drone goes with what you want to capture?

Before I started out, I did a lot of technical research. I would say my teachers were Youtube and Google; it was a lot of self-taught knowledge. I got most of my inspiration from Instagram, as it’s a community for artists. To get the picture I’m inspired to get, I need to know the technical aspects of a camera; the aperture, the light, shutter speed, lenses.

What is your creative process like when it comes to taking pictures?

Three months ago, I got a drone. In the beginning, I practised my drone for the first month, and the second month was for scouting. Whenever I’m driving around in KL, I would imagine, “Ivan, if you can fly on top of there, how would it look like if you looked down?”

To me as a photographer, I’m very drawn towards lines, geometry, and patterns. If you give me a line, I would figure out something that would make it look good. Be it from the top, side or bottom.

What is photography to you?

To me, photography is about creating something that will live forever even after I turn to dust.

Do you think social media and drones are changing the way pictures are and can be taken?

Yes, they are. Drones enable you to take aerial photos, where its technology is continuously advancing.

Published in Biographies
Friday, 06 October 2017 13:00

Paul Koh

Driving virtual reality forward

Article from the Sun daily by Mark Mathen Victor (posted on 6 October 2017)

"YOU can do anything you want in the world. You could be a janitor, you could be a plumber ... you just have to be the best there is and excel at it," Paul Koh claims, an advice that was passed on from his father, Charlie Koh, a guiding credo that has shaped the life of the 26-year-old entrepreneur.

Born in Malaysia, Koh's streak of globetrotting and adventuring began in his early years, as he bounced between the country, America and Canada in his childhood, before eventually going as far as the Antarctic in his early 20s.

Eventually starting Kezerk Imaging, a photography company, at the ripe age of 15, Koh's business would eventually become Kezerk Innovations, a digital visual technology company that is constantly innovating and pushing the boundaries on the application of virtual reality (VR) technology, holographic display and magnetic levitation.

How did you start and run Kezerk Imaging full-time when you were only 15 years old?

I quit school when I was 13. I figured that I didn't like it any more. It's not that I was too smart, I just didn't want to know some things; I didn't want to learn everything. I had an idea of what I wanted to do, and I didn't want to be a doctor or an engineer, so I didn't feel like I wanted to study intense mathematics or science.

I realised that I absorb knowledge better when I had interest in something. So I started Kezerk Imaging and travelled around as a photographer, including living with a friend's family in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. My education was formed by home tutoring and life lessons.

Why did you get into photography?

My father suggested I take up a photography course in Melbourne. I initially had no interest and took up the suggestion just to travel, but when I realised I was good at it, it snowballed into what it is now.

What was it like going on an expedition to the Antarctic?

I was picked by Prudential out of a huge list of entries, along with two other Malaysians. It was an amazing experience. It was a huge, huge place. It was like the size of China, but just all white. No humans, a few penguins, but anything beyond the coast is totally empty. It was amazing to see that in a world where we see people all the time, there can be emptiness.

What did you take away from the experience?

This formed another part of my education. I realised that there was a cyclical nature to technology, as we went from using whale oil in lamps to light bulbs, which eventually led to a global warming due to the need for energy.

Essentially, an invention stopped whaling and caused climate change, but an invention is now killing the planet, so a new invention is needed to save the planet. I learned that we need to constantly innovate, and that we have to invent as fast as we consume.

What led to Kezerk Imaging transitioning from photography to VR?

I realised that photography is a really challenging market space commercially due to the competition.

As time was valuable, I decided to go as huge and as crazy as possible by exploring every avenue in visual technology.

By moving from photography into VR, your business evolved. But will it stop there? Or do you plan to move beyond 360 imagery and virtual tours?

Now we have holograms and magnetic levitation technology. We will always pick up new tech as they surface. Like I said, we have to constantly invent and innovate. If there is something interesting, I'll jump right in, but right now I'm more focused on merging existing technologies into a usable space.

How do you find the time to manage multiple businesses with your extreme – for the average Malaysian – lifestyle?

I don't really manage my time. I work as hard as I can throughout a year and then I just take a long break.

Do you have a goal in this business that you intend to reach by 30?

I plan to grow the company as big as I can, and then exit at the right time. I don't want to sit on it for too long, or to get too sentimental with what I'm doing. The idea is to make enough money, then start a venture capital. I love business as a sport, or as something I can constantly learn from.

Published in Biographies
Wednesday, 05 April 2017 14:00

Nana Safiana

The medium is the message

Article from the Sun daily by Peony Chin (posted on 5 April 2016)

WHEN Nana Safiana picked up a camera for the first time, it was her father's DSLR. He had kept it locked away, but she managed to procure it and took some photos with it.

She later went on to become a photojournalist in a local daily, but left several years in as she found that the job can be monotonous in nature.

"Each year, I would cover similar cultural events. I didn't want to settle into a routine," explained the 26-year-old.

It was also around the same time that Nana learned about documentary photography and wanted to explore it. She took a year off to travel and went on a journey of self-discovery, which got the ball rolling.

What's the difference between photojournalism and documentary photography?

Young Malaysians often confuse photojournalism and documentary photography. Photojournalists usually do hard news, such as on-scene accidents, crime, and so on, which are very quick and 'in the moment'.

Documentary photography, on the other hand, is more relaxed in terms of execution, but not in the planning stages. A lot of long-term planning is required and it can take months, or even years. Then, there's the risk factor that your plans may not come into fruition.

Hence, you need to be able to predict the situation well, be patient, and have a lot of passion.

How did you venture into documentary photography?

Three years ago, before I really got into documentary photography, I was quite lost in life. I loved photography but I couldn't find my niche. Now, I feel that photography is best described as the medium that I use to portray my messages. I travelled a lot and photographed plenty of things to discover myself. I tried my hand at photography competitions, which enabled me to join workshops and be mentored by esteemed documentary photographers.

After attending the Foundry Photojournalism Workshop and being mentored by Maggie Steber herself, how did you go on to create your own path in documentary photography?

It felt somewhat like a culture shock upon returning to Malaysia after attending the workshop in Bali. I received a lot of praises and attention there, but I was back to being just a regular person in Malaysia. It took me a while to really kick-start my path in documentary photography, and that was when I decided to take a trip to western China by cycling from Urumqi to Tashkurgan.

The whole trip spanned approximately 2,000km, but we didn't cycle all the way. We hitchhiked sometimes. The furthest I cycled in a day would be approximately 100km. While I was travelling, I did a lot of thinking and soul-searching. After the trip, I felt energetic and cared less about how other people viewed me. I experienced a lot of hardships while I was travelling, and that gave me a broader perspective of life.

Most of your photographs are of the less fortunate. Why do you choose to do so?

While I was travelling in western China, I got a chance to see for myself the poverty and hardships experienced there. It's not something that you'd be able to see in the mainstream media, because they're such remote places. I realised that my passion lies in telling the stories of those at the bottom of the 'food chain'.

What I aim to achieve out of doing this is to get people to really stop and think. Urbanites are becoming especially cooped up in their world of privilege that they get caught up by the most insignificant things. I hope that with my documentation of the less fortunate, they will be able to see that there is more to life than petty everyday problems, and this will make them appreciate life more.

Published in Biographies
Wednesday, 07 September 2016 00:00

Ting Yang Shan


Calling the shots

Article from the Sun daily by Jeremy Cheong (posted on 6 September 2016)

WHEN it comes to Ting Yang Shan’s photos, the old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” doesn’t quite cut it.

Ting, who goes by the name Poopeson – a moniker with a history that we never quite got to the bottom of – has a portfolio ( of uniquely composed photographs, consisting of breathtaking landscapes, meticulously crafted fashion shoots, energetic live performances, and candid captures of people that exude a wide range of emotions.

Even so, you’d be surprised to know that photography wasn’t exactly Ting’s first choice for a career.

“I was introduced to photography when I was doing my diploma in advertising and marketing. I chose Photography, TV Commercial, and Visual Communications as my majors because none of these required any studying or reading.

“I wasn’t a very bright kid, if you haven’t noticed already,” joked the 29-year-old.

Initially, Ting had his eyes on videography, but the interest in photography soon outgrew it simply because he found the latter more challenging. He spent plenty of time learning and reading up on the art, and what started out as a hobby then became a viable vocation.

After leaving his job at a carpet company in 2011, he worked as an assistant photographer for about a year, and shot events on a freelance basis in between to gain more experience. Soon, he found himself shooting full-time for a local publishing house. Having stayed for two years – armed with confidence, experience and knowledge – Ting decided to strike out on his own.

“The first year as a freelancer was pretty difficult as I didn’t receive many jobs, and I still had plenty of bills to pay. I almost gave up a few times, but I told myself that if I do, I will form a habit of giving excuses and giving up on more things in the future.

“I’m glad I soldiered on,” said Ting.

Do you ever feel burned out from having to constantly come up with ideas or concepts for shoots? If so, what’s your go-to method to get out of the slump?

Yes, definitely! Before every job, I ask myself, “What needs to be done? How can I achieve a certain look? What if something goes wrong?” Because most of the time, it happens. So I tend to cover all the bases before heading into a shoot so I know I can give my clients the very best.

As for burnouts, I love travelling so I would take short trips or holidays as often as I can to relax and hopefully, gain some inspiration.

Looking at your website and Instagram profile, we can tell you’ve worked with many notable individuals and been to some very exotic places. What has been your favourite moment or achievement so far?

My greatest achievement would be this interview (laughs). Jokes aside, my favourite moment to date has to be meeting and shooting my favourite band, MEW, for an interview they did with an online magazine. It was the first and only time I shot with my hands trembling. It was just a simple photo but I guess it’s the experience that I remember the most.

For those looking to pursue photography as a career, what’s a good tip or advice that you’d like to share with them?

To be honest, I’ve never gotten any proper advice from my peers. But if I were to give one, I’d say go for it but stay humble. Whatever criticism you get, take it with positivity and change or improve what you can instead of having a “but this is how I view my art” mindset. Surround yourself with photographers who want to grow with you. You’ll learn much more.

So what’s in store for Poopeson for the rest of 2016 and the near future?

I am starting to venture into videography again but it’s just for fun since I have the time. There’s actually a project that I’m working on now, of which I’ll update on Instagram when the time is right. As for 2017, I’d like to teach and share my knowledge on photography with others.


Favourite type of photography: Fashion and people.

Biggest source of inspiration: Everything and everywhere.

He also enjoys: Futsal/football.

Most prized possession: “My car definitely.”

Photographers he looks up to: Alexi Lubomirski and Ben Von Wong.

What he dislikes about photography: People who do it for the wrong reasons.


Published in Biographies
Monday, 15 August 2016 00:00

Sharina Shahrin


Versatile & visually creative

Article from the Sun daily by Jessica Chua (posted on 11 August 2016)

MOVING to a different country every few years – due to the nature of her father's job – opened Sharina Shahrin's eyes to the world of art. She grew up attending international schools, which equipped her with proper art education and fuelled her curiosity. Because of her unconventional sense of style and taste, Sharina considers herself the black sheep of the family, but she is fortunate that they have been supporting her identity.

"Having that support from a young age is so important to cultivate your own craft. It makes a big difference in establishing yourself and being comfortable in your own skin," shared the artist.

Sharina has been focusing on art and doing collaborations – including with Red Bull and H&M, as well as local art festivals – since she returned from studying at the London College of Fashion late last year, but she won't be staying for long.

The ambitious lass will be heading to Prague to study Fine Art and Experimental Media this September. She hopes to return and fulfil her ultimate dream of running an independent gallery, giving other young artists a platform to showcase their work.

"What's the point of learning all these things, living my whole life overseas, and not bringing back anything to help the community that really needs it? We need people with the right intention and passion to do this. It has to come from an artist, or someone who appreciates art," said Sharina.

In the meantime, she is working on a personal project – a hybrid of photography and painting – on women and unconventional beauty.

How would you define yourself as an artist?

I've always referred to myself as a visual creative. I never really say artist because you get pigeonholed, and I like to explore different fields. I started off doing photography, then there's the fashion and art aspect, and I also love to sing. So 'creative' is a term to use when you love exploring so many things. It's been a constant evolution for me; constantly exploring, never sticking to one thing, and always experimenting. You should never restrict yourself. Right now, I'm focusing on exploring my artwork visually through paintings.

Is there an evident identity in your work?

Many people have said that my work is very psychedelic or other-worldly, especially in my digital art. I want people to feel like what they see is not real. I've always been a daydreamer, where a part of me isn't really present. I think that translated into my artwork.

What keeps you going?

Knowing that there's always room to improve and explore. The Malaysian industry is young, but we have such talented people. It's encouraging to see these young talents and people harnessing their talents the right way. Seeing a big market for art, my ultimate goal is to tap into that and make art an important part of culture – something everyone can appreciate and enjoy.

In what ways would you like to see the Malaysian art industry grow?

I think it all boils down to education. They teach art in public schools but it's not taken seriously. People need to know that it's a revered career in other countries. Art is part of the culture, history, and identity of a country. So the Malaysian education system is where the biggest change needs to happen.

What is art to you?

Art to me is not limited to paper and paint. Art is something that allows you to express yourself. It's also a sense of release and relief for me. Since it is my life, and I'm going to live it every day until I die, I want it to be what makes me happy. People always don't give themselves the chance to be happy. It takes a lot of courage, and I think some people find it easier than others. You should never compromise your happiness and sanity for anything.

Published in Biographies
Friday, 06 May 2016 00:00

Eunice Lim


Cameras dine first

Article from the Sun daily by Peony Chin (posted on 3 May 2016)

OF late, it's a norm to see people at hipster cafés whipping out their phones to capture a picture of their latte art, standing to take a "flatlay" of the food on the table, or shifting their meals and drinks to a more Instagram-worthy portion of the cafe. Some go the extra mile, standing on chairs for that perfect aerial view, or place the food on the floor for a better capture.

Eunice Lim, however, does most of it for a living. A food stylist and photographer, the 22-year-old started out as a food blogger, where she honed her food photography skills and cultivated her love for food. That's not her only source of income though, Lim owns Taiyakie House in SS15, and manages social media for several businesses.

How did you discover photography?

I had a pretty traditional upbringing; I was hardly out of the house so I was always in front of the computer. I'd scroll through Pinterest and Flickr where I saw a lot of amazing works which got me so inspired! Then, I got my first camera in 2013.

When you started out, what were you taking pictures of?

It was mostly food. I started out as a food blogger when I was 17 and in college. I hung out regularly with some food bloggers and started going for food reviews. I read a lot of food blogs from abroad, especially Australia. Their photography style and ours are very different. I learned mostly from there.

Where did you pick up food styling?

This is difficult to answer. I went through a lot of trial and error. I kept practising, with lighting especially. Everything was self-taught, plus I watched a lot of YouTube videos, read a lot from skilled chefs and websites. I hung out with good photographers, so I'd ask them when I have questions.

Do you think your signature style would evolve?

Definitely. Most people stick to one style comfortably, but I don't want to restrict myself. I'll just play around with anything and everything; maybe it will branch out to something new. I don't like following people – I like to be a trendsetter.

How did you end up with a F&B business?

I wanted to assure my parents that I have a stable income outside of food photography. I wanted to venture into business because I'm still young and I have room for mistakes. There is plenty of mistakes to make, but you shouldn't be afraid to make them. If you fail, you'll do better next time.

What do you think of people standing on chairs or placing food on the floor to get the perfect Instagram shot?

I detest that. I'm from a food science background. Food should not be placed on the floor; there's so much bacteria and dust. As for standing on the chair, you're actually distracting other customers in the restaurant. I'd never do that. At most, I'll just stand up and place my phone up high – if it doesn't turn out well, I don't post it on social media.

In your personal time, do you take pictures of your food when you dine out?

I used to. I was very obsessed and that was how I learned. Gradually, I felt it was unnecessary. When the food arrives, I just eat. My job is to take photos of food, so when I dine out with friends or family, I won't do that.

Published in Biographies
Tuesday, 15 March 2016 00:00

Jewel Ling


Diamond in the rough

Article from the Sun daily by Peony Chin (posted on 10 March 2016)

PERHAPS to a lot of people, Jewel Ling's life of rotating around her home, studio and boyfriend's cafe may seem mundane. But it's a routine that she treasures, simply because it took her years of hardship to achieve.

"Many people wouldn't understand because they have been experiencing that comfort for most of their lives. For me, I had to go through so much to get to this point right now," explained the 25-year-old.

Indeed, Ling's story is a complicated one. The Penang-born photographer left the island to pursue photography in Kuala Lumpur, and experienced a whirlwind for the next five years. She worked as an assistant photographer in major studios, slept on friends' couches, fell into debt due to a failed studio partnership, and paid if off by working at an art gallery.

She reckons she is in a good place now. She's aiming to open her very own studio Prounited, to impart knowledge to aspiring photographers in Malaysia.

You charge a lot more than most photographers – why is that?
I know it's pricey, but with my resources and the kind of equipment I use, I cannot go below a certain price. I have nearly the whole set of Profoto lights which is valued at approximately RM60,000, and three cameras which cost another RM200,000.

It's difficult getting work in, but you have to keep pushing your boundaries. When clients realise that paying a cheaper price elsewhere will return bad results, they would see the value in paying a little more for good quality work.

Tell us more about your partnership with (photography lighting brand) Profoto.
Before my trip to Sweden last year, I emailed Profoto with a proposal, asking to meet its regional manager regarding a partnership to conduct workshops in Malaysia about lighting in photography.

Lighting is very sacred in the photography community. If you don't have proper knowledge or the right people to teach you, you may struggle for a long time. Nobody actually knows what to do with the lighting they have, unless they went through all the training to get to that point at which I already am. Hence I wanted to share my knowledge.

I ended up meeting with the president of Profoto, who agreed to the partnership.

What do you aim to achieve with your studio, Prounited?
I aim to create the awareness that you can get photography knowledge here in Malaysia, because there's none. I'm the only one who has had a few workshops for lighting. When people come for my workshops, I don't hold back – I tell them everything. Because I know that even if they know the technicalities of it, it will take them awhile before they can actually understand what I'm talking about. Education will give growth to a new generation of photographers. I always tell my students, "If you can photograph as well as I do, please do better."

How would you describe your signature photography style?
My signature style is very bright, sharp, and properly lit – you can see every detail in the picture. It's clean and properly framed, so you can print it without cropping. It's dynamic; there's movement and there's light.

What inspires you?
It has to capture the soul of the subject, and really speak to me. It doesn't have to be a beautiful model or a luxurious looking space. It's giving life to something ordinary. I don't look at pretty pictures; I try not to. I don't really find pretty pictures pretty – it's just the idea of it that's pretty. But maybe I'm a little weird like that. I support a lot of local artists by buying their art. There are no words to express what I think beauty is. 

Published in Biographies
Monday, 21 December 2015 00:00

Raveen Dev


Aspiring director Raveen Dev is thinking and

creating out of the box

Article from the Sun daily by Bissme S.(posted on 13th Aug 2015)

JOHOR-BORN Raveen Dev, 30, is on cloud nine. His latest short film Ripped was shown at two international film festivals: Los Angeles CineFest in May and Calgary Horror Con in June. The 12-minute short film centres on a man, who upon joining a late-night neighbourhood gym, discovers that the other gym members are not regular Joes.

Tell us about your passion for film-making.

I've loved movies and photography since young but making films isn't really a stable career so I took a diploma in creative multimedia and became an IT analyst. On weekends when I'm not working, I make short films.

What encouraged you to pursue film-making more seriously?

It happened in 2012 when a friend asked me to make a video for their wedding reception. I decided to do something different so I had the emcee tell the guests that the couple had been kidnapped. Then a video was aired where the groom saved himself and his bride from gangsters. We did a parody of 10 well-known Hollywood films such as Batman and The Godfather. The guests enjoyed the 20-minute video very much and that fuelled my interest to make more films.

What are the short films you have directed?

Right after the wedding reception video, I made my first short film titled Tenant. This three-minute short film centres on an eager house agent who convinces a potential tenant that he has the best deal in town but things are not what it appears to be. It emerged as one of the top 10 finalists at the Yahoo-MAS Cili Padi Awards.

Next, I made a seven-minute short film called Checkmate where two old friends discuss a recent robbery over a chess game of life and death, and Dorm where a freshman meets his roommate, a senior who tries to rag him into believing their dorm is haunted. Ripped is my fourth and latest film.

Are you working on a new project?

I'm currently writing a script for my next film, which is a little different from some of my previous thriller flicks. I daresay that this is a film that will appeal to a wider audience.

What is the biggest challenge of being a film-maker?

I believe the biggest challenge of being a film-maker is funding. There aren't many avenues locally for us to get funding and many of them come with certain constraints on the type of film you will be able to produce. The good part however is that there are more crowd-sourcing websites cropping about these days and hopefully if you can pitch a right story and get the confidence of your target audience you might just get the right budget to bring your film to life.

Who funds your short films?

Most of my films are funded by me and my team. Since our budget is relatively smaller for a short film, it's not uncommon for us to collaborate with people who share the same passion.

What do you hope to achieve as a film-maker?

I want to make a feature film in the future. I am gaining experiences from making these short films. In the past, you'd have to buy expensive film books to learn the art of film-making. These days, there is a lot of free tutorials on film-making online. I believe you are never too old to pursue your dreams and make them a reality. I love making mystery and adding surprise twists in my films.

Name something you'd like to work on.

I love exploring and trying new things. I believe that life is an ongoing process of making mistakes and learning to become a better person. I love my ability to think out of the box and beyond what may be accepted as the social norm. I hope to be more confident of my work.

If he could change the world:
People are given opportunities based on talents instead of the amount of certificates they have.

If he could live elsewhere:
The United States of America.

A desired talent:
To play the guitar.

All-time favourite film-maker:
Alfred Hitchcock.

Favourite local film-maker:
Yasmin Ahmad.


Published in Biographies
Monday, 21 December 2015 00:00

Muhammad Hidayatullah


The soulful storyteller

Article from the Sun daily by Hanna Alkaf (posted on 24th Sep 2015)

MUHAMMAD Hidayatullah, 26, stunned his family when he made the decision to launch a career in film-making and photography, after four years of studying architecture. Yet here he was, willing to throw it all away on what seemed like a fleeting fancy. Now, five years and numerous awards later, Hidayat is proving once and for all that sometimes, all you need is passion – and a lot of hard work – for everything else to fall into place.

What made you take the leap into focusing on film-making and photography?

In my second semester, I took this photography course where we learned to use the most basic settings on a camera. I had this small compact camera that my sister gave me – good enough for me to explore the simplest tricks and settings. I became eager to learn what kind of photos I could possibly take with it. Like a kid with a new toy, I began capturing whatever I saw around me. My family didn't agree at first with this idea of me giving up architecture. After all, I worked hard for four years and suddenly I wanted to change my path! But after proving to them that I really wanted to do this, I've had their wholehearted support ever since.

Has being a self-taught photographer and videographer been a disadvantage for you?

Of course, the good thing about being formally trained is that you have the basic knowledge and the fundamentals. But I feel like I can come at a subject from a fresh perspective. People like me aren't bound to any rules. We can experiment. There is no right or wrong. What is wrong is not doing anything to improve.

The challenge of being self-taught is most obvious when you want to work with high profile companies or production companies, because they really know their stuff. But I take it as an opportunity to learn. And I'm glad that most of the people that I've worked with really believe in what I can do.

Many young Malaysians these days turn to photography and videography as creative outlets. What sets you apart in a crowded field?

Every time I want to shoot a subject, I never push myself to "get" the moment. I always start by building relationships. Sometimes it can take me weeks, or even years, to gain my subjects' trust. When the time is right, only then will I explain that I actually want to tell their stories. I feel even more connected with them that way. Speaking through experience, good things take time. It is the story that comes with the visuals that sets me apart from others.

You've travelled to many different locations to document the lives of the people there. Can you tell me about some experiences that have stuck with you?

For me, that would be the Holi Festival in India. I was there at 6am, ready and waiting so that I wouldn't miss anything, in this small temple that can accommodate almost 300 people. At exactly 7am, after the reveal of Lord Krishna, everybody began throwing the coloured powder. At one point, it was too much for me and I had to run outside, gasping for air and clearing the powder from my eyes. But as soon as I cleaned myself off, I was back inside snapping portraits. I spent almost four hours in there. And it didn't just end in the temple – it continued in the streets. People shouted "Happy Holi!" as they threw the powder at you. Everyone was completely covered in it. It was an amazing experience.

What advice do you have for aspiring local film-makers and photographers?

Have a really good reason for doing what you do. Get to know yourself and understand why you're holding that camera. Dream big. Explore everything you can. Be honest with it, and it will change you.

Published in Biographies
Friday, 18 December 2015 00:00

Trisha Toh


Hip to be square

Article from the Sun daily by Yeo Chia Hui (posted on 6th Oct 2015)

TWENTY two-year-old Trisha Toh started out as a regular user of Instagram.

However, what started out as a platform for her to document her food adventure has now propelled her into a very accomplished photographer, photo and food stylist.

Her Instagram feed is comprised of pictures so aesthetically pleasing that it more than explains her fan base of 67, 000 followers.

"Since I was young, my mother would bring me and my brother out to explore new places to eat. It was like a treat; so after I graduated from high school I decided to continue doing this on my own. This was back in 2012 when the local food scene began to pick up. Then a while ago, a close friend, who is also a talented "Instagrammer", introduced me to her client who was looking for someone to shoot their new products. Despite the doubts I had, I went ahead with it and it turned out that they liked my work. Now people are starting to recognise me although it's mostly through Instagram recommendations," said the freelance creative.

A soon-to-be tourism and event management graduate, Toh said that this passion of hers remains a hobby as what she studied is completely different. Even then, her résumé is quite impressive as it contains names such as DoubleTree by Hilton, Chatime Malaysia, Tino's Pizza, and The Spice Peninsula Co.

She also coorganised #ChasingSquares last year, a mobile photography exhibition which raised funds for underprivileged Malaysian youths.

What exactly does a photo stylist do?

There are many categories of photo styling, but since I work with food a lot I'd say I'm a food stylist. Food stylists assist the photographers in making the food look good for the camera. Sometimes, we have to get manipulative with the food because we need to show the best angle. And you know how food looks good in some pictures? Yeah, sometimes they aren't edible because you do not know the things that we may have done with it (chuckles).

How would you describe your photography style?

It changes over time but I focus a lot on the subject. It's about what I've done and where I've been, so it's always documenting what I'm experiencing. I'd say the mood of my pictures follows my own mood.

Would you also say that your style is minimalistic?

Minimalism is true as this theme omits everything that's not important, and focuses on what matters. I guess I do apply that a lotin my pictures because I always focus on the subject and the story more than anything else.

If a picture tells a thousand words, what do you want to convey through yours?

I guess it's about the present. What I'm ultimately aiming for in my pictures is that they're not styled – they're about living in the moment. I think it's important to forget about trends because that's not what photography is about. Photography is about capturing the moment and sharing it with people. There shouldn't be any competition about it, especially on Instagram.

Some people believe that Instagramphotography is not real photography. What do you think about this?

The beauty of photography is that it doesn't matter what platform you use because ultimately it's about the pictures that you take. For me especially, Instagram plays a huge role in what I do because it acts as a sort ofportfolio. By looking at your Instagram profile, clients are able to learn about you, your photography style and potential. It serves as a good platform.


Find her at: @trishates.

She uses: Canon EOS 600D.

Her go-to editing apps: Snapseed and VSCO Cam.

Photography tip: "Natural light is very important for a good picture."

Portraits she wants to capture: Her grandmothers.


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